Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 7, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Representative Wane and Ms. Bintou Foune Samaké, for your briefings today.
Ms. Samaké, I appreciated your insightful emphasis on the critical role of women in the Algiers Accord and peacebuilding in Mali. We fully endorse your call for the meaningful inclusion of women and women-led civil society organizations in the peace process. This should include younger women as appropriate – they are the rising generation. We also urge the transition government to make progress on the Algiers Accord and to ensure the full and safe participation of women throughout the elections process in Mali, including ensuring women are on the ballot, registered to vote, and have an opportunity to participate at all levels of the electoral process.
Special Representative Wane, we welcome your efforts and those of MINUSMA’s brave peacekeepers to fulfill this Council’s broad and robust mandate to support the Algiers Accord between the Malian authorities and the signatory armed groups, to protect civilians, and to support the political transition.
The United States expresses its deepest condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of the three Egyptian peacekeepers killed in attacks against MINUSMA last month. The United States joins other on this council in strongly condemning all attacks against peacekeepers, and this includes the disinformation campaigns that have hindered MINUSMA’s ability to carry out its Security Council mandate. As mandated by this Council, those involved in planning, directing, sponsoring, or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers, or those planning, directing, or committing acts in Mali that constitute human rights abuses or violations, may be subject to Security Council sanctions. We call on the transition government to carry out transparent and credible investigations into attacks on peacekeepers or those who commit human rights abuses and to hold those responsible accountable.
Like others, the United States is deeply troubled by the developments in Mali since this Council last met on Mali on January 11. First, the last three months have been marked by alarming accounts of human rights violations and abuses against civilians by terrorist armed groups and the Malian armed forces with individuals linked to the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group. These reports must be investigated, and those responsible held accountable.
We are following closely the extremely disturbing accounts of hundreds of people killed last week in the village of Mourah in the Mopti region of central Mali. The Malian people deserve answers to what happened in Mourah the week of March 28, and what led to the gruesome execution-style killing of over 35 people on March 2 in the Segou region — and who is responsible. We note the Malian authorities have announced it will launch an investigation into the events in Mourah. We urge the authorities also grant MINUSMA immediate access to both locations to conduct rigorous investigations, a task mandated by this very Council.
This increase in reports of human rights abuses is exactly why the United States continues to warn countries against partnering with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group. Wagner forces have been implicated in human rights abuses, including execution-style killings, in the Central African Republic and elsewhere. Wagner Group forces will not bring peace to Mali and will divert resources away from the Malian Armed Forces’ fight against terrorism and, ultimately, undermine the stability of the region.
Malian authorities are also responsible for the actions of their security partners. Operations that inflict harm against civilians and abuse human rights in the name of counterterrorism will backfire. I agree with my French colleague that these actions can drive some to actually join or support violent extremist organizations, instead of neutralizing the threat.
Our second concern: the U.S. is deeply concerned by the Malian authorities’ disregard for the Status of Forces Agreement with MINUSMA, and the restrictions on the mission’s movements, especially in central Mali. The March 22 incident involving the Malian forces firing six rockets near peacekeepers in eastern Mali is unacceptable, is an affront to all those who serve in UN peacekeeping missions. The transition government is responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and the freedom of movement of UN personnel and assets. Restrictions limit MINUSMA’s ability to anticipate, deter, and effectively respond to threats to civilians, including from violent extremist groups, and will only lead to more attacks against civilians and Malian forces. These restrictions must end so MINUSMA can fulfill its mandate to protect civilians and foster peace.
Third, ECOWAS and the transition government have yet to agree on an acceptable electoral timetable. We, along with fellow Council members, welcomed ECOWAS’ strong action in defense of democracy in January. We call for continued dialogue that produces an acceptable electoral calendar so the international community, but more importantly the Malian people, know what to expect of the transition government.
We share ECOWAS’s deep disappointment with the lack of political will the transition government has shown toward organizing elections, as it committed to do following the August 2020 coup d’état, which is now over 18-months ago. We urge the transition government to keep its pledge to the Malian people to return their country to democracy as soon as possible.
Thank you, Mr. President.