Meeting after Russian Federation’s Veto of Sanctions Text, General Assembly Speakers Consider Consequences for Stability in Mali
Only Peace Can Provide Long-Term Relief for Country’s People, Stresses President
Following the Russian Federation’s 30 August veto of a draft resolution that would have renewed certain Security Council measures against those obstructing peace in Mali, speakers in the General Assembly considered its implications amidst the demanded withdrawal of United Nations presence from a country still in crisis.
Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, said that, against the backdrop of rising insecurity and political and humanitarian crises in Mali, the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation “remains the only framework for achieving peace and stability”. “It must be supported,” he underscored, stating that only peace can provide long-term relief for Malians suffering from massive displacement and food insecurity.
He therefore urged Council members to recommit to negotiations towards peace and reconciliation in Mali. Member States, for their part, should consider how they can constructively advance discussions towards peace and security in the Assembly and support the Council in upholding its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations. “The veto initiative has opened the door for a new form of collaboration and accountability between our two organs,” he said, adding: “Let us use it to seek unity and achieve consensus.”
In the ensuing debate, held under the Assembly’s standing mandate to convene within 10 working days of a veto being cast in the Council, many Member States expressed concern over its use, particularly in the context of the withdrawal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Others, however, underlined the need to respect Bamako’s wishes.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates — co-penholder with France on this issue — expressed regret that the Security Council could not adopt the resolution despite wide-ranging support. She recalled that, during negotiations, her delegation coordinated regularly with Mali and took into consideration the viewpoints of the countries in the region. However, proposals to find common ground failed to achieve the necessary consensus to keep the Panel of Experts’ reporting mandate and the sanctions regime.
Japan’s representative stressed that such measures have been critically important for peace and stability in Mali and across the whole region. However, Moscow did not engage in good-faith negotiations, introduced its own draft resolution at the last minute and then threatened that — if such text was not adopted — the issue would never be considered again in the Council. “Such behaviour as wielding the veto towards any text other than its own is unacceptable,” he said.
Echoing others, the Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that the use of the veto by the Russian Federation blatantly disregarded the will of a large cross-regional majority of 13 countries, including the African Council members. Further, its use ignores the principles of multilateralism, puts further obstacles on the road to peace in Mali and will only isolate that country further, he said, stressing that “cutting ties with the United Nations is not an answer to Mali’s multidimensional crisis”.
The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his delegation’s use of the veto, advocated against endless automatic extensions of sanctions regimes and noted that such measures should be reviewed regularly to see if they reflect the situation on the ground. During negotiations, his delegation stated on many occasions that attempts to impose external resolutions on Mali “have zero chance of success”. He further stressed that the Panel of Experts has produced biased reports, adding that Western countries’ only concern “is how to preserve their geopolitical dominance”.
In the same vein, Venezuela’s delegate, speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, excluding Algeria, underscored that Bamako officially requested MINUSMA’s termination due to factors including the Mission’s negative impact on national efforts. The situation on the ground has drastically changed over the past six years, and there is no longer a legitimate justification for perpetuating the enforcement of a sanctions regime on Mali, he emphasized.
Mali’s delegate stressed that the Panel of Experts became a political mechanism whose real agenda was unknown to his Government. The Panel demanded detailed information on military and security cooperation between the Russian Federation and Mali, which is a matter related to Bamako’s sovereign choice of partners. Further, the Panel addressed political or economic questions without any link to its mandate, including the question of violations of human rights, he said.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, on that, said that the Council is witnessing interference in internal affairs under the deceptive pretexts of “peace and security”, “human rights” and “democracy”. With Mali’s official request for MINUSMA’s withdrawal, he stressed that “there is no single basis or justification” to maintain either the Panel or the sanctions regime.
However, Canada’s representative, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, warned against a shrinking civic space in Mali, with rising human rights violations against civilians perpetrated by armed and terrorist groups, as well as by the Malian Armed Forces in concert with the Wagner Group. He stressed: “Russia’s latest manoeuvre is not one that is motivated by protecting civilians and improving peace and security in Mali, but the contrary: a self-interested political agenda seeking to destabilize the region and to pillage its natural resources.”
The representative of Kenya, meanwhile, underlined the need to consider the implications of the international community’s inability to respond to mounting terrorist threats in several African countries. As States discuss the use of the veto today, they must not lose sight of the broader counter-terrorism context. “As threats mount on the ground, the Council’s unity is eroding,” he said, urging that organ to refocus its energy to address terrorist threats in Mali, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly observed a minute of silence for those who lost their lives in the recent earthquake in Morocco.
DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, following a minute of silence for those who lost their lives in the recent earthquake in Morocco, said that today’s debate is a clear demonstration that two organs of the United Nations — the Security Council and the General Assembly — can and must work together on matters of international peace and security. Welcoming the Security Council’s special report on the matter (document A/78/341) and noting the volatile situation in Mali, he said that the rise in insecurity — coupled with political and humanitarian crises — means that implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali is now under threat. “This vital accord forged during intense negotiations remains the only framework for achieving peace and stability in Mali,” he stressed, adding: “It must be supported.”
The people of Mali are suffering amidst massive displacement and catastrophic need and are desperate for food, shelter and long-term relief that only peace can provide, he said, urging Member States to keep their needs first in mind. The international community must pursue unity and consensus, and he further urged Council members to recommit to dialogue and negotiations towards peace and reconciliation in Mali. Member States should consider how they can constructively advance discussions towards peace and security in the Assembly and support the Council in upholding its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations. He added: “The veto initiative has opened the door for a new form of collaboration and accountability between our two organs. Let us use it to seek unity and achieve consensus.”
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), while underlining the need for the international community to overcome divergencies in wake of the Malian tragedy, said that, unfortunately, this logic did not prevail upon France and other Western members of the Security Council when they considered the sanctions regime on that country. He recalled that, on 16 August, the Council turned to Mali with a request to abolish the sanctions regime, which had convincing arguments. The Russian Federation consistently advocates against endless automatic extensions of sanctions regimes, which should be targeted, have a limited timeframe and not be used as a means for external pressure. Further, such regimes should be reviewed regularly to see if they reflect the situation on the ground. He noted that, during negotiations, his delegation stated on many occasions that attempts to impose external resolutions on Mali “have zero chance of success”. However, Council members continued to ignore Bamako’s views.
He went on to say that, as the Council moved towards a vote, “the real motives of Western members became clear”. Their aim was to retain the Panel of Experts, which they claimed was necessary to observe the human rights situation in the country. This, however, is far from pertinent to sanctions regimes or relevant Council measures, but rather belongs to the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review. He stated that the Panel has produced biased reports — another demonstration of a neo-colonial approach to an independent State of the Global South. He also spotlighted efforts by Western States to provoke the Russian Federation to use its veto. Addressing the Global South, he stressed that any country can be in Mali’s position “if we in the Council do not stop attempts by Western countries whose only concern is how to preserve their geopolitical dominance and use their former colonies”.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, voiced deep regret over the use of the veto by the Russian Federation on the resolution for a 12-month extension of the UN sanctions regime and Panel of Experts for Mali. The use of the veto in this case blatantly disregarded the will of a large cross-regional majority of 13 countries, including the African Security Council members. Further, its use ignores the principles of multilateralism and puts further obstacles on the road to peace and to relief for the people of Mali. The purpose of the sanctions regime was to support the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali by imposing a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for obstructing its implementation. Three individuals were subject to the travel ban and five were subject to both the ban and the freeze.
He underscored that the failure to renew the sanctions regime, including the Panel of Experts, removes a major tool that incentivized parties to implement the peace agreement. Warning against significant risks for peace and security in Mali and in the wider region, he said non-implementation of the Agreement weakens signatory armed groups and offers terrorist groups an opportunity to re-enact the 2012 scenario. The humanitarian situation in Mali is getting worse by the day, he stressed, expressing deep regret about the decision taken by the Malian Transitional Government to request the withdrawal of MINUSMA without delay. The withdrawal of the peacekeeping force risks deepening the conflict in Mali and puts the already fragile peace agreement into jeopardy. Additionally, it will put civilians at greater risk and affect humanitarian access to those most in need. The end of the sanctions regime will only isolate the country further, he said, adding that “cutting ties with the United Nations is not an answer to Mali’s multidimensional crisis”.
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), speaking also for Belgium and Luxembourg and associating herself with the European Union, stressed the importance of today’s debate, recalling the consensus adoption in April 2022 of an Assembly resolution that allowed for such discussion after the of veto in the Council. The text reminded all that veto power is not a privilege but a responsibility. A permanent Council seat comes with great responsibility to uphold the Charter of the United Nations, she said, stressing that the organ acts on behalf of all Member States. The Russian Federation vetoed a resolution that would have extended the mandate of a sanctions regime and its Panel of Experts for Mali. The draft text received 13 affirmative votes. Moscow’s action undermined collective efforts to preserve peace and security in Mali and the wider region. Expressing concern over the humanitarian and human rights situations there, she warned against an increase in sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and the Wagner Group’s involvement in the Malian armed forces, documented by the expert panel.
JOAQUIN PEREZ AYESTARAN (Venezuela), speaking for the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations, excluding Algeria, recalled that the Group was established in response to the increasing threats to the Charter, which remains as relevant as in 1945. Unilateralism, attacks against multilateralism, the claiming of non-existent exceptionalisms and attempts to ignore and even substitute the instrument’s purposes and principles contradict international law and contribute to increased uncertainty, distrust, instability and tensions around the world. The Charter’s Chapter VII measures should only be taken as a last resort and must not be an end in itself. The host country’s concerns should be duly considered. Bamako officially requested MINUSMA’s termination, including because of the negative impact the Mission has had on national efforts. The situation on the ground has drastically changed over the past six years and there is no longer a legitimate justification for perpetuating the enforcement of a sanctions regime on Mali. Further, he demanded all unilateral coercive measures against that country be completely removed, urging Council members to engage with each other to maintain international peace and security without double standards, politicization or selective approaches.
MARIE-LOUISE KOCH WEGTER (Denmark), also speaking for Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, expressed concern that a permanent Council member continues to exploit its position to prevent the 15‑member organ from conducting its duties. She therefore underscored that the veto initiative is a vital tool for making the Council more transparent and accountable. Voicing support for the work of the co-penholders — France and the United Arab Emirates — she expressed regret that the use of the veto has prevented the Council from taking necessary action on another highly important matter. She also pointed out that the resolution had wide support from Council members — 13 votes in favour, including the African members.
“Russia’s veto disregards the needs on the ground,” she stressed, stating that the removal of the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts increases the risks to peace and security in Mali. Noting her bloc’s long history of cooperation with Mali, she called on all parties to promote sustainable development and peace and to honour commitments to safeguard civilians and uphold international humanitarian and human rights law. “Implementing the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation remains instrumental,” she stressed. She also urged support for the orderly, safe withdrawal of peacekeeping forces, including upholding the status of forces agreement until the full withdrawal of MINUSMA is completed.
RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, condemned the use of the veto by the Russian Federation on 30 August, stating that “the threat posed by terrorist groups in Mali and the Sahel should unite us”. However, he observed that “Russia chose to divide us and to abandon the Malian people” because “the Panel of Experts have done their job”. “Once again, we must call this obstructionist behaviour out for what it is — bullying, motivated by Russia’s own interest to hide the atrocities committed by the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group in Mali,” he said. He also warned against a shrinking civic space in Mali, with rising human rights violations against civilians perpetrated by armed and terrorist groups, as well as by the Malian Armed Forces in concert with the Wagner Group.
Voicing concern over the implications of the withdrawal of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he said that the suffering of civilians will further increase as perpetrators will be emboldened by an increased feeling of impunity after the Russian Federation’s veto. Impunity and the absence of justice for local populations are among the root causes of insecurity and the increased influence of armed and terrorist groups. “Russia’s latest manoeuvre is not one that is motivated by protecting civilians and improving peace and stability in Mali, but the contrary: a self-interested political agenda seeking to destabilize the region and to pillage its natural resources,” he stressed. In his national capacity, he underscored that Canada has been engaged in Mali for over 50 years, with its international assistance to the country totalling nearly $120 million in 2021-22.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) recalled the history of how Council resolution 2374 (2017) was adopted, affirming that the sanctions regime strictly concerns the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, which only covers the northern regions of his country. In other words, the other regions of Mali are not within the scope of the Agreement. However, he noted with regret that the Panel of Experts has, on numerous occasions, exceeded its mandate, becoming a political mechanism whose real agenda his Government does not know. The Panel demanded that the Government provide detailed information on military and security cooperation between the Russian Federation and Mali — which is a matter related to its sovereign choice of partners. He further noted that the Government was keen to access Panel reports before publication, but leaks to the international press, and therefore the general public, were made beforehand.
He noted that the Panel further addressed political or economic questions without any link to its mandate, including the question of violations of human rights. Turning to problems with the implementation of the sanctions regime, he cited: the travel ban, with people under sanctions evading traditional identification mechanisms; and the freezing of assets, with criminals using cash or other forms of informal transactions, continuing their illicit activities, including money-laundering and terrorist financing. In view of this, his Government requested the lifting of the sanctions regime through the non-renewal of the measures established by resolution 2374 (2017). Turning to the “legitimate use of the right of veto by the Russian Federation”, he expressed gratitude to Moscow for its reliable and sincere partnership. He further reiterated that the withdrawal of MINUSMA and the end of the sanctions regime do not mean the end of cooperation between Mali and the United Nations.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) expressed regret about the Security Council’s failure to renew the Mali sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts. The draft resolution represented a thoughtful compromise among Council members and was supported by regional voices. Highlighting the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Mali, she said the Panel of Experts reported that the fragility of the 2015 peace agreement benefits armed groups such as Jama-a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin, affiliated with Al-Qaida, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Malian armed forces and private foreign security personnel have been accused of committing sexual violence during joint military operations, in a manner that the Panel of Experts suggests is “systematic and organized”. Warning against “a vacuum of accountability”, she stressed the need to reinforce the sanctions regime. She called the veto “an outdated privilege” that creates harmful disparities that should be minimized rather than exacerbated. Often, the mere threat of the veto — known as the hidden veto — is used to block or dilute resolutions aimed at saving lives.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) stressed that the Mali sanctions regime, including its Panel of Experts, has been critically important for peace and stability in that country and across the whole region — all the more so given MINUSMA’s imminent departure. Expressing regret that a single Council member — the Russian Federation — blocked a resolution to extend the regime, he recalled that Moscow did not engage in good-faith negotiations despite the penholders’ strenuous efforts to seek common ground. It then introduced its own draft resolution at the last minute without any prior consultation and threatened that — if its draft was not passed — the issue would never be considered again in the Council. Even with this threat, not a single other Council member supported the Kremlin’s draft, which Tokyo voted against. “Such behaviour as wielding the veto towards any text other than its own is unacceptable,” he said.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala), voicing regret that the first item to be discussed at the Assembly’s seventy-eighth session is yet again the use of the veto in a situation that requires ensuring the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, rejected the irresponsible use of the veto in the Council by a permanent member. Measures under way through the Sanctions Committee, if they are not continued, will have a negative impact on the peace agreement, she warned, calling on the Council to act responsibly for the maintenance of international peace and security and in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea) voiced regret that the Security Council failed to adopt a resolution renewing the sanctions regime in Mali, aimed at supporting the country in implementing the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation. “All of this was undermined with the use of the veto by one permanent member,” he stated. The abrupt termination of the sanctions regime gives rise to serious concerns about the implementation of the peace agreement, and unforeseen consequences in light of MINUSMA’s anticipated withdrawal. He voiced concern over the political, humanitarian and security situation in Mali, which is closely linked with that of the Sahel and West Africa. Noting that the arbitrary use of the veto comes at the expense of international peace and security, he reiterated support for all initiatives aimed at limiting that use.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta), aligning herself with the European Union, voiced deep regret over the veto used by the Russian Federation to end the Mali sanctions regime. The carefully crafted draft resolution was a result of extensive efforts to reconcile all positions among Council members. Lauded by Council members as a “historic opportunity” to achieve lasting peace in Mali, “the pivotal role of the Mali sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts in supporting the implementation of the peace agreement cannot be understated”. The sudden withdrawal of MINUSMA should have served as a strong signal for the Council to unite in support of the implementation of the peace agreement. Regrettably, this opportunity was rejected. She described the presentation of an alternative last-minute draft by the Russian Federation as “unhelpful”, noting that “the fact that all Council members rejected this proposal speaks for itself”.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, expressed regret that the Assembly meets today to discuss the Russian Federation’s use of the veto once again. Such action undermined “the multilateral system we have built to maintain international peace and security”. The sanctions regime was created to support the 2015 peace agreement, with the Panel of Experts playing a crucial role in monitoring implementation of the accord and UN sanctions, through regular reports to the Security Council Sanctions Committee. Disturbingly, the expert panel had recently reported that systematic human rights abuses, including conflict-related sexual violence, were carried out by the Wagner Group. Such violations may go unchecked without these reports, he warned.
FERGUS JOHN ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom) said that the Russian Federation has repeatedly used its veto to impose its will on the rest of the world when it fails by force of logic to win the votes to support its position. Amid escalating violence in Mali, the decision to renew the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate should have been straightforward. However, instead of working towards compromise, Moscow tabled a last-minute resolution of its own. “The text received no support,” he added. “It is no wonder that Russia wanted to censor the Panel of Experts,” he said, noting that its final report exposed the Wagner Group’s role in human rights atrocities in Mali. Further, it reported that, under Wagner’s watch, the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has almost doubled its area of control. A security partnership with the Russian Federation is “clearly not the solution to Mali’s insecurity”, he asserted.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), recalling the many recent calls for improvements to the Council’s working methods, thanked the two thirds of the Assembly who already support the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s Code of Conduct and invited the remaining States to join, as well. The text submitted by France and the United Arab Emirates represented an acceptable compromise, she pointed out, stressing: “We find it difficult to regard an alternative draft resolution, presented at the last minute, as a genuine attempt to find a common position on the Council.” Negotiations must be conducted in good faith and not by brandishing the threat or use of the veto, she added, urging both permanent and elected Council members to forge consensus that will enable the Council to fulfil its mandate effectively and responsibly.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) condemned the Russian Federation’s veto of the Mali sanctions regime renewal, both for its impact, and for the naked assertion of Russian Federation ambitions at the expense of the stability of West Africa and the entire continent. Moscow found itself isolated after refusing to engage in negotiations and then trying to bully the Council into supporting its alternative text to force the premature sunsetting of sanctions and the demise of the Panel of Experts — which had exposed its destabilizing role in Mali and the region. The veto, he stated, was informed by Moscow’s continuing efforts to prop up the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group and its mercenaries across Africa. “Partnering with Wagner makes countries less democratic, less prosperous and less secure,” he stressed. He further noted that the demise of sanctions comes at a time when relations between signatory armed groups are increasingly tense.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that, with Mali’s official request for MINUSMA’s withdrawal, “there is no single basis or justification” to maintain either the Panel of Experts or the sanctions regime that are no longer effective for Mali’s peace process. Accordingly, the Russian Federation’s delegation has exerted maximum flexibility by insisting on sufficient negotiations to reach consensus. However, the United States and its followers ignored such efforts and drove the situation to the extreme by enforcing a vote on their resolution. Under the deceptive pretexts of “peace and security”, “human rights” and “democracy”, interference in internal affairs is being ventured everywhere at the Council, he said, adding that the anachronistic double standards that characterize the Council’s working methods should be comprehensively reformed.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, said that it is unfortunate that the first debate in the Assembly’s new session must be on the use of veto. It is, however, important that Member States can express themselves. The veto undermines the principles of multilateralism, ignoring the prevailing Council view, including that of the organ’s three African members. The veto eliminated a process of engagement with Mali and the wider region, rendered empty the penholders’ extensive work towards compromise and created serious obstacles on the road to peace. This is the fifth veto by the Russian Federation since the adoption of resolution 76/262, she said, stressing the need to consider concrete ways of how these corresponding Assembly debates can assist the Council in fulfilling its obligations under the Charter.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s efforts to dissolve the Panel of Experts come amid allegations that the Malian Armed Forces — alongside foreign security personnel presumed to be the Wagner Group — have reportedly committed sexual violence during joint military operations. Emphasizing that conflict-related sexual violence can amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said: “Far from doing what’s best for Mali — as it claims — Russia has, once again, sought to use its position at the UN to excuse its own behaviour and stifle uncomfortable truths.” Voicing concern over the situation in Mali, he called on the transitional authorities to fully cooperate with the United Nations to ensure an orderly, safe withdrawal and to respect the status of forces agreement until the final element of MINUSMA has departed.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) voiced concern over the Russian Federation’s latest use of the veto, as well as over what that represents for the Council’s future functioning. The situation in Mali has deteriorated at an ever-faster pace since the coup in 2021 — Mali’s third in 10 years. The termination of MINUSMA and the growing influence of mercenaries — particularly in the country’s north — have further worsened the security situation and led to a removal of human rights and rule of law safeguards. He noted that the veto discussed today is the first-ever on a resolution regarding Mali, adding that “what had been an area of strong consensus amongst Council members is now an area of division and paralysis”. He urged the Council to discuss renewal of a sanctions regime for the country, especially before the expiry of the Panel of Experts’ mandate later in September.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) said that the Panel of Experts’ reports assisting the sanctions regime were a reliable, independent source of information on the situation in Mali, which enabled informed decisions to support implementation of the 2015 peace agreement. The Malian authorities have always been involved in all matters relating to the implementation of the Panel’s mandate. Moreover, the sanctions regime sought to give Bamako the opportunity to express its views on these reports. It is disturbing that the veto has deprived the Council of this subsidiary body without proposing an alternative mechanism, particularly when MINUSMA is withdrawing. The veto inhibits the Council from fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to it, he stressed.
STEFAN PRETTERHOFER (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said that the veto should not be considered a free pass to violate the core principles of the UN Charter and international law. Turning to the resolution blocked in the Council, he warned that the organ’s failure to agree on the renewal of the sanctions regime threatens peace and security not only in Mali, but also in the entire region — particularly during the withdrawal of MINUSMA. The travel ban and asset freeze are useful tools for the Council to prevent illicit financial transfers and to restrict armed groups in Mali and in the region. The situation in Mali requires Member States’ collective support, and the provisions set forth in the resolution vetoed by the Russian Federation remain critical to peace and security in Mali, he stressed.
SAMY SOFIAN SAADI (Germany), aligning himself with the European Union, stressed that the Russian Federation — again using the veto against the will of the countries of the region and without approval of any other Council member — “has single-handedly forced the end of a crucial UN mechanism”. The sanctions regime is not an end in itself, but it did have a clear purpose: to support the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement by allowing targeted designations of individuals violating or actively obstructing it. He noted that the Panel of Experts played a crucial role in monitoring compliance with the agreement by all sides, adding that Moscow’s insistence on abolishing it speaks volumes about its true intentions. The stability of Mali and the Sahel region is too important to allow one Member State to jeopardize it, he stressed.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union, said that, as MINUSMA withdraws, the Panel of Experts has emerged as the only UN mechanism capable of monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses and facilitating efforts to implement the peace agreement. The Russian Federation’s decision to abolish the Panel’s reporting mandate was a deliberate attempt to prevent the publication of uncomfortable truths about the Wagner Group’s activities in Mali, which destabilize the whole region. Recurring Assembly meetings on the use of veto highlight a lamentable reality where one Council member misuses the veto power to put its own interests above the noble aims enshrined in the UN Charter, he said.
GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates), noting her country’s concerted effort as co-penholder, together with France, said it is regrettable that the Council could not adopt the resolution despite wide-ranging support in the organ. Touching on some aspects of the negotiations process, she said her delegation coordinated regularly with Mali over three weeks and took into consideration the viewpoints of the countries in the region. Its primary goal was to have a text that would tackle the majority of concerns in a way that would ensure a successful adoption of the resolution. Noting consultations with Council members following receipt of Mali’s letter requesting an end to the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ reporting mandate, she said most members stressed the need to continue negotiations and to coordinate with Bamako.
As such, the draft resolution includes a reference to Mali’s letter, as well as language indicating that the Council would review the provisions of the said resolution to take into account Mali’s concerns, she continued. Her delegation made other proposals during the negotiations process to find common ground, including on the day of the voting. However, all those proposals failed to achieve the necessary consensus to keep the Panel of Experts’ reporting mandate and the sanctions regime. She stressed the need to implement the Agreement by all signatories for peace and stability in Mali and the region. Dialogue is the only path to surmount any difficulties, she stressed, voicing support for international efforts in that regard.
MARTHINUS CHRISTOFFEL JOHANNES VAN SCHALKWYK (South Africa) voiced concern over coups in Mali, as well as over the rising number of unconstitutional changes of Government ravaging the West and Central Africa regions. Regarding Mali, he voiced support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to work with the transitional Government in Mali to restore Constitutional order and embark on a peaceful return to civilian rule. He called on that Government and on signatory parties to strengthen efforts towards implementing the peace agreement to improve stability in the Mali. While Council sanctions are not an end in themselves, he observed that they may be applied to create conditions conducive for achieving a peaceful solution to a conflict.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, stressed that — as the Council acts on behalf of all Member States — the veto should be used responsibly, transparently and with a sense of accountability. Regional partners have clearly expressed their support for maintaining the sanction measures adopted by the Council, he noted, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the peace agreement — particularly during this fragile period for Mali. It is regrettable that a single permanent Council member took it upon itself to overturn the majority’s decision to support those who have been working alongside Mali to achieve peace and prosperity for its people. This may impede progress made thus far, he said.
GIANLUCA GRECO (Italy) said that the Russian Federation’s veto prevented the Council from discharging its vital responsibilities regarding the situation in Mali. It was also a disruptive, unilateral move that substantially ignored the position of most Council members — including that of African members. Moreover, it weakens the oversight capacities of both the Council and the UN in a critical moment for Mali. The sanctions were never meant to penalize a Member State, he pointed out, noting that both the travel ban and asset freeze — as well as the Panel of Experts’ mandate — were adopted to support implementation of the peace agreement. He encouraged Mali’s transitional Government to remain ready to engage with the United Nations and its membership to support peace and prosperity in the country and the wider Sahel region.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) noted that the renewal of the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate was the last and most effective tool available to safeguard the peace agreement from those who would undermine it. This is especially true after the transitional Government demanded the withdrawal of MINUSMA in June. Such withdrawal is unprecedented and dangerous for UN staff, leaving a void that has already caused violations of the ceasefire. He stated that the fight against terrorism must be carried out within the framework of respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Recalling the international community’s insistence on “African solutions for African problems”, he stressed that, despite permanent Council members’ so-called “right” of veto, the other Member States of the Assembly also have the right to participate.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya), recalling the 11 September 2001 terrorists’ attacks in the United States 22 years ago by Al-Qaida, said that Nairobi has been similarly targeted by the same group. Following the grim days, the Council has built a powerful counter-terrorism architecture, by establishing the Counter-Terrorism Committee, adopting 40 resolutions and initiating anti-terrorism strategies. It is vital to consider the implications of the international community’s inability to respond to mounting terrorist threats in several African countries. As members discuss the use of veto by a permanent Council member today, it is important not to lose sight of the broader context concerning counter-terrorism. “As threats mount on the ground, the Council’s unity is eroding into politicization almost solely on the basis of great Power competition,” he said, urging the Council to refocus its energy to address terrorists threats in Mali, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal), pointing out that MINUSMA, the sanctions regime and the regional and international initiatives in favour of peace and stability in Mali and in the Sahel were created in response to requests of assistance from Bamako and the region itself, said they are now being withdrawn and dismantled, at the request of the Malian transition authorities. Noting the continued deterioration of the situation in Mali, she voiced concern that MINUSMA’s withdrawal and the removal of the sanctions regime risk further deepening the conflict and jeopardizing the peace agreement. She echoed other delegations in urging the Malian authorities to fully cooperate with the UN to ensure an orderly and safe withdrawal of the peacekeepers and encouraged Council members to include the Special Report in the next Annual Report, together with a summary of this debate.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONAZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador), noting her country’s troop contributions to MINUSMA, emphasized the serious risks associated with the prevailing security situation, along with the deplorable acts of violence that have already taken place against those personnel. In this context, she voiced concern that the Council — given its primacy in maintaining international peace and security — has not reached an agreement on the situation in Mali. She therefore called on the organ to exercise its duties in an effective, responsible manner and to put the interests and human rights of Mali’s people at the centre of its actions.
MELANIE HIDALGO (Dominican Republic) recalled that her country chaired the Sanctions Committee for Mali during its Council membership, confirming the decisive role that subsidiary body plays in monitoring and facilitating the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement. Through its exchanges with Malian actors — especially women and youth — the Dominican Republic knows well that such individuals pin their hopes on the UN to attain sustainable peace. Against the backdrop of MINUSMA’s withdrawal, active terrorists and looming, catastrophic levels of food insecurity, she stressed that the Council should not terminate a mechanism that provides a safeguard for the peace agreement.
NORBERTO MORETTI (Brazil), noting that support for the implementation of the Algiers peace agreement and the monitoring activities of the Panel of Experts were the main elements that justified his country’s vote in favour of the resolution, said the drawdown and withdrawal of MINUSMA also influenced its position on the resolution. Unfortunately, the continued and profound divisions among Council members once again made it impossible for the organ to discharge its duties under the Charter of the United Nations, he said, stressing: “The diminishing legitimacy and effectiveness of the Security Council call for an urgent reform of both its composition and working methods.” Brazil will continue to support and engage in constructive dialogue in the hope that member States can overcome their differences and ensure that the Council properly fulfils its mandate, he added.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania), aligning himself with the European Union, said that the use of the veto by the Russian Federation in the current context creates significant risks for peace and security in Mali and the wider region. He also deplored the withdrawal of MINUSMA, citing the danger of attacks on departing convoys both in July and in recent days. In light of that situation, he noted that the Panel of Experts would have played an even more important role in monitoring the implementation of the peace agreement. He called on the Malian authorities to remain committed in that direction, and for the benefit of all people in the region, to hold responsible those trying to obstruct that peaceful political path.
ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine) said that he was not surprised that the Russian Federation once again abused its veto right — this time, to terminate the sanctions regime for Mali. Moscow disregarded the position of the majority of the Council, including its African members who have supported the extension of the travel ban and asset freeze. Expressing hope that the Council can renew the sanctions regime despite the Kremlin’s reckless actions, he said that the organ’s failure to adopt a resolution on this matter — as well as other cases of veto use in recent years, including on Ukraine — has proved, once again, the need for comprehensive UN reform, particularly in the context of the veto right.
MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone), stressing that use of the veto must not defeat its purpose of promoting international peace and security, underscored the need for a comprehensive UN system reform. With the imminent departure of MINUSMA, there is also an urgent need for a sustainable mechanism to complete the transition and subsequent stabilization in the country, he said, emphasizing that this has been provided for through the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation. Noting that the targeted Mali sanctions regime was an important enforcement measure towards conflict resolution, he said its extension would have served that purpose, considering the current violation of the ceasefire agreement between the parties in the conflict. Thus, the full and safeguarded implementation of that agreement must be ensured. Moreover, the full and effective implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali remains critical for the long-term peace and stability of the country, he added.