Security Council Terminates Mandate of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2690 (2023)
Maintaining Peacekeepers without Consent Untenable, Says Council President
The Security Council decided today to terminate the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as of 30 June 2023, ceasing its operations, transferring its tasks and withdrawing its personnel by 31 December 2023.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2690 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2690(2023)) and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council called on the Malian transitional Government to cooperate fully with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation. Such liquidation shall begin on 1 January 2024. It also requested that Government to fully respect the status-of-forces agreement until the departure of MINUSMA’s final element from Mali.
Among other provisions, the Council decided that, until 30 September 2023, MINUSMA is authorized to respond to imminent threats of violence to civilians and contribute to the safe civilian-led delivery of humanitarian assistance. It further decided that, until 31 December 2023, MINUSMA is authorized to fulfil certain other functions within its capabilities and area of operation, including providing security for United Nations personnel, facilities, convoys, installations and equipment.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members spoke with a unified voice to express support for the draft resolution, which directly responds to Mali’s request for MINUSMA’s prompt withdrawal. However, some delegates expressed regret that it was not possible to adopt a resolution allowing for a more prudent withdrawal timeline, and that the Mission’s mandate to protect civilians will be discontinued from October.
Ghana’s representative, also speaking for Gabon and Mozambique, underscored that MINUSMA’s withdrawal should not be the end of the international community’s engagement with Mali. Effective management of the Mission’s withdrawal phase will limit any unintended adverse consequences for the stability of the country and the Sahel region, he said, noting that the cooperation of the Malian authorities is essential to ensure a seamless transfer of tasks.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, Council President for June, spoke in her national capacity to emphasize that the prospect of the United Nations maintaining a political office and peacekeepers in Mali without consent would be untenable. Nevertheless, the Council remains responsible for ensuring the resolution is properly implemented, she observed, urging strong communication both between MINUSMA and Mali’s transitional Government and between the Mission and the United Nations country team.
In that vein, China’s delegate said that cooperation between missions and the Governments of countries concerned is a prerequisite for smooth peacekeeping operations. Voicing concern over multiple threats facing the Sahel region — including terrorism, humanitarian crises, climate change and poverty — he recalled that, since 2013, Chinese peacekeepers have faithfully served in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Mali despite difficulties and dangers.
The representative of the United Kingdom, meanwhile, underscored that her country would not have chosen to withdraw MINUSMA now, when Mali and the wider Sahel are facing increasing instability and humanitarian need. “We do not believe that partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people,” she asserted. Citing MINUSMA’s withdrawal as “a major logistical undertaking” that will “not be without risks”, she called on the Malian authorities to cooperate with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s exit process and to end restrictions on the Mission’s imports.
Rounding out the discussion, Mali’s delegate welcomed the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution. However, he expressed regret that — despite the tangible results achieved on the ground by Malian armed forces — the Council continues to consider the situation in his country “a threat to international peace and security”. Even so, he reported that his country’s authorities commit to cooperating closely with MINUSMA to implement the resolution within the established timeframe and to ensuring the safety and security of the Mission’s personnel, facilities and installations until its departure.
The meeting began at 11:03 a.m. and ended at 11:47 a.m.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), also speaking for Gabon and Mozambique, said that the resolution just adopted marks a significant milestone in the international community’s engagement with the people of Mali as they strive towards the restoration of peace, security and stability in their country. Since its establishment on 25 April 2013, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has played an important role in facilitating national political processes and carrying out security-related and stabilizing tasks.
Highlighting MINUSMA’s crucial role in securing Mali in the face of immense security challenges, he underlined that the withdrawal of the Mission should not, however, be the end of the international community’s engagement with that country. Accordingly, he urged coordinated implementation of the Mission’s withdrawal within the six-month period in a manner that does not erode security gains. To ensure a seamless transfer of tasks, the cooperation of the Malian authorities is essential. Further, he stressed the need to ensure effective management of MINUSMA’s withdrawal phase to limit any unintended adverse consequences for the stability of Mali and the Sahel region.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said that, while his country deeply regrets the Malian transitional Government’s decision to abandon MINUSMA, his delegation voted in favour of the resolution “as we are ultimately satisfied with the drawdown plan this Council has just adopted”. The United States calls on all signatory parties to continue their cooperation and avoid any actions that would jeopardize the ceasefire. Mali’s transitional Government must continue to adhere to its agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to transition to a democratically elected Government by March 2024. The resolution adopted reinforces the transitional Government’s obligation to cooperate with the drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation of MINUSMA. He expressed concern over statements from some domestic actors calling for harassment of peacekeepers. Further, he welcomed the resolution’s clear directive to MINUSMA to ensure that all assets are handed over in full compliance with United Nations practices and regulations.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), noting his delegation’s vote in favour of the resolution — albeit with reservations — voiced regret that MINUSMA must withdraw despite the many challenges facing Mali and the region. He called on Mali’s transitional Government to cooperate fully with the United Nations to ensure the orderly and safe withdrawal of the Mission, including by respecting all provisions of the status-of-forces agreement until the departure of the final element of MINUSMA from the country. The smooth and proper transfer of MINUSMA’s tasks must also be ensured, he stressed, emphasizing that all operations by security forces — including those conducted jointly with foreign security personnel — should be carried out in accordance with international obligations. The Council must continue its engagement with Malian parties and regional actors to implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and, further, he underscored the importance of achieving a political transition and ensuring a return to constitutional order by March 2024.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) acknowledged the concerns raised by the Malian transitional authorities, noting that the consent of the host Government is essential for any peace operation. As the Council is formally terminating MINUSMA’s mandate, he paid tribute to the peacekeepers and civilians who perished while risking their lives to help protect those of United Nations personnel and of the people of Mali. Engagement with the Malian authorities to prepare for MINUSMA’s withdrawal should be constructive and enable the country to continue its political transition process and the pursuit of durable peace. In this vein, he reiterated his support for Algeria’s leadership in the mediation process to overcome the present impasse and urged all Malian political forces to fully implement the peace agreement.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said the decision to withdraw MINUSMA “seems hasty to us”, calling the conditions for an immediate withdrawal “unsuitable”. However, in a spirit of compromise and consensus, Switzerland voted in favour of the resolution. It falls, first and foremost, on the Malian State to protect its population. “We therefore count on the authorities to take the appropriate measures to protect the civilian population without discrimination at each phase of the withdrawal of the Mission and beyond,” he stressed. From a logistical standpoint, six months is insufficient for a responsible withdrawal of a peacekeeping operation the size of MINUSMA. This withdrawal must be conducted in an orderly and safe manner and lessons learned from other transitions should serve as a guide. He urged the Malian authorities to work closely with MINUSMA, which also means that permits to import the materials necessary for the Mission’s departure must be provided expeditiously.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta), stressing that the safety of peacekeepers is of utmost importance, said the Mission’s drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation must be fulfilled in full cooperation between the Malian transitional Government and the United Nations. He urged Malian authorities to keep the peace agreement a priority for the transitional Government and to give due consideration to the work and contributions offered by the United Nations country team and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in the transfer of MINUSMA’s tasks. He called for a renewed approach — based on concrete confidence-building measures — noting that such measures will help to re-establish open dialogue between the signatory parties to deliver tangible results. The Malian transitional Government must fulfil its commitment to hold free and fair presidential elections in February of 2024 with the sole aim of returning to democratic rule by a civilian-led Government, he added.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) underscored that her country would not have chosen to withdraw MINUSMA now, when Mali and the wider Sahel are facing increasing instability and humanitarian need. “We do not believe that partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people,” she asserted. Voicing concern over the impact of MINUSMA’s withdrawal on the future of the peace agreement, she called for the establishment of an appropriate entity to support ongoing dialogue as part of the Mission’s transition plan. Further, she expressed regret that it was not possible to adopt a resolution allowing for a more-prudent withdrawal timeline, and that the Mission’s mandate to protect civilians will be discontinued from October. “MINUSMA’s withdrawal will be a major logistical undertaking, and it will not be without risk,” she cautioned, urging Mali to cooperate with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s exit process and to end restrictions on the Mission’s imports.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) said the situation in Mali is fragile, with the country facing a multi-dimensional crisis. “We encourage the authorities to work towards credible and inclusive elections, leading to the restoration of constitutional order by March 2024,” he emphasized. It is imperative that Mali upholds its international obligations, including ensuring the protection of civilians and conducting military operations in line with international humanitarian and human-rights law. He urged the Malian transitional Government to fully cooperate with MINUSMA and respect the status-of-forces agreement, including by guaranteeing the Mission freedom of movement to facilitate a safe and orderly drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation. It is crucial that risks associated with the withdrawal are mitigated as best as possible. “It is now, more than ever, imperative that humanitarian and development efforts are sustained to prevent further crisis deterioration and resurging conflict,” he said.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) said that, while his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, it regrets the Malian transitional Government’s decision to request MINUSMA’s withdrawal. He voiced hope that the transitional Government will cooperate to ensure that the withdrawal of the Mission’s personnel will be conducted in an orderly — and, above all, safe — manner. Noting the Malian State’s responsibility to protect its population in accordance with international law, he said that his delegation trusts that the transitional Government will respect the peace agreement – including by crystallizing the political process with the holding of transparent, free and inclusive elections in February 2024. Ecuador will always continue to support the people of Mali, he said, thanking France for ensuring that the resolution contained all the elements necessary for MINUSMA’s safe withdrawal.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation), noting that her delegation voted in favour of the draft, welcomed the Council’s unanimous reaction to Mali’s request, which constituted a sovereign decision regarding further efforts to ensure the security and protection of its civilian population. She honoured the memory of peacekeepers who laid down their lives for peace and security in Mali. The Mission’s withdrawal should take place in an orderly and organized manner and in close cooperation with the host county, she underscored, adding that the resolution just adopted sets out the framework necessary to achieve this.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), Council President for June, spoke in her national capacity to note that her delegation voted in favour of the resolution — despite some concern —cv because the text directly responds to Mali’s request for MINUSMA’s prompt withdrawal. The prospect of the United Nations maintaining a political office and peacekeepers in that country without consent would be untenable, she said, nevertheless noting that the Council remains responsible for ensuring the resolution is properly implemented. Strong communication must be at the heart of efforts to move forward, she stressed, both between MINUSMA and Mali’s transitional Government and between the Mission and the United Nations country team. Those citizens for whom MINUSMA’s presence is a protective shield should benefit from clear communication relating to drawdown plans, she added. “MINUSMA is withdrawing from Mali, but Mali and its people will not be left behind,” she said.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) welcomed the Council’s favourable response to his Government’s request for MINUSMA’s immediate withdrawal. While acknowledging that the Mission has not achieved its fundamental objective of supporting the Government’s efforts to secure the country, he welcomed its contributions in other areas, such as humanitarian and social assistance. For its part, the Government will ensure compliance with the engagements outlined in the resolution adopted today. Furthermore, it is committed to cooperating closely with the United Nations Secretariat and MINUSMA to implement the resolution within the established timeframe. Meanwhile, the Malian authorities will continue to ensure the safety and security of the Mission’s personnel, facilities, installations and property until its departure. He also stressed that the Government will relentlessly pursue the protection of the civilian population.
However, he expressed regret that the Council continues to consider the situation in Mali a threat to international peace and security. The organ does so despite the tangible results achieved on the ground by the Malian armed forces, which have benefited from capacity-building. Additionally, he underlined his Government’s commitment to pursue the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.