Source: United Nations 4
Amid a shifting political and security landscape in Africa’s Sahel region, the Security Council today decided to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for another year, while calling for an assessment of its cooperation with the host country’s authorities, the challenges it faces and options for its reconfiguration.
The move comes on the heels of Mali’s recent announcement that it will withdraw from all institutions of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) — including the G5 Sahel joint force formed to counter terrorism in the region — as well as the decisions by France and other European countries to withdraw their counter-terrorism forces from the country.
Adopting resolution 2640 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2640(2022)) by a vote of 13 in favour to none against with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation), and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council also expressed serious concern over increasing allegations of violations of international law by the Malian Defence and Security Forces.
By the terms of today’s resolution, the Council urged the Malian authorities to implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, signed in 2015 between the Government and various armed groups. Reiterating that the Malian authorities bear the primary responsibility to protect civilians, it called upon all parties to strictly abide by the arrangements in place for cessation of hostilities and urged the authorities — before the end of MINUSMA’s current mandate — to agree on and implement a “comprehensive, inclusive, politically focused strategy” addressing the root causes of conflict and protecting civilians.
It further called on the Malian Transition Government to make tangible progress to achieve a political transition and ensure the swift return to Constitutional order, in cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), by organizing free and fair elections.
With regard to MINUSMA, the Council decided to extend the Mission’s mandate until 30 June 2023 and retain its current troop strength of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police personnel. It authorized MINUSMA to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, while deciding that its priority tasks would include supporting the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation and the political transition; exercising the Secretary-General’s good offices, confidence-building, mediation and facilitation of dialogue functions; supporting the stabilization and restoration of State authority; protecting civilians under threat of physical violence; and assisting the Mali’s authorities in their efforts to promote and protect human rights, among other things.
In a section of the resolution titled “other security presences in Mali and the Sahel region”, members stressed that security responses can only be effective if conducted in full compliance with international law. They expressed serious concerns about repeated and increased allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law by Malian Defence and Security Forces in the conduct of counter-terrorism operations, as documented by MINUSMA, and urged the Mission to ensure that its support for those forces is provided in compliance with the United Nations Human Due Diligence Policy on Human Rights — “contingent on a determination by MINUSMA of the recipient’s compliance with [the Mission’s status of forces agreement], human rights and international humanitarian law”.
In that vein, the Council requested that the next report by the Secretary‑General on the G5Sahel joint force contain a section assessing how Mali’s decision to withdraw from that regional group impacts MINUSMA, and expressed its intent to make decisions thereon in view of such an assessment.
It also expressed support to the Secretary-General’s proposal to conduct an internal review of MINUSMA by no later than 13 January 2023 — without prejudice to the implementation of its current mandate and future decisions of the Security Council — including details of the political and security challenges that impact the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate; an assessment of the cooperation with the host authorities and movement restrictions; recommendations on the necessary conditions for MINUSMA to continue operating; and options on MINUSMA’s future configuration, force levels and ceiling of uniformed personnel.
Following the vote, many Council members took the floor to express their views on both the contents of the resolution and the complex situation on the ground.
Nicolas de Rivière (France), whose delegation served as the resolution’s main drafter, welcomed the adoption and stressed that “Mali still needs MINUSMA”, as the situation on the ground remains fragile. In the course of negotiations, France listened to the positions of each Council member. The resulting resolution highlights the need to end all obstacles to MINUSMA’s work and to guarantee its freedom of movement. Noting that violations of international law — by terrorist groups, the Malian Armed Forces and mercenaries with the Wagner Group have all been reported — he stressed that they must stop. The resolution also notes the extension by 12 months of Mali’s political transition and calls on the authorities to promptly reach agreement on the way forward, he said.
Richard M. Mills, Jr. (United States), also welcoming the adoption and praising France for its collegial engagement, voiced regret that two Council members abstained in the vote and stood in the way of unanimity on the renewal of a mandate that had previously enjoyed it. MINUSMA’s extension is crucial, as it provides the Malian authorities a chance to work with the Mission and other partners towards a political transition. The text also strongly condemns violations and abuses against civilians, and calls on all parties — including armed groups, the Malian forces and the Moscow-backed Wagner Group — to end all such actions. It calls on the Transitional Government to respect the status of forces agreement and end all restrictions on MINUSMA’s movement, he said, adding that it also puts a check on all support provided by the Mission to the Malian forces, making it contingent upon the latter’s adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law.
Anna M. Evstigneeva (Russian Federation), noting that her delegation abstained in the vote, voiced concern over the resolution’s “intrusive wording” on human rights, which might be used by those who wish to tarnish the work of the Transitional Government and “are not pleased with its independent foreign policy approach”. Western colleagues often try to push “fakes” into the work of the Council, and they do not wish to hear perspectives that contradict their own. Noting that Mali is currently engaged in a difficult fight against terrorism, with hundreds of civilians killed each month, she said MINUSMA is finding it ever more difficult to carry out its mandate. However, for Western colleagues, all those challenges “go to the back burner” when it comes to the support the Russian Federation is providing to Mali. She urged MINUSMA’s leadership to maintain its impartiality and act only in the interest of Mali’s people, and to maintain constructive relations with the host country.
João Genésio de Almeida Filho (Brazil), paying tribute to the civilians and peacekeepers who have perished in recent attacks in Mali, said today’s renewal offered a chance to take a step forward. Unfortunately, the opportunity was missed with regard to the text’s wording on climate change. While it is one thing to recognize that climate may influence concrete conditions on the ground, having adverse effects, it is another to suggest a direct cause-and-effect linkage between climate change and conflict, as the resolution does in one of its preambular paragraphs. The root causes of the conflict in Mali are of a political and socioeconomic nature, and are not based in climate change, he said.
Xing Jisheng (China), expressing support for MINUSMA’s mandate renewal and pledging his country’s support, said he nevertheless abstained in the vote for several reasons. First, Member States bear the primary responsibility for the protection and promotion of human rights on their territory. As such, MINUSMA’s main role is to support the host country, and it must listen carefully to its views. The resolution lends too much prominence to human rights issues and is therefore “out of touch with the reality on the ground”, he said, adding that it lacks respect for Mali’s sovereignty.
Barbara Woodward (United Kingdom) welcomed the renewal, which takes place in a particularly difficult political and security context in Mali. Restrictions by the country’s authorities limit MINUSMA’s ability to protect civilians and to report on human rights abuses. In that context, the United Kingdom would have preferred a greater emphasis on human rights and freedom of movement in the text; nonetheless, MINUSMA enjoys a clear mandate to conduct human rights investigations and to report on them swiftly and publicly. Calling on the Malian authorities to uphold the status of forces agreement, she said it is vital that the Council be kept informed of all restrictions imposed on the Mission. She welcomed the new reporting requirements on those matters, as well as the new conditionality of MINUSMA’s support to Malian forces, and voiced support for the mandated assessment of whether and how the Mission may need to adapt to ensure its future success.
Ravindra Raguttahalli (India) said terrorism remains the most serious threat to peace and security in Mali and the wider Sahel region. The primary responsibility for providing security for the Mali’s people remains with the country’s authorities, he stressed, as MINUSMA personnel cannot undertake anti‑terrorism activities. As such, the interpretation of peacekeeping mandates must be clearly defined and have a strong legal basis, and there cannot be any artificial link between climate change and security-related issues, he said.
Lilly Stella Ngyema Ndong (Gabon) said that, while her delegation voted in favour of the resolution, the mandate it lays out does not meet the main aspirations of Mali’s people. The country stands at a critical juncture, with its people in need of more substantial international support. In negotiations on the text, the three African Council members called for more civilian protection and more robust wording on the fight against climate change. Also voicing concern that some of the resolution’s language implies violations of Mali’s sovereignty, she stressed that the international community must review its interests and focus more squarely on supporting that country’s people.
Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana) said her delegation advocated for a more balanced text than the original version, expressing regret that the final version does not adequately address climate change, human rights or security. However, given that the presence of MINUSMA is essential, her delegation voted in favour of the extension.
Jayne Jepkorir Toroitich (Kenya) said her delegation also voted in favour of the resolution, as MINUSMA plays a key role in Mali and due to overall improvements made in the draft over the course of negotiations. However, the growing terrorist threat and limited resources leave the country vulnerable. A legitimate Government is required, and food insecurity remains a major concern, she said, calling for more focus on rebuilding the Malian democracy, protecting civilians and fighting climate change.
Arian Spasse (Albania) expressed full support for the one-year extension, noting that the security situation remains complex and is further exacerbated by the presence of foreign military personnel. Urging the Malian Government to adhere to its international legal obligations, he encouraged the authorities to work constructively with both MINUSMA and ECOWAS and to develop a clear calendar for the return to constitutional order.
Issa Konfourou (Mali) said his Government has often spoken in favour of MINUSMA’s mandate renewal, while clearly setting out its expectations and reservations about the new mandate adopted today. Some of its strong reservations were simply ignored in the resolution’s final text. Mali has always cooperated in good faith with MINUSMA; however, for reasons related to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Mission’s movement can only take place with the approval of the Government, and restrictions are sometimes necessary. Noting that Mali does not intend to comply with those provisions of the resolution, he emphasized that investigating and dealing with alleged human rights violations falls under the purview of the national authorities. Against that backdrop, he called on the Council to allow MINUSMA to focus on the priority tasks for which it was established — especially supporting the restoration of State authority, as the Malian people do not wish to see MINUSMA “become part of the problem” or see human rights concerns used to pursue ulterior political motives.
The meeting began at 3 p.m. and ended at 3:34 p.m.
For information media. Not an official record.