Niger, United States Representatives Differ Over Operational, Logistical Support to Group of Five for Sahel Joint Force

The Security Council today decided to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2022, and to task the Mission with supporting the country’s political transition ahead of presidential and legislative elections slated for 27 February 2022.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2584 (2021) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the 15-member organ called on all Malian stakeholders to facilitate the full realization of the political transition and handover of power to elected civilian authorities within the 18-month transition period, as decided during the 15 September 2020 meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Mali’s Transitional Government must also organize free and fair presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for 27 February 2022, along with regional and local elections and a constitutional referendum, as appropriate, within that 18-month time frame.

By other terms, the Council called on all parties in Mali to strictly abide by the arrangements in place for a cessation of hostilities and demanded that all armed groups cut all ties with terrorist organizations and transnational organized crime.  They must also end the recruitment and use of child soldiers and cease any activities hampering the return of State authority and basic social services.  Further, the Council called for the inclusion within national and regional strategies of programmes that address the stigma of sexual and gender-based violence, bring justice to victims and survivors, and support their reintegration into their communities.

In addition to extending MINUSMA’s mandate, the Council decided that the Mission shall continue to comprise up to 13,289 military and 1,920 police personnel.  Highlighting the growing insecurity and physical violence against civilians in central Mali, the Council also requested that the Secretary-General provide recommendations on the force levels and ceiling of MINUSMA’s uniformed personnel no later than 15 July 2021 in order to facilitate its future discussions.

Authorizing MINUSMA to use “all necessary means to carry out its mandate”, the Council decided that the Mission’s primary strategic priority is to support implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and the political transition, and that its second strategic priority is to facilitate implementation of a comprehensive, politically led strategy to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence and re-establish State presence and authority, along with basic social services, in central Mali.

Moussa Maman Sani (Niger), also speaking for Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said his delegation voted for the resolution from a belief that United Nations support is essential for achieving a lasting solution to the crisis in Mali.  He stressed, however, that if stability in that country remains elusive, the international community will need to adjust its efforts.  MINUSMA must provide operational and logistical support to the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) Joint Force, he said, calling on the United Nations to establish a support office to this end.

Richard M. Mills, Jr. (United States) said that, considering MINUSMA’s immense tasks, a clear line must be maintained between counter-terrorism operations and peacekeeping missions in order to protect United Nations impartiality, personnel and efficacy.  Noting that the Joint Force is under the control of national Governments — rather than the Security Council — he said the United States does not support the use of United Nations funds to establish a support office for the Joint Force.  Further, MINUSMA’s support to regional actors must be conditioned on strict compliance with human-rights and due-diligence policies.  On climate change, he expressed disappointment that the Council failed to take the needed steps to increase the Organization’s information-gathering, which would have allowed the Council to understand how climate-related security risks affect the situation in Mali.  The upcoming elections on 22 February must be free, fair and result in the country’s transition to democratic governance by April 2022, he added.

Madhu Sudan Ravindran (India) said partners are needed to help Mali to overcome its current challenges.  Highlighting India’s contributions to security-related areas, he said the primary responsibility to fight terrorism rests with Mali, and the peacekeeping forces are there to provide support.  He expressed concern over the report’s indication that troop-contributing countries have not been optimally performing, which is not the case.  Calling for the implementation of existing measures, he underlined the importance of accountability.

Sonia Farrey (United Kingdom) said her country supported ongoing efforts.  The transitional authorities must uphold their commitments to tackle impunity and MINUSMA must be able to focus on its peacekeeping tasks.  Negotiations on this issue demonstrate that there is no agreement among Council members about the Sahel Force, she said, adding that the United Kingdom does not support a United Nations support office.

Geng Shuang (China) said his country voted in favour of the resolution renewing MINUSMA’s mandate.  He questioned the necessity, however, of the request in operative paragraph 19 that the Secretary-General provide a report by 15 July regarding force levels and a ceiling for uniformed personnel, given that such a report was already presented on 1 June.  Noting that the Council should also fully acknowledge the important contributions and enormous sacrifices made by MINUSMA peacekeepers, he said operative paragraph 46 is worded in such a way that invites misunderstanding on this point.

The meeting began at 3:22 p.m. and ended at 3:38 p.m.

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