GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 708, 6 July 2023

Mali: Termination of the UN Mission - MINUSMA
Nithyashree RB

In the news
On 30 June, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to terminate the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and end its mandate. According to the resolution drafted by the French government, MINUSMA will continue responding to violence, safeguarding civilians and providing humanitarian assistance until 30 September. Further, MINUSMA will limit its operations to providing security to UN personnel and infrastructure until 30 December, when its mandate completely ceases. MINUSMA's withdrawal from Mali is to begin on 1 January 2024. 

The same day, the permanent representative of Mali to the UN, Issa Konfourou, commented: "The Mission has not achieved its fundamental objective of supporting the Government's efforts to secure the country." Konfourou welcomed the UNSC decision and acknowledged MINUSMA's provision of humanitarian and social assistance. He assured cooperation with the UN during the withdrawal process and ensured the Malian government's aim to implement the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation 2015.

Acting Deputy Representative to the UN, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, commented: "While we deeply regret the transition government's decision to abandon MINUSMA and the harm this will bring to the Malian people, we voted in favour of this resolution as we are ultimately satisfied with the drawdown plan this Council has just adopted. We call on all signatory parties to continue their cooperation and avoid any actions that would jeopardize the ceasefire." Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN, Barbara Woodward, stated: "We do not believe that partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people." 

Issues at large
First, a brief note about the MINSUMA. It began operations in Mali on 25 June 2014 after the jihadists and separatist movements jeopardized security and stability. The mission aimed at providing security, stability and civilian protection, supporting political dialogue and reconciliation, and promoting human rights. Since 2019, the insurgency in the region has exacerbated; MINUSMA, which was already understaffed, made its operation difficult. The mission could not help decrease the fatalities and lost 303 of its personnel. Following the coup in 2020, the Malian military government demanded authorization for each flight of MINUSMA which slowed ensuring security and humanitarian assistance. Dwindled cooperation between the government and MINUSMA limited its operations. 

Second, the rising anti-West sentiments. Anti-West protests have been rising in Mali, calling for non-intervention by the West. The Malians see deploying French and other European troops as a neocolonial occupation. Mali's military's relationship with France was strained after the military accused the French troops of failing in their operation. In February 2022, France announced the withdrawal of its troops from Mali, stating the lack of cooperation by the government following the coup. Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused MINUSMA of deepening internal divisions and conflicts and stated the call for withdrawal for its failure to contain the militants. Diop added that there exists distrust towards the mission. He commented: "MINUSMA seems to have become part of the problem by fuelling community tensions exacerbated by extremely serious allegations which are highly detrimental to peace, reconciliation and national cohesion in Mali." 

Third, the role of Russian mercenaries. US National Security spokesperson John Kirby asserted that the Wagner Group was responsible for the Malian government's decision to push MINUSMA out. Kirby commented: "We know that senior Malian officials worked directly with Prigozhin employees to inform the UN Secretary-General that Mali had revoked consent for the MINUSMA mission." The condemnation of the Wagner Group's involvement in Mali is increasing. Since 2022, the Russian Mercenary has been operating in Mali, taking hold of the vacuum left by the French. In May, the UN accused the Malian troops and foreign military personnel, indicating the Wagner Group, of killing more than 500 people in Central Mali. 

In perspective
First, the termination of the mission is likely to increase human rights violations as there is a lack of accountability from the military government. Pushing out MINUSMA will put the Malians at a greater humanitarian risk. 

Second, the unequipped government and the Russian mercenaries. With over 17,000 personnel, MINUSMA has been the UN's largest and most expensive mission for a decade. The Malian government and Russian mercenaries are not equipped to counter the multiple challenges, including deep social divisions, rising insurgency, and jihadism. 

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