Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on Mali.

Ambassador Barbara Woodward speaks at UN Security Council

President, I join others in thanking France for their work on this file and pay tribute to SRSG Wane and the dedication and service of MINUSMA personnel dan condolences to those who have paid the ultimate price.

As we know the Transitional Government of Mali requested MINUSMA’s departure. The United Kingdom would not have chosen to withdraw MINUSMA at this moment, when Mali and the wider Sahel are facing increasing instability and humanitarian needs. We do not believe that partnership with the Wagner Group will deliver long-term stability or security for the Malian people.

We are particularly concerned about the impact MINUSMA’s withdrawal could have for the future of the Algiers Agreement. We underline the obligations of all signatory parties to adhere to the agreement. As part of MINUSMA’s transition plan, we urge the United Nations to consider establishing an appropriate entity to support ongoing dialogue and implementation.

Nevertheless, the United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which emphasises the need for MINUSMA to withdraw in a safe and orderly manner. We regret, however, that it was not possible to adopt a resolution allowing for a more prudent withdrawal timeline, and a mandate that would have enabled MINUSMA to continue providing support during its drawdown. We are also concerned that the Mission’s mandate to protect civilians will be discontinued from October.

This resolution sets an objective of withdrawal by 31 December, but it also requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed regularly on progress. We believe the Council should stand ready to revise this timeline if needed, to allow time for a safe and orderly withdrawal.

MINUSMA’s withdrawal will be a major logistical undertaking, and it will not be without risk. This resolution underlines Mali’s obligation to cooperate with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s exit process and to respect the Status of Forces Agreement until its departure. MINUSMA’s freedom of movement must be upheld, for the safety and security of its personnel. In this regard we urge Mali to end restrictions on MINUSMA’s imports.

The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting the Malian people. We call upon the authorities to deliver on their commitment to the political transition, with free and fair presidential elections in February 2024. We also urge them to fulfil their primary responsibility for the protection of civilians and their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

Published 30 June 2023