Mali peacekeeping mission terminated by UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the complete withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces in Mali on Friday. The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), also known as the ‘blue helmets’, will take six months to depart.

The decade-old UN mission plans to transfer the responsibilities to the country’s transitional Government, which has been in power since a coup in 2021.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the “full cooperation of the transitional Government for an orderly and safe withdrawal of the mission’s personnel and assets in the coming months”, while also urging signatory parties to the ‘2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali’ to continue honouring the ceasefire as the withdrawal takes place

The UN chief also remains worried that the level and duration of the financial commitment authority required to facilitate the drawdown process have been significantly reduced during budget negotiations in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, and ‘this increases the complexities and risks of the drawdown operation’.

The Secretary-General will reportedly continue to engage with the transitional Government on how best to serve the interests of the people of Mali in cooperation with the UN Country Team in Mali, the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and other partners.

Several Council members, including Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom, expressed caution about the withdrawal taking place during a time of vulnerability in the Sahel region.

In line with those concerns, Ambassador for the US Jeffrey DeLaurentis emphasized the importance of addressing issues such as the presence of armed actors, including the Wagner Group, a private security contractor based in Russia that has reportedly been active in Mali.

“Although we regret the decision of the transitional Government to abandon MINUSMA and the fact that this will harm the Malian population, we voted in favour of the resolution since we are satisfied with the withdrawal plan adopted,” he said.

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