In a significant turn of events, Russia has exercised its veto power to block the renewal of sanctions against Mali in a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution. These sanctions were initially imposed in 2017 at the request of Bamako, targeting individuals associated with armed groups who had signed the 2015 peace agreement.
The resolution, which sought to extend the sanctions regime for another year against those jeopardizing the 2015 peace accord and the mandate of the expert committee responsible for monitoring these sanctions, garnered 13 votes in favor, one abstention (China), and one opposing vote (Russia).
Moscow’s decision to employ its veto aligns with the demands of the junta in Mali, as highlighted by our correspondent in New York, Carrie Nooten. This vote carries significant symbolic weight, as it is likely the final UNSC vote concerning Mali. With the dissolution of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) having been decided, Mali will no longer feature prominently on the UN’s agenda. This Russian veto, the first of its kind on the Mali dossier, serves as a final rebuke from Moscow and its ally, Bamako, to the United Nations. Diplomats are well aware that the sanctions regime was inevitably destined to be scaled back shortly.
The primary motivation for this veto stems from the recent report released by the expert committee just last week. The report condemns the widespread and organized violence against women, perpetrated by the Malian Armed Forces (Fama) and their “foreign security partners,” strongly implying the involvement of Russian paramilitary forces from the Wagner Group.
Additionally, the report paints a bleak picture of a stalled peace process, with armed groups rearming following the announcement of Minusma’s withdrawal. For some diplomats, eliminating this expert committee effectively erases the last remaining UN mechanism for monitoring human rights violations in Mali.
The situation in Mali remains deeply complex, and the UNSC’s inability to renew sanctions against individuals hindering the peace process adds another layer of uncertainty to the country’s future. As the international community grapples with these challenges, the repercussions of Russia’s veto will undoubtedly reverberate throughout the diplomatic corridors of the United Nations.