Date: 29 September 2016
Topic: The Secretary-General report provides an update on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.
Women, Peace and Security
Pursuant to resolution 2295 (2016), the Secretary-General report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mandate and the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (“Agreement”). References to WPS issues have increased when compared to the last report (S/2016/498), both in terms of quantity and scope. References to women broadly focus on women’s participation, both within the MINUSMA mission and the Government of Mali. Unfortunately, there are several WPS issues highlighted in the mandate for which the report fails to provide sufficient information or analysis, including mission efforts to support gender-sensitive demilitarization, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). The report also does not offer any analysis on the gender dynamics of the conflict itself. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to demonstrate the ways in which MINUSMA fully takes into account gender considerations as a cross-cutting issue throughout its mandate, as per SCR 2295 (2016) OP. 26.
Protection of Civilians
The portion of the report reviewing the activities of MINUSMA provides a narrative summary of the ways in which the mission sought to prevent physical attacks against civilians. The report notes that MINUSMA continues to carry out “medium and long range” patrols in the northern regions, while the mission’s police presence focuses on urban patrols. MINUSMA is also mandated to have enhanced early warning mechanisms, “including through community liaison assistants and humanitarian actors” (S/2016/819 para. 35). However, the report fails to specify how MINUSMA provides specific protection for women affected by armed conflict as well as how the mission is working to address the needs of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as mandated per SCR 2295 (OP. 19 (c) (iii), 2016). Similarly, the report notes an“increase in tension between CMA and Platform,” particularly over the control of Kidal. However, the impact of this violence on women is unknown, as the report fails to provide any sex disaggregated data for civilian deaths and casualties as the result of direct clashes (S/2016/819 para. 5, 6, 8, 9). Further, while the report cited MINUSMA facilitation of “intercommunal dialogue” to help “calm” increasing “intercommunal clashes,” particularly in the central regions (S/2016/819 para. 36), the report provides no indication as to whether women and women’s civil society organizations were included in such dialogues. At a minimum, the report should have recognize the continuing need to increase women’s participation and the consideration of gender-related issues in all discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, the maintenance of peace and security and post-conflict peacebuilding (S/RES/2122 (2013), OP 7).
In regards to Women’s Protection Advisers (WPAs), the report does note that the “Office of the Senior Women’s Protection Advisor” was consolidated within the human rights component of MINUSMA (S/2016/819 para. 47). Preferably, the report would have advocated for the consolidation of this office within the Special Office of the Secretary-General to ensure Women’s Protection Advisers (WPAs) can regularly and effectively engage with all senior management of the mission. In addition, the report should have provided information on WPAs’ deployment with the rest of the statistical information provided on MINUSMA (“Military and police strength of MINUSMA as at 31 August 2016,” pg. 19-23).
Security Sector: Support to Security Sector Reform and Support to Police and Military/Security Monitoring, Patrolling, and Deterrence/Ceasefire Monitoring
The report does not provide any information or analysis of either the gender dimensions of the security situation or the ways in which the mission is responding to gender-specific violence, but there is one reference to The Trust Fund in Support of Peace and Security in Mali, which funded a resiliency program for women and youth in Gao, Kidal, Mopti and Timbuktu regions during the reporting period (S/2016/819 para. 21). However, the report only provides statistical data on the number of “youth” served by the funding, so the number of women served by the project is unknown. Similarly, the report also details increasing violence, particularly in and around Kidal, between CMA and Platform, resulting in multiple civilian casualties and injuries (S/2016/819 para. 5,6,8), but the impact of the violence on women is unknown. At a minimum, the report should have provided sex-disaggregated data, including the number of women and girls served by the project, for all statistical points in the security sector as well as provided information on women and women’s civil society participation in such reforms (S/RES/1820 (2008), OP 10).
The report also reviews the activities of MINUSMA to engage with a variety of stakeholders to support security sector reform. The report notes that MINUSMA is implementing 44 community violence reduction projects directly reaching 30,000 community members around cantonment (S/2016/819 para. 21), but misses an opportunity to detail if and how women are included. MINUSMA is also cited as having developed a joint plan, in line with the human rights due diligence policy, for Malian armed forces in the areas of training, logistics, intelligence and operational coordination; however, the report fails to provide any information on whether or not gender issues, particularly in regards to training, are included. In addition, the report notes that MINUSMA continues to support the implementation of security sector reform (SSR), including helping to finalize an internal security programming law and framework for SSR (S/2016/819 para. 22), but again, misses an opportunity to detail how women will be included in security sector reform, including whether or not there are plans to raise the retention, recruitment, and professionalization of women in the security. As MINUSMA is mandated “to assist the Malian authorities in ensuring the full and effective participation, involvement and representation of women at all levels and at an early stage of the stabilization phase, including the security sector reform (S/RES/2295 (2016), OP 26),” the Secretary-General report should have provided information on how MINUSMA is working to ensure the implementation of this component of the mandate.
The report further provides information on UN efforts to support Malian authorities to combat terrorism and violent extremisms in Mali. In July, the UN participated in an African Union-led technical assessment mission to Mali to develop regional options to address terrorism and organized crime (S/2016/819 para. 25). In addition, the report cites MINUSMA’s continued assistance to the Government to operationalize a specialized unit on terrorism, including by providing training for 35 personnel of the Malian defense and security forces intended to make-up an investigative brigade to counter suicide bombers (S/2016/819 para. 33). MINUSMA also supported the Government in drafting a national counter-terrorism strategy (S/2016/819 para. 33). Further, the Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force, with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, held consultations with the Government on the next phase of the Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism Initiative, with the aim of providing an “All UN” integrated technical assistance framework to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism in the Sahel (S/2016/819 para. 34). The report misses an opportunity to discuss how Mali and the United Nations will integrate women, peace and security, in their efforts and strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism, as mandated by SCR 2242 (OP. 11, 2015). As resolution 2242 (2016) (S/RES/2295 (2016), OP. 38) is directly recalled in resolution 2295 (2016), which outlines the mandate in Mali, the report should have outlined how Malian and assisting authorities, including the UN, will ensure the participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism (S/RES/2242 (2015) OP. 13). At a minimum, the report should have advocated for formalized strategies to conduct and gather gender-sensitive research and data collection on the drivers of radicalization for women, as well as included information on the impacts of counter-terrorism strategies on women’s human rights and women’s organizations, in order to develop targeted and evidence-based policy and programming responses (S/RES/2242 (2015) OP. 12).
Demilitarization and Arms Management
The report does not provide any gender analysis of the impact of the flow and proliferation of small arms and light weapons on women; however, the report notes that the United Nations Mine Action Service educated more than 34,961 people in conflict-affected communities in central and northern Mali, while MINUSMA trained 315 personnel of the Malian defense in security forces on explosive threats (S/2016/819 para. 40). At a minimum, the report should have provided sex disaggregated data on how many women were engaged in training programs, as well as provided information on how UN entities are ensuring the empowerment of women, including through capacity-building efforts, to participate in the design and implementation of efforts related to the prevention, combating, and eradication of the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons (S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 15).
The report also misses an opportunity to provide any information on the integration of gender concerns in MINUSMA to support disarmament, demilitarization and reintegration (DDR) activities, including whether or not Malian women and girls associated with armed forces and armed groups have full access to these programs (S/RES/1889 (2009), OP 13), including access to trauma support (S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 16(a)). The report notes progress continues to be made on the building of the remaining five out of eight cantonment sites (S/2016/819 para. 21), but fails to provide any information on whether or not these cantonment sites have or will establish protection mechanisms for women and children in the sites, as well as for civilians in close proximity of the cantonment sites (S/2016/819 para. 21). In addition, the report notes that MINUSMA, in partnership with local non-governmental organizations, is implementing 44 community violence reduction projects directly reaching 30,000 community members around cantonment sites, but misses an opportunity to discuss whether or not women’s organizations have been consulted, as mandated by SCR 2295 (OP 19 (a)(v), 2016). The report also fails to outline the whether or not MINUSMA has developed a dedicated vetting procedure for human rights misconduct, including sexual and gender-based violence, to employ for the 200 combatants CMA designated to join the first mixed patrol in Gao on 20 October (S/2016/819 para. 20). Overall, the report misses an opportunity to discuss how MINUSMA has taken into account the particular needs of women associated with armed groups, and to provide for their full access to DDR programmes, including, inter alia, through consultation with women’s organizations, as mandated by SCR 2295 (OP 19 (a)(v), 2016), as well as outlining women’s protection concerns, given that neither CMA nor the Platform have provided lists of combatants to begin the cantonment and DDR processes (S/2016/819 para. 21).
Humanitarian Support and Economic Development
The report does not provide analysis of either the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation or the ways in which the humanitarian response, including emergency responses and contingency planning, are responding to gender-specific needs, despite evidencing an increasing “volatile” humanitarian situation, with more than 16 percent of the Malian population food insecure (S/2016/819 para. 48). Overall, the report missed an opportunity to provide sex disaggregated data for all humanitarian statistical points, as well as to identify whether or not the provision of medical care, ongoing psychosocial counseling, and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as mandated by SCR 2122 (2013), are available to women in Mali.
The report also outlines UN support to economic development in Mali, particularly through the Peacebuilding Fund projects in Gao and Timbuktu regions with the aim of fostering peacebuilding efforts. The report provides some basic sex-disaggregated data on the Fund’s projects, noting that the Fund enabled 1,768 girls (out of 3,856 children) to attend school and improved the access to justice and security for 460 women affected by “gender-based violence” (S/2016/819 para. 55). Although the provision of this data is positive, the report misses an important opportunity to provide any details of the kinds of access provided for women and girls as well as to discuss whether the Fund projects address some of the underlying root causes, including efforts to build national capacity, with women’s civil society, in the judicial and law enforcement systems to addresses on-going sexual violence (S/RES/1888 (2009), OP 9).
Human Rights and Rule of Law
The report provides some information and analysis on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), but does not provide comprehensive gender analysis of the human rights situation, including the particular ways in which women’s rights are being violated. In general, the report notes an increase in MINUSMA documented cases of violations and abuses of human rights during the reporting period, with 117 cases “involving 202 victims” (S/2016/819 para. 41). Of the 117 cases, two reported instances involved sexual violence (S/2016/819 para. 41). The report also notes that limited progress has been made to combat impunity for human rights violations, “including conflict-related sexual violence committed in 2012” (S/2016/819 para. 46). However, the report cites several efforts taken by MINUSMA to address human rights, including sexual violence (S/2016/819 para. 42), citing assistance to the MNLA on the action plan to end the use of conflict-related sexual violence and human rights trainings for 1,050 Malian state and armed forces, including 118 women (S/2016/819 para. 46).
At a minimum, sex-disaggregated data should have been provided for any abuses and violations of human rights. In addition, the use of the word “victim” provides the perception of those violated as vulnerable, rather than autonomous actors with an important role to play in the Malian reconstruction processes. This may be particularly damaging for the reputation of male survivors, who may also be less likely to come forward if labeled “victims” of conflict. In all reports, “victim” language should be replaced with the best practice language of “survivor.” The report also should have provided specifics on the limited progress to address impunity, particularly where the reference is referring to legal adjudication for sexual violence committed in 2012. Similarly, specifics should have been provided on MINUSMA assistance, including how the MNLA’s action plan will address sexual violence as well as what kind of human rights training was provided to Malian authorities, including whether such training included information on reporting and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. MINUSMA is directly mandated to provide specific protection for women and address the needs of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict (S/RES/2295 OP. 19 (c)(3)); however, overall, the report fails to provide sufficient information on the implementation of this component of the mandate.
Political Process and Electoral Assistance
The report provides some information on women’s political participation, but the report does not provide comprehensive analysis on the gender dimensions of the political situation. On 18 May, 10 additional commissioners, including two women, were appointed to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (S/2016/819 para. 15). In addition, in July, President Keita changed his cabinet for the fifth time, increasing the number of ministers from 32 to 34, including 8 women. However, the report does not provide sex disaggregated data for all political statistical points, including whether women were among the appointments of northern state officials removed (S/2016/819 para. 13) and the appointment of prefects/sub-prefects in Gao (S/2016/819 para. 14). The report also misses an opportunity to discuss women’s participation in interim administrations, despite noting multiple agreements to establish the interim administrations in the northern regions (S/2016/819 para. 3, 4, 7). The report further cites MINUSMA implementation of rehabilitation projects, including in the areas of national reconciliation and social cohesion, but the report fails to provide any information as to whether women have access to and/or participated in these projects (S/2016/819 para. 13). At a minimum, the report should have detailed how the mission assisted the parties to ensure women’s full and effective participation in the implementation of the Agreement, particularly since the Security Council has requested enhanced reporting by MINUSMA to the Security Council on this issue (S/RES/2295 (2016) OP. 26).
In regards to future elections, the report notes that the Parliament adopted a new electoral law, which provides for a minimum of 30 percent of female candidates in the lists this September (S/2016/819 para. 11). However, the report provides no further information or analysis of women’s participation and/or protection. The report misses an opportunity to discuss whether or not women’s organizations were included among the “civil society” representatives expressing concern about the challenges facing planned elections in the North (S/2016/819 para. 11). As regional and local elections are expected to be held in the first quarter of 2017 (S/2016/819 para. 11), the Secretary-General’s recommendation to the Government of Mali “to ensure a wide consultation process for [the reconciliation] conference, involving civil society, including women,” also should have stressed the importance of paying specific attention to women’s safety prior to, and during, elections, as women leaders are often the targets of violence (S/RES/2122 (2013), OP 8).
The report provides some information on women’s participation in MINUSMA. As of 20 September 2016, women account for 1.6 percent of the military component (S/2016/819 para. 58), 14 percent of the individual police officers, and 4.5 percent of the formed police unit personnel (S/2016/819 para. 59). The Annex also provides a breakdown of troop contributing countries to MINUSMA, identifying how many women each country contributes to MINUSMA (S/2016/819 “Annex,” pg 19-23). In addition, the report notes that, at the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping held in London in September 2016, Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka of Niger received the United Nations Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award, which aims to recognize the efforts of a peacekeeper who has promoted the principles of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), for reaching out to women in local communities in Mali (S/2016/819 para. 39).
In addition, the report provides some information on the mission and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). The SEA case reported in December 2015 was closed, and the report notes “the individual is barred from participation in future peacekeeping operations” (S/2016/819 para. 65). In addition, the report notes that, in June, another allegation of SEA involving a military staff member was reported. This case along with another case from January remain under investigation, the results from which the United Nations intends to “communicate to the troop-contributing countries for appropriate follow-up action” (S/2016/819 para. 65). The report, further, provides information on preventative action by MINUSMA, including outreach activities informing the public about the expected standard of conduct for United Nations personnel, especially the zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, and disseminating the guidelines from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on sexual exploitation and abuse (S/2016/819 para. 65). Although the provision of this information is positive, the report misses an opportunity to detail how the United Nations will ensure all pending all investigations and prosecutions are conducted in accordance to international standards. The report also misses an opportunity to provide specifics on how many individuals in the public were reached through preventative actions, and if women were consulted in their design and implementation.
At a minimum, future reports on the implementation of MINUSMA’s mandate must include specific details on how the mission fully takes into account gender considerations as a cross-cutting issue throughout its mandate, as per SCR 2295 (OP. 26, 2016). Future reports also must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda, providing a balance between the the protection and participation aspects. Applying a gender lens throughout each section of the report would also ensure women’s concerns are adequately represented. In the context of the implementation of the Agreement on Peace, reports must advocate for the active participation of women at all levels of stabilization and implementation processes, especially in the context of security sector reform and demilitarization activities. Future reporting must also include a comprehensive discussion of SGBV with a focus on access to justice for survivors and protection concerns for IDP and refugee women. Reporting should also systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants in humanitarian, security, and political processes. Finally, reports should acknowledge internal inequalities and advocate for a gender balance among MINUSMA staff, at both the officer and troop levels.