Date: 30 December 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”). The quantity of references to WPS issues have increased when compared to the last report (S/2016/819), and, like the previous report, 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 the mission’s 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
Despite renewed fighting between the Coordination des mouvements de I’Azawad (CMA) and the Platform coalition (S/2016/1137 para. 2), the report provides no information on women in its discussion of protection of civilians. Within its mandate to protect civilians, MINUSMA is required to provide specific protection for women affected by armed conflict, including through Women Protection Advisors (SCR 2295 OP. 19 (C) (iii)). At a minimum, the report should have provided sex disaggregated data for all civilian casualties and injuries, as well as information on how mixed patrols, which include MINUSMA and Malian forces, are working to ensure women’s protection. Further, the report should have specified whether renewed conflict has increased the rates or risks of sexual and gender-based violence.
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. At a minimum, the report should have addressed how both “light deployment of Malian defense and security forces” and “capacity shortfalls” of the mission, with simultaneous increases in security incidents in the northern and central regions (S/2016/1137 para. 23), impacts MINUSMA ability to provide specific protection for women affected by armed conflict (SCR 2295 OP. 19 (C) (iii)), particularly in regards to addressing sexual and gender-based violence. In addition, the report notes that MINUSMA continues to provide assistance to Malian national security and defense forces (S/2016/1137 pp. 31-33), 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 sector (http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/resource/roadmap-civil-society-wps-mar...). Further, the report provides no specific information on trainings or vetting procedures in regards to MINUSMA assistance. Specifically, the report should include information on gender-sensitive and sexual violence response trainings and discuss whether or not vetting procedures include investigation into all human rights violations, including sexual violence, and misconduct for all categories of personnel within Malian forces. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to discuss how MINUSMA is “assist[ing] 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” (SCR 2295 (2016), OP. 26).
The report also details MINUSMA assistance in regards to countering terrorism and violent extremism. MINUSMA has both supported various regional security initiatives, including a workshop on preventing radicalization (S/2016/1137 para. 20), and continued to assist the Government in making a specialized unit on terrorism and transnational organized crime (S/2016/1137 para. 32). The report misses the opportunity to discuss the differential impact on the human rights of women and girls of terrorism and violent extremism in Mali (SCR 2242 (2015), PP. 14). At a minimum, the report should have called on the Government and assisting entities in the Sahel to ensure the participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in developing strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism (SCR 2242 (2015), OP. 13).
Demilitarization and Arms Management
The report provides only some information on women combatants. The report notes that all eight cantonment sites are ready to accommodate 12,000 combatants, “including women and children associated with armed groups” (S/2016/1137 para. 12). This reference could have been improved by providing more specific language on how these sites will accommodate women associated with armed groups, including whether or not Malian women and girls associated with armed forces and armed groups have full access to disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs (S/RES/1889 (2009), OP 13), including access to trauma support (S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 16(a)). In addition, the report misses an opportunity to discuss how women’s organizations have been and continue to be consulted in DDR processes, as mandated by SCR 2295 (2016) OP 19 (a)(v). 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/2016/1137 para. 12).
The report also 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 at least two civilians have been affected every month by accidents caused by explosive remnants of war (S/2016/1137 para. 34). In addition, the report notes that the United Nations Mine Action Service educated more than 18,420 people in conflict-affected communities in central and northern Mali, while MINUSMA trained 17 personnel of the Malian defense in security forces on explosive threats and management (S/2016/1137 para. 34). At a minimum, the report should have provided sex disaggregated data on how many women were engaged in training programs, as well as information on how women are affected by explosive remnants of war. Further, the report missed an opportunity to provide information and analysis 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 preventing, combating, and eradicating illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons (S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 15).
Humanitarian Support and Economic Development
The report does not provide any 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. However, the report does provide some information on UNHCR work to raise awareness on sexual and gender-based violence for more than 832 returnees (S/2016/1137 para. 48). In addition, the report cites that United Nations Population Fund provided psychosocial support to 172 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and also includes the distribution of 82 post-rape kits (S/2016/1137 para. 48). Despite these positive inclusions, the report, overall, misses 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, particularly outside of Gao, Mopti, and Timbuktu.
The report also outlines UN support to economic development in Mali, particularly through the Peacebuilding Fund projects, which aims to foster peacebuilding efforts. The report notes that the Peacebuilding Fund “will continue to support…employment for women and efforts to combat gender-based violence (S/2016/1137 para. 51);” however, the report gives no indication as to how many women have been aided by the Fund in these capacities. Instead, the reference only notes that in December 2016, the Fund approved 2.4 million “for youth and gender initiatives to be implemented by MINUSMA, the country team and non-governmental organizations” (S/2016/1137 para. 51). The reference is unclear whether these resources were for employment and gender-based violence and/or other initiatives. In addition, by linking funding for youth with funding for gender, it is unclear how much funding went to both groups. Overall, this reference could have been improved with more specific language and information on the outcomes of the initiatives funded by the Peacebuilding Fund.
Human Rights and Rule of Law
The report provides some information on sexual violence, but, unfortunately, does not provide comprehensive analysis of the gender dimensions of the human rights situation in Mali. The report notes that MINUSMA documented only one case of sexual violence during the reporting period (S/2016/1137 para. 35). In addition, the report notes that more than 113 cases of conflict-related sexual violence (filed since November 2014) in Bamako had yet to be processed and only 37 survivors of sexual violence have been heard by the courts (S/2016/1137 para. 37). Further, the report provides information on MINUSMA’s assistance in prevention and redress in regards to sexual violence. On 26 and 27 of October 2016, MINUSMA trained six ministerial representatives on conflict-related sexual violence and helped identify prevention measures. Further, the report notes that MINUSMA continued to provide technical advice to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, including on the confidentiality and security of victims of conflict-related sexual violence interviewed by the Commission and on reparations (S/2016/1137 para. 42).
MINUSMA documentation of one reported case of sexual violence is particularly low, and thus, the report should have discussed what challenges exist in the current situation for both the survivors and the mission in reporting. In addition, the report should have provided some context for sexual violence, particularly in regards to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, including what progress or challenges exist around reconciliation for survivors. Further, the report should have provided information on what changes within ministries or their responses to the conflict have changed as a result of MINUSMA trainings. Overall, despite the positive inclusion of these references on sexual violence, the report fails to detail how MINUSMA is addressing the needs of victims of sexual violence in armed conflict (SCR 2295 19(c)(iii)), including in improving survivors to access medical care, ongoing psychological counseling and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services (SCR 2122 (2013)). The report also misses an opportunity to condemn sexual violence and call for accountability and an end to the culture of impunity in Mali.
Beyond the issue of sexual violence, the human rights situation for women is unknown. At a minimum, sex disaggregated data should have been provided for the 104 human rights violations and abuses documented by the mission, and a gender lens should have been applied to the issue of unlawful arrests and detentions. Further, other gender-based violence issues should have been detailed in the report, such as instances of forced marriage or sex-selective targeted attacks. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to fully detail women’s protection concerns related to the ongoing conflict.
Political Process and Electoral Assistance
The report provides no analysis of the gender dynamics of the political situation in Mali, but does provide some information and statistical points on women’s participation and details some shortfalls of such participation. The report notes on 20 November, voting was conducted in 92 percent of the country’s 703 municipalities, with women representing about 31 percent of all candidates (S/2016/1137 para. 8). In addition, in Bamako and Gao regions, 30 percent of municipal counsellors elected were women, while in Timbuktu the figure was 29 percent (S/2016/1137 para. 9). However, the report also recognizes that, notwithstanding the existence of Act No. 2015-052 which provides for a minimum of 30 percent quota for the representation of women, all 37 of the interim authorities proposed by the parties were men, and the government only designated one woman out of 32 members of the transitional councils and two women out of 20 for special advisers (S/2016/1137 para. 4). Further, in the recommendations section, the Secretary General states, “I deeply regret that no woman was appointed to the interim authorities, while just one sits on a transitional council and two act as special advisers to State representatives in northern regions. I also note with concerns the exclusion of women and young people in the implementation of the agreement… I therefore urge all Malian stakeholders to more actively ensure the participation and leadership of women” (S/2016/1137 para. 69).
While the provision of this statistical information and recommendations are important, the report misses an opportunity to provide a comprehensive understanding of women’s participation in the government. In addition, the report should have specific details on challenges to women’s participation. Further, information on why areas like Bamako successfully elected women to 30 percent of positions, whereas Timbuktu fell short, would have provided a better understanding for targeted action to enhance women’s participation. Finally, the report should have detailed whether or not women were afforded the same safety measures prior to, during, and after elections (SCR 2122 (2013) Op. 8).
The report provides some information on women’s participation in MINUSMA. As of 22 December 2016, women make up 1.6 per cent of the military component (S/2016/1137 para. 55), and 15 per cent of the police component and 5 percent of formed police unit personnel (S/2016/1137 para. 56). Further, women held 27 percent of the international posts (S/2016/1137 para. 57), 31 percent of the United Nations Volunteer positions, and 19 percent of national staff posts. While the inclusion of these statistics is positive, these reference would be improved if they also discussed whether or not women held leadership positions within each component. The report also misses an opportunity to call on Member States to increase the retention, recruitment, and professionalization of women.
The report also provides some information on sexual exploitation and abuse. The report notes that there have been no new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse since the previous reporting period, and that the two previous allegations (January and June 2016) are still pending investigation (S/2016/1137 para. 62). In addition, the report notes that MINUSMA continued its prevention activities, including outreach and public information activities concerning the expected standard of conduct for United Nations personnel, especially the policy on zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse (S/2016/1137 para. 62). While it is important that the Secretary-General continues to report these allegations in every report, this one misses an opportunity to discuss why previous investigations are still pendings, as well as whether there has been any progress in investigating these allegations. At a minimum, the Secretary-General should ensure all SEA investigations are conducted in accordance with international standards and ensure no immunity is granted for all international personnel (http://www.ceipaz.org/images/contenido/Hoja%20de%20ruta.pdf).
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 (2016) OP. 26. 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. In particular, reports must include information women and girls associated with armed armed groups access to DDR programs (S/RES/1889 (2009), OP 13), including access to trauma support (S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 16(a)), and provide information and analysis on how MINUSMA consults women’s organizations in DDR processes, as mandated by SCR 2295 ((2016) OP 19 (a)(v),). Future reporting must also include a comprehensive discussion on how MINUSMA provides specific protection for women affected by armed conflict, including through Women Protection Advisors (SCR 2295 OP. 19 (C) (iii)), as well as a comprehensive discussion of SGBV with a focus on access to justice for survivors and protection concerns for IDP and refugee women. Finally, reports should acknowledge internal inequalities and advocate for a gender balance among MINUSMA staff, at both the officer and troop levels.