Thursday, June 11, 2015
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Peace Processes
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali (S/2015/426).

Code: S/2015/426

Period of Time and Topic: Covering the period from 27 March to 11 June 2015, the report informs of the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated

Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

Women, Peace and Security

The Secretary-General report on the implementation of MINUSMA details the major political and security developments, emphasizing the inter-Malian dialogue process, on-going violent clashes in the North, protection of civilians, humanitarian assistance, and early recovery. The report only marginally references the WPS agenda, with the majority of WPS reporting focusing on sexual violence.

During the reporting period, MINUSMA documented 23 cases of conflict-related sexual violence.[1] In addition 33 more complaints of grave human rights violations, including acts of conflict-related sexual violence, were filed at court in Timbuktu in a collective complaint, marking the third collective complaint filed since November 2014.[2] Further, as part of an early recovery and development initiative, the UN country team began implementing an approved Peacebuilding Fund project in Gao and Timbuktu regions that focused on securing access to justice for “female victims” of sexual and gender-based violence.[3] A judge was also appointed to conduct investigations into a number of cases filed by non-governmental organizations on behalf of victims of sexual violence.[4] Generally, the report notes that only “limited services” are available to survivors of sexual violence.[5]

In the Humanitarian sector, the Secretary-General reported that approximately 50,000 “children and pregnant and lactating women” suffering from moderate to acute malnutrition received life-saving treatment in March and April.[6] In May, 55,000 more malnourished individuals are also planned to receive such services.[7]

In regards to women’s participation, the report provides limited information on women’s participation in security forces. In March and April, UNDP supported the Government through capacity-building activities on security sector reform, including by training 575 officers of the national police, gendarmerie, civil protection and National Guard.[8] 10 percent of trained officers are reported to be women.[9] In addition, the Secretary-General report provides gender disaggregated data for operational mission personnel. At the macro level, 32 per cent of international posts, 34 percent of mission volunteer positions, and 21 percent of national posts are occupied by women.[10] In the mission’s police component, 8 percent of the deployed police officers and 3 percent of formed police unit personnel are women.[11] In the mission’s military component, women also represent two percent of the force.[12]

References in Need of Improvement

The Secretary-General’s report should have consistently referred to victims of sexual violence as survivors in all relevant references. Reporting on sexual violence would have been stronger if it incorporated a broader consideration of the topic by including information on the situation of women survivors, information on alleged perpetrators, and information on men and boy survivors. Having implied survivors have obstacles in securing access to justice,[13] the report should have outlined challenges and bottlenecks in the justice system as well as explained why survivors are opting to submit complaints collectively. In addition, the report should have provided further information on the relationship between NGOs and survivors in recent legal developments. The report should have also expanded on the meaning of “limited services” to sexual violence survivors,[14] detailing specific gaps in service provision and delivery. Most importantly, the report should have included a detailed understanding of MINUSMA’s actions to protect women from sexual violence and monitor reports of sexual violence. Merely stating in the report that “MINUSMA is closely monitoring the process”[15] gives no indication of how MINUSMA is helping to mitigate the situation for survivors of sexual violence. What MINUSMA is specifically monitoring should be directly included in the report, citing hard data of abuses and service delivery whenever possible. 

References to women’s participation would have been greatly improved by more figures for gender disaggregated data of participation. Although numerical data is provided for some instances of women’s participation in security forces, women’s participation in the stabilization and political processes would have been better understood if gender mainstreaming had been adopted across all reporting. In addition, the report focuses primarily on the inclusion of women in the mission, rather than, the inclusion of women in national Malian forces. Women’s participation at all levels of stabilization is therefore largely unknown.

All data on women and children should also be separated. Linking women and children in references of humanitarian relief[16] disguises the specific impact of conflict on women and the understanding of service delivery needed for both populations.

Missed Opportunities

The report missed an opportunity to report on status of gender as a cross-cutting issue to enhance women’s participation in all levels of the stabilization process as mandated in UNSC Resolution S/RES/2164 (2014). Women are entirely absent in the report’s discussion of the inter-Malian dialogue.[17] The report makes specific references to constituency engagement,[18] consultations,[19] visits to refugee camps,[20] demonstrations,[21] large public meetings[22] and a peace caravan to Goundam Cerle.[23] However, women are not mentioned as participants; nor is there any suggestion that women were engaged in any of the following political activities by any party of the national dialogue process, including international partners and MINUSMA. The report also notes that a peace agreement was formally signed by representatives of the government and national actors on 15 May 2015.[24] However, the report does not make it clear if women were included or engaged in this process. Large demonstrations followed the peace signing in Bamako, Goundam and Timbuktu,[25] but again, the report makes no mention of women. The report clearly missed an opportunity to provide any gender disaggregated data on the participation of women in the national dialogue process. The report also fails to show evidence that MINUSMA is fulfilling its mandated obligation to “enhance the negotiating capacity of civil society, including women’s organization,” in the national dialogue process.[26]

In the security sector, the report missed an opportunity to provide information on the gendered impacts and gendered dynamics of increased armed clashes,[27] violent activity by violent extremists, violent extremist criminal activity,[28] and increased use of improvised explosive devises.[29] The report does not provide gender disaggregated data for civilian deaths and injuries, abductions, detained fighters by opposition groups, or extrajudicial killings. The report mentions the “targeting” of civilian informants by extremist groups,[30] but gives no indication if women serve as informants for the government. In addition, 15,025 people received an education on risks of explosive hazards and small arms and light weapons,[31] but women’s participation and/or engagement in the educational opportunity provided by the mission’s Mine Action Service was not noted. Further, on 26 May, more than 1000 protesters were reported to have gathered in front of MINUSMA’s mission camp in Menaka, demanding a meeting with MINUSMA leadership.[32] Women were also not identified as protestors. With regard to the Security Sector, the Secretary-General missed an important opportunity to report on the negative impacts of increased conflict experienced by women as well as women’s role as actors in the on-going Northern violence.

In regards to conflict-related sexual violence, the report missed an opportunity to provide concrete links to the prevalence of sexual violence and conflict. No information was included to show steps by MINUSMA to ensure women’s protection as provided by MINUSMA’s mandate.[33] In addition, the deployment or status of mandated Women Protection Advisors is unknown, suggesting women may not be receiving all mandated protection services required by the MINUSMA mandate. The report also missed an opportunity to call for the end to impunity for sexual and gender based violence in Mali. MINUSMA also assisted the government of Mali in the training of a number of deployed officers to reestablish the state authority. The Secretary-General missed an opportunity to report on or advocate for the inclusion of gender training by the Ministry of Justice in deploying 30 correctional officers and in the implementation of the military guidance and planning law 2015-2019.[34] The report does mention “sensitization training of Malian civil society”[35] was completed, but it is unclear whether or not women’s organizations were included.

Despite citing 59,565 newly displaced persons as the result of Northern insecurity,[36] the report missed an opportunity to discuss the impact of the humanitarian situation on women and service provision to women within the sector. In addition, the report does not identify women as targets of engagement for MINUSMA’s quick impact recovery projects.[37]

Most concerningly,  women are also absent in the discussion of the “mission concept,” in which the Secretary-General advocated for needed provisions in a possible new mandate. The Secretary General missed an opportunity to highlight the need for women’s participation, when discussing the needed support of MINUSMA to a “credible peace process.”[38] In addition, although civilian protection is cited as a needed cross-cutting issue,[39] the Secretary-General missed an opportunity to demand the continued inclusion of gender as a cross-cutting issue and the need for gender mainstreaming to be adopted across all reporting.

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

The MINUSMA mandate identifies support to women in three key capacities: protection, political and stabilization participation, and monitoring of sexual violence. The Secretary-General’s report should include information on all three of these elements of the mandate with regard to women. Information on the deployment and status of women’s protection advisers should also be included in all reports. Given the current reported information, women’s participation in the national dialogue process should receive particular attention in terms of advocacy. Further, the Secretary-General should continue to advocate for gender as a crosscutting issue and incorporate gender-mainstreaming into all reporting of the conflict, humanitarian situation, and political situation. Finally, the Secretary-General should encourage the Council to ensure that the mission retains all relevant provisions of the existing mandate related to women’s participation and women’s protection and guarantee the full implementation of such provisions through identified benchmarks. Reporting on women should also focus on what the national Malian authorities are doing to ensure the inclusion of women at all levels of stabilization.


[1] S/2015/426 para. 31

[2]  S/2015/426 para. 31

[3]  S/2015/426 para. 45

[4]  S/2015/426 para. 31

[5]  S/2015/426 para. 31

[6]  S/2015/426 para. 41

[7]  S/2015/426 para. 41

[8]  S/2015/426 para. 38

[9] S/2015/426 para. 38

[10] S/2015/426 para. 47

[11] S/2015/426 para. 48

[12] S/2015/426 para. 49

[13] S/2015/426 para. 45

[14] S/2015/426 para. 31

[15] S/2015/426 para. 31

[16] S/2015/426 para. 41

[17] S/2015/426 para. 2-10

[18] S/2015/426 para. 3

[19] S/2015/426 para. 10

[20] S/2015/426 para. 4

[21] S/2015/426 para. 4, 9

[22] S/2015/426 para. 5

[23] S/2015/426 para. 5

[24] S/2015/426 para. 9

[25] S/2015/426 para. 9

[26] S/RES/2164 (2014) para. 13 (b) (iii)

[27] S/2015/426 para. 11

[28] S/2015/426 para. 17

[29] S/2015/426 para. 23

[30] S/2015/426 para. 17

[31] S/2015/426 para. 24

[32] S/2015/426 para. 16

[33] S/RES/2164 (2014) para. 13 (a), 16

[34] S/2015/426 para. 35

[35] S/2015/426 para. 37

[36] S/2015/426 para. 15, 40

[37] S/2015/426 para. 43

[38] S/2015/426 para. 57

[39] S/2015/426 para. 57