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Updated: May 25

The information below on relevant human rights dimensions is provided ahead of Security Council meetings related to Mali, including to extend sanctions. Additional information on political developments can be found in the brief by the organization Security Council Report.

Key topics below

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  1. Reporting by Human Rights Watch (24 July 2023).

  2. Universal Periodic Review of Mali (2 May 2023).

  1. Briefing on Mali: Foreign Minister rejected OHCHR's report. SG conveyed recommendations (16 June 2023).

  2. WPS: Detailing SG's recommendations on CRSV and recommendations from NGO Working Group on WPS, as well as UN Women's recommendations to IEG.

  3. CAAC: Detailing recommendations by NGO Watchlist on CAAC.

Comments by Members of the Security Council [551 words + UPR recommendations]

  1. Security Council adopted resolution on MINUSMA's withdrawal (30 June 2023): Albania, Ecuador, Malta, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

  2. Security Council held meeting on Mali, in which MINUSMA's withdrawal was requested by Mali (16 June 2023): All Council members.

  3. UPR recommendations for Mali (2 May 2023): 13 of the Security Council's members.

  1. Human rights in resolutions related to the sanctions.

Relevant information for the Security Council to consider [108 words]

  1. On 24 July 2023, Human Rights Watch released a statement detailing human rights violations in Mali. It called for the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to express their concerns about grave abuses by the Malian armed forces and allied apparent Wagner Group fighters and increase pressure on the Malian authorities to end these violations and hold those responsible to account. Mali's Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations.

  2. On 2 May 2023, the Human Rights Council held the Universal Periodic Review of Mali, facilitated by the troika of Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Somalia. Recommendations by Security Council members are detailed in the last section below.


Information familiar to the Security Council [513 words]

Briefing in the Security Council

  1. On 16 June 2023, the Security Council held a meeting on the situation in Mali.

  2. Mali's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, rejected OHCHR's report, which he described as biased and manifesting certain States' desire to harm or even punish Mali for its sovereign choices. He stated that MINUSMA was fueling inter-community tensions exacerbated by extremely serious allegations that are highly detrimental to peace, reconciliation and national cohesion. Therefore, he called for MINUSMA's immediate withdrawal.

  3. OHCHR's aforementioned report, published on 12 May 2023, noted that there were strong indications that more than 500 people were killed – the vast majority summarily executed – by Malian troops and foreign military personnel [reportedly of the Wagner Group] during a five-day military operation in the village of Moura in March 2022. At least 58 women and girls were reportedly raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence. In the press release detailing the events, the High Commissioner stated that “summary executions, rape and torture during armed conflict amount to war crimes and could, depending on the circumstances, amount to crimes against humanity.”

  4. As noted in the Secretary-General's report presented at that briefing (S/2023/402, not to be confused with OHCHR's report), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended that the Malian authorities publish the findings of their announced investigations into possible violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Moura, prosecute all alleged perpetrators and ensure that the victims and/or their family members have access to justice and obtain full reparation where appropriate [para 19].

Women, Peace and Security

  1. On 22 June 2023, the Secretary-General published his report on conflict-related sexual violence (S/2023/413). In reference to Mali, he urged the transitional authorities to expedite implementation of the joint communiqué, to prioritize the cases of conflict-related sexual violence that have been pending before the courts for a decade, and to investigate cases committed by national armed forces, community-based militias and foreign security personnel. He further called upon the transitional authorities to ensure that the law on reparations is effectively implemented and that access to services for survivors is guaranteed [para 47].

  2. Also in June 2023, the NGO Working Group on WPS provided recommendations, though focusing on the renewal of MINUSMA's mandate. Recommendations related to gender-responsive monitoring and reporting, concerns about reprisals, prevention and response to gender-based violence, and consultation with women's groups.

  3. In March 2023, the Informal Expert Group on WPS met and received recommendations from UN Women, including on women's participation and conflict-related sexual violence.

Children and Armed Conflict

  1. The NGO Watchlist on CAAC recommended, inter alia, to: > Ensure that children’s rights and protection needs are prioritized in all negotiations on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs and to implement action plans; > Strengthen the legal child protection framework; > Fully implement the 2013 handover protocol, including for children allegedly associated with armed groups designated as terrorist groups by the UN; > Fully enable humanitarian access and protection of humanitarian personnel and assets; and > Cease attacks on schools and education personnel.


Comments by Members of the Security Council [551 words + UPR recommendations]

  1. On 30 June 2023, the Security Council held a meeting to unanimously adopt resolution 2690 (2023) on the withdrawal of MINUSMA. Albania, Ecuador, Malta, Switzerland, the UK and the US referred to Mali's obligation to protect its civilians without discrimination and respect IHL and IHRL obligations. The US stated that the international community would continue to monitor the human rights situation in Mali and speak out against violations and abuses. Albania noted that the presence of the Wagner Group and its disregard for international law constituted a serious threat to the Malian people.

  2. On 16 June 2023, the Security Council held the meeting in which Mali requested MINUSMA's withdrawal. The A3, Albania, Ecuador, France, Japan, Switzerland and the UK called for investigations and accountability. The A3, Brazil, France, Malta and the UAE called for the participation of women and young people. The A3, Albania, Brazil, France and Malta addressed the need to strengthen protection of civilians. Albania, France, the UK and the US noted the exacerbation of human rights violations due to the Wagner Group. Japan and Switzerland called on Malian and foreign forces to respect human rights. The A3 (Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique) advocated that all incidents of violations of human rights and IHL, such as abductions, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals, be investigated and the perpetrators held to account. They encouraged Malian authorities to do more in order to deliver justice to the victims of those violations. Brazil noted the heavy toll of the security situation on civilians and called to renew efforts to protect the most vulnerable. Brazil reiterated the need to include women, youth and ethnic and religious minorities in the drafting of a new constitution. China referred to others' expressions of concern regarding counter-terrorism operations and expressed the view that the operations themselves represented means to protect human rights. It called to avoid the politicization of human rights and for the UN to report based on facts. Japan was deeply concerned by human rights violations, including conflict-related sexual violence and crimes against children. Malta urged the Malian authorities and all parties to create an environment conducive for women’s rights and their protection. Malta welcomed efforts to counter hate speech and violence against women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. It was alarmed by the hundreds of incidents of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls recorded in April. Malta was also alarmed by the other grave violations against children, including recruitment and use, killing and maiming, and attacks on schools, which continued to occur at a high rate. It called to strengthen child protection capacities. Russia echoed Mali's statement that OHCHR's report was blatantly biased. It stated that MINUSMA's mandate to maintain peace and security was undermined by an excessive focus on internal political aspects and a shift to the protection of human rights. The UAE called for inclusive political processes and the effective implementation of the national action plan on WPS. The US pointed out that the transitional Government had denied four out of five MINUSMA requests to conduct investigations into reports of human rights violations and abuses, in contravention of Mali’s status-of-forces agreement.

  3. On 2 May 2023, the Human Rights Council held the Universal Periodic Review of Mali. Below are the recommendations offered by Security Council members (toggle to view):

  • Brazil

  • Pursue full cooperation with international human rights mechanisms, in particular treaty bodies, as well as with the Human Rights Division of MINUSMA.

  • Do everything possible to guarantee the rights of children and women, given the devastating effects of the armed conflict on them.

  • China

  • Strengthen the protection of the rights of people in vulnerable situations, and increase investment in the social assistance, medical and healthcare, education and culture sectors.

  • Take effective and practical measures to reduce the poverty rate and narrow the development gap between urban and rural areas.

  • Ecuador

  • Criminalize the recruitment and use of children and adolescents, and strengthen the National Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour.

  • Combat impunity in cases of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and ensure that victims have access to justice and reparation.

  • Guarantee the full enjoyment of the freedoms of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association.

  • Adopt a law to combat violence against women and girls, and prohibit harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

  • France

  • Guarantee respect for fundamental freedoms, including with a view to organizing free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible elections, in accordance with the timetable, to ensure a return to constitutional order.

  • Combat impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations and international humanitarian law, including members of the Wagner Group.

  • Implement the national programme on gender-based violence adopted in May 2022.

  • Gabon

  • Strengthen its efforts to end persistent gender inequality and promote women’s full and effective access to education, employment, health care and social security.

  • Continue its reforms by taking meaningful steps, including finalizing the law on the prevention, punishment and management of gender-based violence.

  • Ghana

  • Ensure full respect for the right to freedom of expression by removing all obstacles and ensuring media freedom.

  • Take appropriate and effective measures to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against women, in particular sexual violence.

  • Strengthen the implementation of legislation and policies aimed at ending harmful traditional practices, in particular child marriage and female genital mutilation.

  • Japan

  • Guarantee civic space by promoting the enjoyment of the freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association.

  • Malta

  • Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, with a view to the full and permanent abolition of the death penalty, and commute all effective death sentences.

  • Ensure accountability and redress by investigating and prosecuting those responsible for grave violations against children and ensure that all victims have access to justice and are provided with comprehensive, age-appropriate and gender-sensitive protection services.

  • Consider enacting legislation that specifically lists discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

  • Mozambique

  • Continue with the efforts to strengthen the security responses and strategies to effectively protect the civilian population and their fundamental human rights.

  • Improve the health-care system in Mali, in particular the access to emergency obstetric care, to protect the right to life of both women and children.

  • Continue with the efforts to ensure quality education for all children.

  • Russia

  • Russia did not offer recommendations, but noted that Mali did everything possible to protect human rights.

  • Switzerland

  • Sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty and to commute all death sentences to alternative sentences.

  • Strengthen its national mechanism for the prevention of torture, in particular ensuring access of the National Human Rights Commission of Mali to all places of deprivation of liberty and in allocating sufficient resources.

  • Guarantee the right to freedom of expression, in particular through the effective implementation of the law on human rights defenders, its implementing decree, and its protection mechanism.

  • UK

  • Adopt concrete measures to strengthen and safeguard the rule of law.

  • Provide unrestricted access to MINUSMA and civil society human rights organizations to investigate alleged human rights abuses and violations, including those attributed to the Malian Defence and Security Forces and the Wagner Group.

  • Adopt long-overdue legislation on sexual and gender-based violence without delay.

  • USA

  • Conduct a credible investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed during security operations conducted with Kremlin-backed Wagner forces in Moura in March 2022, as promised at the Security Council, and hold those responsible to account.

  • Conduct free and fair presidential elections by February 24, peacefully and consistent with Malian law and commitments Mali has made as a member State of the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, and the African Union.

  • Enact legislation to make hereditary slavery a felony and increase penalties for trafficking in persons.


References in Security Council outcomes (not verbatim) [45 words]

In anticipation of the renewal of the sanctions regime, it is worth recalling that human rights are included in the designation criteria [S/RES/2374(2017), OP8] and that the Security Council further elaborated on Obligations under international law, human rights law and related aspects [S/RES/2584 (2021), OP50-OP57].


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