Analysis of the Report of the Secretary-General on Mali (September 2018)

By Kata Lucas

The report is submitted pursuant to resolution 2423 (2018), in which the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and requested the Secretary-General to report on a quarterly basis. The Secretary-General provides an update on major developments in Mali since the previous report (S/2018/541). The report highlights major political developments, including presidential elections, which resulted in the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and notes that signatory parties made progress in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, including the nomination of interim authorities at the district level, the creation of municipalities for the Ménaka and Taoudenni regions, and the adoption of a national security sector reform (SSR) strategy. [1]S/2018/866, para. 2 The security situation remains volatile, as highest number of civilian casualties since the deployment of MINUSMA were recorded during the reporting period. [2]S/2018/822, paras. 41, 42

The Secretary-General reports on issues of women, peace and security (WPS) on numerous occasions in the report, balancing between women’s participation and protection concerns. The majority of references are in regards to mission supported activities in the context of peace processes and elections, and in regards to human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Negatively, gender considerations remain largely absent from the discussion of humanitarian assistance. The report improves slightly compared to the previous report of June (S/2018/541), with greater detail in regards to women’s participation in mission supported activities in the context of peace and electoral processes. Despite MINUSMA’s robust mandate, the report is lacking in its inclusion of gender as a cross-cutting issue, as information is not accompanied by gender analysis. In this way, it is unclear if and how the diverse needs women, men, girls, boys, and those that do not fit the gender binary, are considered or integrated in activities, processes, and planning.

Analysis by Thematic Issue

Peace Processes

The Secretary-General reports on women’s participation in peace processes in the context of a mission organized event and a mission supported workshop. Specifically, the mission organized an event focused on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), noting that women from all regions of the country met with senior government and United Nations officials, and that participants identified the security of populations, including women and children, and the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding processes as key priorities. [3]S/2018/866, para. 4 The Secretary-General also reports that 45 women from signatory parties and civil society participated in a workshop organized by the High Representative of the President for the peace process, MINUSMA, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), during which, a women-led and independent consultative forum was created to monitor the implementation of the Agreement. [4]S/2018/866, para. 4

The Secretary-General should continue to report on women’s participation and should continue and expand information on priorities expressed by women. Future reporting should be enhanced to include a gender analysis, including information as to how the mission and partners consider the needs and concerns of women, as well as the gender dimensions of the implementation of the Agreement, in the design, implementation, and outcomes of the aforementioned activities pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [5]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP.4 Presently, reporting is largely descriptive or limited to the number of women that participated in an activity, with the exception of the one reference to women’s priorities in the mission organized event on resolution 1325 (2000).


The Secretary-General reports on women’s participation in electoral preparations, including in the context of UN supported efforts, such as public education campaigns and technical assistance provided to women’s groups in the drafting of an advocacy document submitted to presidential candidates. [6]S/2018/866, para. 23 Additionally, the report indicates that the Council of Ministers appointed 72 administrators, including 5 women, and that 11 of 32 ministers in President Keita’s new cabinet are women. [7]S/2018/866, para. 8, 25 In the observations, the Secretary-General urges parties to promote the meaningful participation of women, emphasizing that the upcoming elections are an opportunity to realize the thirty percent quota for women in elected positions. [8]S/2018/866, para. 88 The Secretary-General also reports on women’s protection concerns in the context of elections. Specifically, women of the Malian defence and security elements were trained as part of the electoral security by MINUSMA. [9]S/2018/866, para. 24  MINUSMA also conducted sensitization and training sessions on human rights and elections, benefiting 914 participants, including 220 women. [10]S/2018/866, para. 53 The Secretary-General should continue this trend in reporting on women’s participation and protection in the context of elections, which is reflective of provisions in resolution 2122 (2013). [11]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 8 Furthermore, Secretary-General should continue to include language on the importance of women’s participation in the observations.

Security Sector

In regards to the security sector, the Secretary-General reports on training facilitated by MINUSMA and international partners, in which 497 members of the Malian security forces, including 40 women were trained on various policing modules and on human rights broadly. [12]S/2018/866, para. 29 The Secretary-General should continue to report on the number of women trained, and expand reporting to include information on the consideration of women’s needs, women’s protection concerns, and the integration of a gender perspective into the work of mission pursuant to resolutions 2242 (2015) and 2122 (2013). [13]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 4

Countering Violent Extremism

In the context of the launch of a national policy on preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism in Mali and its action plan for 2018–2020, the Secretary-General reports that nine training sessions were held for a total of 179 Malian security forces, including 23 women. [14]S/2018/866, para. 30 Future reports should provide follow-up on the implementation and impacts of the national policy, its action plan, and training pursuant to 2242 (2015). [15]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 12 The reporting on such information will enable targeted and evidence-based modifications or new policy and programming responses.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

The Secretary-General references SGBV in two paragraphs in the report. First, there is a broad reference to alleged cases of SGBV, in the context of a discussion of increased threats and other forms of violence against civilians and signatory armed group members. [16]S/2018/866, para. 33  Second, there is a robust and detailed reference to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), in which the Secretary-General reports that MINUSMA documented 9 cases of CRSV, including 3 cases against minors, the cases included four rapes and five gang rapes, and the locations of the rapes are also provided. [17]S/2018/866, para. 56 In the same paragraph, the Secretary-General also reports that from January to June 2018, there were 1,115 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) recorded, including 758 cases of sexual violence; 68 percent of victims were under the age of 18 and survivors received 150 reproductive health kits, including post-rape kits.  [18]S/2018/866, para. 56 Third, MINUSMA and local partners carried out a sensitization campaign on the prevention of HIV and on CRSV for 404 women and girls, including internally displaced persons (IDPs). [19]S/2018/866, para. 54

In the future, reporting should include sex-disaggregated data for crimes sexual and gender-based violence, and a gender analysis, which includes consideration of survivors needs, pursuant to resolutions 2242 (2015). [20]S/RES/1889 (2009), OP. 5, OP. 6, S/RES/1888 (2009), OP. 13 The inclusion of a gender analysis would illuminate, in part,  the impacts of SGBV on victims and survivors, as well as the impacts of the responses of the mission and partners. Such nuanced and gender-sensitive reporting will provide the Council with comprehensive information to make gender-responsive decisions.

Human Rights Monitoring and Protection of Civilians

The Secretary-General reports on the number of women and children affected by human rights violations and abuses, noting the types of violence, groups involved and locations of violations and abuses. [21]S/2018/866, paras. 50, 54, 55. The Secretary-General reports that 287 civilians were killed during the reporting period, including 14 women and 10 children, the highest number of civilian casualties since the deployment of MINUSMA.  [22]S/2018/822, paras. 41, 42 There is also a discussion of human rights in the report without reference to women or gender considerations in regards to violations by the Malian armed forces against civilians, in the context of election-related violence, in the discussion of grave violations against children, and in the context of mission facilitated training courses on human rights. [23]S/2018/866, paras. 51, 53, 55

In the future, data should be further disaggregated to include information on violations against men, girls, and boys pursuant to presidential statement 21 (2014). [24]S/PRST/2014/21, para. 11 Reporting should also include information on violations against human rights defenders (HRDs), including women’s human rights defenders (WHRD). Further, the Secretary-General should also report on any efforts to address the security threats and protection challenges faced by women and girls pursuant resolution 2122 (2013) and reflective of the mission’s mandate. [25]S/RES/2122 (2015), OP. 5, S/RES/2423 (2018), OP. 38(d)(iii)

Transitional Justice

The report broadly notes that UN-Women continued to provide technical support to Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in integrating gender into its work. [26]S/2018/866, para. 57 Future reporting should provide substantive details as to how the UN is integrating gender into the work of the commission pursuant to 2122 (2013). [27]S/RES/2122 (2013), PP, OP. 10

Humanitarian Assistance

The Secretary-General references women only one time in the context of humanitarian assistance, thus missing a significant opportunity to integrate gender in assistance and in the discussion of displacement. The report indicates that per the lean season in the Sahel, the World Food Programme and its partners scaled up distributions by 100,000 beneficiaries to provide emergency food assistance to 604,000 persons, including 308,000 women, reaching 65 percent of those in critical need. [28]S/2018/866, para. 59 Reporting should be expanded to indicate if and how the mission considers the gender dimensions of humanitarian assistance, including the needs of IDPs and refugees, in its supports to Malian authorities for the delivery of humanitarian assistance pursuant resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2122 (2013). [29]SCR 1325 (2000), OP 12; SCR 2122 (2013), PP


The Secretary-General reports on the percent of women across the military, police, and civilian components of the mission. [30]S/2018/866, paras. 70, 74, 76 Future reporting should continue this trend in reporting on the number of women across the mission’s components.

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

The Secretary-General indicates that no allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) were recorded during the reporting period, noting the Mission continued to implement a three-pronged strategy for addressing SEA, including through providing training to uniformed personnel and civilians. [31]S/2018/866, para. 84 Reporting should be enhanced to include information on the context of training, specifically if and how gender-sensitivity is integrated pursuant to resolution 2242 (2015). [32]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 9, OP. 10