The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2020/487) issued on 03 June 2020.

Delays in the implementation of the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, particularly in terms of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, contributed to persistent instability in the northern and central regions, which has impeded humanitarian access and reporting. Populations living in areas with weak state presence are particularly vulnerable to attacks by armed groups and extremist elements, which propel forced displacement. In 2019, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) verified 27 cases of conflict-related sexual violence against 15 women, 11 girls and 1 man. The perpetrators included members of Mouvement pour le salut de l’Azawad, Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad and unidentified armed men. Allegations of sexual slavery, forced marriage, castration and forced pregnancy were also reported. While the available information suggests that most cases were perpetrated by unidentified armed elements, it also indicates that members of non-State armed groups (namely, Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad, led by Sidi Mohamed, Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad and Mouvement pour le salut de l’Azawad) have committed conflict-related sexual violence. Cases were also attributed to members of the Malian Defence and Security Forces. In addition, MINUSMA verified 22 incidents that occurred in 2018 but were not reported at the time, owing to a lack of access to safe and confidential services.

The visit of my Special Representative in 2019 culminated in the signing of a joint communiqué with the Government to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence, which subsequently led to the drafting of an action plan focused on four strategic areas: prevention, protection, service delivery and accountability. MINUSMA also continued to monitor the implementation of the unilateral communiqués to address conflict-related sexual violence issued by Coordination des mouvements de l’Azawad in 2017 and Platform coalition of armed groups (Plateforme des mouvements du 14 juin 2014 d’Alger) in 2016. Access to justice continues to be a major challenge, owing to inadequate budgetary allocations and limited training of judicial personnel, with not a single case of conflict-related sexual violence having been brought to trial. Civil society organizations play a critical role in supporting victims to come forward and testify in conditions of safety and security, and in advocating the adoption of legislation to promote gender equality. In terms of community engagement to alleviate stigma and shift harmful social norms, MINUSMA hosted a workshop with 113 imams from the High Islamic Council of Mali, resulting in a signed declaration and fatwa to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.

Recommendation

I welcome the joint communiqué signed by the Government and the United Nations and call for its full implementation. I urge the authorities to address key challenges inhibiting access to justice for survivors, and to ensure the effective prosecution of cases of conflict-related sexual violence, in particular the 115 cases still pending before the tribunal of commune III in Bamako. I also encourage the meaningful participation of women in the monitoring and implementation of the peace agreement.

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