Recent attack on UN peacekeepers in Mali may constitute a war crime

UN vehicle on patrol UN vehicle on patrol Photo by Sadik Gulec on iStock

13 February 2021

The United Nations denounced the recent attack on peacekeepers in Mali and discussed the overall state of security in the nation.

On February 13th, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the recent attack against the UN mission in Mali and stated that it may constitute a war crime. He urged Malian authorities to take every measure possible to hold the perpetrators of the attack accountable. The attack occurred on February 10th against a temporary operating base of the UN Integrated Stabilization Mission for Mali (MINUSMA) in Kerena, near Douentza in Central Mali. A Togolese peacekeeper and 27 others died as a result. It is not publicly known yet who perpetrated the attack. 

This is the second deadly incident in 2021 involving UN peacekeepers in Mali. Last month, a UN peacekeeper convoy was impacted by an improvised explosive device (IED), before being attacked by unidentified gunmen, resulting in the death of four peacekeepers and injuring five others. MINUSMA has been deployed since July 2013 to help stabilize the country by “ensuring protection of civilians; supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation; and assisting the reestablishment of State authority, the rebuilding of the security sector, and promoting and protecting human rights.”

The Security Council reiterated that involvement in “planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers constitutes a basis for sanctions designations,” pursuant to its resolutions.  The Council urged states to work alongside authorities in investigating the attack and expressed concern regarding the weak security situation in Mali, as well as the persisting transnational terrorist threat in the entire Sahel region. Members of the Security council encouraged the Malian government to immediately implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, a peace agreement that aims to terminate years of violent conflict in the country, as they believe it could improve Mali’s security situation.


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Author: Sitara Sandhu; Editor: Gabriella Pavlakis

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