Mali, the Way Forward

A little Malian girl riding a bicycle. A little Malian girl riding a bicycle. Photo by Jordan McGee on Unsplash

 

03 July 2021

Reviving the Peace Agreement is a must to stop human right abuses and create peace in Mali. 

The Peace Agreement of 2015 put a brake on the civil war that started in January 2012 but was unable to bring peace and stability to Mali. Armed groups and government forces are doing numerous human rights violations.

On 29 June 2021, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet drew attention to the rampant impunity for such violations in Mali. As per the data from the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, recently, the number of attacks, killings, and abductions has alarmingly increased compared to any past data. Though both gender and all age groups are affected by the attacks, most of the victims are men. In the first half of 2021, there is a 40 percent increase in rights abuses as compared to August to December of 2020. Armed groups such as the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and state actors are responsible for these attacks.

Mali has faced two coups within the past nine months. Because of political turmoil in the capital and peace agreement caught in gridlock, the armed agencies are able to unleash attacks with impunity. Similar is the situation with France’s anti-jihadist effort, operation Barkhane, that has been going on since 2013.

On 2 January 2021, French Mirage fighter jets bombed a wedding ceremony in the village of Bounti. MINUSMA investigated this attack and reported the death of 22 people. The report found that "the group affected by the strike was overwhelmingly composed of civilians who are persons protected against attacks under international law." However, the French maintain their stand that those killed were armed jihadists. They claim to have a robust targeting process consistent with international law. MINUSMA has asked for an independent inquiry on this matter, but neither the French nor Malian government has taken any action on it.

The country needs to reinvigorate the peace agreement that was signed in June of 2015. All national and international parties have a role to play in the successful implementation of the peace agreement. The primary purpose of this agreement was to create a unified national army and to decentralize power.

Firstly, Mali must plan for a decentralized army in cooperation with senior military advisors and other relevant parties. This diplomatic effort needs to be launched with utmost priority to prevent the formation of other armed groups in the name of protecting communities. Secondly, the neighbouring countries need to lead the efforts to overcome barriers to the peace agreement. Instability in Mali will only make them more vulnerable. Similarly, signatories of the agreement should explain to the citizens the benefits of the peace agreement. It is vital because of all the misinformation being circulated about it. Finally, the international community needs to reassess its role as a supporting partner as Mali fails to execute its responsibilities alone.

 

Sources:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094982

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/6/25/its-time-for-a-reality-check-in-mali

https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/investigations/2021/6/16/uncovering-the-civilian-toll-of-france-anti-jihadist-war-in-Mali

 

Author: Pasquale Candela; Editor: Shrabya Ghimire

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