On 1 July 2013, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) took over authority from the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2100. MINUSMA is tasked with helping to stabilize Mali and to support the political process. Importantly, MINUSMA has a protection of civilians mandate that includes deploying human rights monitors and child protection advisors to support the monitoring and documentation of rights violations. Child protection advisors are of particular importance to strengthen the child protection sector in Mali, and to co-lead with UNICEF the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM), which is now being established in Mali.
On the military side of the mission, approximately 6,000 troops already in-country with AFISMA were “re-hatted” into MINUSMA; the force is expected to reach 11,200 troops by the end of 2013. Troops under UN-mandated missions, such as MINUSMA, are accountable to UN human rights standards and frameworks, including the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on sexual exploitation and abuse. For those troops already in place under AFISMA, a four-month ‘grace period’ has been extended, through end of October 2013, to vet and provide troops with appropriate human rights training, usually given pre-deployment. Watchlist has called for this vetting to be independently done, and include screening for children under age 18, in keeping with the UN Secretary-General’s policy on a minimum age of 18 (preferably 21) for troops from contributing armed forces to peacekeeping missions. Watchlist has also called for all troops to receive comprehensive rights training, including on child protection, and for the development of protocols for troops on encountering children associated with armed groups.
For more information on the role of military actors in the protection of children in Mali and findings of Watchlist’s research in this area and accompanying recommendations, please see Watchlist’s new report, ‘Where are they…? The situation of children and armed conflict in Mali’, now available in English and French: https://watchlist.org/the-countries/mali/