renewed UN support amid concerns over human rights

The UN Security Council on the G5 Sahel held a virtual meeting on June 5.
The UN Security Council on the G5 Sahel held a virtual meeting on June 5. Carrie Nooten screenshot

The virtual session of the UN Security Council should have been, on Friday, June 5, a congratulatory hearing focused on the progress made in the Sahel since January. It would have been easier if the death of the head of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali had been announced before the meeting of UN diplomats. But it will have been more contrasting than expected when, alongside the victories of the G5 joint force, the atrocities against civilians committed by the armies of the Sahel have multiplied on the ground. Some diplomats have publicly expressed concern.

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“The joint force of the G5 Sahel is on the right track, but there is still a long way to go, explained Jean-Pierre Lacroix, chief of peacekeeping operations, to the 15 members of the Council. Improving governance, eradicating poverty and protecting the human rights of all citizens, even those most deprived of their rights, remain critical, and more needs to be done to ensure that these aspects are given as much importance as ‘to military operations. “ A position shared by the Mauritanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, current president of the G5 Sahel.

Multiplication of harm

Originally scheduled for May, the meeting was postponed at the request of Niger. Between the two dates, the intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, was canceled. However, she could have presented the note on trends in human rights violations and abuses written by Minusma.

In this first quarterly report of its kind, the United Nations mission in Mali denounces the multiplication of wrongdoings attributed to national armies: 101 executions without legal proceedings or legal trials committed by the Malian army between January and March, and around thirty others by the Nigerian army on Malian soil. The majority of the civilians targeted belong to the Fulani community, from which the jihadists recruit.

Twelve people arrested for complicity with the terrorists also died in gendarmerie cells in mid-May in Burkina Faso. NGOs claim that they were civilians who were shot dead. They also note that security pressure has increased since January. A direct consequence of the Pau summit on January 13, and French and European orders to speed up operations?

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Investigations have been promised. “We fully adhere to respect for human rights in the context of the G5 Sahel, and more particularly for the protection of civilians”, assured Abdou Abarry, Niger’s ambassador. The stakes are high, since these episodes tarnish people’s confidence in the G5’s national armies. “Any call for respect for the rule of law and human rights is not purely philosophical, warned Belgian representative Marc Pecsteen. This is, in our view, an essential condition for winning against terrorism. “

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