United Nations sanctions in Mali will end on Thursday, August 31 after Russia vetoed a renewal of the regime that targeted anyone violating or obstructing a 2015 peace deal, hindering aid delivery, committing rights abuses, and recruiting child soldiers.
Abuse to human rights and violence against women
Independent UN sanctions monitors have been reporting to the UN Security Council that Mali’s troops and its foreign security partners, believed to be Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, are using violence against women and other ‘grave human rights abuses’ to spread terror.
In the past, the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a member, has voted to extend UN sanctions on Mali and continue independent monitoring.
But on Thursday, 13 Security Council members voted in favour of a resolution, drafted by France and the United Arab Emirates, to extend the UN sanctions and independent monitoring for another year but Russia cast a veto, while China abstained from the vote.
Russia, instead proposed extending UN sanctions in Mali for one final year, but immediately ending the independent monitoring now.
Russia was the only country to vote yes, while Japan voted no and the remaining 13 members abstained.
Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the UN Security Council that Russia wanted to eliminate the independent monitoring ‘to stifle publication of uncomfortable truths about Wagner’s actions in Mali, which require attention.’
In response, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said it was speculation and resembled ‘paranoia,’ adding that Russia was ‘upholding the interests of the affected country – Mali, as the council is supposed to do.’
Did Mali’s junta teamed up with Wagner in 2021?
The US has also accused Wagner, which has about 1,000 fighters in Mali, of engineering an abrupt request by the junta for a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to leave.
The decade-long operation is due to end by December.
Mali’s junta, which seized power in coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Wagner in 2021 to fight an Islamist insurgency.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash in Russia last week and President Vladimir Putin then ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state.
Mali’s military junta wrote to the Security Council earlier this month to ask for the sanctions to be lifted.