Mali security situation has reached critical threshold, warns UN human rights expert after visit

OHCHR | Mali security situation has reached critical threshold, warns UN human rights expert after visit


Mali security situation has reached critical threshold, warns UN human rights expert after visit


GENEVA / BAMAKO (2 December 2019) – The security situation in Mali has now reached a critical level, with a limited presence of State institutions in some areas, unprecedented incidents of violence across communal lines, and increasingly deadly terror attacks against the security forces as well as civilians, a UN human rights expert has found after an 10-day visit to the country.

“I am gravely concerned at the continuing deterioration of the overall security situation, which has now reached a critical threshold,” said Alioune Tine, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali.

“It is time to recognise the inadequacy of the current security responses so Mali can move to more appropriate alternatives as soon as possible. The prolonged failure and lack of presence of state institutions in many areas, along with the dire political, economic and social climate, are causing more and more frustration and resentment among the population.

“Civilians in many areas, and particularly the central areas of Mopti, are being denied basic human rights, including the right to life, as the State is becoming more and more weakened in the face of increasingly violent and deadly attacks on the Malian Army by terrorist groups seeking to destabilise democracy and undermine the morale of the troops. If this trend continues, it will become the most serious threat to regional and international peace.”

The expert also highlighted worsening levels of violence, robbery, rape and kidnapping in Timbuktu, and said a resurgence of transnational crime was threatening social cohesion and was going unpunished.

Between August 2017 and September 2019, there were 101 security incidents resulting in 94 deaths, as well as seven kidnappings and 21 carjackings. Sexual violence is also at a high level, with 956 reported cases between January and October 2019 – 43% of them allegedly carried out by armed groups – according to UN figures.

“The victims’ organisations I met expressed fears about an explosion of community tensions, which is the consequence of difficulties encountered in accessing basic social services and humanitarian aid,” said Tine.

“In central Mali, the worrying frequency of terrorist attacks against the army threatens the foundations of state security. It is equally deplorable that terrorist attacks are being directed against schools, with property destroyed and teachers threatened in Timbuktu, with the closure of one third of the schools in Mopti and 60% in Gao.”

Tine said the security situation was also gradually worsening in the central and southern regions of Ségou, Kayes and Koulikoro, but he had been told of a marked improvement in Kidal in recent months.

“Everyone we met deplored the slow pace at which the peace agreement was being implemented,” said Tine.

"It is now urgent to create the conditions for its success, including ensuring all mechanisms are in place and working correctly, promoting transparency and good faith, ensuring the State is functioning across the whole country and finding concrete ways to combat terrorism.

“Political, religious and traditional leadership must also demonstrate a high sense of responsibility and work together to maintain national cohesion and to better address the security challenges that threaten the unity of the country.”

Tine welcomed the efforts of the Malian government to fight corruption and introduce reforms aimed at creating a more effective and equitable justice system.

During his visit the Expert met the Minister of Foreign affairs, the President of the Constitutional Court, members of the diplomatic corps, UN agencies, and representatives of civil society organisations. He also visited the Timbuktu and Kidal regions, where he met representatives of armed groups as well as youth and women's associations.

He will present a full report to the Human Rights Council in March 2020.


Mr. Alioune Tine (Senegal) took office as independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali on 1 May 2018. The mandate of independent expert was renewed by the Human Rights Council on 23 March 2018 for a period of one year to assist the Government of Mali in its actions to promote and protect human rights and in the implementation of the recommendations made in Council resolutions. Mr. Tine was a founding member and President of the African Meeting for the Defence of Human Rights (RADDHO) and Coordinator of the Forum of African NGOs at the World Conference against Racism in 2000. Between 2014 and 2018 Mr. Tine was Amnesty International's Regional Director for West and Central Africa. He has published many articles and studies on literature and human rights.

Read recent reports from the Independent Expert.

The independent experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general term applied to the Council's independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations, or thematic issues around the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not part of the UN staff and they do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of governments and organizations and perform their functions independently.

UN human rights country page - Mali

For additional information and media inquiries, please contact Brian Ruane (+41 22 928 9724 /

In Bamako (during the visit): Guillaume Ngefa (+223 94950226 /

Formedia inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Mr. Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 /

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at