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On Mali, After French Fraud Fakeout, UNSC Statement, No Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- After fighting in Kidal in northern Mali, former colonial power France convened a UN Security Council meeting on May 20. Then French Ambassador Gerard Araud came to a very controlled stakeout: he did not take Press questions about Mali calling the MNLA the sole aggressors, and "narco-terrorists."

  As the Free UN Coalition for Access has noted, later on May 20 like here, as Araud enters his final days as France's Ambassador to the UN he has, on April 15 for example, attacked a longtime Lebanese correspondent telling him, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent." Click here for that.

  With that hanging in the air, Araud found it easier to deal with "interlocutors" on Twitter, for example on Mali, here. But May 20 at the UN, he did not address or follow the International Monetary Fund in questioning Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's purchase of a new Boeing 737 jet for $40 million. So what did the UN peacekeeping mission, Bert Koenders and Herve Ladous, know and when did they know it?

   None of this is answered in the ham-handed UNSC press statement issued at 10 pm on May 20, of which Inner City Press publishes the full text:

Security Council press statement on Mali, 20 May 2014

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the violent clashes in Kidal on 17 and 18 May in the context of the Malian Prime Minister’s visit in Kidal, which resulted in the death of Malian Defense and Security forces personnel, as well as eight civilians, including six government officials. They expressed their deepest condolences to their families as well as to the Government of Mali.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the unacceptable seizure by force of administrative buildings, including the Governorate, the taking of hostages by armed groups, notably MNLA, as well as the attacks on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). They called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of armed groups from the Governorate building and for their return to their previous positions in the framework of the cantonment process.

The members of the Security Council insisted on the need for those responsible for these actions to be identified and held accountable. They underlined that these actions undermine efforts towards peace and security in northern Mali, particularly in the region of Kidal, and constitute a grave violation of Security Council resolution 2100 (2013), which calls on all rebel armed groups to put aside their arms and cease hostilities immediately, and of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement of 18 June 2013.

The members of the Security Council called on all parties to act with restraint and refrain from any further violence that could threaten civilians. They reiterated their support for the restoration of the authority of the Malian State over its entire territory, including in Kidal. They further reiterated that only a credible and inclusive negotiation process can bring long-term peace and stability throughout the country, respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali. They called for the resumption as soon as possible of the cantonment process and of sincere peace talks between the Malian government and the armed groups signatories and adherent to the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their full support to MINUSMA in the implementation of its mandate and the French forces acting in support of the Mission.

  So, don't worry about the government in Bamako? Nor IBK's jet?

   As Inner City Press reported last week, despite not having required Security Council approval, Ladsous has been soliciting drones or "unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles" for Mali. Inner City Press has twice asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain the solicitation without approval, but no answer has been given.

  Despite speeches by Annick Girardin, the French secretary of state for development, what did France's outgoing ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud do or say about these issues during the Security Council trip to Mali that he led?

  Actually, France has stealthily lined up to get paid by other UN member states for "air field services" in northern Mali through a letter of assist regarding which Araud refused to answer Press questions in December (then stopped answering Press questions altogether). So as one wag put it, France could get paid to service Air IBK -- if IBK ever visited and negotiated in northern Mali.

   Back in January regarding gang rape charges against UN peacekeepers in Mali the UN told Inner City Press, "the Government of Chad has further advised the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that it has completed the national investigation."

    On April 9, Inner City Press asked DPKO chief Herve Ladsous what the results of the completed investigation had been, but he refused to answer, click here for that.

  And so on April 23 Inner City Press put the question to the UN's Mali envoy Bert Koenders. More than three months after the DPKO told Inner City Press the investigation was completed, Koenders said it will only be finished in "two or three weeks." Video here, from Minute 3:39.

   Even though by his account the investigation is not finished, he said "we have found very little evidence of sexual violence by Chadian troups... at first glance some of the accusations have not bee proven."

   While Koenders unlike Ladsous at least purported to respond to this question, and one about Dutch attack helicopters bound for Mali, there is a lack of clarity. Beyond the "completed" investigation by Chad, is there another, UN investigation? Are there preliminary findings based on which Koenders said what he did? As with the rapes in Minova in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by DPKO's partners in the Congolese Army, we will continue to pursue this issue.

  Inner City Press also asked about the five Dutch helicopter's Mali's foreign minister Abdulaye Diop had told it about earlier in the morning. Koenders said, "We welcome contribution of Dutch government," specifying three Apache attack helicopters in May, and two transport helicopters in September or October.

  Koenders cited all information fusion, being the ears and eyes on extremist groups. Earlier, Inner City Press asked Foreign Minister Diop if such information will be shared with his government, or only within MINUSMA and its troop contributing countries. Diop said he didn't know. So this, too, will require clarification

  As an aside, later on April 23 the UN's envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay complained of the lack of helicopters from the AMISOM mission. It left one wondering about how the UN is run: did the Netherlands give the copters to Mali because one of its nationals is the UN's envoy there? We hope to have more on this.

  On April 23 when Inner City Press asked Malian foreign minister Diop for an update on dialogue in Kidal, and on the stated investigation of the shooting of civilian demonstrators there, he replied that he is too new in the position to answer on the probe. He said there is a new chief negotiator for the armed groups and what he called, in a Nixonian phrase, the "silent majority." Where did the last ten weeks go?

  Back on January 16 the UN Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press this response, which does not answer the question of accountability. But here it is, in full:

Subject: Your question on Mali
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 3:23 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

In response to your question about the follow-up to the allegations of sexual assault by United Nations peacekeepers in MINUSMA in September 2013, we have received the following information:

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations officially notified the Government of Chad of these allegations in late September. The Government of Chad officially responded, saying that it would take responsibility for the investigations. The Government of Chad has further advised the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that it has completed the national investigation, and the United Nations awaits advice on the outcome of the investigations and follow-up accountability measures as appropriate.

  The UN is waiting for "advice" -- but will it ever make it public? How else can the UN's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy be assessed?

  On January 17, Inner City Press asked UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. From the UN's transcript, video here and embedded below:

Inner City Press: On Mali, I wanted to thank you for this written answer you gave yesterday afternoon that Mali has said that its completed its investigation of the alleged rape in Mali by the Chadian troops. And it said that the UN awaits advice on the outcome of the investigation. And what I wanted to know is whether… what part of that is going to be made public, given both the human rights due diligence policy, etcetera? I appreciate you saying that the investigation is finished, but, has… did they clear the soldiers? Were the soldiers found guilty? Where does it stand?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: As we emailed to you, the Mission does await advice on the outcome of the proceedings. We know that there have been proceedings regarding the case. You know this is a case regarding sexual assault and so, we await further information from that. We’ll try to make public what we can of the information that we receive.

Inner City Press: So, they literally just told you that it’s complete, but…no indication on what was done? I guess I wonder when --

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: The information I have in the email that was sent to you is the information we have. If we have any further updates, we’ll share it with you at that point.

  Two weeks later, nothing. So what will members of the Security Council ask, find and make public?

  One of the UN's other too-few criticisms of military action in north Mail, the shooting into a crowd of protesters in Kidal on November 28, was disputed in the Security Council on January 16.

  In a statement prepared like a defense attorney, trying raise reasonable doubt, Mali's Permanent Representative Sekou Kasse said that the UN Mission MINUSMA elements closest to the shooting were 400 meters away, precluding them from "objective" testimony.

  The argument made was one must wait for the ballistic analysis ordered by the Malian government itself. Inner City Press asked Mali's foreign minister on April 23. Watch this site.


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