Mali

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Persistent violations
  • Early marriage, particularly affecting girls[1]
  • Female genital mutilation[2]
  • Discrimination against women and girls[3]
  • High rates of infant and maternal fatality and poor reproductive health care services[4]
  • Inadequate response to HIV and AIDS[5]
  • Trafficking of children[6]
  • Violence against children[7]
  • Corporal punishment[8]
  • Inadequate education provision, particularly affecting girls[9]
  • Use of detention for children in conflict with the law[10]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee on Migrant Workers, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

A landlocked West African country, Mali borders Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger. Despite a period of largely democratic rule after the 1991 popular uprisings, a 2012 rebellion by Tuareg in the north of the country triggered a military coup and subsequent foreign intervention to re-establish central control under an army backed interim government. While press freedom has been historically very good for the region, major concerns about rights now include possible war crimes committed by all sides during the conflict in the North and the persistence of harmful traditional practices, particularly those involving women and girls.


Geography

Mali is a landlocked country on the Sahel in north-west Africa, and shares borders with Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Niger. The country is mostly flat and arid, with desert to the north, savannah to the south and rugged hills to the north-east. The capital city is Bamako.

Population and language

15.8 million people live in Mali, a population which has more than doubled over the last 30 years, and continues to rise at around 3 per cent annually.[1] This population is relatively ethnically diverse, including substantial communities of Mande, Peul, Voltaic, Songhain, Tuareg and Moor peoples.

French is the official language, and numerous African languages are spoken, of which Bambara is the most common.[2]

History and politics

In the 19th century Mali came under the control of the French Empire and remained so until 1959. That year, the country briefly entered into a Federation with Senegal, before gaining full independence in 1960. Mali's post-independence history has been turbulent, marked by several coups d'Etat, and until 1991 the country was governed under a single party political system.

Following the coup of 1991, the country underwent democratic reforms that led to elections the following year. For the first ten years of the new republic, Alpha Oumar Konare held the presidency, while the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) dominated legislature, but Amadou Toumani Touré was elected President in 2002 and ADEMA lost much of its representation in the National Assembly. In March 2012, Mali experienced a further coup in which President Touré was deposed before being replaced by interim President, Dioncounda Traoré,[3] It is currently unclear when elections will be scheduled.

The democratic reforms of the 1990s took place alongside a rise in hostility from Tuareg rebels, who have established a strong presence in the north of the country. The insurgency has gathered pace since 2007 and has reportedly profited by the flow of arms into the country that followed the Libyan civil war.[4] In January 2013, French military forces entered the country upon the invitation of the Malian government to combat the advance of rebel groups prior to a UN supported regional military intervention which is expected to take place later in the year.[5]

Economy

Mali has experienced substantial real GDP growth approaching 6 per cent despite the global economic crisis, and has particularly profited from the rising price of gold, one of the country's chief exports. The World Bank has predicted that the economy will suffer, however, from a plateau in gold production and falling agricultural production in coming years. The political instability in Libya also poses a potential problem for the country, as Libya has substantial investments in the tourism and financial sectors, which could be negatively affected.

Poverty has declined steadily over the last decade, from 57 per cent in 2001,[6] to 44 per cent in 2010,6 though Mali remains among the countries with the lowest levels of human development according to the UNDP.

Media and civil society

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) rated the country 25 out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index of 2011/12,[7] reflecting the widely held view of the country as among the best environments for press freedom in Africa. Broadcast and print media are diverse, providing a good reflection of the country's political diversity. However, few newspapers or magazines have circulation that exceeds 1,000 and the only domestic television channel with national coverage is publicly owned, and tends to take a pro-government line.[8] The advance of Tuareg rebels has given rise to concerns over press freedom in rebel controlled areas, and RWB has reported several instances of journalists being beaten or harassed for making comments critical of the actions of rebel or religious groups.[9] Non-governmental and civil society groups largely operate within the country without interference.[10]

Human rights and children's rights

UN human rights mechanisms have highlighted a number of rights concerns with regards to Mali, many of which relate to harmful practices based on tradition, culture or religion, including female genital mutilation and early marriage. Discrimination against women and girls is also reportedly widespread.[11] In January 2013, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into potential war crimes committed in the country since January 2012.[12]

  1. UNDESA, Population Statistics 2011
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, [ http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/country-profile/sub-saharan-africa/mali?profile=all "Mali Country Profile"] 17 October 2011
  3. The Guardian, "Mali clears way for civilian government" 10 April 2012
  4. See New York Times, "Qaddafi's weapons, taken by old allies, reinvigorate an insurgent army in Mali" 5 February 2012 and The Guardian, "West overlooked risk of Libya weapons reaching Mali, says expert" 21 January 2013
  5. BBC, "Mali conflict: France aiming for 'total reconquest'" 20 January 2013
  6. World Bank, "Mali Overview"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  8. Freedom House "Freedom of the Press 2012: Mali"
  9. Reporters Without Borders, [ "Confrontation in northern city between jihadists and last journalists"] 8 August 2012 and [Newspaper editor kidnapped, beaten and then dumped near stadium"] 13 July 2012
  10. Freedom House, "Freedom in the World 2012: Mali"
  11. CRIN, "Mali: Persistent violations of children's rights" 17 January 2013
  12. International Criminal Court, "ICC Prosecutor opens investigation into war crimes in Mali: 'the legal requirements have been met. We will investigate.'" 16 January 2013

Sources:

The New York Times, news items (see footnotes)

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