Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s recommendations on a peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). Given the risks surrounding such an operation-including the lack of clear consent from all parties-it is unclear whether members will be ready to authorise an operation in February.
It is expected that a key element in the discussion will be whether a political mandate should be part of an overall package.
Key Recent Developments
Attacks against civilians, military conflict and humanitarian chaos continued unabated in Chad and CAR in January. Chad now holds 100,000 Chadian displaced and 230,000 Sudanese refugees. UN agencies also report 150,000 displaced and serious violations of human rights in the CAR.
Both countries suffer persistent cross-border activity of Darfurian militia (both pro- and anti-Khartoum) and indigenous rebel movements. In Chad, concerns have heightened particularly with a new rebel front closer to the Libyan border and increased forceful recruitment in refugee camps by militia.
Short-term, the prospects for ceasefire and a locally generated political process in either country are low. The Chadian and CAR governments rely heavily on French military aid. The CAR also counts on troops from Chad, the Republic of Congo and Gabon deployed under FOMUC (Force multinationale en Centrafrique), the military mission from the Central African Economic and Monetary Community.
The Secretary-General unveiled preliminary findings on a UN peacekeeping operation in Chad and the CAR in late December. He noted that opposition parties in both would regard an operation as “partial and supportive of the two governments” and that the operation would, as a result, be seen as taking sides and face considerable security risks. His report strongly cautioned against deploying until hostilities cease, political dialogue is established, and consent is obtained from all parties. Conditions, he said, for effective peacekeeping “do not, therefore, seem to be in place.”
The report presented two options: (a) a smaller monitoring mission, or (b) a larger operation with a strong protection component, which would be robust, requiring significant logistics and aviation assets. It would comprise three brigades in eastern Chad (about 7,500 plus supporting troops), one battalion in northeastern CAR (about 800 plus supporting troops), plus over 160 police supported by domestic gendarmes, to:
observe the situation in the border areas;
liaise with and promote confidence-building among the parties;
facilitate a political process/dialogue within the countries and between the CAR, Chad and the Sudan, including existing regional agreements; and
deter attacks and provide protection, within its capabilities, to civilians under imminent threat.
The preferred option was the robust mission, contingent upon:
consent from all parties and cessation of hostilities;
a reconciliation process; and
ascertaining that the necessary troops, police and logistics assets are available, given that the UN’s capacities in the area are already stretched; and
clarifying the positions of both governments on size and mandate.
The report recommended that the Council authorise an advance team to collect information and explore the possibilities for a political agreement between governments and rebels.
The report was presented in a briefing on 10 January in a tense climate, in which some appear to have criticised the lack of finalised recommendations requested in resolution 1706 in August 2006. On 16 January, the Council adopted a presidential statement requesting that the Secretariat submit finalised recommendations by mid-February and deploy the advance mission as soon as possible.
Options facing the Council are framed by two imperatives. The first is the protection needs of the civilian population and refugees. The second is the security dilemma, under which a UN operation in a war zone without consent and without the ability to project overwhelming force risks protecting neither civilians nor its own personnel.
The Council could authorise a very robust UN presence with a strong monitoring and protection mandate and rely on the force to change the realities on the ground despite the absence of consent. This is both costly and risky.
A second approach is to authorise such a force, but at the same time insist on a strong political/reconciliation mandate in parallel, with a view to improving the feasibility of the operation and reducing the risks to manageable levels by lowering the level of violence and resolving some of the grievances which have fuelled the conflict.
A third option is to approve in principle such an operation but conditioning actual deployment upon actual progress in addressing the political dimension.
Under either of the options involving a political/facilitation mandate, a sub-option (which is a step that could be implemented quickly) is to request the appointment of a special representative of the Secretary-General to:
liaise domestically and regionally to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, or, at a minimum, consent from all parties for the future operation;
facilitate a reconciliation process and coordinate with key international partners in that regard; and
clarify the mission’s impartial nature to the parties, particularly to the opposition in Chad and the CAR.
A further similar sub-option which is immediately available is to task the recently authorised advance mission with additional specific responsibilities to explore active peace facilitation opportunities.
(The Council has previously created similar special advance missions and/or given strong backing for early facilitation of peace talks prior to deployments, such as in Sudan (UNAMIS).)
A related option might be a facilitation role involving active backing from key international partners, including some Council members, perhaps as a group of friends.
Other options are:
engaging firmly the governments of Chad and the CAR to secure agreement that the UN will relate to and seek to obtain consent from the rebel factions; and
provide proactive and collective assistance to the Secretariat with the troop generation exercise.
the mission’s mandate, size and cost (bearing in mind the assets mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report);
the time frame necessary for deployments (possibly around six months);
the relationship with French military assistance and FOMUC;
the future of the UN Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BONUCA);
the positions of the governments and rebels in Chad and the CAR;
developments in the security situation in Darfur and the resumption of negotiations between Khartoum and rebel groups; and
coordination with the deployment of the Darfur hybrid operation.
The associated issue is that, left to themselves, neither Chad nor the CAR seem ready to seriously address the political demands of Chadian and CAR rebels. This lies behind the Secretary-General’s warning that the lack of a political process has a huge impact over the prospects for sustainable peacekeeping.
The third issue is finding sufficient troops and police for the operation. There are no troop or police contributors lining up for the operation. The current scarcity in peacekeeping resources is acute and, in addition, potential future deployments in Somalia and Darfur are on the horizon.
Most members appear ready to start discussions on the mandate and size of the mission once the final recommendations from the Secretary-General are known. There is a degree of frustration -in particular from the US, the UK and France- at the time taken for the Secretary-General’s report (given that it was requested in resolution 1706 in August last year) and that its recommendations were cautious. Domestic public opinion, concerned at the possible repeat of delays in deployment in Darfur, may also have played a role in the position of some members.
On the other hand, there seems to be a general recognition that the ongoing war, the lack of clear consent from all parties and the absence of a political process represent a huge challenge to any proposed operation in Chad and the CAR.
Members are also mindful of the security concerns of potential troop and police contributors who are likely to favour the less risky environment of an established political process with clear consent from all parties.
Most Council members appear to support UN involvement in facilitating the start of a domestic political process and would likely welcome leadership from the Secretary-General in that regard. Those members are also conscious, nonetheless, that any proposals for a UN political involvement would require strong backing from Council members and key international players.
Some, however, including France and Congo, appear sympathetic to the position of the Chadian and CAR governments that political questions should be set aside. They may be uncomfortable with pressure on either government to enter into negotiations with the rebels.
|Selected Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
Other Relevant Facts
|CAR: Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Lamine Cissé (Senegal)|
|BONUCA: Size and Composition|
|Strength as of 30 September 2006: 19 international civilians, 5 military advisers, 6 police|
|15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007|
|FOMUC: Size and Composition|
|October 2002 to present; mandate expires 30 June 2007|