Expected Council Action
Discussions on a robust protection force for eastern Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) will continue. The level of momentum suggests a final decision will be reached in March.
A key factor will be Chad’s response to the Secretary-General’s proposals. (Chadian President Idriss Deby opposes the proposed military component, preferring a “civilian” presence. There seems to be agreement from the CAR on an operation as proposed by the Secretary-General.) A further issue is disagreement about the priority to be accorded to a political reconciliation process.
Key Recent Developments
Chad now has 120,000 internally displaced persons and 230,000 Sudanese refugees. Fighting between Chadian forces and rebels (some reportedly supported by Khartoum) presents serious risks to those civilians. Direct attacks against civilians by Sudanese Janjaweed have increased. Darfurian rebels are engaged in forcible recruitment in camps and intra-communal violence.
The situation in the CAR improved with the signing of a peace agreement between the government and two rebel groups on 2 February in Libya. This provides for hostilities to cease, rebel integration into the army and a process of national dialogue. But considerable insecurity remains, particularly in the northwest.
In a communiqué on 12 February, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) urged inclusive dialogue in Chad, offered AU assistance and decided to send a mission to assess implementation of the February 2006 Tripoli Agreement and make recommendations. On 22 February, Libya hosted a Sudan-Chad-CAR summit. But in the absence of progress on the ground, deep scepticism remains.
The Secretary-General’s report does not condition deployment in eastern Chad on a political process. However, it cautions that “eastern Chad is not a conventional peacekeeping environment” and that deployment would “carry distinct and serious risks [including] the possibility that armed groups may view a United Nations force as interfering with their military agenda and decide to attack it”. The clear inference is that, if the Council is to respond to the humanitarian protection imperative, key questions are:
Chadian rebels recognising the mission’s impartial nature;
consent from the Chadian government; and
readiness from troop contributors.
The report offers two options. But both are dependent on critical military assets, high-quality troops and credible impartiality:
option A, largely relying on air assets, would require 6,000 troops; and
option B, preferred by the Secretary-General and with more reliance on infantry, would require 10,900 troops.
Under either option, there would be 260 UN police supported by 800 local gendarmes and police in Chad, with critical backstopping from the military component, and twenty UN police advisors in the CAR.
The mission would be headed by a special representative, headquartered in N’Djamena, with a regional office in Abeché, Chad headed by a deputy special representative and field offices. The mandate would include:
assistance in civilian protection and law and order;
deployment along the borders to reduce tensions;
liaison with governments, the AU, and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) (but curiously not the rebels, which is strange given the proposed role of the mission in supporting political dialogue);
facilitating regional relations, especially with respect to the Tripoli Agreement;
support, as necessary, for dialogue efforts with unarmed groups in Chad and coordination with the UN Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BONUCA);
assistance, as necessary, on a framework for a ceasefire and reconciliation with armed groups in both countries; and
preliminary investigations on human rights violations.
The report states that the advance mission (Mission des Nations Unies au Tchad et en République Centrafricaine, or MiNUTAC) will be headed by a Secretary-General’s representative for Chad and consist of 35 military and 39 UN police, plus a civilian component.
Council consultations on 27 February suggest that a large UN protection force seems to be emerging as the most likely option. (The light monitoring option canvassed in December now seems to be excluded.) Other options for discussion will include:
giving the mission a strong enforcement mandate with the robustness and assets recommended by the Secretary-General, including a presence in northwestern CAR;
providing proactive assistance to the Secretariat with encouraging potential troop contributors; and
firmly engaging Chad to provide consent to the robust military component.
The option of running an operation without a political process (either established or being set up in parallel) seems to have receded in light of the risks.
The Secretary-General’s report speaks of relying on perceptions of the mission’s impartiality and seems to envisage only a light facilitation role (which curiously does not include initiating contact with either Chadian or Darfurian rebels). An option, therefore, is for the Council to specify this aspect of the mandate in more detail, which could involve:
a political mandate to directly engage Chadian rebels and government, perhaps in coordination with the AU PSC initiative, as well as coordinating with key regional players within the Tripoli framework;
signalling in the resolution that the establishment of a political process is an important step towards regional and domestic stability and for the mission’s exit strategy; and
prioritising that role by mandating the early deployment of the civilian component.
The key issue for Council members is agreeing on the various elements of the proposed protection mission, including size and mandate.
But the first issue is consent. Deby’s reluctance to accept a strong military component bears some resemblance to the Sudan precedent and could potentially cause huge problems for the timing of the mission’s deployment. A related issue is whether Khartoum and regional players, such as Libya, will also oppose a robust deployment.
A related issue will be whether key Council members-France in particular-will be willing to push N’Djamena to accept the force with the robustness recommended by the Secretary-General. The alternative would be to accept substantial limitations on the force’s effectiveness and much higher risks.
A second major issue will be securing sufficient troop and police contributions, given current demands on peacekeeping resources. Mixed signals about consent and disagreement in the Council on mandate and size are likely to deter troop and police contributors. A related question is whether Council members will be prepared collectively to play a larger role in energising the force-generation process.
The final issue is that the political reconciliation dimension seems to be lagging. The Secretary-General’s proposals only envisage a light facilitation role for the operation combined with a hoped-for reliance on recognition of the UN’s impartial nature. Given that this light political role may affect both military effectiveness and a credible exit strategy, this raises the questions of:
whether more work is needed to clarify the political environment in which the mission would operate, as well as the political objectives; and
whether the Secretary-General’s recommendations are too soft on the political side and may require strengthening.
During the 27 February consultations, there was wide support for a robust protection operation in eastern Chad and in the CAR. France and African members may present a draft soon, after consultations with Chad and the CAR.
Positions on the specifics of an eventual mission have not yet been tested. Several members have expressed concern with the lack of clarity on:
the political and security environment, in particular the degree of realism in relying on perceptions of impartiality;
the lack of troop and police pledges, especially in view of deployments in Darfur and Somalia;
Chad’s position on both the military component and a political process; and
how the mission will fit in the Tripoli framework.
Most seem to believe that the mission should be approved soon, despite those concerns. There is some expectation of difficulty in crafting the mandate, especially given Chad’s reluctance on a political process and the military component, but there seems to be resolve that robustness is non-negotiable.
There is also wide support for language on political reconciliation. Members traditionally sympathetic to Deby-in particular France and the Congo-may be unsympathetic to overt criticism and pressure and are likely to be sensitive to options which are more attractive to N’Djamena. By contrast, Russia, China and Qatar, mindful of Sudan’s position, may be more sympathetic to the opposite position.
|Selected Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|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|
|Force multinationale en Centrafrique (FOMUC): Size and Composition|
|October 2002 to present; mandate expires 30 June 2007|