March 2007 Monthly Forecast



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:

The report offers two options. But both are dependent on critical military assets, high-quality troops and credible impartiality:

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:

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:

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:

Key Issues
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:

Council Dynamics
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:

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.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1706 (31 August 2006) mandated a multidimensional UN presence in Chad and the CAR.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2007/2 (16 January 2007) requested further recommendations on a peacekeeping presence in Chad and the CAR by mid-February.
  • S/PRST/2006/47 (22 November 2006) renewed BONUCA until 31 December 2007.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2007/97 (23 February 2007) was the new report on UN peacekeeping in Chad and the CAR.
  • S/2006/1034 (28 December 2006) is the latest Secretary-General’s report on the CAR.
  • S/2006/1019 (22 December 2006) was the first report on UN peacekeeping in Chad and the CAR.
  • S/2006/934 (30 November 2006) contained the new modalities for BONUCA.

For the full historical background, please see our July and December 2006 and February 2007 Forecasts.

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
 BONUCA: Duration
 15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007
 Force multinationale en Centrafrique (FOMUC): Size and Composition
  • Current strength: 380 troops
  • Contributors: Gabon, Republic of Congo and Chad
 FOMUC: Duration
 October 2002 to present; mandate expires 30 June 2007

Full forecast