Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to continue discussions of the proposed UN operation in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). Members seem to have adopted a wait-and-see approach for the time being, as Chad and the Secretariat are expected to consult with a view to agreement on the proposed operation’s size and structure.
A briefing by Under Secretary-General John Holmes on the humanitarian situation in the region in April may be a basis for Council members to review the protection needs of civilians and assess the respective responsibilities.
Key Recent Developments
Despite some progress with peace talks involving some of the rebel groups in Chad and the CAR, the security situation in both countries continues to present grave threats to civilians.
In Chad, there are now 120,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), plus 200,000 Darfurian and 46,000 CAR refugees. Humanitarian access is constrained and diminishing. The implementation of a peace accord signed in late December under Libyan auspices between the government and one of the rebel groups, the United Front for Change (FUC), seems to have made progress with the appointment of FUC leader Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim as defence minister, but violence continues.
In the CAR, hit-and-run rebel attacks continued. The situation in the northwest seems to be worsening. CAR forces with French support managed to regain control over the northeastern town of Birao from the rebel group Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR). It is unclear whether UFDR leaders, currently in prison in Benin, will sign on to a peace agreement concluded in early February between the government and other rebel leaders in Libya.
Chad has blocked the deployment of the UN advance mission approved by the Council on 16 January and so far opposes a UN operation with a robust military component. N’Djamena prefers instead a civilian presence consisting of police and gendarmes in refugee and IDP camps.
At Council consultations on 23 March, Chad reiterated that position but indicated willingness to reach a negotiated agreement on the proposed operation’s size and structure.
Chadian and Sudanese representatives reportedly met on 10 March in Tehran to continue talks to normalise bilateral relations. It was reportedly agreed that an Iranian technical assistance team on regional issues would go to Chad and Sudan. The meeting came as the latest in a series of efforts, particularly from Libya, to improve Chadian-Sudanese relations. However, in the absence of improvements in the situation on the ground, deep scepticism remains.
actively engaging with Chad to reach a negotiated outcome;
upping the ante by authorising a robust operation and inviting consent (along the lines of resolution 1706); and
authorising an essentially civilian operation.
The first option could be undertaken by the Council Working Group on Peacekeeping. The second option runs the risk of initiating a deadlock similar to the one regarding Darfur. The third option runs the risk of not only creating an ineffective and dangerous operation, but also encouraging behaviour similar to that of Chad and Sudan in the future.
Other options include:
adopting a wait-and-see approach while supporting a firm engagement of Chad by key players, especially some of the P5 and the Secretariat;
adopting a resolution simply affirming the Council’s willingness to authorise a robust operation; and
reinforcing the view that the establishment of a political process is an important step towards regional and domestic stability and for the mission’s exit strategy.
The key issue is how best to address Chad’s concerns about a UN operation.
It in turn raises a number of related issues, including:
whether key Council members-France in particular-will be willing to push N’Djamena to accept the force with the kind of robustness recommended by the Secretary-General;
how best to address the opposition of regional players to robust peacekeeping in Chad and Darfur, particularly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea;
whether to make concessions on the military component’s size; and
the wider questions that the precedents in Darfur and Chad may create for future UN peacekeeping.
Another key issue is how to maintain momentum for firmly encouraging a domestic political process in Chad. This seems to have become sidelined as a result of Chad’s opposition to the operation. This in turn raises questions related to any future mission’s viability and exit strategy.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The Council now seems focused on how to encourage Chad to consent to the UN operation. At press time, members seemed convinced that no operation can be deployed without a military component to back up the civilian presence.
France and some African members seem to be advancing the idea of adopting a resolution indicating the Council’s support for a future operation. There also seems to be preliminary interest within the Council in sending another technical assessment mission in light of the 23 March consultations.
Positions are yet to be tested should N’Djamena’s opposition to the military component continue. It is possible that the same divisions in the Council on Darfur could be mirrored in Council dynamics on Chad. In particular, some, such as China, Russia, Qatar, Indonesia, Congo and South Africa, may be uncomfortable with going so far as to repeat the 1706 model. France has publicly supported a united international diplomatic effort to bring about consent.
Members are aware of the influence of regional players on Chad’s position. Libya, Sudan and Eritrea appear to have a wider agenda against UN deployments in the region and are highlighting various meetings and manoeuvres to suggest that the security situation is improving in the region.
The Chadian government, observers note, has little incentive to consent to a robust operation. The deployment of a UN mission could expose or constrain Chadian support for Darfurian rebels and lead to pressure for reforms in the country’s domestic political situation, including on human rights violations.
|Selected Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
The Secretary-General presented finalised options on a UN operation in Chad and the CAR. In Libya, Chad and Sudan agreed to re-energise the Tripoli Agreement and the CAR government and the UFDR signed a peace deal. Chad opposed the deployment of the UN advance mission and of an operation with a robust military contingent.
|January 2007||The Council requested finalised options on a UN operation in Chad and the CAR.|
|December 2006||Cautioning against deployment without a political process, the Secretary-General unveiled preliminary options on a UN operation in Chad and CAR. Chad signed a peace deal with the FUC under Libyan auspices.|
|August 2006||The Council adopted resolution 1706.|
|June 2006||A Council mission visited Chad and Sudan. Chad requested to brief the Council on Sudan’s support for Chadian rebels.|
|April 2006||Chadian rebels attacked N’Djamena.|
|8 February 2006||Chad and Sudan signed the Tripoli Agreement|
Spill-over from the conflict in Darfur into Chad increased significantly. Chadian rebels began an offensive against the government in the east. Chad and Sudan openly traded accusations of rebel support.
Other Relevant Facts