Expected Council Action
Members expect the results of the Secretariat’s consultations with Chad seeking consent to deploy a proposed UN peacekeeping operation in eastern Chad and in the Central African Republic (CAR). At press time, a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General Hédi Annabi on progress with consultations had been scheduled for 31 May. It is unclear whether agreement will be reached. It is possible that there will be further consultations in June.
The issue may also arise during the Council mission in June to the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa and Accra (given Ghana’s AU chairmanship).
In late June, the regular report of the Secretary-General on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the CAR (BONUCA) is due and the mandate of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community’s military operation deployed in the CAR (FOMUC) expires.
Key Recent Developments
The humanitarian crisis in Chad and the CAR continues to be acute, with a continuing flood of refugees and internally displaced persons. The situation is compounded by large shortfalls in funding for humanitarian assistance. In Chad alone, only about a third of the appeals for funding seem to have been met. Chad has 140,000 internally displaced plus 235,000 Darfurian and 46,000 CAR refugees. In the CAR, there are 300,000 displaced.
A Secretariat team is now in Chad to consult with the government on the Secretary-General’s proposals for UN peacekeeping in eastern Chad. The team is expected to clarify the rationale and the need for a military component as a security backup for the proposed mission’s police component which will be tasked with providing security for camps of displaced persons and refugees. It is possible that some UN personnel will continue in N’Djamena as the nucleus of an advance UN mission, which would pave the way for the deployment of the proposed UN operation, if ultimately approved.
It seems earlier proposals that the mission be deployed along the border are now in abeyance.
With Saudi Arabia’s facilitation, Sudan and Chad in early May signed yet another agreement. Both pledged to respect each other’s sovereignty; to prevent the use of their respective territories by armed groups; and refuse support for such groups. In addition, both parties seemingly committed to:
implement the February 2006 Tripoli Agreement and a joint military commission based in Tripoli to report on border violations;
support AU political and security efforts to stabilise Darfur and the border areas through the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement; and
adhere to working with AU and UN to end conflict in Darfur and eastern Chad.
High-level contacts on the situation in the region ensued, including talks between Egypt and Sudan and a visit to Libya by the presidents of Egypt and Chad on 8 May. After the meeting, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi reportedly criticised the Saudi-brokered deal (making the point that it largely only repeats previous Libyan-brokered agreements). The Sudanese parliament ratified a separate agreement on economic cooperation with Chad in mid-May. There are reports that Chadian President Idriss Deby may visit Sudan in early June.
Despite the series of agreements brokered by regional players since February 2006 to dissipate border tensions, scepticism remains because of the absence of improvements on the ground and the failure of previous agreements. The Chadian rebel group Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) says it will continue its insurgency against Deby.
An AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) mission visited Sudan, Chad and the CAR on 21-29 May. The mission, headed by Nigeria, was expected to assess the situation in the region and report back to the PSC with recommendations.
International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced on 22 May that he would start investigations into crimes committed in the CAR. Investigations will cover the 2002-2003 conflict in which the government of Ange-Félix Patassé was overthrown by a rebel movement led by current president François Bozizé. Moreno-Ocampo also signalled that investigations would also include crimes committed since the end of 2005. The decision followed a referral by the CAR government of the situation to the ICC in December 2004.
Maintaining the wait-and-see approach continues to be the most likely option, at least until the results of consultations between Chad and the Secretariat are known. Additional options include:
becoming more actively involved in the issue of political reconciliation in Chad by encouraging the Secretary-General to send a UN Department of Political Affairs mission, or by perhaps extending the June Council mission to include N’Djamena, or sending a smaller “side” mission (perhaps headed by the chair of the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping or of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa);
highlighting the options for cooperation between the Tripoli Agreement mechanisms and the UN; and
authorising early deployment in the CAR.
The key issue is how best to encourage regional stability and contain the conflict in Darfur. The immediate issue is whether to proceed toward a UN operation in Chad and the CAR, which in turn raises a number of open questions, including:
how to address Chad’s reluctance;
the absence of any sort of meaningful political reconciliation process;
whether concessions on the military component’s size and deployment can be considered, and how far the Council is prepared to go without putting UN personnel at unnecessary risk;
whether to authorise deployment in the CAR first;
whether constructive support from regional players for UN peacekeeping in Chad and Darfur, particularly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea can be garnered; and
wider questions that Sudan and Chad’s position regarding consent for UN operations in the region may pose.
A major related issue, as progress continues with peacekeeping in Darfur, is that there may not be resources for a UN mission in Chad and the CAR.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members seem to prefer the wait-and-see approach, deferring to the Secretariat consultations with Chad for the time being. There is nonetheless strong interest by the US, the UK and France in closely monitoring developments.
Members are aware that Chad’s position will be influenced by the views of regional players, in particular Libya and Sudan. Some members seem to be informally encouraging neighbours to support the proposed UN force.
|Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|CAR: Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Lamine Cissé (Senegal)|
|BONUCA: Size and Composition|
Strength as of 30 September 2006: 19 internationals, five military, six police
|15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007|
|FOMUC: Size and Composition|
|October 2002 to present; mandate expires 30 June 2007|