Expected Council Action
The improvements in the overall atmosphere in the region, as a result of the progress between Sudan and the UN as well as the AU over Darfur may encourage the Council to revisit the issue of international deployments in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).
A report or briefing by the Secretariat on the results of its consultations with both Chad and CAR is likely. The French proposal of a short-term, “bridging” EU operation to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance and its relationship with the proposed UN peacekeeping mission may be explored.
In terms of outcome, much will depend on Chad’s position.
A briefing on the June report of the Secretary-General on the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the CAR (BONUCA) is likely, but the case for a separate UN presence in that country seems to be fading.
Key Recent Developments
Chad now has 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) plus 235,000 Darfurian and 46,000 CAR refugees. There are 220,000 IDPs in the CAR, but many of these are in the west, not in the eastern area bordering Darfur.
In Chad, violence continues. In addition, concerns with increasing malnutrition, disease and lack of humanitarian access are becoming acute as the rainy season approaches. France is reportedly airlifting aid into eastern Chad.
Rebel attacks in Chad have decreased apparently because of internal disputes, but insecurity persists. The government seems to rely on financial incentives and force to divide the rebels.
The Chadian government and rebel groups reportedly entered into Libya-brokered peace talks in mid-June. The talks were deadlocked at press time due to the government’s refusal to involve the Chadian political opposition.
In northwest CAR, the situation continues to deteriorate with army raids and increasing rebel activity along the Cameroon border. In the north-eastern area adjacent to Sudan, the situation seems to have improved after peace agreements earlier this year.
In early June, France unveiled a new initiative to improve protection of civilians in the region, including:
establishing a secure corridor in eastern Chad to Darfur to allow delivery of humanitarian aid; and
deploying an EU force with significant French presence to protect civilians in eastern Chad. This could possibly serve as a “bridging” operation until a UN peacekeeping mission is deployed.
The response from the international community has ranged from sceptical (especially about the corridor proposal) to opposed because of concerns with feasibility, the neutrality of aid workers and its effectiveness given that the corridor would not extend into Darfur.
Discussions with Chad and Sudan took place on 11-12 June during a visit by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. Chadian President Idriss Déby signalled that Chad may not resist the idea of international forces much longer. It is unclear whether there will be a substantive change in Chad’s position.
Further discussions were held during a high-level meeting in Paris on 25 June. Some EU members attended, along with the UN, the Arab League, US, China, Russia and other players. Sudan, Chad and the AU were absent. Discussions included:
the consultations among the UN, Chad and the CAR on the proposed UN mission; and
the French proposal on the “bridging” EU mission.
At press time, EU members were beginning to discuss the proposed bridging mission but it is unclear whether agreement can be reached.
The Secretariat mission concluded its trip to Chad and the CAR on 26 June. At press time, it seems the Secretariat may prepare a follow-up report to the Council on the proposed UN mission. This is likely to take into account the results of the 25 June meeting in Paris and further EU discussions on the proposed “bridging” mission.
Chad President Déby visited Khartoum and Egypt in June. The meetings in Khartoum reportedly focused on deploying joint border monitoring units comprising 2,000 troops, but no timeframe was specified.
continuing with the wait-and-see approach;
signalling willingness to authorise deployment of an EU “bridging” force to be followed by a possible UN operation;
urging Chad to consent to the proposed UN deployment, possibly in the format of the Tripoli meetings in May;
urging deployment of the advance UN mission in the meantime;
welcoming the Libya-brokered talks between the Chadian government and the rebels; and
highlighting options for cooperation between the mechanisms of the Tripoli Agreement and the proposed UN and EU deployments.
Regarding the CAR, one option is to address this situation separately, but on the basis that any UN role would need to address the problems in the northwest. A second option would be to encourage an increase in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community’s military operation deployed in the CAR (FOMUC), with a clear mandate in the northwest.
The key issue remains how to encourage regional stability and contain the conflict in Darfur. A related question is Chad’s reluctance to allow substantive international deployments in its east. This raises a number of related issues:
whether substantive support can be generated among key regional players, particularly Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, given that Sudan has now formally consented to hybrid AU-UN operation plans in Darfur;
N’Djaména’s concerns with its domestic political situation and the absence of meaningful political reconciliation;
which format an international presence in eastern Chad should take, including the proposed EU “bridging” force; and
whether there will be agreement within the EU for the proposed “bridging” force.
A second key issue is that it is increasingly clear that problems in the CAR, while showing some regional aspects, are also being driven by separate domestic factors and not principally by spillover from the Darfur situation. The issue, therefore, is whether any UN deployment in the CAR should be considered as a separate matter, on its own merits involving deployment in the northwest. And again there is the related issue of the absence of a strong political reconciliation mandate.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There seems to be agreement within the Council that it will need to renew its attention to the regional situation. There is consensus that action must have Chad’s consent and recognition that this will require acceptance within the region. Most seem enthusiastic about the Tripoli format and the collective engagement of key regional players. It is unclear, however, to what extent recent developments on Darfur concerning the hybrid operation and the invigorated political process under Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim will be reflected on positions regarding Chad and the CAR. Observers note that regional players now seem to be revising their strategies.
Members are sensitive to the domestic political aspects, particularly in Chad. Most seem focused on the regional aspect at least in the short term. But most also seem to accept that a UN mission without a political reconciliation mandate risks repeating dangerous lessons of the past.
France has expanded its leadership on the regional issue and is likely to continue to work bilaterally with Chad, regional players and other EU members to garner support for the proposed “bridging” force to be followed by a UN operation.
|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 2007at press time.|