December 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2009
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action
On 15 December the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the Central African Republic (CAR). The mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in CAR (BONUCA) expires on 31 December, and it is to be succeeded on 1 January 2010 by a UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).

Key Recent Developments
On 22 June the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, last briefed the Council on the situation in CAR and the activities of BONUCA. He outlined the proposed structure and staffing of the integrated peacebuilding office BINUCA, in line with the Council’s request in April. He proposed that BINUCA become fully operational by 1 January 2010. Proposals for the new structure included establishing a Human Rights and Justice Section, to include prison experts among others, and a Security Institutions Section. It also proposed the posts of Gender Adviser and Child Protection Adviser.

Pascoe said the Secretariat would use the intervening period to finalise recruitment of personnel and to address related logistical and other preparatory tasks to ensure that the new mission takes off smoothly on 1 January.

The Permanent Representative of CAR, Fernand Poukré-Kono, told the Council that progress had been made following the political dialogue held from 8 to 20 December 2008 in achieving a genuine nationally owned vision for building sustainable peace and development in CAR. He said such progress included establishment of the Follow-up Committee for the implementation of dialogue recommendations, the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Steering Committee and the High Court of Justice. However he added that a lack of funds had delayed their full implementation. He indicated that the CAR government had already confirmed resolve to hold elections in 2010 and to complete the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programme as soon as possible.

At the June meeting Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, Chair of the CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), also briefed the Council on his 21 to 23 May visit to CAR to officially present the framework for peacebuilding in CAR to all actors of local society. He said the PBC was subsequently focusing its attention on two issues critical to stability and peace: the drafting and implementation of a DDR programme properly integrated into the security-sector reform (SSR) programme and the preparation for national elections in 2010. Grauls said challenges for the coming months were the implementation of the recommendations of the inclusive political dialogue, and in particular the establishment of the DDR programme, the organisation of general elections in 2010 and the mobilisation of resources.

Peacebuilding Commission
On 23 November the Department of Political Affairs briefed the CAR configuration of the PBC on the findings of its electoral needs-assessment mission to CAR, undertaken from 29 October to 12 November.

At press time the CAR configuration of the PBC had been engaged in the process of conducting its first biannual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in CAR. The expectation is that the review exercise, which is simultaneously being carried at both the national level in CAR and in New York will be completed in December.

On 13 August CAR President François Bozizé, launched a DDR sensitisation programme across the country.

On 27 August the president of the Council forwarded a letter from the chairman of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to the Secretary-General asking the Secretary-General to designate as a matter of priority a child protection adviser for BINUCA and consider strengthening the child protection capacity of the new office.

On 14 October the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Council updating it on operations of the UN Mission in CAR and Chad (MINURCAT). The report indicated that the Vakaga region of northeastern CAR had stabilised but remained unpredictable with sporadic interethnic clashes. The government of CAR was engaged in activities aimed at restoring its authority in the area and facilitating intercommunity dialogue, including appointing a new governor.

On 30 October former CAR president Ange-Felix Patassé (1993-2003) returned from seven years of exile in Togo, resulting in hopes of a broad national reconciliation in the country. On 9 November Patassé met with (current) President Francois Bozizé (who had deposed him in 2003) and reaffirmed his intention to run in the 2010 presidential election. Regarding the meeting with Bozizé, Patassé stated that “He and I welcome this brotherly atmosphere. We were direct and clear, we understood each other perfectly. It is what I had hoped when I returned to the country.” In June Patassé was expelled from his party, the Central African People’s Liberation Movement, which selected former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele as its presidential nominee.

On 11 November the International Criminal Court (ICC) set the date for the trial of former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who faces charges relating to the actions of his former rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (Mouvement our la Libération du Congo, or MLC) troops in CAR in 2002 and 2003, for 27 April 2010. Bemba faces trial on three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity, including criminal responsibility for rapes, murders and pillage. MLC fighters were accused of committing atrocities, when they became involved in the conflict in CAR to support then-embattled CAR president Patassé. (On 5 November the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues requested that the ICC explore a possible prosecution of Patassé and Bozizé).

On 17 November Ugandan special military forces were reported to have killed a senior commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Okello Okutti, in CAR. (Ugandan military special forces have been pursuing the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo, south Sudan and CAR.) Violence resulting from the LRA presence in south-eastern CAR and clashes between Uganda forces and the LRA have resulted in the displacement of several civilians.

Human Rights-Related Developments

 

The Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of CAR on 23 September. In the discussion, the HRC recognised that the CAR faced many challenges requiring international assistance for the country to attain the Millennium Development Goals and to promote human rights.

In its response to the review, CAR indicated that it was ready to ratify international human rights instruments, once the necessary economic, political and social conditions allowed.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is the fragile security and political situation in CAR, which may deteriorate in the lead up to next year’s elections.

A closely related issue is whether the transition from BONUCA to BINUCA in January will add value to the current phase of the peace consolidation process.

Options
One option for the Council is whether to respond at this time to the situation in the country (and if so, whether to issue a formal statement).

Council Dynamics
There continues to be general consensus among Council members on the need to support peacebuilding in CAR. The contents of the Secretary-General’s report, especially aspects dealing with the structure and strength of BINUCA will likely influence the Council’s next steps, as will any significant developments on the ground.

France is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

Underlying Problems
High levels of poverty and unemployment, together with poorly organised state security forces, banditry and rebel activity (especially in the northern parts of the country), the proliferation of small arms and lawlessness, impunity and the absence of state authority in large parts of the country continue to pose threats to peace and security in the country.

UN Documents

Latest Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2009/5 (7 April 2009) welcomed the recommendation of the Secretary-General to set up BINUCA to succeed BONUCA.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2009/436 (27 August 2009) was the letter from president of the Council forwarding a message from the chairman of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to the Secretary-General.
  • S/2009/128 (3 March 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General recommending the establishment of an integrated UN presence in CAR.
  • S/2008/809 (23 December 2008) was the letter from the president of the Council welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the mandate of BONUCA for an additional year and requesting for recommendations on the setting up of an integrated UN office in CAR.
  • S/2008/383 (30 May 2008) was the letter from the president of the Council to the chair of the PBC supporting the request by CAR to be placed on the agenda of the PBC and requesting advice and recommendations on the situation in the country.

PBC Related Documents

  • PBC/3/CAF/7 (9 June 2009) is the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic.
  • PBC/3/CAF/4 (20 January 2009) was the statement by the chair of the PBC country configuration for CAR, welcoming the outcome of the inclusive political dialogue.
  • PBC/3/CAF/3 (11 December 2008) was the report of the PBC mission to CAR from 30 October to 6 November 2008.
  • PBC/3/OC/5 (30 June 2008) was the letter from the acting chair of the PBC to the president of the Security Council informing him of the composition of the country configuration for CAR.
  • S/2008/419 (17 June 2008) was the letter from the chair of the PBC to the president of the Security Council informing him of the addition of CAR on the agenda of the PBC.

Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6147 (22 June 2009) were the briefings by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BONUCA and the chair of the CAR country configuration of the PBC.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Sahle-Work Zewde (Ethiopia)

BONUCA: Size

Strength as of 31 August 2009: 24 international civilian staff, five military and six police, 56 local civilian, and four UN volunteers

BONUCA: Duration

15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2009

MINURCAT: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

José Victor da Silva Ângelo (Portugal)

MINURCAT: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Authorised strength as of 14 January 2009: 300 police, 25 military liaison officers, 5,200 military personnel and an appropriate number of civilian personnel
  • Strength as of 31 September 2009: 2,940 total uniformed personnel, including 2,675 troops, 17 military observers, and 248 police officers, as well as 398 international civilian personnel, 302 local civilian staff, and 120
  • Cost: approved budget 1 July 2008–30 June 2010: $690.75 million

MINURCAT: Duration

September 2007 to present; mandate expires on 15 March 2010

Full forecast