December 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2011
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action
The Council expects a briefing on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) by Margaret Vogt, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA), in December.

BINUCA’s mandate expires on 31 December. The Council is likely to extend BINUCA’s mandate for another year by issuing a presidential statement.

Key Recent Developments
The overall security situation in CAR has remained volatile over the last several months. Extreme poverty, violent crime and armed clashes between local rebel groups, as well as attacks by foreign rebel elements, weak government institutions and human rights violations, are some of the many factors that have led to the ongoing instability in CAR.

On 27 June, CAR President François Bozizé’s office announced that the government had launched a disarmament operation in Bocaranga in the northwest. (The government has been engaged in a disarmament process after peace accords were signed with four rebel movements in 2008, which was expected to lead to the integration of an estimated 6,000 former fighters into society.) In September, more than 50 people were killed in armed fighting between rival ethnic groups from the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) in Bria, CAR’s main diamond-mining region. The two groups have fought over it for years. On 8 October, the CAR government announced that both CPJP and UFDR had signed a ceasefire agreement.

On 21 June, Zachary Muburi-Muita, head of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU), briefed the Council. Muburi-Muita said he had intensified strategic-level consultations with the AU on responding to the challenges to longstanding peace efforts in CAR and elsewhere. (UNOAU was set up by the General Assembly on 1 July 2010 to build stronger ties between the UN and the AU and other subregional organisations.)

The Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict issued a statement to all parties to the conflict on 22 June. This statement was in connection with the consideration of the Secretary-General’s second report on Children and Armed Conflict in CAR. It noted with serious concern the recruitment and use of children by local militias and called on the government to reiterate its prohibition on the recruitment and use of children.

Vogt, in a briefing to the Council on 7 July, noted that CAR faced serious challenges despite the progress made since the establishment of BINUCA. She highlighted widespread extreme poverty, weak national institutions, corruption, a high rate of violent crime perpetrated by armed movements and brigands, human rights violations and impunity as key issues. Vogt said she intended to establish a protection unit within BINUCA to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Earlier, on 1 July, the Fifth Committee approved funding for BINUCA.

On 21 July, the Council issued a press statement condemning the ongoing attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and commending the efforts being undertaken by the CAR military as well as other regional militaries. Council members also requested the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to engage with the AU on issues related to countering the threat posed by the LRA. Pursuant to the press statement, the Council received the Secretary-General’s 4 November report on LRA-affected areas.

Abou Moussa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCA, briefed the Council on 18 August. Moussa described rebel groups, such as the LRA and the militia led by Baba Ladde that moves between Chad and CAR, as primary cross-border threats. On 14 October, US President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of an estimated 100 US soldiers to CAR to assist the National Defence Force (NDF) in fighting the LRA. The US troops’ reported role will be to advise and train the NDF in the region.

Moussa presented the Secretary-General’s report on the LRA to the Council on 14 November. Subsequently, the Council issued a presidential statement strongly condemning the LRA whilst commending the efforts undertaken by the CAR military in addressing this issue. Moreover, the Council welcomed BINUCA’s added focus on LRA-related issues in CAR.

Vogt addressed the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), via teleconference on 16 November, and said that political engagement and inclusive dialogue among conflict parties were crucial to consolidating peace. She noted that the disarmament process was encountering shortfalls in funding. The PBC had met to approve and adopt the draft conclusions and recommendations of the second biannual review of the Strategic Framework.

On 15 July, Silvana Arbia, the Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), concluded a three-day visit during which she met with Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera as well as others. (The government of CAR officially referred the situation to the ICC in December 2004; the ICC Prosecutor opened an investigation in May 2007.) The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba began on 22 November 2010.  Bemba, a former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo is accused of a range of crimes allegedly committed by the Movement for the Liberation of Congo when his forces fought in an attempted coup in CAR between 2002 and 2003.

On 10 November, the ICRC expressed its concern over the impact on civilians of recent sporadic violence between armed groups in the northeast of CAR. Following clashes between two armed groups in the city of Bria, the ICRC reminded the parties concerned of their obligation to spare civilians at all times.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, visited CAR on 21 November. Coomaraswamy witnessed the signing of the action plan for the release of child soldiers from the ranks of CPJP by Vogt, Tanya Chapuisat, the UN Children’s Fund’s representative in CAR, and Abdoulaye Hissene, CPJP president.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
In a 7 July Council briefing, PBC CAR country configuration chair, Ambassador Jan Grauls (Belgium), said security sector reform would be one of the main priorities in the coming year. The PBC will launch relevant programmes as well as focus on other issues, such as the transparent management of natural resources, an important source of revenues for the government. Grauls also highlighted the dire conditions of women and children and called for a mechanism to monitor their situation.

Human Rights-Related Developments
A survey of displaced civilians near the town of Ndélé in the northeast carried out between May and September by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Danish Refugee Council indicated acute hardship, as well as a high incidence of child or teenage marriages and the widespread use of child labour.

Key Issues
An overarching issue is the continuing volatile security situation in CAR and the steps the Council might take to mitigate this.

An important current issue for the Council is the threat to stability posed by the LRA and determining how the Council can best address this in the context of its overall approach to the LRA.

A further issue is the need for progress on security sector reform and good governance, including establishing the rule of law-capacity in terms of moving forward with the peacebuilding process and proceeding with the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.

Options
One option for the Council is to simply receive the briefing and issue a presidential statement renewing BINUCA’s mandate for another year.

An added option would be to raise the profile of the security situation in CAR by issuing a statement. The Council could also call for steps to be taken in accordance with the recommendations in the PBC’s latest review.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem to be in general agreement on the need to support the peacebuilding process in CAR. Some Council members take BINUCA’s settlement in the country and visits similar to Coomaraswamy’s recent trip as signs of progress. Council members, in recent times, have applied a wait-and-see approach when discussing CAR; this is unlikely to change unless Vogt’s briefing demands the Council to act otherwise.

France is the lead country on CAR in the Council.

UN Documents

Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2011/21 (14 November 2011) condemned the LRA’s role in the Central African region.
  • S/PRST/2010/26 (14 December 2010) extended the mandate of BINUCA until 31 December 2011.

Press Statement

  • SC/10335 (21 July 2011) was on the LRA.

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6575 (7 July 2011) was Vogt’s briefing to the Council.

Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2011/693 (4 November 2011) was on the LRA-affected areas pursuant to SC/10335.

PBC-Related Document

  • PBC/5/CAF/L.1 (28 October 2011) contained the draft conclusions and recommendations of the second biannual review of the strategic framework for peacebuilding in CAR.

Other

  • GA/AB/3994 (1July 2011) was a record of the Fifth Committee’s approval of BINUCA’s budget.

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