Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In July, the Security Council expects to be briefed on the latest Secretary-General’s report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). The briefing will be followed by consultations.
BINUCA’s mandate expires on 31 January 2014.
Key Recent Developments
Agreements between the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Séléka rebels (an alliance formed by factions of the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix, the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement and the Convention Patriotique pour le Salut du Kodro) were reached on 11 January in Libreville. In mid-March, the Séléka renewed fighting, claiming that the government had not fulfilled its promises under the agreements. The rebels seized the capital Bangui on 24 March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee to Cameroon and BINUCA to evacuate most of its staff.
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held summits on 3 and 18 April in which it called for the creation of a Transitional National Council (TNC) charged with drafting a new constitution, preparing for elections within 18 months and electing an interim president and government, who would be forbidden to run in the ensuing elections. Self-appointed interim President Michel Djotodia accepted the ECCAS framework and was then elected interim president by the TNC. (Djotodia was the only candidate in the vote.) On 13 June, the new transitional government was formed. The 34-minister government includes nine from among the Séléka rebels. Two supporters of Bozizé, seven members of former opposition parties and 16 civil society and other party representatives were named ministers. Djotodia was appointed defence minister.
The first meeting of the International Contact Group (ICG-CAR) established by ECCAS was held on 3 May in Brazzaville. Among those attending were Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congo and AU officials. The ICG-CAR—comprised of ECCAS, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the UN, the EU, the International Organisation of la Francophonie and other bilateral and multilateral partners of the CAR, including the representatives of economic and financial institutions—released a press statement and a document titled “Appeal of Brazzaville”, in which it expressed concern over the situation in the CAR and its support for the implementation of the transitional process within the framework of the Libreville Agreements and the ECCAS transitional process.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of BINUCA at the time, Margaret Vogt, briefed the Council on the latest report on 15 May (S/2013/261). The report, which had been postponed for more than a month to take into account recent developments, did not contain recommendations for BINUCA’s mandate. (In resolution 2088, the Council asked the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation on the ground and to assess how BINUCA could further implement its priorities in light of recent events.) The report stated that due to the security situation, only critical BINUCA staff remained in the country and most BINUCA activities had been suspended. The adoption of an amended mandate for BINUCA, which had been scheduled for later in May, was cancelled as a result of what Council members felt were the lack of options for BINUCA at that point.
Vogt stated that indiscriminate and often targeted killings, rampant rape, recruitment of children as soldiers and looting were prevalent, and Séléka leaders were unable or unwilling to control the ranks of the fragmented rebel groups. She called for the Council to consider sanctions against perpetrators of gross human rights violations and informed the Council of preliminary discussions with authorities in the CAR about establishing a UN peacekeeping mission, while suggesting that much planning is needed before that could happen. She welcomed the ECCAS decision to expand its Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the CAR (MICOPAX) to 2,000 troops. She also called for the deployment of a “neutral security force” that would contain the current state of anarchy and force the rebel elements to conform to the security framework laid down in the Libreville Agreements.
Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye of the CAR transitional government also addressed the Council. He called on France to intervene by force to disarm the Séléka and restore peace in the CAR. After the meeting, some Council members expressed interest in issuing a press statement. The lead country, France, did not take the initiative, and no other country pushed the issue further.
The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, an international organisation meant to stop trade in conflict diamonds, suspended the CAR on 27 May. Diamonds are a major source of revenue for the CAR government.
On 31 May, the CAR interim government issued an arrest warrant for former President Bozizé for crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide.
Violence has continued. On 27 May, it was reported that 25 people were killed in attacks on various villages near Bossangoa by Séléka rebels and on 4 June, 12 people were reportedly killed by rebels in Bouca.
In a 29 May presidential statement, the Council expressed concern at the recent pause in operations to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the CAR due to the 24 March Séléka seizure of power (S/PRST/2013/6). The Council called on the transitional CAR authorities to uphold existing commitments and allow regional counter-LRA operations to resume without hindrance.
On 16 June, LRA fighters attacked two villages in the central mining region of Bria, killing 12 people and wounding others. Recent studies of attacks between January and March indicate that the LRA has increased its activities in the Central African region compared to the end of 2012. Reports also indicate that the LRA is resorting to elephant poaching to support its operations.
The AU Peace and Security Council issued a communiqué on 17 June supporting, “in principle” the establishment of an African-led “international support mission” for CAR, whose core elements will be constituted by the contingents serving under MICOPAX, within a maximum strength of 3,500 uniformed personnel. It then requested the AU Commission to develop a concept of operations for the force.
The Secretary-General appointed Babacar Gaye as his new Special Representative and head of BINUCA on 12 June.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In her opening statement to the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on 27 May, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced that she will be sending a fact-finding team to the CAR. The mission is expected to arrive in late June-mid July to gather information on human rights violations committed in Bangui and other localities since December 2012 and will submit a report on its findings.
On 7 June the HRC heard an address from Minister of Justice Arsène Sende. He said the CAR was making progress in the field of human rights in a very difficult context and was ready to work with the High Commissioner in a constructive spirit and the CAR would participate in the Universal Periodic Review in September 2013. He also issued a standing invitation to HRC special procedures to visit the CAR to examine the situation and provide recommendations. (The last such visit was a July 2010 trip by the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons.)
On 13 June, the HRC adopted a resolution on the CAR condemning the serious human rights violations and acts of violence perpetrated against the civilian population and requesting the High Commissioner to submit to the HRC at its 25th session a report evaluating the needs for technical assistance and capacity-building in the CAR (A/HRC/23/L.3).
The key issue for the Council is how to play a more effective and assertive role in addressing concerns about the security, human rights and humanitarian situations.
Achieving synergy with subregional and regional actors in addressing the aftermath of the seizure of power by the Séléka remains an issue.
Another issue is finding a productive role for BINUCA in light of the ongoing transitional process and the need to stabilise the situation in the CAR.
Options for the Council on BINUCA include amending its mandate:
- allowing it to assist rule of law efforts;
- entrusting it with a more central role in mediating between the different groups and parties in the CAR; and
- expanding its supporting role for the regional efforts of ECCAS, for instance by allowing it to assist with the training and reinforcement of MICOPAX.
Further options include taking a strong position on security, human rights and humanitarian issues, expressing the Council’s support for the deployment of additional MICOPAX troops and taking a more aggressive stance towards the Séléka leadership, including by imposing targeted sanctions.
The Council has remained fairly passive in recent months regarding the CAR, giving preference to the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.
Several Council members are of the view that BINUCA’s mandate must be re-evaluated for the UN presence for the Council to be relevant in efforts to solve the crisis in the CAR. However, the lack of views by BINUCA itself about how it can regain relevance created a general feeling among Council members that a small peacebuilding office like BINUCA is not equipped to deal with the current situation. Council members are hoping that the new Special Representative will take a more proactive approach in reasserting BINUCA as a relevant actor in the CAR transitional process.
It seems that at this juncture there is no appetite among Council members to consider a peacekeeping force, despite the unstable security situation. Therefore, Council members are still of the position that the Council should take a back seat on the political front and focus on supporting the regional and subregional efforts.
One option that some Council members have raised is for BINUCA to assist in training and providing resources to MICOPAX, which has not demonstrated that it is a viable force capable of stabilising the security situation. Council members will also be interested to hear more about the AU position regarding the establishment of a regional force or strengthening the capabilities of MICOPAX.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|24 January 2013 S/RES/2088||This resolution extended BINUCA for twelve months and requested the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation on the ground, as well as an assessment of the implementation of the mission’s priorities by 31 March, possibly allowing for an adjustment to the mandate.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|29 April 2013 SC/10993||This press statement supported political efforts by ECCAS.|
|25 March 2013 SC/10960||This was a press statement condemning the seizure of power by the Seleka.|
|3 May 2013 S/2013/261||This was a report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic and the activities of BINUCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|15 May 2013 S/PV.6967||This was a briefing from the head of BINUCA, Margaret Vogt.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative and Head of BINUCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)
BINUCA Size and Composition
Strength as of 28 February 2013: 66 international civilians, 83 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and two UN volunteers.
1 January 2010 to present