Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In September, the Security Council may adopt a resolution amending the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).
BINUCA’s mandate expires on 31 January 2014.
Key Recent Developments
Despite signing the Libreville Agreements on 11 January, the Séléka rebels seized the capital Bangui on 24 March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee the Central African Republic (CAR) and BINUCA to evacuate most of its staff. In the following months, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) led a political initiative to create a Transitional National Council (TNC) charged with drafting a new constitution and preparing for elections within 18 months. (Self-appointed interim President Michel Djotodia accepted the ECCAS framework and was then elected interim president by the TNC and sworn in on 18 August.)
The International Contact Group on the CAR (ICG‐CAR) held its second meeting on 8 July in Addis Ababa, with representatives of 23 countries and seven international organisations participating. The meeting discussed the ECCAS efforts and the AU Commission’s proposed establishment of an African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (AFISM‐CAR).
In a 19 July communiqué (PSC/PR/COMM.2[CCCLXXXV]), the AU’s Peace and Security Council authorised the deployment of AFISM-CAR for an initial period of six months, to take over from ECCAS’s Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the CAR (MICOPAX). AFISM-CAR will have an overall strength of 3,652 personnel (including 2,475 military personnel and 1,025 police) and will be mandated to protect civilians, restore public order, stabilise the security situation, reform the defence and security sector and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid.
The Council received AFISM-CAR’s concept of operations in a letter from the AU on 9 August (S/2013/476). The force is to have a military, police and civilian component. While its initial authorisation is for six months, the document contains strategic planning that surpasses that timeframe. It also assumes that the Council will endorse AFISM-CAR and authorise a support package for the mission.
The transition process from MICOPAX to AFISM-CAR and preparations for the operations of the AU force commenced on 1 August and were expected to take several weeks. In a press release that day, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, looked forward to an increased and multifaceted UN involvement in the establishment and strengthening of AFISM-CAR.
The latest BINUCA report, which had been delayed more than a month to include recent developments, was circulated on 5 August (S/2013/470). It highlights the challenges in the implementation of the transitional arrangements, including the weak representation of women in the TNC and lack of geographical inclusiveness, the disagreements over key issues of the transition (i.e. timing and the ineligibility of key actors in the transition to run in future elections), divisions within the Séléka and the mistrust between the current prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, and President Djotodia.
The report also calls attention to the deteriorating security situation despite a partial return to duty by members of the police and the armed forces. It notes an increase in criminal activities due to the proliferation of small arms as well as an upsurge in activity reportedly linked to the Lord’s Resistance Army. It recommends that the Council consider sanctions or the establishment of a panel of experts to ensure that there is no impunity for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights.
The report also encourages the Council to “lend its full support to the mission”, but does not go into detail about the specifics of this support.
On 14 August, the Council was briefed on the Secretary-General’s last report (S/2013/470) by Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who was recently appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of BINUCA. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović also briefed (S/PV.7017).
Gaye told the Council that the security situation in Bangui has improved slightly, but looting, plundering, killing, torture and kidnappings continued, compounded by a lack of law and order. He urged the Council to provide financial, logistical and technical support to AFISM-CAR, whose planned deployment was pending an AU assessment mission in Bangui.
Amos, who recently visited the CAR, stated that the humanitarian situation had deteriorated dramatically, characterised by violence, acute needs and grave protection issues. She warned that the crisis could further destabilise a region already facing significant challenges. She called on the Council to act with urgency on the AU’s request for support.
Šimonović, who returned from the CAR in early August, added that both Séléka and former government forces had committed serious international human rights and humanitarian law violations, including extrajudicial killings, summary executions, torture, sexual violence and grave violations against children. He said many of those breaches were ongoing.
His recommendations for the Council and the international community to address the situation included the immediate establishment of a credible national security force. He also recommended the deployment of a large international force with a strong protection mandate and the reinforcement of the human rights component of BINUCA.
Following the briefing, the Council issued a press statement expressing grave concern about the security situation in the CAR, violations of international humanitarian law and widespread human rights violations, and it emphasised that those responsible must be held accountable (SC/11093). The Council stated that it looked forward to further discussions with the AU and also expressed its willingness to consider all potential options to stabilise CAR.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, voiced her deep concern on 7 August about the worsening security situation in the CAR and reports of serious crimes being committed there. She said that her office will prosecute those most responsible for the commission of serious crimes, if necessary.
Human Rights-Related Developments
From 20 June to 11 July, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights deployed a fact-finding mission to the CAR to gather information on human rights violations committed in the country since December 2012. The findings will be included in the report of the High Commissioner to be considered during the September session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) (A/HRC/24/59). Šimonović travelled to the country from 28 July to 2 August to discuss the preliminary findings of the fact-finding mission with government representatives and civil society. Speaking at a press conference in Bangui on 1 August, Šimonović stressed that accountability is key not only for victims but also to prevent future violations. He said that further discussions were needed to address the different proposals made by stakeholders, including the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, a standing invitation to HRC special procedures (independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective), or creating a mandate for a special rapporteur on the CAR.
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. In particular, formulating a new approach to the CAR in light of the AU’s initiative and its expectation of UN support will be an immediate issue.
A related issue is finding a productive role for BINUCA in light of the ongoing transitional process and the deployment of AFISM-CAR.
Options for the Council on BINUCA include amending its mandate by:
- expanding its political component to play a key role in the transitional process;
- strengthening its human rights component;
- expanding and enforcing its role in security sector reform, disarmament demobilisation and reintegration processes and human rights monitoring;
- asking the Secretary-General to deploy a panel of experts to investigate and report on human rights violations; and
- providing logistical and technical support and training to AFISM-CAR.
A further option could be addressing reports of grave human rights violations via sanctions. Signalling the Council’s willingness to consider re-hatting the AU mission as a UN mission in due time would be another further option.
The Council has remained fairly passive in recent months regarding the CAR, focusing on other country situations while expressing some support for the regional and subregional efforts. There is general agreement among Council members that Council action is needed—including a possible overhaul of BINUCA’s mandate—in light of recent political developments.
At press time, Council members were waiting to receive more information from the AU on the deployment of AFISM-CAR and its needs, following the AU assessment mission. At the same time, some Council members are of the view that BINUCA should also suggest specific recommendations as to how to amend its mandate effectively and how it could assist AFISM-CAR, so the Council could make an informed decision.
Negotiations over BINUCA’s mandate and a support package may prove difficult, as recent experience has shown. During the recent consultations, at least one permanent member expressed reluctance to provide logistical support to AFISM-CAR due to financial constraints.
Some Council members are considering establishing a panel of experts that could provide more information on human rights violations in CAR. As for sanctions, it is unclear if there is appetite at this point for this measure, on the grounds that it might negatively affect the political process.
France is the penholder on CAR.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolution|
|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 Statement|
|29 August 2013 SC/11093||This press statement expressed the Council’s willingness to consider supporting AFISM-CAR.|
|29 August 2013 S/2013/470||This is the latest Secretary-General report on BINUCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|29 August 2013 S/PV.7017||This was a briefing on the August 2013 BINUCA report.|
|Security Council Letter|
|29 August 2013 S/2013/476||This letter contained AFISM-CAR’s concept of operations.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative and Head of BINUCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)
BINUCA Size and Composition
Strength as of 31 May 2013: 64 international civilians, 80 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and two UN volunteers.
1 January 2010 to present