Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council may adopt a resolution authorising and supporting the AU International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (CAR), referred to as MISCA.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) expires on 31 January 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The situation on the ground in recent months has remained deplorable, with a complete breakdown of law and order.
The Secretary-General submitted a report to the Council on the implementation of BINUCA’s mandate on 16 September, following a UN multidisciplinary assessment team’s visit to the CAR from 21-26 August (S/2013/557). The team found that the political and security situation remain highly volatile and unpredictable. Across the country, local Séléka rebel commanders and their armed elements continue to systematically commit gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law with total impunity. The authority and ability of the transitional government to protect civilians is rapidly weakening, with half the country’s 4.6 million population in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
The report, while recommending different areas of focus for BINUCA, viewed the improvement of the security situation as a critical prerequisite to progress in all other spheres, including the political, humanitarian, human rights and early recovery and development areas. Accordingly, it recommended that priority be given to supporting the effective deployment of MISCA, while in the meantime deploying guard units to enhance the safety and security of UN personnel and installations.
On 10 October, the Council adopted resolution 2121. The resolution demands the swift implementation of transitional arrangements leading to free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections 18 months after the beginning of the transition period on 18 August. It also reinforces and updates BINUCA’s mandate in five areas:
- supporting implementation of the political transition process led by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS);
- supporting conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance;
- supporting stabilisation of the security situation;
- promoting and protecting human rights; and
- coordinating international actors.
The resolution also expresses the Council’s readiness to consider appropriate measures as necessary against those who undermine peace, stability and security, including those who violate transitional agreements. The Council also requested that the Secretary-General submit, in cooperation with the AU, ECCAS and all interested bilateral partners and international organisations, detailed options for international support to MISCA, including the possible option of its transformation into a UN peacekeeping operation.
Though the resolution enhanced BINUCA’s role, Council members are well aware that at present the security situation on the ground does not permit BINUCA to implement its mandate. To address this issue, the Council approved, through an exchange of letters, the recommendation to send 250 military personnel to guard BINUCA personnel in Bangui by providing perimeter security and access control. The strength of the force is expected to be increased later to 560 troops, at which point it can deploy to areas beyond the capital where there is a UN presence. Morocco has agreed to provide these troops. (While guard units have rarely been deployed by the UN, a similar force was sent to protect staff in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.)
Council members met with various UN organs and civil society in an Arria formula meeting on 1 November on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the CAR co-hosted by Ambassadors Gérard Araud (France) and Eugéne-Richard Gasana (Rwanda). Participants heard from Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; John Ging, Director of Operations at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights; and Brigitte Balipou, a legal expert from the CAR and a human rights activist.
Both Dieng and Ging warned Council members of the looming threat of a future genocide in the CAR, with religious communities of Christians and Muslims being incited against one another by armed groups, thus adding another dimension to the conflict.
During the meeting, several Council members took the view that the Council may eventually need to authorise a peacekeeping mission to the CAR to try to resolve the situation.
On 14 November, the Secretariat informally briefed Council members on the options laid out in the Secretary-General’s report, which they received on 15 November (S/2013/677).The report notes the continuing dire situation in the CAR, the need for an immediate response and the logistical, strategic and operational gaps in MISCA, which is scheduled to take over from the ECCAS forces on 19 December.
The report lists five options for the UN relating to its support of MISCA: mobilising bilateral and multilateral assistance; establishing a UN trust fund of voluntary contributions from UN member states; creating a limited support package funded by assessed and voluntary contributions to cover specific MISCA tasks; setting up a comprehensive logistical support package in order to assist MISCA; and transforming MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission. The report indicates that the Secretary-General is supportive of the last option.
The Council heard a briefing on the report on 25 November from Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. The briefing was followed by consultations in which Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun also participated. Elliason conveyed a sense of urgency to the Council in order to save the CAR from descending into chaos, and called for international support for MISCA, with an eventual transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation, with an estimated strength of 6,000 troops and 1,700 police personnel.
During the consultations, France stated its intent to deploy several hundred troops (on top of the 400 already in CAR) on a temporary basis to assist security efforts.
After consultations, France circulated a draft resolution to be adopted in early December during their presidency. The draft authorises MISCA to protect civilians, support reform efforts and create conditions for humanitarian assistance. It requests the Secretary-General to provide technical advice to MISCA and establish a trust fund for financial support. The draft would authorise the French temporary deployment to assist MISCA and welcomes the possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission. It stresses that a future decision of the Council would be required to establish such a mission and requested recommendations from the Secretary-General within three months. The draft resolution would also establish a sanctions regime and committee for those obstructing the transitional process, including through human rights abuses.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 27 September, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 24/34 appointing an independent expert for a period of one year to monitor and make recommendations on the situation of human rights in the CAR. On 24 September, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, urged the CAR transitional government to ensure the protection of IDPs and called on the HRC to promptly address the situation and to make concrete recommendations. The following day, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri presented a report to the HRC on the human rights situation in the CAR based on a fact-finding mission to the country from 20 June to 11 July to collect information on human rights violations committed since 10 December 2012 (A/HRC/24/59 and Corr.1). The presentation was followed by an interactive dialogue.
The CAR was reviewed by the HRC’s working group on the Universal Periodic Review on 25 October. On 31 October, the working group adopted a report on the CAR, including 178 recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue (A/HRC/25/11).
In a press release on 8 November, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that recent clashes between ex-Séléka forces and self-defence groups, including in Bouar, Bossangoa and other parts of the country, had heightened tensions among communities, caused splits along religious and sectarian lines and could lead to further destabilisation in the country. She also expressed concern about reports of illegal arrests, detentions and torture in secret detention centres in Bangui, allegedly committed by ex-Séléka forces working for the Comité extraordinaire pour la défense des acquis démocratiques (CEDAD), a police force set up after the last ministerial reshuffle. She called on the authorities to look into these allegations immediately and, if confirmed, to take urgent measures to halt the violations.
The key issue for the Council is to find the most effective way to support—and perhaps take an active role in—the regional efforts to stabilise the security situation in the CAR.
A more general issue for the Council is to play a more effective and assertive role in addressing concerns about the security, human rights and humanitarian situations.
A related issue is finding a productive role for BINUCA in light of the ongoing transitional process, the deployment of MISCA and a possible UN peacekeeping mission.
Options for the Council include:
- establishing a UN trust fund of voluntary contributions from UN member states to support MISCA;
- authorising BINUCA to provide logistical and technical support to MISCA;
- authorising an AU peacekeeping operation;
- requesting a report from the Secretary-General on establishing a UN peacekeeping mission;
- transforming MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission or convey its intent to do so in due time;
- addressing reports of grave human rights violations by establishing a commission of inquiry under Article 34 of the UN Charter or via sanctions; or
- providing a role for the CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission—which has been without a chair since June 2012— to assist and complement Council efforts in the CAR.
After months of passiveness regarding the CAR, there seems to now be momentum and general agreement among Council members that they must act quickly in light of the situation on the ground.
Furthermore, Council members are worried by the slow progress in MISCA’s deployment and are aware that without adequate financial and logistical support, the mission will struggle to reverse the increasing insecurity within the country. Another worry is the composition of the force in the CAR. The ECCAS troops present in the CAR have been questioned both in terms of quality and their possible alliances with different factions in the CAR. MISCA is to be composed mostly of the same ECCAS troops, and any UN peacekeeping mission may also have the same troops as its core.
While there is agreement about the need for Council action, there may be divergences on what that may be. Several Council members are of the view that a UN peacekeeping mission alongside BINUCA is inevitable and is the most viable solution. But some Council members may be hesitant to authorise such a force, when it is unclear whether peacekeeping—rather than peace enforcement—is sufficient to stabilise the security situation and when a clear exit strategy for a peacekeeping mission is absent. At the same time, Council members realise that such a force will take time to establish, and this may allow time for further negotiations on reaching a consensus on its establishment. This may also be in line with the AU position, which is supportive of an eventual deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission but not in the immediate future. Some members are of the view that a period of roughly six months for its establishment is feasible.
UN Document on the CAR
|Security Council Resolution
|10 October 2013 S/RES/2121
|This resolution updated the BINUCA mandate in five areas.
|15 November 2013 S/2013/677
|This was a report of the Secretary-General on options for international support to MISCA.
|16 September 2013 S/2013/557
|This letter from the Secretary-General contained recommendations on the implementation of BINUCA’s mandate.
|Security Council Meeting Records
|25 November 2013 S/PV.7069
|This was a briefing on the CAR and options for international support to MISCA.
|14 August 2013 S/PV.7017
|This was a briefing on the August 2013 BINUCA report.
|Security Council Letters
|29 October 2013 S/2013/637
|This was a letter by the President of the Council which noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation to establish a guard unit for BINUCA
|22 October 2013 S/2013/636
|That was a letter from Secretary-General to the Security Council on deploying UN guard units to the CAR.
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, 79 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and two UN volunteers.
1 January 2010 to present