Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In January, the Security Council is due to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUCA, Babacar Gaye, will brief the Council on BINUCA’s latest report.
BINUCA’s mandate expires on 31 January 2014.
Key Recent Developments
Since the Séléka rebels took up arms in December 2012, culminating in the 24 March 2013 ousting of President François Bozize, the political and security situation in the CAR has remained highly volatile and unpredictable.
During the last several months the country has continued to fall into a state of lawlessness, with a complete breakdown in state authority and a growing humanitarian crisis. Nearly 400,000 people have been displaced, with another 69,800 refugees in neighbouring countries.
The ex-Séléka rebels, now officially disbanded by the transitional government, continue to commit serious violations of human rights with total impunity. In response, militia groups known as the Anti-Balaka have emerged, creating a new dynamic of violence and retaliation. As a result, there are an increasing number of attacks by Anti-Balaka groups against ex-Séléka forces, as well as local communities, including the Muslim population. These attacks have triggered reprisals from ex-Séléka elements against the population. The cycle has the potential to spiral into uncontrollable sectarian-driven violence with serious regional implications.
Since amending BINUCA’s mandate on 10 October in resolution 2121, the Council has engaged actively with the situation in the CAR. On 5 December, the Council adopted resolution 2127, authorising the deployment of an AU International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA), for a period of one year, with a mandate to protect civilians, support reform efforts and create conditions for humanitarian assistance. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund for MISCA, through which financial support may be provided. The draft further authorises the French forces in the CAR (now 1,600 soldiers) to take all necessary measures to assist MISCA in the implementation of its mandate.
The resolution also requests the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate international humanitarian law and human rights law violations in the CAR since 1 January 2013, including identifying the perpetrators of such violence. In addition, it establishes an arms embargo on the supply, sale or transfer to the CAR of arms and a sanctions committee as well as a panel of experts to assist the committee. The Council warns in the resolution that targeted measures, including travel bans and assets freezes, may be considered in the future against those obstructing the transitional political process and committing human rights abuses.
The resolution further welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to undertake the necessary preparations for the possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation and asks him to initiate contingency preparations and planning to that end. It further requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within three months with recommendations on this issue, including an assessment of progress towards meeting the appropriate conditions on the ground. The resolution also stresses that the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission would require a future Council decision.
On 6 December the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) welcomed the adoption of resolution 2127 authorising MISCA. OHCHR deployed a human rights monitoring team to CAR on 12 December to strengthen the existing monitoring capacity of the human rights section of BINUCA.
Despite the immediate deployment of the French soldiers and the presence of 2,500 MISCA troops in the CAR, the security and humanitarian situations in the CAR continued to deteriorate. On 10 December it was reported that more than 500 people had been killed in Bangui in sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in the span of a week, a sharp increase in religious based violence over the last period. (Various UN officials have recently forewarned 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. For more see our CAR brief in the December Forecast). On the same day, France suffered its first casualties when gunmen killed two soldiers. The media reported instances of violence in Bangui, with lynching, looting and the burning of places of worship. At the same time, the transitional government, including transitional President Michel Djotodia, seemed to be losing the little control they had over the ex-Séléka rebels.
In a meeting hosted in Paris by French President François Hollande on 7 December, the Secretary-General discussed the situation in the CAR with African leaders as part of the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa. He said that there is an urgent need to avoid further deterioration of the situation in the CAR and called for the swift implementation of resolution 2127.
As conditions continued to deteriorate, the AU announced plans to increase MISCA to 6,000 troops. Media reports indicate that the US is assisting the deployment of a Burundian contingent to MISCA. In addition, the US, while of the position that a UN peacekeeping operation should not be deployed, has pledged to provide MISCA with US$40 million in financial support. The EU has pledged €50 million to assist MISCA.
France briefed the Council on the recent developments relating to its deployment in the CAR under “any other business” on 9 December. Ambassador Gérard Araud (France) reported that the situation is particularly alarming outside Bangui. He said Opération Sangaris is focusing on protecting civilians and has started disarming armed groups in Bangui while working to assist the transitional government. He added that France intends to pull its troops out of CAR within four months. As for MISCA, Araud relayed its intention to expand its presence in the CAR but also raised the issue of financing the additional planned troops. France also conveyed its intention to keep the Council updated on the situation.
Ambassador Samantha Power (US) updated Council members on her 8 December phone conversation with Djotodia. She expressed concern over the escalating violence in the country and urged Djotodia to ensure that perpetrators of recent atrocities are arrested. Djotodia expressed his frustration as the international community is unable to offer solutions to the situation in CAR and on the lack of cooperation he receives from the transitional government.
A key issue for the Council is to continue the hands-on approach towards the CAR that it has recently adopted and follow developments closely. This may entail authorising a UN peacekeeping mission in the near future.
A related issue after the adoption of resolution 2127 is providing continued and effective support to MISCA in order for it to restore security in the country immediately.
Another issue for January is finding a productive role for BINUCA in light of the ongoing transitional process, the deployment of MISCA and a possible UN peacekeeping mission.
An additional issue is ensuring that the transitional process, which is to culminate with elections in early 2015, moves forward successfully.
Options for the Council include:
- renewing BINUCA’s mandate for another year;
- renewing BINUCA’s mandate for a shorter period of time in light of the possibility that a UN peacekeeping operation will be established in the near future;
- establishing a peacekeeping operation and transforming BINUCA into its civilian component;
- expanding BINUCA’s role in assisting MISCA; and
- in line with paragraph 56 of resolution 2127, expanding the sanctions regime to include targeted sanctions against those responsible for atrocities and those disturbing the transitional process.
Since the Council authorised MISCA and the French forces, the possibility of establishing a UN peacekeeping operation continues to be the main topic of discussion among Council members. During the negotiations over resolution 2127, the US was adamantly against the establishment of such a force. In addition, Russia did not want the resolution to include language that would imply that the Council had already determined that such a mission was necessary. Most Council members, however, are of the opinion that a UN force is needed to restore peace and security in the CAR.
The expiration of BINUCA’s mandate is in the eyes of some Council members is an opportunity to reassess engagement with the CAR, as BINUCA is currently unable to fulfil its mandate as a political mission due to the security situation. Some Council members are hoping that the Secretary-General’s report on the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation will be submitted soon in order to consider the issue before—or as part of—the discussion on BINUCA’s mandate. According to the Secretary-General’s report on international support to MISCA (S/2013/677), if the option of establishing a peacekeeping operation is followed, BINUCA should become its civilian component.
In addition, although resolution 2127 calls for a review of Opération Sangaris after six months, France has indicated that its troops may depart in four months, conveying a degree of urgency to other Council members to come up with an alternative, as MISCA, which officially commenced on 19 December, has not shown capability to stabilise the country and support reforms so far.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|20 December 2013 S/RES/2127||This was a resolution that authorised MISCA and a French intervention force.|
|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.|
|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|
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