Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In February, the chair of the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), will brief the Council on the work of its most recent Committee, established by resolution 2127 of 5 December 2013.
The Council may also be briefed on the activities of the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA) as resolution 2127 requests the AU to report to the Council every 60 days on the deployment and activities of the mission.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) expires on 31 January 2015.
Key Recent Developments
Since the Séléka uprising, culminating in the 24 March 2013 ousting of President François Bozize, the CAR has fallen into a state of lawlessness, with a complete breakdown in state authority and a growing humanitarian crisis. The situation worsened despite the deployment in December of MISCA and Opération Sangaris by France as authorised in resolution 2127. Nearly a million people are internally displaced and more than 1,000 have been killed in Bangui since 5 December, figures in the countryside are unknown due to lack of information. It is estimated that half of the 4.5 million inhabitants of the CAR are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The latest BINUCA report paints a dire picture of the situation in the CAR (S/2013/787). It states that the country remains in complete disarray. Despite the official dissolving of the Séléka, the fighting between the Muslim ex-Séléka and Christian anti-Balaka, alongside retaliatory attacks against the Christian and Muslim communities, has intensified. These attacks and ensuing reprisals have resulted in serious human rights violations.
As for BINUCA itself, the report indicates that some operations have taken place but that the mission has been unable to implement its new mandate under resolution 2121 due to the security situation. Additionally, the report, to the dismay of some Council members, contains no recommendations regarding BINUCA itself. As for a UN peacekeeping operation, the report contains no specific recommendations, unlike the Secretary-General’s previous report (S/2013/677).
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council on the BINUCA report on 6 January. In his public comments, Feltman elaborated on the dire situation in the CAR and called for action without specifying what action should be taken. During consultations, he addressed allegations that Opération Sangaris and components of MISCA are favouring one religious group over the other and suggested that international forces on the ground take a more integrated and coordinated approach to address this issue. He also told Council members about the tensions between ex-Séléka leader and interim President Michel Djotodja and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, which are disrupting the transitional political process. France suggested during consultations that the elections scheduled for February 2015 be held earlier, though other members are uncertain about the plausibility of this suggestion. Some delegations also raised the issue of authorising targeted sanctions, yet other Council members were hesitant on this issue, in particular some of the P5.
In comments to the press after consultations, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein (Jordan), the president of the Council in January, said that Council members still disagreed about the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission.
Following an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in N’djamena on 8-9 January and facing international pressure, Djotodja resigned as interim president and went to Benin. (Tiangaye resigned as well.) The situation in the CAR has calmed somewhat, yet reports of violent inter-communal attacks persist.
On 20 January, the mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza, was elected by the interim National Council as interim president. On 25 January, the interim government chose Andre Nzapayeke as prime minister. In the meantime, Séléka leaders are reported as fleeing the CAR and on 24 January, Joseph Kalite, a former health minister who had supported the Séléka was found dead in Bangui.
EU foreign ministers approved on 20 January a military mission to the CAR of up to 1,000 troops. The force is to deploy around Bangui airport, where many civilians have taken refuge, allowing Opération Sangaris, currently stationed there, to perform other tasks. The EU indicated that it would seek Council authorisation for the force, which would be deployed for six months and expected to begin operations towards the end of February. (At press time, it was unclear which EU countries would contribute troops.)
EU and other foreign donors met in Brussels and pledged nearly $500 million in humanitarian assistance for the CAR, with major contributions from the EU, France and the US. Another donor conference, for MISCA, was to be held in Addis Ababa on 1 February.
At the initiative of Luxembourg, the Council was briefed on 22 January on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the CAR by Special Representative of for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng and Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Zerrougui, Dieng and Bangura’s chief of staff, Nancee Oku Bright, made a joint visit to the CAR from 17-21 December 2013. The briefing was followed by consultations.
Zerrougui said that as many as 6,000 child soldiers are currently associated with various armed forces and groups and children have been directly attacked, maimed, killed and beheaded.
Bangura informed the Council that between January and November 2013, the UN recorded at least 4,530 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by armed men, with more assaults reported during last month’s attacks in Bangui.
On 28 January, the Council adopted resolution 2134 renewing BINUCA’s mandate for a year. The resolution enhances the role of the mission in assisting the transitional process, reforms and human rights monitoring. It also authorises the deployment of the EU force for six months and expands the sanctions regime to include targeted sanctions (travel ban and assets freeze) on individuals that hinder the political process, violate international humanitarian law and human rights law or violate the arms embargo. Also affected by these targeted sanctions will be individuals and entities that have recruited and used children in armed conflict, provided support for armed groups through illicit exploitation of natural resources, obstructed the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the CAR and have been involved in attacks against UN missions or international security presences.
It seems that during the negotiations there were some disagreements on including all of the above elements in a single resolution, which was a mixture of a Chapter VI mandate (BINUCA) and some Chapter VII elements (the EU force and sanctions). But eventually agreement was reached.
The 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee held its first formal meeting on 16 January to discuss preliminary procedural issues after an informal meeting the day before. Committee members agreed on the Committee guidelines and the text of the letter to be sent to UN member states, inviting them to report to the Committee on the implementation of sanctions. The Secretariat has indicated to Council members that the nominees for the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee will be put forward soon. During the meeting, some members called on the Secretariat to ensure that the experts nominated are from varied geographical locations.
The Secretary-General announced on 22 January the appointment of Jorge Castañeda (Mexico), Fatimata M’Baye (Mauritania) and Bernard Acho Muna (Cameroon) as the members of the international commission of inquiry mandated in resolution 2127 to investigate violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the CAR since 1 January 2013.
In Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) related developments, Morocco took over the chairmanship of the CAR configuration. The CAR configuration has been without a chair since the resignation of Ambassador Jan Grauls (Belgium) on 1 June 2012.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 20 January, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held its first special session on the human rights situations in the CAR. Michael Møller, the acting head of the UN Office in Geneva, delivered a message from the Secretary-General. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Chaloka Beyani, the chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, also spoke.
Pillay briefed on the findings of the human rights monitoring mission deployed to the CAR on 12-14 December 2013. The mission documented large-scale human rights violations perpetrated by the ex-Séléka, the anti-Balaka, as well as by Muslim and Christian civilians. It concurred that at least 1,000 people were killed in Bangui during the 5-6 December violence. Pillay said that the 5 December attacks prompted a rapidly escalating cycle of sectarian violations and reprisals. The mission noted that while Opération Sangaris and additional MISCA troops had deterred further large-scale attacks by ex-Séléka, the disarming of the group left Muslim communities vulnerable to anti-Balaka retaliatory attacks. The mission also received allegations of the involvement of some MISCA soldiers in the killing of Christian civilians. She reported that on 14 January an advance team deployed to the CAR and neighbouring countries to prepare for the establishment of the international commission of inquiry mandated by the Security Council. She added that additional human rights officers would be deployed to the CAR in the following weeks to strengthen BINUCA.
At the end of the session, the HRC adopted a resolution emphasising the urgency of appointing an independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR. (The HRC established this mandate on 27 September in resolution 24/34 but the expert had not yet been appointed.) The HRC subsequently decided to appoint Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum as independent expert.
A key issue for the Council is to sustain the current hands-on approach towards the CAR. 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 and the other international forces so they can restore security in the country immediately.
Another issue is ensuring that BINUCA can fulfil its mandate in light of the dire security situation, including as a possible civilian component of a future UN peacekeeping mission.
An additional issue is ensuring that the transitional process, now under new leadership, moves forward successfully.
Options for the Council include:
- issuing a presidential or press statement in light of further developments and challenges to express the Council’s commitment to help solve the continuing crisis;
- establishing a peacekeeping operation and transforming BINUCA into its civilian component in the next few months;
- albeit unlikely for security concerns, undertaking a Council visiting mission; and
- listing individuals for violations of the criteria set out under resolution 2134, either by the Council or in the Committee.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Since the Council adopted resolution 2127, the possibility of establishing a UN peacekeeping operation continues to be the main topic of discussion among Council members. While there may be general agreement that such a mission may be inevitable, there are disagreements on when and how this can take place. Russia, the US and the African Council members believe MISCA and the other international forces should be given time to fulfil their mandates and restore security in the CAR, while close attention should be paid to ensuring the success of the transitional political process. The AU, on which a UN peacekeeping mission would likely be dependent for troops, is currently of the firm position that the establishment of a UN mission should wait for a future point in time.
Another consideration raised against creating a UN peacekeeping mission at this point is the cost of such a mission. The reluctance to increase the peacekeeping budget was evident when the Council authorised an increase in peacekeepers in South Sudan by transferring troops from other UN missions. The focus on addressing the current crisis in South Sudan may affect consideration of the CAR and further delay the possible deployment of UN peacekeepers.
Other Council members, first and foremost France, are highly supportive of a UN peacekeeping force to take over operations in the CAR, viewing it as the only effective solution to the crisis. They believe that BINUCA should become its civilian component and that this is necessary for the force to be able to address both the security threats and reforms and assistance needed in the political, institutional and humanitarian spheres.
The Secretary-General’s report on a possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation is due by early March but it may be delayed further. The recent Secretary-General’s report and Secretariat briefings are more ambivalent about the desirability of turning MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission than his 15 November 2013 report on the issue. It is unlikely that the Council will take decisive steps in this direction before the Secretary-General’s next report.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolutions
|28 January 2014 S/RES/2134
|This resolution renewed BINUCA’s mandate, authorized an EU force to CAR and targeted sanctions.
|5 December 2013 S/RES/2127
|This was a resolution that authorised MISCA and a French intervention force.
|31 December 2013 S/2013/787
|This was the latest report on BINUCA.
|15 November 2013 S/2013/677
|This was a report of the Secretary-General on options for international support to MISCA.
|Security Council Letters
|21 January 2014
|This was on the EU authorisation of a mission to the CAR.
|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