March 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2014
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Central African Republic

Expected Council Action
In March, the Council will be briefed on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Secretary-General’s report on the possible transformation of the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA) into a UN peacekeeping operation. The Council may also be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos on her recent visit to the CAR. The Council may adopt a resolution establishing a peacekeeping mission in the CAR and providing further support for the existing forces.

Also in March, at the initiative of France, Council members may hold an “Arria formula” meeting with religious leaders from the CAR, co-chaired by Chad and France.

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 Bozizé, 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 of MISCA and Opération Sangaris by French forces, as authorised in resolution 2127. On 28 January, the Council renewed BINUCA for 12 months and authorised an EU mission to the CAR for six months for the protection of civilians in cooperation with the international forces on the ground (S/RES/2134).

 According to media reports, the first soldiers of the EU force to the CAR, authorised by resolution 2134, will arrive in March. The force will aim to secure an area in Bangui for humanitarian work and is expected to consist of up to 1,000 troops. On 14 February, France announced that it would strengthen its 1,600-troop operation by an additional 400 troops.

Thousands are estimated to have been killed since last March, and some 833,000 people have been internally displaced across the country. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on 12 February an additional 268,779 people seeking refuge in Cameroon, Chad, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Half of the 4.6 million population is reportedly in need of humanitarian assistance. Since the resignation of interim President Michel Djotodia on 10 January, there has been an increase in violence against Muslims, who comprise roughly 15 percent of the population. The Christian anti-balaka militias have increased their attacks on Muslims, as have mobs of civilians who have carried out gruesome killings of Muslims in recent weeks. As a result, thousands of Muslims have been fleeing to the north, where most of the Muslim population resides. Guterres said the situation was a “humanitarian catastrophe of unspeakable proportions. Massive ethno-religious cleansing is continuing”.

In a letter to the Secretary-General of 27 January, the CAR foreign minister, Léonie Banga-Bothy, wrote that her country faces several challenges, including the need to establish state authority, prepare for elections and build state institutions, including police, gendarmerie, customs, the justice system and social services.

In his briefing to the Council on UN-EU cooperation on 14 February, the Secretary-General stated that there is a crucial opportunity to fortify the collective efforts of the UN, AU and EU in the CAR (S/PV.7112). He added that he would return to the Council with recommendations for containing and then ending this crisis.

The Council was briefed on 20 February on the situation in the CAR by the Secretary-General and Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security (S/PV.7114). This was followed by an interactive dialogue session between Council members and Chergui and the head of MISCA, Major General Jean-Marie Mokoko. The Secretary-General stated during the briefing that religious violence is causing a de-facto partition of the country between Christians and Muslims. He noted that in his upcoming report on the possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission, in accordance with resolution 2127 (due by 5 March) he will present an outline for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission for the protection of civilians and promotion of stability. But as a UN mission will take months to deploy, he presented an urgent six point plan:

  • rapid reinforcement of troops on the ground (noting that the AU is willing to consider further deployment on top of the additional French and EU troops due to arrive);
  • a coordinated command for these forces;
  • a logistical support package to MISCA;
  • support for the government to establish basic state authority;
  • expediting reconciliation and the political process; and
  • more funding for humanitarian aid.

Chergui asked the Council to approve a support package that will allow MISCA to succesfully stabilise the CAR and lay the groundwork for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission.

On 21 February, while briefing Council members in consultations, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman reiterated the urgency of the situation. Most Council members were in agreement that the Council should take action soon in accordance with the six point.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced on 7 February that the Court will open a preliminary investigation into crimes that have allegedly been committed in the CAR by various groups.

In sanctions-related developments, on 6 February, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, established on 5 December 2013, held an exchange of views on the implementation of the arms embargo with countries from the region. On 13 February, the Secretary-General, after consulting with the members of the Committee, appointed the Panel of Experts. The chair, Ambassador Raimonda MurmokaitÄ— (Lithuania) briefed the Council on the work of the Committee on 21 February.

The new chair of the CAR Peacebuilding configuration, Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco), intends to visit the country in early March. In the meeting of the configuration on 19 February, the World Bank pledged 100 million dollars for projects in the CAR and an additional 150 million for infrastructure.

Amos visited the CAR from 18-20 February. She expressed shock at the atrocities taking place and stressed the need to send more troops to provide security.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 11 February, the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said that the security situation in Bangui continued to deteriorate, with targeted assassinations, increased violence and criminality on the streets. Colville recounted the 9 February events: the assassination of a member of the National Transitional Council, Jean-Emmanuel Ndjaroua; the looting of houses of Séléka ministers; and the attack against two magistrates. Colville also said that UN human rights staff in the CAR conducted a mission to Boda following the killing of 92 people on religious grounds between 30 January and 5 February. He expressed concern at the climate of complete impunity in the country.

During its 25th session in March, the Human Rights Council will consider a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in the CAR (A/HRC/25/43) and the report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review on the country (A/HRC/25/11).

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is to develop and sustain a hands-on approach towards the CAR. This may entail authorising a UN peacekeeping mission in the near future.

A related issue is providing 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 political process, now under new leadership, moves forward successfully.

Options for the Council include:
  • establishing a peacekeeping operation and transforming BINUCA into its civilian component with an emphasis on establishing law and order;
  • authorising further support for the above forces in the meantime, in accordance with the Secretary-General’s plan;
  • issuing a presidential or press statement in lieu of a resolution and in light of further developments and challenges, to express the Council’s commitment to help solve the continuing crisis;
  • 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. In previous discussions, Russia, the US and the African Council members took the position that 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, also maintained that the establishment of a UN mission should wait.

Among the points raised by some Council members against creating a UN peacekeeping mission are budgetary concerns and questions about whether such a mission is the appropriate response to stabilise the CAR at this juncture, as the situation still requires a more robust peace enforcement response. Other members view the situation as necessitating a robust law-and-order mandate in lieu of state authority, rather than peace enforcement.

In view of the Secretary-General’s upcoming report, and in light of the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground, it seems that there is growing openness to a UN peacekeeping mission and a growing consensus that Council action on the CAR is needed in the immediate future, as any UN mission would take several months to become operational. 

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, authorised 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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
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 Letter
13 February 2014 S/2014/98 This was from the Secretary-General on the appointment of the Panel of Experts.
Sanctions Committee Document
10 February 2014 SC/11271 This was a press release on the 6 February meeting of the Sanctions Committee with the CAR and neighbouring states.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative and Head of BINUCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)

BINUCA Size and Composition
Strength as of 31 December 2013: 60 international civilians, 79 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and four UN volunteers.

 BINUCA Duration
1 January 2010 to present