Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In April, the Council may adopt a resolution on the transformation of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) into a UN peacekeeping operation.
The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) expires on 31 January 2015.
Key Recent Developments
Thousands are estimated to have been killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 24 March 2013, when the Séléka ousted President François Bozizé. Recent months have seen an increase in violence against Muslims, who constitute roughly 15 percent of the population, as 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.
The Council was most recently briefed on the situation in the CAR on 6 March. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous summarised the Secretary-General’s recent report (S/2014/142) on the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation, as requested by resolution 2127. Also briefing on their recent visits were Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. The briefing was followed by consultations.
The Secretary-General’s report recommends the establishment of a multidimensional peacekeeping operation with an authorised strength of 10,000 military personnel and 1,820 police personnel. Deployed with a significant civilian component, BINUCA would be incorporated into the mission. The tasks of the mission as laid out in the report include protection of civilians, support for the restoration of state authority and institutions and the protection of human rights. If established, the Secretary-General anticipates the mission will build its capacity by 15 September by using existing forces on the ground. In the meantime, he urges the Council to implement his 20 February initiative for immediate assistance.
Amos and Guterres updated the Council on the humanitarian and refugee situation in the CAR, where hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced, many have fled to neighbouring countries and about half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. CAR Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo Doudou called for the quick adoption of a “robust” resolution authorising deployment within six months.
On 14 February, France announced that it would strengthen its 1,600-strong Opération Sangaris by an additional 400 troops. The AU authorised on 7 March an additional deployment of 560 police personnel and 350 military personnel. It also requested the Security Council to authorise, in the meantime, the establishment of a UN logistical support package funded through assessed contributions to enable MISCA to more effectively discharge its mandate. The EU force for the CAR, authorised by resolution 2134, has been slow in materialising and growing calls by various actors for an immediate deployment without further delays (currently it is scheduled to be fully deployed by the end of April). The force will aim to secure three areas in Bangui, including the airport, for the protection of civilians and humanitarian work and is expected to consist of up to 1,000 troops.
On 14 March, Council members held an “Arria-formula” meeting chaired by France and Nigeria that focused on communal and religious tensions and violence in the CAR. The speakers were the leaders of the main religious communities in the CAR: Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui; Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, President of the CAR Islamic Community; and Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou, President of the Alliance of Evangelicals of the CAR. (In a 3 December 2013 letter, the religious leaders asked Council members to urgently transform MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission in light of the humanitarian crisis and the inter-communal violence between Christians and Muslims.) Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, also spoke. The meeting was held in a large conference room to accommodate a significant number of observers as it was open to all member states, the media and NGOs.
The religious leaders emphasised in the meeting the importance of social inclusion and national reconciliation and stressed that the surge in violence, although not initially faith-based, has been portrayed as such by others for political gains. Dieng said that only 20 percent of the original Muslim population still remains in the CAR and that they are at risk.
In sanctions-related developments, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee met with its Panel of Experts (PoE) on 5 March before the experts deployed to the CAR. The PoE presented its initial plan to provide information on the arms embargo, designations and visits to countries in the region. Some Council members asked that the PoE provide more information on suggested names for designation for individually targeted sanctions.
Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki (Morocco), the new chair of the Peacebuilding Commission CAR configuration, visited the CAR between 4-7 March, together with Kenneth Gluck, Director and Deputy Head of the Peacebuilding Support Office.
Loulichki met with interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, Prime Minister André Nzapayeké, Minister of Communication and Reconciliation Antoinette Montaigne and Minister of Defence Thomas Timangoa. He also met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUCA, Babacar Gaye, and officers from MISCA and Opération Sangaris, as well as representatives of women’s and youth organisations, political parties and religious leaders.
Loulichki reported back to the configuration in a meeting on 19 March. He noted a decrease in violence in Bangui but added that not much had changed in rural areas and that Muslims were still being displaced from the south and west of the country. He recommended that priority be given to restoring security, protecting civilians, supporting transitional authorities (including financial assistance to pay salaries of government employees), promoting reconciliation and political dialogue and ensuring regional coherence.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay visited the country from 4-14 March and from 18-20 March, respectively. Bocoum gave an oral update to the Human Rights Council on 26 March.
During a 20 March press conference in Bangui, Pillay talked about the dire situation in a country with no state and with inter-communal hatred at a “terrifying” level. She said that people, including children, were not only being killed but also tortured, mutilated, burned and dismembered. Rape and sexual violence, especially in the camps for the internally displaced, were on the increase. Some 15,000 Muslims were reportedly trapped in different areas of the country in an extremely dangerous and untenable situation. She called on the interim government to act decisively and expressed her deep concern at the slow response of the international community and the deplorable underfunding of humanitarian aid. “The international community seems to have forgotten some of the lessons it learned in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor—to mention just a few”, she said.
An overall issue is to sustain a hands-on approach towards the CAR, including monitoring developments on the ground closely and modifying Council action accordingly.
A key issue for the Council is to follow up on the recommendation of the Secretary-General and establish a peacekeeping mission in the CAR.
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.
A related issue is not losing track of the multifaceted needs of the CAR, from security to the establishment of state institutions from the ground up. Ensuring that the transitional political process and reforms move forward, along with addressing the security situation, will be ongoing issues for the Council.
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 existing forces in the meantime, in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendations;
- undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR, a country the Council has never visited despite it being on its agenda since 1997; and
- listing individuals for violations of the criteria set out under resolution 2134, either through the Committee or by the Council.
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 discussions among Council members. In previous discussions, several Council members were hesitant to establish such an operation due to financial considerations and the need for a stabilised security environment that would enable the deployment of peacekeepers. Some Council members were also supportive of the AU’s wish to handle the situation without the UN for the time being.
Yet, with negotiations for a resolution expected to commence soon, it seems that there is a consensus that a UN peacekeeping mission should be established in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendation and acknowledgement that the mission will require considerable funds. The AU’s agreeing to the establishment of a UN mission that would take over in September has also contributed to shifting some Council members’ positions.
Points of focus in the negotiations are likely to include the financial structure and support for the mission and the forces on the ground before it is established, granting the UN mission certain executive powers such as arrest and detainment and how to transition from an initial focus on protection of civilians to civilian capacities.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN Documents on 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.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|6 March 2014 S/PV.7128||This meeting was on the establishment of a possible UN Peacekeeping Mission.|
|20 February 2014 S/PV.7114||This was a briefing on the CAR by the Secretary-General and Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security.|
|3 March 2014 S/2014/142||This report was on the transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission.|
|31 December 2013 S/2013/787||This was a report on BINUCA.|
|Security Council Letters|
|13 February 2014 S/2014/98||
This was from the Secretary-General on the appointment of the Panel of Experts.
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative and Head of BINUCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)
BINUCA Size and Composition
Strength as of 31 January 2014: 52 international civilians, 78 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and four UN volunteers.
1 January 2010 to present