Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In June, the Council may be briefed on the preliminary report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) established by the Council in resolution 2127 to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and abuses of human rights in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The Council may also be briefed on recent developments, depending on events on the ground.
The 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee may meet to consider the interim report of its Panel of Experts in June.
The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) expires on 30 April 2015.
Key Recent Developments
Thousands are estimated to have been killed in the CAR since 24 March 2013, when the Séléka rebel group ousted President François Bozizé. Recent months have seen an increase in violence against Muslims, who constitute roughly 15 percent of the population. The Christian anti-balaka militias have increased their attacks on Muslims, as have civilian mobs. As a result, thousands of Muslims have been forced to flee towards the majority Muslim northern CAR.
On 8 April, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed Council members in consultations on several situations, including the CAR. Following her recent visit to the country, she noted that the situation remains dire, with inter-communal hatred “at a terrifying level”. She said that, while large-scale massacres that characterised the situation in most of the country in January and February seem to have ended, people are still killed daily, especially by the anti-balaka. Pillay urged the Council to deploy a robust peacekeeping mission and stressed the need for police forces to restore law and order.
On 10 April, the Council adopted resolution 2149, establishing MINUSCA with an initial authorised deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel (S/PV.7153). MINUSCA is to take over from the AU troops currently deployed in the country by 15 September. Its tasks include protecting civilians; facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance; protecting human rights; supporting the rule of law; and ensuring the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation of former combatants. At the request of the CAR authorities, MINUSCA will also have the mandate to adopt temporary measures to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity (such measures may include the authority to arrest and detain individuals). The resolution also welcomed the recommendation of the Secretary-General to adjust the mandate of MINUSCA as the situation on the ground evolves and requested him to develop a concept of operations and benchmarks for this sequencing. The resolution also authorised the French forces of Opération Sangaris in the CAR to use all necessary means to support MINUSCA. The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) is to become the civilian component of MINUSCA.
Following the killing of French journalist Camille Lepage in western CAR, Council members issued a press statement on 13 May, recalling their demand that all parties comply with applicable international humanitarian law, including as related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. They also called on the transitional government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The preliminary report of the CoI was circulated to Council members on 28 May (S/2014/373). Its initial findings are that individuals from both sides of the conflict perpetuated serious breaches of international Humanitarian Law and crimes against humanity as well as war crimes, from 1 January 2013 until this day. However at this stage, the CoI finds that it is premature to talk of genocide or ethnic cleansing, or significant involvement of other states in the conflict.
Regarding the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, briefed the Committee on 5 May. The two conveyed that the security situation in the CAR is worsening and that the number of victims of violent attacks, including sexual attacks, was staggering. The Committee issued a press release (SC/11388) stating appreciation for proposals made by the two briefers for designations and encouraging them to exchange information on possible designations with the Panel of Experts (PoE) established in resolution 2127 (2013).
The Committee made its first sanctions designations on 9 May (SC/11389). Séléka leader Nourredine Adam, anti-balaka leader Levy Yakete, and former President Bozizé were listed for undermining the peace, stability or security in the CAR. Adam was also listed for suspected international human rights law and international humanitarian law violations. (Early drafts of resolution 2149 designated the three, yet some Council members asked for more time to consider the listings, and the issue was discussed in the Committee.)
On 13 May, the US imposed sanctions on the three individuals in addition to Séléka leader Michel Djotodia, the former transitional president of the CAR, and Abdoulaye Miskine, leader of the Democratic Front of the Central African Republic People, one of the groups composing the Séléka rebel alliance.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Following a 29 March incident in which troops from Chad fired into a market in Bangui killing 30 and wounding more than 300 people, BINUCA’s Human Rights and Justice Section conducted an initial investigation. It found that the action appeared totally disproportionate and without provocation.
The Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, visited the CAR from 10-18 April. In a 23 April statement she said that the climate of insecurity in the country was such that some communities, especially Muslims, were leaving the country. She emphasised that the lack of judicial infrastructure and the insecurity faced by judges would impede the fight against impunity and called on the government to take all necessary measures to re-establish its authority within the territory. (The Human Rights Council will consider a report of the Independent Expert on CAR [A/HRC/26/53] during its June session.)
In a 25 April statement, the special rapporteurs on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, and on minority issues, Rita Izsák, said that evacuation to protect the lives of religious minorities under threat in the CAR must be a measure of last resort, conducted voluntarily and in accordance with international standards. The statement stressed that any evacuation should be short-term, with a prospect for the evacuees to return to their homes and a guarantee to return in safety and dignity. Whether they decide to stay or are evacuated, those persons should be granted protection immediately. While welcoming the establishment of MINUSCA, the rapporteurs expressed concern that the mission would only be operational in September. They stated that in the interim, the government should receive adequate support from the international forces already on the ground.
Following the establishment of MINUSCA, an overall issue is to sustain a hands-on approach towards the CAR, including monitoring developments on the ground closely and following up with Council action accordingly.
Until MINUSCA is fully operational, a key issue is providing effective support to the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) and the other international forces so they can restore security in the country immediately.
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:
- discussing and taking up the recommendations made in the preliminary report of the CoI;
- undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR, a country the Council has never visited despite it being on its agenda since 1997;
- listing further individuals for violations of the criteria set out under resolution 2134, either through the Committee or by the Council; or
- taking no action at this time.
Council and Wider Dynamics
With the establishment of MINUSCA, Council members are now looking to monitor the situation on the ground and MINUSCA’s preparations for deployment. As the security and humanitarian situation remains dire, the penholder may request a briefing from the Secretariat with updates on MINUSCA and the current operations of MISCA. Resolution 2149 does not authorise a support package for MISCA until the deployment of MINUSCA and some countries, such as the US, have been contributing to the force bilaterally. Council members may need to address the lack of improvement in the short-term due to operational gaps in MISCA.
Council members will also be eager to discuss the initial findings of the CoI and, later in July, of the PoE assisting the sanctions committee. These may provide Council members with further information related to accountability and sanctions that the Council (or the Committee) may need to address. These may also inform the mission concept of MINUSCA (due in August) on issues of law and order and rule of law. Some Council members are hoping that the Secretariat produces the mission concept sooner as it will enable approaching potential troop-contributing countries with a better understanding of the needs of MINUSCA.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN Documents on CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|10 April 2014 S/RES/2149||This resolution established the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with an initial deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel.|
|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|
|8 April 2014 S/PV.7153||This was the record of the meeting during which resolution 2149 was adopted.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|13 May 2014 SC/11394||This was a press statement on the death of a French journalist.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)
MINUSCA Size and Composition
Authorised strength: 10,000 military personnel, 1,820 police
10 April 2014 to present.
Chair of the Sanctions Committee
Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania)