Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In July, the Council will be briefed on preparations for the deployment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous.
The Council will also hear a briefing by Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), followed by consultations on the interim report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee.
The Council may also be briefed on the work 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 CAR, after its report is reissued.
The mandate of 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 predominantly Muslim Séléka rebel group ousted President François Bozizé. The Christian anti-balaka militias retaliated with attacks on Muslim civilians, who constitute roughly 15 percent of the population, and as a result, thousands of Muslims have been forced to flee towards the majority Muslim northeast, creating a sort of separation line between the two religious groups and the zones of influence of the Séléka and anti-balaka.
Despite the adoption of resolution 2149, establishing MINUSCA with an initial authorised deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel, the situation remains dire. MINUSCA is to take over from the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) by 15 September. Continued fighting between the Séléka and the anti-balaka and attacks on civilians have resulted in many casualties and a humanitarian crisis. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) across the CAR as of 20 June is 542,400, including 117,400 in Bangui. Half of the population—or 2.5 million—urgently need protection and relief to meet their most basic needs.
In a recent deadly attack, the Notre Dame de Fatima church in Bangui, which was sheltering 9,000 people, was attacked on 28 May, resulting in the deaths of at least 17 people and the reported abduction of 27 civilians by the assailants, who were taken to an unknown location. Many IDPs in the CAR have taken refuge at places of worship. The attackers—who arrived in pick-up trucks in the early afternoon—threw grenades into the church ground before opening fire on people, using small arms.
On 30 May, Council members issued a press statement, condemning in the strongest terms the recent attacks and calling on member states and regional and international organisations to increase troop, financial and logistical support to MISCA to enable it to implement its mandate fully and help prepare for the transfer of authority to MINUSCA on 15 September (SC/11423).
The Council was briefed on 24 June via video-teleconference by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MINUSCA Babacar Gaye, who stated that civilians are regularly targeted while the government lacks its own security forces or necessary finances. He added that the current number of CAR refugees in neighbouring countries is at 360,000 and expressed scepticism about holding the planned elections in February 2015 due to the deteriorating situation.
Also briefing was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN-Women, who recently visited the country. She mentioned reports of rape, sexual slavery and early and forced marriages perpetrated by armed actors. Marguerite Marie Maliavo-Samba, CAR Minister for Public Health and Social Affairs, who addressed the Council, stated that the rule of law was “practically confined” to the capital and that there was no national army, the judiciary was “sick”, the national police needed rehabilitation and judges could not return to their posts.
In the consultations that followed, Gaye expressed concern that MINUSCA may not be able to fill its allotted troop level by 15 September, that the transitional political process is stagnant and that the country remains de-facto divided between Christians and Muslims.
The preliminary report of the CoI was circulated to Council members on 28 May (only two of the three commissioners participated in the investigation drafting). Its findings were that individuals from both sides of the conflict have perpetrated serious breaches of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity and war crimes, from 1 January 2013 to the present. At this stage, however, the CoI said that it is premature to talk of genocide or ethnic cleansing or of significant involvement of other states in the conflict. The CoI recommended that the Council establish a body to prosecute the alleged offenders.
After the report was circulated, the CoI was heavily criticised within the Secretariat and by Council members for its lack of coordination with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and for submitting a poor quality report. On 16 June, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the Council President forwarding the request of the CoI to reissue the report to allow for updates on the situation on the ground and editing (S/2014/410).
On 15 June, the EU announced that it had reached the full operational capacity of its intervention force in the CAR. The mission includes 700 soldiers and police from Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Spain. The EU has authorised the intervention force for a period of half a year, which is currently not expected to be extended in light of MINUSCA’s deployment.
President Catherine Samba-Panza of the CAR sent a letter of referral to the Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, to open an official investigation into crimes allegedly committed on the CAR territory since 1 August 2012. Bensouda, who has been conducting an unofficial preliminary inquiry into the situation since 7 February, announced that she would make a decision on opening the investigation soon.
Regarding the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, the interim report of the PoE was circulated to Council members in June. It highlights the connection between control and illicit trade of natural resources (such as diamonds, gold and ivory) and the funding for the activities of the Séléka and the anti-balaka. It also documents violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by various actors.
The PoE officially presented the report to the Committee on 25 June. Among the issues discussed were some of the report’s recommendations. Committee members were unable to agree on adopting the recommendation to send letters to neighbouring countries to publish their import and export statistics. One recommendation that the Committee was able to agree on is sending a letter to the CAR government to remove from its security forces anyone suspected of membership in an armed group. Some Council members inquired on the presence of Boko-Haram but the PoE’s coordinator said that they were not aware of any current Boko-Haram presence in the CAR.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 June, the Human Rights Council considered a report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum (A/HRC/26/53). Bocoum said that efforts by the international forces to protect civilians are insufficient as anti-balaka and Séléka groups continue to perpetrate serious human rights violations against civilians based on their religious affiliation. Humanitarian workers are unable to provide assistance to displaced people without endangering their own lives. Bocoum hoped that the targeted sanctions imposed by the Security Council and the work undertaken by the CoI will have a dissuasive effect on the conduct of armed groups.
Following the establishment of MINUSCA, an overarching 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 for MISCA and other international forces so they can restore security in the country.
A related issue is not losing track of the multifaceted needs of the CAR, in particular the establishment of state institutions from the ground up and the transitional political process.
Finally, another issue is addressing the relationship between the illicit trade in natural resources and the funding of the armed groups.
Options for the Council include:
- issuing a statement in support of the transitional political process, calling for accountability for crimes and encouraging member states to contribute troops and resources to MINUSCA;
- discussing and taking up recommendations in the reissued report of the CoI and the report of the PoE;
- undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR, a country the Council has never visited despite its being on Council 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. While Council members are concerned about the lack of improvement in security or progress in establishing state authority (it seems that the government in Bangui has very limited authority even in Bangui), resolution 2149 does not authorise a support package for MISCA until the deployment of MINUSCA. Some Council members are also concerned with the slow progress reported on recruiting more troops for the mission (beyond the MISCA contingencies) and the logistical preparations for MINUSCA’s deployment.
Council members will also be eager to address the initial findings of the CoI and of the PoE. The CoI initial report and the PoE interim report both stress that the warring parties have committed crimes and human rights violations. A difficult question for Council members (and the international community at large) is pursuing accountability while looking for interlocutors who can influence both the Séléka and the anti-balaka to lay down their arms and put an end to the de facto partition of the country that has been taking place.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN Documents on the 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 Record|
|24 June 2014 S/PV.7206||This was a briefing by Special Representative Gaye and UN-Women Executive Director Mlambo-Ngcuka on CAR.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|30 May 2014 SC/11423||Condemned the 28 May attack on the church of Notre Dame de Fatima as well as the destruction of one of the last mosques in Bangui on 29 May.|
|Security Council Letter|
|16 June 2014 S/2014/410||This was from the Secretary-General to the Council President on the reissuing of the CoI interim report.|
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)