Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In August, the Council will be briefed on preparations for the deployment of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), likely by Special Representative and head of MINUSCA Babacar Gaye.
The Council may also be briefed on the work of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) mandated 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 (The initial report was retracted and reissued. For more details see our July 2014 Monthly Forecast.)
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.
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, yet 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 an acute humanitarian crisis.
Approximately half of the population remains in need of humanitarian assistance, and sectarian violence has been on the rise in the last few months, with dozens killed and numerous casualties and displaced people, in particular in the town of Bambari in eastern CAR. Some reports suggest that this adds to an estimated death toll of roughly 2,600 between November 2013 and April 2014.
Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous briefed Council members on 16 July on the preparations ahead of MINUSCA’s official deployment. He told them that MINUSCA will not reach its authorised strength by 15 September, despite contributions from states outside of MISCA. He added that except for one contingent, all of MISCA’s troops will be re-hatted into MINUSCA. Ladsous did not provide exact numbers and mentioned challenges in logistical preparations for deployment, in particular the need for adequate airlift capacity in the land-locked country. He informed Council members that the Secretariat is working on a plan to implement the executive measures that MINUSCA is mandated to carry out under resolution 2149. One such measure is the participation of international legal experts in the domestic justice system. Ladsous further informed Council members that MINUSCA’s civilian component is in the process of recruiting the remaining necessary individuals to fulfil its tasks. Finally, he said his office has completed the concept of operations for MINUSCA.
In sanctions-related developments, the Council was briefed on 11 July by Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania) on the interim report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee and on the activities of the Committee (S/2014/452). At the request of Lithuania, the briefing was held in a public meeting, followed by consultations.
Murmokaitė told the Council that the inflow of weapons into the CAR appeared to have been staunched, but impunity for human rights abuses and illicit exploitation of minerals remain as barriers to political transition in the country. She added that the PoE reported that in the west of the country, anti-balaka are trading in diamonds while in the east, Séléka controlled the gold mines. She also said that the group had documented 103 incidents of obstruction in the delivery of humanitarian assistance between 5 December 2013 and 30 April 2014, as well as approximately 2,424 unlawful killings of civilians, including aid workers, committed by all parties to the conflict during the same period.
On 16 July, the Secretary-General appointed Babacar Gaye (Senegal), the acting Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, to that position.
From 21-23 July, 169 representatives of the transitional government, armed groups and civil society held talks in Brazzaville, with interim President Catherine Samba-Panza appealing to the Séléka and anti-balaka to agree a ceasefire. At the end of the three-day meeting, a ceasefire involving both armed groups was signed, and demands for the country to be split in two along religious lines were dropped. According to media reports, the Séléka, which recently reappointed former interim president Michel Djotodja as its leader, will now be seeking a power-sharing arrangement within the government. At press time, it was unclear what effect the signing of the ceasefire would have on the rebels on the ground.
Council members issued a press statement on 24 July welcoming the ceasefire as a first step in a wider political process that is meant to ensure durable peace, respect for human rights, protection of civilians and the rule of law (SC/11491). They also stressed the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict through political dialogue and a national reconciliation process, fighting impunity, disarmament and reintegration. Council members reiterated their call to the transitional government to accelerate, with the support of the UN and other partners, preparations in order to hold free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential and legislative elections. They further underlined the importance of preserving the unity and territorial integrity of the CAR.
The CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission issued a press statement on 25 July welcoming the ceasefire agreement as well, and called on all sides to build upon this initial step to preserve the unity of the country and foster a peaceful democratic transition.
An overarching issue is to sustain a hands-on approach towards the CAR, including closely monitoring MINUSCA’s timely deployment and developments on the ground and following up with Council action accordingly.
A related issue is the establishment of state institutions from the ground up, ensuring the success of the transitional political process, possible reconciliation and upholding accountability for human rights and international humanitarian law violations.
A further issue for the Council is 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 and reconciliation, calling for accountability for crimes and encouraging member states to contribute troops and resources to MINUSCA;
- discussing and taking up recommendations of the CoI and the PoE;
- undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR, which the Council has never visited despite it being on the 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. Some Council members are concerned about the lack of improvement in security and continuing sectarian violence. They are hopeful, however, that the signing of the ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville signifies a turning point and that the truce will be respected by all members of the relevant groups.
Some Council members are also concerned with the slow progress in recruiting more troops for the mission and the logistical preparations for MINUSCA’s deployment. In addition, during the consultations on 16 July, it was evident that some Council members were also frustrated with the lack of clear and accurate information, supported by figures, on the status of MINUSCA. They are hoping that the report due at the end of the month will provide detailed and up-to-date information on the situation and on MINUSCA’s preparations.
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 Records|
|11 July 2014 S/PV.7215||This was the briefing by Murmokaitä— on the interim report of the PoE.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|24 July 2014 SC/11491||This welcomed the ceasefire signed in Brazzaville on 23 July.|
|Security Council Letters|
|26 June 2014 S/2014/373||This was from the Secretary-General to the Council President containing the reissued version of the CoI interim report.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|26 June 2014 S/2014/452||This was the first interim report of the PoE.|
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)