Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
On 15 September, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) will take over peacekeeping responsibilities from the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), in accordance with resolution 2149. The Council may have a high-level briefing under the US presidency to discuss the current situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 30 April 2015.
Key Recent Developments
The situation in the CAR remains dire. While MISCA forces and French and EU troops have tried to protect civilians, their success has been partial and mostly limited to the capital, Bangui. According to the Secretary-General’s latest report of 1 August (S/2014/562), civilians are the targets of sectarian violence, and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continue with impunity. These violations include forced displacement of the civilian population, rape and other forms of sexual violence, the recruitment of children by armed groups, assassinations, summary executions and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In addition, half of the population is still in need of humanitarian assistance and more than one million people have been displaced, with 400,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. While most of the Muslim population has fled to the north, roughly 20,000 Muslims are still trapped in various enclaves, including in Bangui, where they are surrounded and regularly attacked by the Christian anti-balaka militia.
The report adds that MINUSCA continues to work closely with MISCA in preparing its contingents for the transfer of authority, or “re-hatting”, by filling in capability gaps and obtaining additional forces. In addition to MISCA contingents, the report notes the recruitment of three non-MISCA battalions and 120 police officers and the addition of three helicopters. However, specific information on overall strength and preparations is not given in the report. (Resolution 2149 requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of MINUSCA’s mandate including troop and police levels, force and police generation and deployment of all constituent elements.)
On the political front, 169 representatives of the transitional government, armed groups and civil society held talks in Brazzaville from 21-23 July. A ceasefire involving the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebel group and the anti-balaka was signed, and demands for the CAR to be split in two along religious lines were dropped. 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).
As part of the Brazzaville agreement, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza on 5 August dismissed her government to make way for a national unity government. On 10 August, Samba-Panza named Mahamat Kamoun as the country’s first Muslim prime minister, responsible for forming the new government. (Kamoun was chef de cabinet to former interim President Michel Djotodja.) Kamoun announced that his first priorities are the formation of an inclusive government, restoring security and state authority and reconciliation. According to media reports, whereas the anti-balaka were pleased with this choice, a communiqué by Séléka’s second vice-president, General Mohamed Mousa Dhaffane, stated that the group will reconsider its participation in the government as it was not consulted on the appointment.
In the meantime, the agreed ceasefire has not brought an end to the sectarian violence or the activities of both armed groups. On 17 August, the Séléka reportedly killed 34 people about 350 kilometers north of Bangui. In addition, despite the ceasefire agreement, Noureddine Adam, the deputy leader of the Séléka, announced on 17 August the establishment of an independent state in northeastern CAR.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières, on 20 August at least 30 people were injured in fighting between local militia and EU troops in Bangui after residents of the Muslim PK-5 neighbourhood accused the force of killing a man the day before.
The Council was briefed by the Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, Babacar Gaye (Senegal), and the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s CAR configuration, Omar Hilale (Morocco), on 19 August. Hilale informed Council members that the configuration could only form its long-term framework once peace is achieved, but it could support the political process, reconciliation and reforms. Gaye welcomed the ceasefire agreement and concentrated mostly on the political process and said that the new government must be an inclusive one. He told Council members that MINUSCA troop capacity will be at 65 percent by 15 September but apparently did not provide specific information on preparations for deployment. After the consultations, Gaye told the media that by 15 September MINUSCA will have an initial deployment capacity of 7,600 troops, with 5,800 of those from MISCA (including a battalion from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, despite its military being listed on the Secretary-General’s list for child recruitment and sexual abuse of children).
The Council has yet to be briefed on the interim report 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 CAR. (The initial report was retracted and reissued. For more details, see our July 2014 Monthly Forecast.) It seems that there is not much appetite among Council members to discuss the interim report
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 11 July, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the combined first five periodic reports on the CAR’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Committee experts acknowledged the complex situation and structural problems in the country, as well as such challenges as the lack of resources and capacity, particularly in the judicial and law enforcement sectors and inquired about measures to prevent gender-based violence and to end impunity for crimes against humanity and serious human rights abuses.
An overarching issue is to sustain a hands-on approach towards the CAR, including closely monitoring MINUSCA’s deployment and possible ramifications from the situation on the ground and then following up with Council action accordingly.
A related issue is monitoring the maintenance of the ceasefire as a stepping stone toward stability.
Another related issue is the establishment of state institutions by the new government 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.
Options for the Council include:
- issuing a statement welcoming the commencement of MINUSCA peacekeeping operations, supporting the transitional political process and reconciliation, calling for accountability for crimes and encouraging member states to contribute resources and troops to MINUSCA that would be up to UN human rights standards;
- discussing and taking up recommendations in the interim report of the CoI;
- undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR (which the Council has never visited despite its being on the Council agenda since 1997);
- listing further individuals for violations of the criteria set out under resolution 2134, either through the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee or by the Council; or
- taking no action at this time.
Council and Wider Dynamics
With MINUSCA’s commencement of operations imminent, Council members are now looking to monitor its performance in stabilising the security environment and, on the civilian side, the re-establishment of state authority. Council members are in agreement that much rides on the success of the ceasefire and an inclusive political process to restore the peace and as a safeguard against partition.
Concerns remain for many Council members about MINUSCA’s logistical capabilities come 15 September. While Gaye provided information on 19 August about the number of troops and the political process, Council members felt he did not shed light on the level of readiness of the troops or the logistical preparations.
France is the penholder 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.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|19 August 2014 S/PV.7246||This was a briefing on the situation in the CAR.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|24 July 2014 SC/11491||This welcomed the ceasefire signed in Brazzaville on 23 July.|
|Security Council Letter|
|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.|
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)