December 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 November 2014
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action
In December, the Council will be briefed, most likely by the Special Representative Babacar Gaye, on the Secretary-General’s MINUSCA report due on 1 December.  

Ambassador Raimonda MurmokaitÄ— (Lithuania) will brief the Council on the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee.

The final report of the Commission of Inquiry 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 is due by 5 December.

The sanctions imposed on the CAR and the mandates of the CAR Panel of Experts expire in January 2015.

The mandate of UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) expires on 30 April 2015.

Key Recent Developments
In accordance with resolution 2149, the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) transferred its authority to MINUSCA on 15 September. The mission is composed mostly of MISCA troops, with some additional contingents from other regions.

On the same day, Council members issued a press statement (SC/11562) welcoming the transition of authority to MINUSCA. They stressed the importance for MINUSCA to accelerate the deployments of its civilian, police and military capabilities, including the necessary logistical support and command and control structure, so it can reach its full operational capacity as soon as possible.

Despite MINUSCA’s deployment and the signing of a ceasefire involving the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebel group and the Christian anti-Balaka on 23 July in Brazzaville, the security and humanitarian situations in CAR remain dire. Some improvement has been noticed in Bangui, but violent incidents and unrest continues throughout the country. According to the recent Panel of Experts report, some 2,000 former Séléka fighters and some 1,500 anti-Balaka continue to pose an acute security threat in a country that remains de facto partitioned. The armed groups rarely engage one another directly but consistently target civilians and their commitment to the ceasefire is highly questionable.

There was a surge of violent attacks reported in October. On 7 October, a grenade attack in Bangui killed four people, and the attacker, presumably from the Séléka, was killed by a mob. Nine civilians were killed in the unrest that followed.

On 9 October, MINUSCA suffered its first casualty when a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed and others injured in an attack on a MINUSCA convoy in Bangui. Council members issued a press statement the following day, condemning the attack and expressing concern about the recent upsurge in violence.

However, the violence continued. On 11 October, MINUSCA successfully repulsed an attack by about 100 armed anti-Balaka fighters near the residence of the transitional president, Catherine Samba-Panza. On 14 and 15 October, six people were killed, hundreds were forced to flee their homes and four peacekeepers were injured when more violence was initiated by the anti-Balaka in Bangui. The latest wave of violence has displaced some 6,500 people, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Humanitarian assistance has been hampered by the situation as well. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued a statement on 11 November, that attacks and extortion of humanitarian aid workers in the CAR are threatening the provision of essential medical services. The statement relates two incidents that occurred on 7 and 8 November, when MSF trucks carrying medical supplies were stopped by an armed group on the road between Bangui and Paoua in the north, and demands for payments were made for the vehicle and the crew’s freedom. No casualties were reported in these incidents. According to MSF, this type of event may force it to reduce its operations in the CAR.

On 21 October, the Council adopted resolution 2181, extending the mandate of the EU operation in the CAR until 15 March 2015. The next day, Council members received an update under “any other business” on recent events in the CAR from Gaye via video-teleconference.

The International Contact Group on the Central African Republic met in Bangui on 11 November. It concluded that the security situation remains precarious, as does the humanitarian situation, in particular with respect to vulnerable populations. The Contact Group called for accountability for crimes committed in the CAR, for the implementation of the Brazzaville ceasefire and for moving forward with political transition. It called on the transitional government to organise an inclusive forum in Bangui by January 2015 as a follow-up to the July meeting in Brazzaville, to discuss further issues such as governance, reforms, security, reconciliation and accountability. The Contact Group is to convene again in February 2015.

On accountability, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced on 24 September a second investigation with respect to crimes allegedly committed in CAR since 2012. (A preliminary investigation was launched in February. On 30 May, the CAR transitional government requested that the ICC investigate alleged crimes falling within its jurisdiction committed in the country since 1 August 2012.)

In August, the government and MINUSCA agreed on the formation of a special court, composed of local judges and foreign legal experts assisting the court. According to media reports, the National Transitional Council is expected to adopt a law to give effect to the agreement by the end of the year.

In sanctions-related developments, the Panel of Experts presented its final report to the Sanctions Committee on 7 November. The report concludes that despite the signing of the ceasefire in Brazzaville, armed groups remain in control of, or still exert influence over, almost all inhabited areas. It also highlights the illicit trade, smuggling and the levying of taxes by armed groups on natural resources, such as diamonds and gold as a means of financing of violent operations by the anti-Balaka and the Séléka. The Panel also put forward a list of individuals, mainly related to these activities, to be sanctioned by the Committee.

During the meeting, the Committee discussed the recommendations in the report. One recommendation that it endorsed was to request the CAR transitional authorities to certify to the Committee that security personnel identified as being active members of armed groups had been removed from their positions. The Committee could not agree on a recommendation to request neighbouring states to supply the Committee (on a confidential basis) with complete statistics on the import and export of natural resources, including diamonds and gold,  as two permanent members were against the requirement to provide such information. In this context, the Committee was able to agree on releasing a press statement on 14 November, drawing attention to a recommendation by the Panel of Experts urging exporters, importers, processors and consumers of gold in the CAR to mitigate the risk of further exacerbating the conflict by following due diligence guidance as implemented through the Regional Certification Mechanism of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

No decision was taken during the meeting on a recommendation for the Council to request MINUSCA to prioritize the deployment of troops and intensify patrols in the border regions with Chad, the Sudan and South Sudan because Committee members are aware that MINUSCA is currently short on manpower where it is already deployed.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 26 September the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the CAR which condemned continued and widespread violations and abuses of human rights perpetrated by all actors and demanded an immediate halt to them (A/HRC/RES/27/28). The resolution also took note of the decision of the CAR authorities to request that the ICC prosecutor open an investigation into serious and systematic human rights violations (the investigation was officially opened on 24 September), renewed for one year the mandate of the independent expert on human rights in the CAR and requested an oral update at its 28th session.

In a press statement from Geneva on 17 October, the independent expert, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, expressed outrage at the violence in Bangui since 8 October and condemned the attacks against peacekeepers, UN personnel and the civilian population. She urged the government, in collaboration with MINUSCA, to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

Key Issues
A key issue is monitoring the situation closely, in particular MINUSCA’s operations and whether and how they may need adjusting, in light of the dire security situation in Bangui and the lack of a significant presence outside of Bangui, in particular in the eastern regions where such presence is needed.

Other issues are the establishment of state institutions by the new government, ensuring the success of the transitional political process leading to elections, the observance of the ceasefire, possible reconciliation and ensuring accountability for human rights and international humanitarian law violations.

Options
One option for the Council would be issuing a statement:
  • condemning sectarian violence;
  • supporting the transitional political process and reconciliation including the upcoming Bangui Forum;
  • supporting the holding of successful elections by August 2015 (postponed from February 2015 due to the situation on the ground), which would mark the end of the transitional period;
  • calling for accountability for human rights and international humanitarian law violations;
  • encouraging member states to contribute resources and troops to MINUSCA; and
  • encouraging MINUSCA to accelerate the adoption of urgent temporary measures to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity (as authorised in resolution 2149).

Further options for the Council include:

  • undertaking a Council visiting mission to the CAR (such a visit, the first ever by the Council to CAR, has been raised as a possibility in early 2015);
  • endorsing any recommendations the Commission of Inquiry may have for the Council;
  • endorsing the recommendations of the Panel of Experts and listing further individuals for violations of the criteria set out under resolution 2134, either through the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee or directly by the Council; or
  • taking no action at this time.
Council and Wider Dynamics
With the commencement of MINUSCA’s operations, 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. On top of the security and humanitarian concerns, some Council members are alarmed at the slow progress and lack of attention given to the establishment of civilian capacities and state authority in the country, and will have questions for Gaye on MINSUCA’s advancements in this aspect, in particular on taking executive measures to reinstall law and order.  Several Council members are in favour of a Council statement in support of the transitional process and calling for more measures to be taken towards reconciliation and establishing the CAR’s civilian institutions.

At this time, there does not seem to be a consensus on taking further action beyond a possible statement, such as additional sanctions listings, to try to change this dynamic. Some Council members are supportive of endorsing the Panel of Experts’ recommendations on additional sanctions listings, especially in light of the stagnated reconciliation process. However other members are still of the opinion that additional sanctions at this time might negatively affect possible reconciliation.

France is the penholder on the CAR.

UN Documents 

Security Council Resolutions
21 October 2014 S/RES/2181 This was a resolution extending the mandate of the EU operation in the CAR until 15 March 2015.
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 Records
19 August 2014 S/PV.7246 This was a briefing on the situation in the CAR.
Security Council Press Statements
10 October 2014 SC/11596 This was a press statement condemning the attack against a convoy of MINUSCA on 9 October in Bangui, in which one Pakistani peacekeeper was killed and several other peacekeepers from Pakistan and Bangladesh were severely injured.
15 September 2014 SC/11562 This press statement welcomed the transition of authority from the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Sanctions Committee Documents
14 November 2014 SC/11647 This was a press statement by the CAR Sanctions Committee drawing attention to a recommendation of the Panel of Experts that urged exporters, importers, processors and consumers of Central African gold to mitigate the risk of further exacerbating the conflict in the Central African Republic by following due diligence guidance.
29 October 2014 S/2014/762 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA
Babacar Gaye (Senegal)

MINUSCA Force Commander
Major General Martin Chomu Tumenta (Cameroon)

MINUSCA Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 30 September 2014: 7,635 troops (including 1,054 military observers and 30 police), 82 international civilian personnel, 86 local civilian staff and 13 UN volunteers.

Mission Duration: 10 April 2014 to present

Approved budget (1 July 2014– 31 December 2014): $253,424,400