Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In August, Special Representative Babacar Gaye will brief the Council on the latest report concerning the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
MINUSCA’s mandate expires on 30 April 2016.
Key Recent Developments
The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains fragile. After several postponements, the Bangui Forum for national reconciliation was held between 4 and 11 May, bringing together nearly 700 attendees from the transitional government, political parties, factions of the armed groups (the Muslim ex-Séléka and Christian anti-balaka), the private sector, civil society, traditional chiefs and religious leaders. The armed groups signed a disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation (DDRR) agreement, which called for all combatants to give up their weapons by the time of the national elections. According to the agreement, former combatants who have not committed international crimes will either be integrated into the CAR security forces or be given other financial opportunities through development projects. Foreign fighters are to be repatriated to their countries of origin. Rebel groups also agreed to release all child soldiers.
The agreement has been accompanied by a noticeable decline in rebel group activities and improved security. However, many areas of the country remain in the de-facto control of the ex-Séléka or the anti-balaka, and with the fighting officially over, some rebels have resorted to criminal activities and violence endangering civilians, thus demonstrating the limited control of rebel leaders over some of the fighters within their ranks. Funding for the DDRR process is also currently lacking.
Many violent attacks continue to occur on the road to Cameroon, which is used to bring most supplies into the country. A driver of a UN food truck was killed on 18 July, and the deputy prefect and the mayor of the western town of Baboua were kidnapped on 19 July. Cameroonian truck drivers have voiced their unwillingness to drive trucks into the CAR out of fear for their lives. MINUSCA has blamed the Democratic Front of the Central African People, a splinter group of the ex-Seleka, for the recent surge in attacks in the area.
After originally being scheduled for February and postponed until August, presidential and legislative elections in the CAR are now scheduled for 18 October, with a second round (if necessary) set for 22 November. On 21 July, the CAR constitutional court overruled a parliamentary decision that barred the roughly 460,000 CAR refugees from voting in the elections. The court said that logistical difficulties should not prevent the refugees from fulfilling their constitutional right to vote.
On 28 April, the Council adopted resolution 2217, renewing MINUSCA’s mandate at current authorised troop levels (10,750 military personnel and 2,080 police personnel), which includes the additional troops recently authorised by the Council in resolution 2212 of 26 March. Resolution 2217 retains MINUSCA’s mandate to provide electoral support and calls on the CAR authorities to accelerate preparations, “as a matter of urgency”, for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections. The resolution renews MINUSCA’s authorisation to adopt urgent temporary measures, “on an exceptional basis” and at the formal request of the CAR, to arrest and detain individuals in order to fight impunity and maintain law and order.
In accordance with the recommendation of the Secretary-General in his latest MINUSCA report, the resolution includes a specific provision mandating MINUSCA to assist the CAR in establishing a national Special Criminal Court (SCC). A law establishing the SCC was passed by the National Transitional Council on 22 April and promulgated by Transition President Katherine Samba-Panza on 3 June. The SCC is intended to try those accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the CAR since 2003 and is to be composed of both local and international judges and staff. Accordingly, the resolution calls on the CAR to swiftly implement the law.
A new case of sexual misconduct by foreign troops and UN peacekeepers in the CAR surfaced when UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric announced on 23 June that MINUSCA was investigating the suspected sexual abuse of two girls under the age of 16 in Bangui by the troops of an African contingent of MINUSCA (this follows an incident involving the alleged rape of a girl under the age of 16 by a Moroccan peacekeeper). Previously, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian revealed that an internal UN investigation recorded detailed testimony from children in the CAR who said they were sexually abused by French troops and soldiers from the Chad and Equatorial Guinea contingents of the AU peacekeeping mission. The sexual abuse allegedly took place from December 2013 to June 2014, a few months before the AU force was re-hatted into MINUSCA. A French investigation into the misconduct of its troops is ongoing, and the Secretary-General has appointed a three-member panel to review how the UN handled the sexual abuse reports, following allegations that senior UN officials failed to adequately respond to the report.
In an unrelated matter, MINUSCA sent 20 peacekeepers back to their country of origin after a 10 June incident in which the apparent use of excessive force resulted in the death of two people. MINUSCA stated that the troops’ alleged conduct should be investigated by their home countries.
In August, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee will meet to discuss a CAR request to lift the arms embargo on the country. Gaye is expected to participate via video teleconference, as is a representative of the CAR transitional government. Several Council members are of the view that the appropriate procedure for ensuring that the CAR security forces can acquire arms and equipment is through the exemption procedure for arms sales provided for in resolution 2196.
The Committee is also expected to meet with the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee in August to discuss the midterm update due by 30 July.
Also in August, the chair of the Committee, Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), is scheduled to pay a visit to the CAR and Cameroon.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 5 June, the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that several incidents that occurred in 2014 involving foreign troops from a number of states operating in the CAR have still not been resolved and require further investigation. The spokesperson expressed concern about one such incident that has yet to be investigated involving the enforced disappearance 15 months ago of at least 11 people, including five women and one child, by troops from the Republic of Congo that were part of MISCA, the AU-led peacekeeping force at the time. The spokesperson announced that the High Commissioner is sending a team from Geneva to the CAR to look into possible further measures to address human rights violations by foreign troops and that the High Commissioner has also been engaging directly with states that provided troops that are the subject of serious allegations, requesting more information about the steps those states have taken to investigate the allegations and urging the prosecution of anyone found to have committed crimes.
The independent expert on the human rights situation in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, released a statement on 26 June after visiting the country from 16 to 23 June, calling on the international community to redouble its efforts to help the country to fully realise its transition to peace, national reconciliation, reconstruction and the end of impunity. The statement noted that an electoral calendar has been set but warned that many challenges remain. It expressed concern at ongoing acts of violence against civilians perpetrated by armed elements, which continue to threaten civilians despite recent agreements on the cessation of hostilities and a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program. The statement stressed the importance of taking all necessary measures to protect children against violence and abuse, especially those who are vulnerable, such as children in the displacement camp of Mpoko, which the independent expert visited.
Monitoring the political developments closely and how they might affect MINUSCA’s operations and priorities will be an ongoing issue.
Ensuring the implementation of the DDRR agreement, electoral preparations and the expansion of state authority to the entirety of the CAR will remain issues.
Also a key issue is ensuring accountability for human rights and international humanitarian law violations.
Options for the Council include adopting a statement:
- emphasising the importance of holding fair and free elections in a timely manner;
- calling on member states to contribute funds to DDRR efforts and the elections;
- condemning incidents of sexual violence by peacekeepers and calling for accountability measures by troop-contributing countries for such acts; and
- stressing the Council’s long-term commitment to the CAR’s stabilisation and rebuilding.
An option for the Sanctions Committee is listing further individuals and entities whose names were given to the Committee by the Panel of Experts. (The designations of 12 individuals and three entities suggested for sanctioning by the Panel are still pending in the Committee.)
Council and Wider Dynamics
With the conclusion of the Bangui Forum and agreement on DDRR, Council members will be interested in seeing if MINUSCA’s operations require any adjustments and, in particular, how MINUSCA can assist in ensuring that the elections will finally be held in October in order to end the transitional period, allow the CAR to move forward on DDRR and establish state presence and institutions throughout the country.
The issue of sanctions continues to divide the Council. Countries such as France and the US view sanctions as counterproductive to the political process at this point, and as antagonising to some of the political actors, including the former rebels. Other Council members, such as Russia and China, are reluctant to apply sanctions as a matter of general policy. Some elected members, such as Lithuania, while aware of the above concerns, have been calling for increased use of sanctions against individuals who are involved in criminal activities and not involved in the political process.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 April 2015 S/RES/2217||This was a resolution renewing MINUSCA’s mandate at current authorised troop levels until 30 April 2016.|
|14 October 2011 S/RES/2012||This resolution renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH and reduced the number of military personnel by 1,600 and police personnel by 1,150.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|14 April 2015 S/PV.7427||This was a briefing by Special Representative Babacar Gaye on the MINUSCA report.|
|29 April 2015 S/2015/227||This was a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic.|
|Security Council Letters|
|29 January 2015 S/2015/85||This was a letter from the Secretary-General requesting a troop increase for MINUSCA.|
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 April 2015: 8,566 military personnel, 142 military observers, 1,490 police, 348 international civilian personnel, 167 local civilian staff and 64 UN volunteers.
Mission Duration: 10 April 2014 to present
Approved budget (1 July 2014 – 1 June 2015): $628.7 million