Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In December, Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga will brief the Council on the forthcoming report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
MINUSCA’s mandate expires on 30 April 2016.
The chair of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), will also brief the Council on the Panel of Experts’ final report, before she leaves the Council at the end of the year.
Key Recent Developments
The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has continued to deteriorate since extensive violence erupted in Bangui on 26 September, when the discovery of the body of a Muslim man led to violence between Muslims and Christians and attacks by armed gangs on civilians. More than 40 people were killed and thousands displaced in the violence that ensued.
Council members were briefed on the situation in the CAR by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous under “any other business” on 7 October. Council members adopted a presidential statement on 20 October signalling the Council’s willingness to consider adding to the sanctions list individuals who are responsible for the latest violence and who are undermining stability and peace in the CAR. The statement reiterated the “critical importance and urgency” of holding the referendum on the adoption of a draft constitution and the first round of free and fair presidential and legislative elections by the end of the year. It also called on MINUSCA troop contributors to expedite upgrading their troops’ capabilities in order to meet UN standards.
However, the security situation has continued to deteriorate. In a set of particularly troubling attacks against internally displaced persons (IDPs), rebel fighters entered the Batangafo camp on 10 November and killed five people, reportedly to avenge the killing of two young Muslim men earlier that day in the same camp. Some 5,500 people fled the camp and a Cameroonian peacekeeper was later killed in an attack on a MINUSCA checkpoint. Council members issued a press statement condemning these incidents on 11 November and called on the CAR authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice. On 12 November, armed men believed to be ex-Séléka fighters (the Muslim-dominated alliance of groups that staged the March 2013 coup) attacked an IDP site in Bambari, killing three people.
The deterioration in the security situation prompted the interim government to cancel the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 October. The constitutional referendum that was scheduled for 4 December has now been set for 13 December and the first round of elections for 27 December, with a second round on 31 January if necessary.
In MINUSCA-related developments, new reports surfaced on 11 November of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse by MINUSCA peacekeepers against five women, reportedly including three minors. (In August, because of high number of similar incidents, the Secretary-General asked for the resignation of the then-head of MINUSCA, Babacar Gaye.)
Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien briefed Council members in consultations on 16 November. Ladsous presented a request to strengthen MINUSCA temporarily during the election period through inter-mission cooperation, deploying 300 Senegalese troops from the rapid reaction force currently serving in Côte d’Ivoire.
O’Brien, who visited the CAR from 20 to 23 October, said that since the end of September, 65,000 IDPs have joined the existing 400,000. He reported on his visit to the PK5 neighbourhood in Bangui, from which 25,000 Muslims cannot exit out of fear for their lives. He described the sexual exploitation of some women from PK5 who are allowed to fetch basic needs in exchange for sexual favours. In addition, he said that the UN has assisted 3,800 victims of sexual violence, and a total of 16,900 incidents of such violence were reported between August and October.
In elements to the press read out after consultations, the UK ambassador said that the increasingly inter-communal nature of the violence is of particular concern. He added that Council members were also alarmed by new reports of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by MINUSCA peacekeepers. He then said that Council members are supportive of the request for inter-mission cooperation on a temporary basis.
On 20 November, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee met with its Panel of Experts to discuss their annual report. The report takes the view that prospects for peace and security in the CAR are still remote. Taking advantage of the lack of state authority, the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka rebel groups continue to run parallel administrations in the west and east respectively, taxing goods and profiting from natural resources. Rebels move freely to and from neighbouring countries, and weapons circulate both from within and without CAR.
During the meeting, the Panel of Experts presented the Committee with a list of four names and one entity to be listed. The Committee then proceeded to adopt the recommendations contained in the report.
In December, the 2127 Committee and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict may hold a joint meeting, during which they will be briefed by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 2 September, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein delivered the opening statement at the International Seminar on Combatting Impunity, held in Bangui and organised jointly by MINUSCA and the UN Human Rights Office. He called for justice and accountability for all human rights violations, including the prompt establishment of the national Special Criminal Court. In a press conference in Bangui on 4 September, Zeid remarked that security in the country was still extremely poor in some places, particularly where armed groups act as de facto local authorities while killing civilians and looting property with impunity. He called for a more robust approach towards these groups and said that MINUSCA needs to be reinforced with personnel and materiel to fulfil its Chapter VII mandate. The states that have failed so far to provide promised UN peacekeeping troops and police and vital equipment, such as attack helicopters, should step up their efforts to do so. He added that disarmament should be an absolute priority.
The Human Rights Council (HRC) considered the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, during its 30th session (A/HRC/30/59). The report documents violations of the right to life; acts of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment; arbitrary arrests; rape; racketeering and extortion; and violations of the right to education, health and food. On 2 October, the HRC adopted, without a vote, a resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the CAR (A/HRC/RES/30/19). The resolution requests the CAR transitional authorities and the national elections authority to speed up the preparatory electoral process; urges the international community to provide assistance in the setting up of a mechanism by the CAR authorities to fight against trauma and assist post-traumatic stress disorder victims, including children and victims of sexual violence; and renews, for one year, the mandate of the independent expert.
Monitoring the security situation and the political developments closely and reconfiguring MINUSCA’s operations and priorities accordingly will be an ongoing issue.
Ensuring successful elections, ending the transition period, beginning necessary measures of institutional reforms and expanding state authority to the whole country will remain important issues.
Options for the Council include adopting a statement that:
- emphasises the importance to the future of the CAR of holding fair and free elections;
- condemns incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and calls for accountability measures by troop-contributing countries for such acts;
- requests MINUSCA to develop a strategic long-term plan for its presence in the CAR post-transition; and
- stresses the Council’s long-term commitment to the CAR’s stabilisation and rebuilding.
An option for the 2127 Committee is listing further individuals and entities whose names were given to the Committee by the Panel.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Before the new electoral calendar was released, there were some differences among Council members as to the immediate priorities of MINUSCA. France, which has troops stationed in the CAR, emphasised the need to complete the transition period, warning that otherwise the situation was likely to become further destabilised. Some other countries took the view that MINUSCA must act to stabilise the security situation while a clear and realistic timeline for elections was established. It seems that currently there is a general consensus that, barring extraordinary events, the elections must take place without further delays and the transitional period must end.
Council members are of the view that after the elections MINUSCA should focus on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and security sector reform programs, accountability measures and re-establishing state authority and institutions, including incarceration facilities and judicial institutions.
With regard to sanctions, the 2127 Committee last listed three individuals and one entity on 20 August, the first additions to the sanctions list since 9 May 2014. It seems likely that in order to counter the actions of spoilers in the electoral process, there may be movement towards further listings near the election period.
France is the penholder 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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|20 October 2015 S/PRST/2015/17||This was a presidential statement expressing its deep concern about the recent upsurge of violence and instability in the CAR and reiterating the importance of holding the constitutional referendum and first rounds of presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2015.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|11 November 2015 SC/12116||This condemned attacks on IDPs and MINUSCA peacekeepers.|
|Security Council Letters|
|29 January 2015 S/2015/85||This was a letter from the Secretary-General requesting a troop increase for MINUSCA.|