Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In January, the Council is expected to renew the sanctions regime imposed on the Central African Republic (CAR) and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the CAR Sanctions Committee.
The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) expires on 15 November 2017.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in the CAR has continued to deteriorate since the summer. The government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera has limited control outside the capital Bangui, and efforts to convince various armed groups to disarm have not gained traction, with factions of the Muslim-dominated ex-Séléka and Christian anti-Balaka declining to give up their hold of vast territories.
Violence among ex-Séléka factions and between anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka has become widespread and more frequent throughout the country since September 2016. In addition, local self-proclaimed “self-defence” groups have emerged where other rebel groups are inoperative. Such a vacuum was left in the Muslim PK5 neighbourhood in Bangui after the exit of ex-Séléka leadership in August. When one of these “self-defence” groups in PK5 was accused of killing a member of the Central African Armed Forces (known as FACA, based on its French name) on 4 October, retaliations ensued, eventually leaving 11 people dead and 21 wounded.
In another example of the upsurge in violence, fighting over a period of a week between two factions of the ex-Séléka at the end of November 2016 reportedly resulted in 85 civilians killed, 76 wounded and nearly 11,000 displaced from the town of Bria in Haute Kotto prefecture. One of the factions reportedly singled out ethnic Fulani in Bria and carried out house-to-house searches, killing, looting and abducting residents. The armed group also occupied hospital buildings, preventing wounded Fulani from receiving medical treatment. MINUSCA was able to take control of these facilities eventually. The Secretary-General and his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed their concern over these incidents.
Frustration regarding the security situation has resulted in some of the population’s growing resentment of MINUSCA and calls to lift the arms embargo on FACA. On 24 October 2016, an anti-government and anti-MINUSCA protest turned violent, resulting in the death of four civilians and leaving 14 injured, including 5 peacekeepers.
On 8 November 2016, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson briefed Council members under “any other business” on his visit earlier that month to the CAR. He noted that the security situation remains fragile and that armed groups continue to destabilise the authority of the state. In addition, human rights violations have soared with the increase in violence.
Ahead of a 17 November 2016 donors’ conference in Brussels, the Council adopted a presidential statement on 16 November, strongly encouraging contributions to support stabilisation and development in the CAR. The Council also expressed its deep concern about the continued fragility in the CAR and strongly condemned the recent upsurge in violence and instability. It further recognised that the continued presence of armed groups represents the country’s most immediate impediment to stability and recovery. During the conference, pledges of $2.28 billion were made for security and reconciliation and to promote development, economic recovery and humanitarian assistance.
The fragile situation in the CAR was also discussed by the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), François Lounceny Fall, during his briefing on the latest UNOCA report on 7 December 2016. He noted that the eruption of fighting demonstrated the threat that the continued presence of armed groups in the country posed to the entire subregion.
On 5 December 2016, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric told the media that an investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) into alleged acts of sexual abuse and exploitation by MINUSCA contingents had led to the identification of 25 peacekeepers from Burundi and 16 from Gabon as alleged perpetrators of such acts against 45 victims. Dujarric added that it was up to Burundi and Gabon to further investigate the soldiers. At the same time, Reuters reported that a draft memo, written by the UN Department of Field Support’s Conduct and Discipline Unit, cited information from the OIOS inquiry and suggested that some accusations against peacekeepers followed specific patterns and appeared to be motivated by financial gain.
On 2 December 2016, the Panel of Experts briefed the CAR Sanctions Committee on its final report. In addition to documenting the actions of rebel groups, the report notes that targeted sanctions against individuals and entities listed by the Committee, while having an important signalling effect, have been poorly implemented. The Panel also highlighted the continued prevalence of arms-smuggling, focusing on two arms-trafficking routes through the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the southeast and on the Chadian border in the north.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 16 November, the independent expert on human rights in the CAR Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum said in a statement the justice system in the country must be urgently strengthened if the country is to achieve lasting peace, with truth and reconciliation being critical. The statement commended institutional progress made in the last few months, such as the ratification of seven human rights treaties, but said the persistence of human rights violations and outbreaks of violence since September show how critical it is to support the efforts of the population and government in the field of human rights and development.
The immediate task for the Council is to renew the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Sanctions Committee.
Permanently disarming and reintegrating the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka fighters remains an urgent issue.
With Touadéra and his government in place and with the pledges made at the Brussels conference, progress in establishing state authority and rebuilding the country are key for stabilisation efforts.
The Council could:
- renew the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts as is; or
- modify the arms embargo to ease restrictions on FACA; and
- act through the Sanctions Committee to impose further sanctions on individuals and entities.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Although there was hope in the Council that the end of the transition period and the installation of the newly elected government would provide momentum to address some of the fundamental issues facing the country, it is clear to Council members that the momentum on the ground has dissipated and that as long as state authority is not established and rebel groups remain in control of large areas, sustainable progress will be impossible to achieve. Though not a top priority issue for the Council, and while some Council members are concerned over financial implications, there seems to be a consensus among Council members that achieving security and stabilising the CAR will necessitate a long-term engagement from the Council and MINUSCA.
Regarding the sanctions regime, there seems to be little appetite among Council members to lift or ease the arms embargo on FACA at the moment, given that little progress has been made with respect to security sector reform.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ukraine is the chair of the Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 July 2016 S/RES/2301||The Council renewed the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2017.|
|27 January 2016 S/RES/2262||This resolution renewed the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2017.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|16 November 2016 S/PRST/2016/17||This was a presidential statement encouraging contributions at the international donors’ conference in Brussels on 17 November to support stabilisation and development in the CAR.|
|29 September 2016 S/2016/824||This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUSCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|10 October 2016 S/PV.7787||This was a meeting on the CAR.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|12 December 2016 SC/12619||This was a CAR Sanctions Committee press release on the Committee meeting during which the they received the Panel of Experts’ final report.|
|5 December 2016 S/2016/1032||This was the final report of the Panel of Experts of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Parfait Onanga-Anyanga (Gabon)
MINUSCA Force Commander
Lieutenant General Balla Keïta (Senegal)
MINUSCA Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 31 August 2016: 10,245 troops (including 148 military observers and 1,759 police), 760 international civilian personnel, 242 local civilian staff and 154 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2016-30 June 2017): $920 million
Mission duration: April 2014 to present