February 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2017
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In February, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, will brief the Council on the latest MINUSCA report.

The Chair of the Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee, Volodymyr Yelchenko (Ukraine), will also brief the Council.

The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 15 November 2017.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation in the CAR has continued to be precarious. 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 rebel groups declining to give up their hold on large areas. The presence of MINUSCA has not been able to eliminate the threat of armed groups in huge swathes of the country.

Violence among ex-Séléka factions and between anti-Balaka, ex-Séléka and other rebel groups has become widespread and more frequent throughout the country, since September 2016. In one October incident, in Kaga-Bandoro, ex-Séléka fighters killed at least 37 civilians, wounded a further 60 and forced more than 20,000 people to flee their homes.

In another example of the upsurge in violence, it was reported on 22 December 2016 that a group called the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation group (3R) had taken control of an area in the Ouham Pende region, near the Cameroonian border, and displaced at least 17,000 people. The 3R group was formed in late 2015 ostensibly to protect the minority Puehl population from attacks by anti-Balaka militias. They are also reported to have killed at least 50 people and displaced another 17,000 between November 21 and 27.

MINUSCA too has come under attack. Unknown attackers killed two Moroccan peacekeepers and wounded two others when their convoy was attacked on 4 January about 60 kilometres west of the town of Obo in the south-eastern part of the country. The following day, a Bangladeshi peacekeeper on patrol near Bocaranga in the southwest was killed by an unknown assailant. The Council condemned both attacks in separate press statements.

Sanctions-Related Developments

In February, Yelchenko is expected to brief the Council and present the final report of the Panel of Experts under the previous mandate, discussed in the Committee in December 2016. 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.

On 27 January, the Council adopted resolution 2339, renewing the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2018 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 28 February 2018. The measures include a comprehensive arms embargo, with government security forces required to seek exemptions from the Committee in advance of arms purchases. The measures also include a travel ban and assets freeze on individuals designated by the Committee as responsible for undermining peace and stability in the CAR, human rights and international humanitarian law violations and supporting armed groups or criminal networks through the illicit exploitation or trade of natural resources. The resolution also requests the Secretariat to provide information on the establishment of an arms embargo working group within MINUSCA and, at the same time, develop, by 30 May 2017, “options for the elaboration of benchmarks” to assess and re-evaluate the arms embargo, considering also developments in security sector reform, in consultation with the CAR government.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 5 December, the Office of Internal Oversight Services announced in a statement that it had concluded its investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by Burundian and Gabonese contingents in the CAR. The report, which has been shared with both member states which have responsibility for further investigation, identified 41 alleged perpetrators (16 from Gabon and 25 from Burundi).

The third joint report by MINUSCA and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released in December, covering the period from 1 June 2015 to 31 March 2016, concluded that human rights violations and abuses, including arbitrary killings, sexual violence and the arbitrary deprivation of liberty, have increased by 70 percent since the period covered by the first report, September 2014 to 31 May 2015.

The independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, visited the country from 25 January to 3 February in order to assess the implementation of the recommendations contained in her previous report to the Human Rights Council (HRC) at its 33rd session (A/HRC/33/63). Bocoum will present her findings to the HRC in March.

Key Issues

The main priority for the Council is finding ways to assist the CAR in establishing security and state authority throughout the country and rebuilding basic infrastructure and institutions.

As a key part of establishing state authority, an urgent issue is permanently disarming and reintegrating the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka fighters into the CAR security forces.

Options

The Council could:

  • call on MINUSCA contingents to adopt a proactive approach in carrying out their immediate priority tasks by expanding areas under their control, and on the Secretariat to provide the mission with appropriate capabilities;
  • call on countries in the region to cooperate and implement the sanctions regime in order to eliminate illicit arms trafficking to the rebel groups and the funding of their operations through illicit exploitation of natural resources; and
  • act through the Sanctions Committee to sanction additional individuals and entities.
Council and Wider Dynamics

There was some optimism in the Council that the end of the transition period and the installation of the newly elected government in April 2016 would provide momentum to address some of the fundamental issues facing the country. However, it is now 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, significant progress will be impossible to achieve. In this context, several Council members are concerned with the inability of MINUSCA to establish control over widespread areas, which, accompanied with lack of state authority, results in an unsustainable situation. At the same time, some Council members note that the overall number of casualties has diminished compared to the height of the conflict in 2013.

CAR is not a top priority issue for the Council, but while some Council members are concerned over financial implications, there seems to be a consensus that achieving security and stabilising the CAR will necessitate a long-term engagement from the Council and MINUSCA.

France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ukraine is the chair of the 2127 Sanctions Committee.

UN Documents on the CAR 

Security Council Resolutions

27 January 2017 S/RES/2339 This resolution renewed the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2018 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 28 February 2018.
26 July 2016 S/RES/2301 The Council renewed the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2017.
Security Council Presidential Statements
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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
29 September 2016 S/2016/824 This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUSCA.
Security Council Meeting Records
10 October 2016 S/PV.7787 This was a meeting on the CAR.
Security Council Press Statements
6 January 2017 SC/12669 This press statement condemned an attack by unknown assailants that resulted in the death of a Bangladeshi peacekeeper in the CAR.
4 January 2017 SC/12668 This press statement condemned an attack on a UN convoy in the CAR that resulted in the death of two Moroccan peacekeepers.
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 December 2016: 12,135 troops (including 398 military observers and 1,705 police), 518 international civilian personnel, 242 local civilian staff and 203 UN volunteers.

Approved budget (1 July 2016-30 June 2017): $920 million

Mission duration: April 2014 to present