Expected Council Action
In December, François Louncény Fall, Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), is expected to brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The mandate of UNOCA expires on 31 August 2018.
Key Recent Developments
The region covered by UNOCA continues to present multiple challenges and security and political hotspots, several of which are independently on the Council’s agenda. The most acute current crises include the elections-related political crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi and the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). The CAR situation is marked by fighting among ex-Séléka factions and among anti-Balaka, ex-Séléka and other rebel groups, resulting in attacks against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian actors; lawlessness; and lack of state authority.
The LRA remains a threat to civilians in the DRC and the CAR. The most notable development is the US withdrawal in May of its special forces and logistical support from the AU Regional Task Force (AU-RTF), which has been fighting the group. Uganda, which has been the main contributing force to the AU-RTF, subsequently withdrew its 2,500 troops from the CAR in August. South Sudan also ended its participation.
In the CAR, between June and 18 October, 12 incidents were attributed to alleged LRA elements, with four persons killed and some 35 abducted. In addition, the withdrawal of Uganda and US special forces operating in the south-east has allowed an ex-Séléka faction, the Union for Peace in the CAR, to better establish itself in that area.
In the DRC, the Secretary-General reported on 2 October that in Haut-Uélé Province, the withdrawal of the AU-RTF and US special forces have made it difficult for the DRC military to repel infiltration by the LRA from the CAR.
UNOCA continues to pay close attention to the situation in Cameroon. Since late 2016, there has been unrest between Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and the government, which has resulted in widespread protests, numerous clashes with security forces, several protestor deaths, general strikes, arbitrary arrests, and blocking of access to the internet. The unrest is rooted in longstanding political and economic discrimination by the Francophone authorities against the minority Anglophone population.
With an ongoing government crackdown on Anglophone separatists that started in October and the killing of four members of the security forces in November, Fall issued a statement on 16 November, expressing concern over the upsurge in violence, especially against the civilian population and state agents. Fall added that perpetrators of violence should be brought to justice in a court of law. He further stressed the commitment of the UN to the territorial integrity and unity of Cameroon.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for the Council is to monitor the ramifications of the withdrawal of Ugandan and US troops on the possible regeneration of the LRA, leading to greater insecurity in the region, and to consider how it would address such potential instability. The Council may call on member states to consider support for anti-LRA efforts and to remain focused on the issue until the group is no longer a threat.
Another key issue is the deteriorating security situation in the CAR. The Council recently renewed MINUSCA’s mandate on 15 November with support for the peace process and reconciliation and protection of civilians as priority tasks, and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. Similarly, the political crises in the DRC and Burundi, and their potential regional implications, will continue to concern the Council. The Council could express its support for the political role UNOCA may take with respect to assisting efforts of other UN actors on these issues, as well as other situations in the region that are not on its agenda, such as the situation in Cameroon.
Council members are largely in agreement on LRA-related issues. Council members have also been supportive of UNOCA’s continued shift to focus its efforts on the region as a whole, rather than on the LRA as its main objective.
At the same time, some members are concerned about the possible security vacuum that may result from Uganda’s departure from the AU-RTF and the withdrawal of US troops supporting the effort, and they will continue to follow the implications. In light of other security and political situations in the region, however, the Council is not likely to focus on exclusively LRA-related action at this point.
The UK is the penholder on this issue.
UN DOCUMENTS ON UNOCA
|18 October 2017 S/2017/865||This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUSCA.|
|2 October 2017 S/2017/824||This was the report on MONUSCO.|
|7 September 2017 S/2017/764||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region.|
|28 November 2016 S/2016/996||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of UNOCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|13 June 2017 S/PV.7967||This was a briefing by the Special Representative and head of UNOCA, François Loucény Fall, on the semi-annual report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the LRA.|