Expected Council Action
In June, 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 2021.
Key Recent Developments
The region covered by UNOCA continues to present multiple challenges, including several security and political hotspots that are on the Council’s agenda.
The Global Peace Agreement in the Central African Republic (CAR) was signed by the CAR government and 14 armed groups in Bangui on 6 February. It addresses justice and reconciliation, governance, and transitional security arrangements. On 22 March, after AU-hosted consultations in Addis Ababa, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra announced the formation of a new cabinet, in which all 14 armed groups were represented.
On 9 April, the Council adopted a presidential statement, stating its readiness to review the arms embargo measures on the CAR government through suspension or progressive lifting of these measures in the light of progress achieved on key benchmarks laid down in the statement. (For more on CAR, see the brief in this issue of the Forecast.)
After two years of election delays in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi was inaugurated as president on 24 January. Following several months of postponement because of continued disagreements between Tshisekedi’s coalition and former President Joseph Kabila’s party, Tshisekedi appointed Sylvestre Ilunga Ilukamba as prime minister on 20 May.
The Council adoped resolution 2463 on 29 March, renewing the mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) until 20 December. The resolution calls for an independent strategic review of MONUSCO by 20 October, leading to a plan for a phased, progressive and comprehensive exit strategy. (For more on DRC, see the brief in this issue of the Forecast.)
The security and political situation in Burundi remains unsettled. While the Burundian government maintains that the security situation is good throughout the country, serious human rights abuses continue to be committed daily with impunity, mainly by the government and the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s party. Furthermore, these actions are taking place in an environment where freedom of expression, association and assembly are supressed as the country prepares for elections in 2020.
UNOCA also continues to pay close attention to the situation in Cameroon, a country not on the Council’s agenda. Since late 2016, there has been unrest in Cameroon’s anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions, rooted in claims of long-standing political and economic discrimination by the Francophone authorities against the Anglophone minority. The government has rejected calls by separatists for independence; neither side has demonstrated a genuine willingness to find a compromise. According to the latest UNOCA report, continued fighting between security forces and armed elements have caused several casualties as civilians, including children, have been victims of extrajudicial killings, abductions, restrictions of movement, and limited access to healthcare and education. There have also been reports of torture, rape, sexual exploitation and the destruction of property, including schools, in Anglophone areas. According to a 2 May report by the International Crisis Group, 1,850 people have died as a result of the conflict thus far.
On 13 May, the Dominican Republic, Germany, the UK and the US organised an Arria-formula meeting on “the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon”. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock; Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland; Esther Omam Njomo, the executive director of Reach Out Cameroon, a local NGO focused on the well-being of underprivileged groups in Cameroon; and Father Paul Fru Njokikang, director of Caritas for the Archdiocese of Bamenda in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, briefed.
In a presidential statement on 10 August 2018, the Council asked the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of the scope of UNOCA’s mandate and activities and to present recommendations to the Council by 1 August about new or refocused priorities as well as areas that could be improved. The Council expressed its intention to consider these recommendations, including any proposed changes to the mandate, by 31 August.
Key Issues and Options
The central issues for the region are the security conditions in the CAR and eastern DRC. The overall political situation in the DRC after the elections, in Burundi ahead of the 2020 elections, and their potential regional implications will continue to concern the Council.
Following the Arria-formula meeting on Cameroon, Council members may use the UNOCA briefing to continue to call attention to the deteriorating situation in the country and suggest ways to increase the Council’s engagement, including by adding it to the Council’s agenda or by holding further informal meetings. The Council may also request UNOCA to make Cameroon a priority after the conclusion of UNOCA’s strategic review by 1 August.
Council members are concerned about the political turmoil in several countries and the effect it could have on security and stability in the region.
Some Council members have expressed interest in the situation in Cameroon. During the 13 December 2018 briefing on UNOCA, Cameroon featured in the interventions of several Council members who presented contrasting views on Council engagement on this issue. The UK and the US devoted the majority of their statements to Cameroon. The UK said that “unless action is taken and the situation improves, concern over the situation in Cameroon is likely to increase among Security Council members and become a more prominent part of our discussions”. On the other hand, while noting with concern the reports coming out of Cameroon, Russia warned: “[I]t is important not to cross the line between prevention and intervention in States’ internal affairs. There is every evidence that a number of our colleagues have come very close to that. For the time being, we have every reason to believe that Cameroon is capable of dealing with this tricky issue by itself. We are willing to help, but only if our partners in Cameroon deem it necessary”.
The Arria-formula meeting allowed Council members to engage on the political turmoil in Cameroon through the prism of the humanitarian crisis that has resulted. Speaking on Cameroon during the 13 December 2018 meeting, the US referred to the strategic review of UNOCA’s mandate, saying that it would work to ensure that this mandate “is appropriately focused on the most pressing political challenges in the Central African region”.
The UK is the penholder on UNOCA.
UN DOCUMENTS ON UNOCA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|29 March 2019S/RES/2463||The MONUSCO mandate was renewed through this resolution until 20 December 2019. By that point, a strategic review will have taken place to determine the future of MONUSCO.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|9 April 2019S/PRST/2019/3||This was a presidential statement establishing benchmarks for suspending or progressively lifting arms embargo measures on the government of the CAR.|
|10 August 2018S/PRST/2018/17||This was a presidential statement welcoming the renewal of UNOCA’s mandate for another three years, from 1 September to 31 August 2021.|
|29 November 2018S/2018/1065||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|13 December 2018S/PV.8421||François Louncény Fall, Special Representative and head of UNOCA, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the LRA.|