December 2019 Monthly Forecast

UNOCA

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 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 are represented.

On 15 November, the Council adopted resolution 2499, renewing the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2020, within the current troop levels of 11,650 military personnel and 2,080 police personnel. The priority tasks of the mission are the protection of civilians, good offices and support to the peace process, support to preparations for peaceful elections, facilitating the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid, and the promotion and protection of human rights.

On sanctions, in resolution 2488 of 12 September, the Council amended the arms embargo imposed on the CAR in previous resolutions. Most elements of the arms embargo remain in place, including those on the CAR security forces. However, the resolution exempts, after notifying the committee, supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use and supplies to the CAR security forces of weapons with a calibre of 14.5 mm or less that are intended solely for the support of or use in the CAR process of security sector reform. Under the previous sanctions regime, these supplies to the CAR security forces required prior approval from the committee.

After two years of election delays in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi was inaugurated as president on 24 January. In a press statement on 14 October, Council members welcomed the inauguration of the new coalition government, announced on 26 August, as well as Tshisekedi’s commitment to national unity, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption.

On 13 November, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed Council members on the independent strategic review of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The review discusses how to phase and draw down MONUSCO, including best/worst-case scenarios and presents options for several types of future MONUSCO configurations. MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 20 December. (For more on this see the DRC 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.

Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi Michel Kafando briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on Burundi on 30 October. Kafando noted the tense situation in Burundi, with an increase in the level of political intolerance and a growing threat to civil and political freedoms. He further noted his concern that the inter-Burundian dialogue under the auspices of the East African Community has not rendered any dialogue over substantive issues, referring to a lack of political will by the Burundian government and the opposition, as well as neighbouring countries. Kafando also announced that he is stepping down as the Special Envoy. At press time, his successor has not been appointed.

On UNOCA’s mandate, on 14 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed Council members in consultations on the strategic review requested by the Council in a presidential statement on 10 August 2018. On 12 September, the Council adopted a presidential statement expressing its full support for UNOCA and noting the recommendations of the Secretary General’s strategic review regarding the scope of UNOCA’s mandate and activities. It welcomed UNOCA’s role in promoting inclusive political dialogue in non-mission settings such as Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe, in encouraging stability in the region, and in assisting the countries of the sub-region in consolidating peace, resolving tensions, and preventing or mitigating political crises.

Key Issues and Options

A central issue for the whole area is the security situation in the region, including in CAR and eastern DRC.

The overall political situation in the DRC after Tshisekedi’s election, the formation of a new government, and the implications for MONUSCO’s mandate; the implementation of the CAR peace agreement; the political situation in Burundi ahead of the 2020 elections, and the potential regional implications of all these will continue to concern the Council.

With elections coming up in 2020-2021 in Burundi, CAR and the DRC, there is a common understanding that the next two years are critical for mid- and long-term stability in the Great Lakes Region.

Council members may continue to rely on UNOCA to call attention to situations in the Central Africa region that are not on the Council’s agenda, such as Cameroon, where there has been unrest in the country’s anglophone north-western and south-western regions, rooted in claims of long-standing political and economic discrimination by the francophone authorities against the anglophone minority.

Council Dynamics

Council members, concerned about the political turmoil in several countries and the effect it could have on security and stability in the region, see UNOCA’s role as potentially stabilising and are generally united in their on-going support for this mandate.

There are, however, some differences regarding the role UNOCA should play in addressing different situations. During the consultations on UNOCA’s strategic review, held on 14 August, some Council members expressed concern about the situation in Cameroon and argued that UNOCA should focus on the security and humanitarian situation in that country. Council members such as the UK and the US have expressed this view publicly, including following the latest UNOCA briefing on 4 June. Other Council members, such as China and Russia, maintain that the situation in Cameroon is an internal one in which the Council should intervene only upon Cameroon’s request.

The UK is the penholder on UNOCA. Ambassador Kacou Houadja Léon Adom (Côte d’Ivoire) chairs the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee. Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi (Kuwait) chairs the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee. On 1 January 2020, both are likely to be succeeded by Ambassador Abdou Abarry (Niger).

UN DOCUMENTS ON UNOCA

Security Council Resolutions
15 November 2019S/RES/2499 This extended the mandate of MINUSCA and the authorisation to use all means to provide operational support to MINUSCA until 15 November 2020.
12 September 2019S/RES/2488 This resolution amended the CAR sanctions regime for CAR security forces.
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
12 September 2019S/PRST/2019/10 This presidential statement expressed the Council’s full support for UNOCA.
Secretary-General’s Reports
24 October 2019S/2019/837 This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Burundi.
29 November 2018S/2018/1065 This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA.
Security Council Meeting Records
30 October 2019S/PV.8652 This was a briefing by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi Michel Kafando.
4 June 2019S/PV.8538 François Louncény Fall, Special Representative and head of UNOCA, briefed the Security Council.
Security Council Press Statements
14 October 2019SC/13985 Council members welcomed the inauguration of the new coalition Government. Council members also express concern about the situation in eastern DRC and condemnation of all armed groups. Council members recalled the importance of the DRC and its neighbours to work together to tackle insecurity in eastern DRC with more integrated approaches and welcomed recent steps toward this by the parties involved. Finally, Council members reiterated concern about the ongoing humanitarian situation, including the Ebola crisis.
Security Council Letters
1 August 2019S/2019/625 This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council concerning UNOCA’s strategic review.