Expected Council Action
In January 2020, the Council is expected to renew the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) sanctions regime, which expires at the end of the month.
The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) expires on 15 November 2020.
Key Recent Developments
The Political Peace Agreement in the CAR was signed in Bangui by the CAR government and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019, following negotiations in Khartoum that began on 24 January 2019 under the auspices of the AU. A new cabinet, in which all 14 armed groups are represented, was formed on 22 March 2019.
This is the latest of several peace agreements that have been signed between the government and armed groups in the CAR since the current crisis began in 2013, and it remains to be seen whether it will be fully implemented. Confrontations between rebel groups, CAR security forces and MINUSCA have subsided, and human rights violations linked to the conflict appear to have decreased, yet many civilians live with general insecurity. Armed groups have been fighting each other and violating the agreement through violence against civilians, illegal taxation, and obstructing the wider expansion of state authority and deployment of security forces. MINUSCA continues to be the primary provider of security in the country.
On 15 November 2019, the Council adopted resolution 2499, renewing the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2020 and maintaining the existing 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. Resolution 2499 contains new language on electoral support, authorising MINUSCA to assist the CAR in the preparation and delivery of peaceful presidential, legislative and local elections by providing good offices, security, and operational, logistical and, as appropriate, technical support, in particular to facilitate access to remote areas, as well as coordinating international electoral assistance.
On sanctions, resolution 2488 of 12 September 2019 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 14.5mm 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. The resolution also requested that the Secretary-General update the Security Council by 31 December 2019 on the progress achieved by the CAR authorities on the key benchmarks established in its presidential statement of 9 April 2019, such as progress on the effective implementation of the National Program for Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation, and development of weapons stockpile management capabilities.
After the adoption of the resolution, the CAR representative called it a “step in the right direction” towards the lifting of the arms embargo in its entirety. He said that the government is at a disadvantage compared to armed groups in terms of weaponry.
The outgoing chair of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kacou Houadja Léon Adom (Côte d’Ivoire), visited the CAR from 1 to 4 October 2019. During the visit, he saw first-hand the gaps in the CAR’s capacity to manage properly its weapons stockpiles. The recent report of the Panel of Experts assisting the committee, presented to the committee on 2 December 2019, confirmed that the influx of weapons from neighbouring states to armed groups in the country continues. During the meeting, the panel also provided the committee several “statement of cases” for adding individuals to the sanctions list.
Key Issues and Options
The immediate task for the Council in January is renewing the arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze imposed on the CAR. The Council may choose to further amend the arms embargo. It may also call on all states to implement fully the embargo to stop the flow of illegal weapons into the CAR.
Monitoring the implementation of the peace agreement and preparations for the elections remains a priority as violence continues and rebel groups show half-hearted commitment. A credible threat of targeted sanctions against spoilers might provide an incentive for armed groups to truly commit to the process. Furthermore, sanctions against those responsible for attacks against civilians, MINUSCA, and humanitarian workers might also help to curb violence. Targeting actors who enable the economic activities of armed groups and the flow of arms might further pressure them to adhere to the agreement.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There was wide consensus among Council members on the need to accommodate some of the CAR government’s concerns about the arms embargo, which resulted in the amendment of the regime in resolution 2488. Against the backdrop of the continued requests of the government, Council members may diverge, however, on the possibility for further easing of the regime in January.
Several Council members, including the African members, are of the view that the sanctions regime continues to promote security in the CAR and can also serve as pressure in the implementation of the peace agreement. They believe there is no room for further adjustments at this point in light of the political and security situations and the CAR government’s unreadiness to manage heavier weapons. On the other hand, China and Russia, both of which voted in favour of resolution 2488, took the position that the Council should go farther in amending the arms embargo. China said the embargo should be lifted altogether while Russia expressed its intention to press for significant adjustments of the sanctions regime in January 2020. It is unclear at this point, however, if they will push for such changes in the upcoming negotiations in light of the situation on the ground.
Another element that could factor into negotiations over the sanctions resolution is the report of the Secretary-General on meeting the benchmarks enumerated by the Council in the presidential statement of 9 April 2019.
France is the penholder on the CAR.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|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.|
|31 January 2019S/RES/2454||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee.|
|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.|
|15 October 2019S/2019/822||This was on MINUSCA.|
|Security Council Letters|
|14 February 2019S/2019/145||This was the Secretary-General’s letter containing the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 September 2019S/PV.8617||This was the meeting at which resolution 2488 was adopted.|