Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In June, the Council will discuss the latest Secretary-General’s report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The Council will be briefed by Mankeur Ndiaye, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Central African Republic (CAR) and head of MINUSCA. Representatives of the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) may also brief the Council.
The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 15 November 2021. The CAR sanctions regime expires on 31 July 2021, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee expires on 31 August 2021.
Key Recent Developments
The security and political situations in the CAR have remained precarious since the 12 March adoption of resolution 2566, which increased MINUSCA’s existing military and police components. Resolution 2566’s adoption came in response to heightened instability in the CAR as a rash of violence—perpetrated by a new coalition of armed groups, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), and aimed at disrupting the country’s electoral process—engulfed parts of the country in December 2020 and January.
On 14 March, the CAR held the second round of legislative elections and the first round of partial legislative elections in areas where the 27 December 2020 first round of legislative elections could not be held because of violence. In a 24 March statement, MINUSCA announced that the day’s voting “unfold[ed] without major incidents” and that the mission had provided security, logistical and administrative support to the CAR government and the National Elections Authority.
The political environment remains tense. Nonetheless, two important steps towards increased stability were taken shortly after the 14 March elections. First, on 18 March, preliminary consultations under the auspices of the national dialogue occurred, although this was opposed by demonstrators who argued that the government should not engage with the CPC. UN Deputy Special Representative for MINUSCA Denise Brown participated in a meeting of the executive committee established to implement CAR’s 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation (Political Agreement). Second, on 30 March, Faustin–Archange Touadéra, the incumbent president who was re-elected on 27 December 2020, was sworn in. Speaking at his inauguration, Touadéra promised the beginning of dialogue with the aim of easing tensions. He also said that “at the end of this mandate, there will be no active armed groups on the national territory”.
On 20 April, the leaders of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) issued a statement calling on the international community to “join regional efforts aimed at providing support to the efforts initiated by the CAR with a view to revitalizing the Political Agreement”.
Despite an overall decrease in violence, sporadic fighting continues to create insecurity and displacement. UNHCR reported on 20 April that fighting between the government and armed opposition groups in northern regions of the CAR forced over 2,000 civilians to flee into Chad. On 10 May, MINUSCA announced that it had deployed 300 troops to protect civilians in the town of Bakouma in eastern CAR after armed groups destroyed local infrastructure, preventing access to the town. Bakouma, the mission noted, is one of the localities where the security situation had prevented the 27 December 2020 and 14 March elections from being held.
Finally, the CAR’s humanitarian situation remains fragile: according to OCHA, nearly 2.8 million people—some 57 percent of the CAR’s population—are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization said on 19 May that 47 percent of the CAR’s population suffers from food insecurity and that 2.29 million people living mostly in rural areas now require urgent support.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 31 March, several working groups and special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council released a joint statement expressing alarm at the increased recruitment and use of private military and foreign security contractors by the CAR government. The statement also referred to coordinated meetings between MINUSCA and “Russian advisors”, the advisors’ presence at MINUSCA bases and medical evacuations of wounded “Russian trainers” to MINUSCA bases. It further noted continued reports of grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, attributable to the private military personnel operating jointly with CAR’s armed forces (FACA), and in some instances, UN peacekeepers.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue for the Council is the security situation in the CAR. Given continued reports of security challenges, the Council will be closely following MINUSCA’s operations to address the threat of armed groups and to fulfil its protection of civilians mandate.
A related issue for the Council is how the mission is working to provide assistance to the CAR authorities to advance the national dialogue. To this end, Council members may wish to issue a press statement expressing explicit support for the political process and strongly encouraging the government to take a proactive role on the dialogue.
As the June briefing will be the Council’s first meeting on the CAR since the adoption of resolution 2566, Council members will be keen to learn about the status of the deployment of additional forces that were approved in March.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Overall, there is strong support amongst Council members for the work of MINUSCA. In several Council meetings held on the CAR during the recent crisis, members expressed unity in providing the mission with the resources needed to quell violence and help it to fulfil its protection of civilians mandate. Resolution 2566, however, did not receive unanimous support, with the Russian Federation abstaining on the vote, apparently because the text did not include a reference to the “UN guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance”, which are included in UN General Assembly resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991 and call for the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States” to be fully respected in accordance with the UN Charter.
The prospect of lifting the arms embargo, which was imposed on the country by resolution 2127 in 2013, remains a contentious issue. China and Russia argue that the Council should ease the arms embargo with the aim of lifting it completely, while some other Council members believe that there is little room for further adjustments given the limited progress that has been made on achieving the benchmarks for progressively lifting or suspending the embargo. This may be a focus of discussions among members in June, in advance of the sanctions regime renewal anticipated in July.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Abdou Abarry (Niger) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 March 2021S/RES/2566||This resolution raised the MINUSCA troop ceiling.|
|12 November 2020S/RES/2552||This resolution extended the mandate of MINUSCA for one year until 15 November 2021.|
|28 July 2020S/RES/2536||This resolution extended the CAR sanctions regime until 31 July 2021, including an arms embargo with some exemptions, and renewed the mandate of the CAR Panel of Experts, who assist the Sanctions Committee to oversee the sanction measures, until 31 August 2021.|
|16 February 2021S/2021/146||This was the Secretary-General’s latest report.|