June 2022 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In June, the Security Council will discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Special Representative for the Central African Republic (CAR) and head of MINUSCA Valentine Rugwabiza will brief the Council for the first time since her appointment on 24 February.

The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 15 November 2022. The CAR sanctions regime expires on 31 July 2022, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee expires on 31 August 2022.

Key Recent Developments

The Security Council met on 22 February to discuss the situation in the CAR. During the meeting, some Council members accused the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, of committing serious human rights abuses, including the summary execution of 30 people in Aïgbando, Haute-Kotto Prefecture, in January. Russia, however, said the accusations against “Russian instructors” in the CAR were based on unverified information.

In a report released on 3 May, Human Rights Watch accused “Russian linked forces” of committing grave abuses against civilians in CAR, including arbitrary detention, torture and summary execution, based on what it said was “compelling evidence” gathered through interviews with victims and witnesses between February 2019 and November 2021.

On 21 February, four MINUSCA peacekeepers were arrested by the CAR gendarmerie in Bangui while escorting a senior military officer of the mission. The peacekeepers were accused on social media of planning to assassinate President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, which the UN strongly denied. The Secretary-General condemned the arrest in a statement and pointed out that the CAR authorities did not follow the 2014 status of forces agreement with the UN, which outlines specific procedures in cases where peacekeepers are suspected of committing an offence. He called on the CAR authorities to respect the agreement and release the peacekeepers unconditionally and without delay. The peacekeepers were subsequently released, but the incident was seen as an indication of the prevailing mistrust between the CAR authorities and the mission. In his previous reports, the Secretary-General highlighted disinformation campaigns against MINUSCA as a major challenge posing a threat to the safety and security of peacekeepers.

Civilians continue to suffer the brunt of the ongoing conflict and violence in CAR. OCHA’s report, issued in May, described the increasing threat of explosive devices to civilians. The report also noted that the number of internally displaced persons surged by 2.8 percent in March compared to February because of increasing military activities by armed groups in certain localities. On 27 April, a regional ministerial conference was held in Yaoundé in collaboration with UNHCR that aimed to find a solution to the displacement of more than one million Central Africans in the protracted conflict in the CAR. The conference concluded with the adoption of a declaration that underscored the need for a regional approach to the challenges facing refugees, internally displaced persons, and returnees from CAR.

The long-awaited republican dialogue, promised by President Touadéra after his re-election in 2020, was finally held from 21 to 27 March in Bangui. The process was marred by controversy, however, as opposition parties boycotted the dialogue and armed groups were not invited. Media reports indicated that the dialogue, which was supposed to advance peace, concluded without achieving this result. During the dialogue, it seems a proposal for a constitutional amendment to allow the president to run for a third term had created tension but was later withdrawn, according to media reports. The participants in the dialogue issued recommendations at the end of the meeting; among them was a call for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on CAR by the Council.

Local elections are supposed to be held in September, but media have quoted CAR authorities as saying that the elections could be postponed because of a lack of funds.

The CAR Special Criminal Court, established in 2015 with the objective of investigating and prosecuting grave violations of human rights committed in the CAR, started its first trial on 19 April with three suspects from the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) armed group, who are accused of committing serious crimes in the country’s northwest in May 2019. This was considered an important milestone in fighting impunity in the country. The first hearing was adjourned on 25 April, reportedly because the defence lawyers, who had complained about insufficient fees, were not present. The court met again on 16 May to hear from the first defendants.

On 14 March, Chadian authorities surrendered Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, who belonged to the anti-Balaka movement supportive of former CAR president François Bozizé, to the ICC. The court had issued an arrest warrant on him in December 2018 for allegedly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity between December 2013 and December 2014. On 22 March, Mokom appeared before the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 30 March, during its 49th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held a high-level interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in the CAR with the participation of the independent expert on the human rights situation in the CAR, Yao Agbetse, and representatives of the government, the UN, the AU, the CAR’s Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, and civil society. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet briefed and noted that the “increasing number of incidents involving serious human rights violations and abuses—and the rising role of the nation’s defence forces and their allies in those violations—are matters of utmost concern”.

Sanctions-Related Developments

Although the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 31 August through the adoption of resolution 2588 on 29 July 2021, Russia placed a hold on the appointment of panel members for several months, calling for increased geographical diversity. On 18 April, the Secretary-General appointed three panel members. They are from Costa Rica, the Republic of the Congo and Kenya.

Key Issues and Options

A major preoccupation for Council members is how to advance peace and reconciliation in the CAR through the implementation of the 2019 peace agreement and the joint roadmap of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Council members could be interested to hear about the republican dialogue held in March. They will also be keen to know more about the state of preparations for local elections, expected to be held in September for the first time in more than 30 years. One option could be to hold a closed informal meeting (such as an informal interactive dialogue or a closed Arria-formula meeting) with CAR government officials and representatives of other political parties for an exchange of views on how to advance the peace process.

How to address the continued insecurity in CAR and reduce the threats to civilians is another key challenge for Council members. The Council could, in this respect, consider asking for a briefing from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on the effects of the Wagner Group on the overall security environment in the country.

An additional issue for Council members is how to promote accountability and justice in the face of grave violations of human rights committed by various actors in CAR. They may continue to support the role of national courts, the hybrid special criminal court and the ICC in the country.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Council members are supportive of regional efforts on CAR and have underscored the need to implement the joint roadmap of the ICGLR. But the role of the Wagner Group and its alleged involvement in human rights abuses has been a contentious issue. Russia has consistently rejected such accusations and says that calls for investigations by some Council members are hypocritical. In this regard, at the 22 February Council meeting, Russia asked why these members have not demanded the results of investigation on airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq that led to casualties.

There is also no agreement on CAR’s request for the lifting of the arms embargo. African members, China and Russia support the request, but France, the UK and the US oppose it in the face of increasing violence and the spread of arms.

France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR

Security Council Resolutions
12 September 2012S/RES/2065 This resolution extended UNIPSIL’s mandate until 31 March 2013.
29 July 2021S/RES/2588 This extended the CAR sanctions regime until 31 July 2022, including an arms embargo with some exemptions. Resolution 2588 also renewed the mandate of the CAR Panel of Experts, who assist the sanctions committee in overseeing the sanction measures, until 31 August 2022.
Secretary-General’s Report
16 February 2022S/2022/119 This was a Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the CAR.