Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to extend the sanctions measures imposed on the Central African Republic (CAR), which expire at the end of the month, and renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, which expires on 31 August.
The mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) expires on 15 November 2022.
Key Recent Developments
On 22 June, the Security Council met to discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUSCA. Valentine Rugwabiza, the Special Representative for the CAR and head of MINUSCA, briefed the Council, highlighting the steps that she took upon assuming her responsibilities in April to rebuild trust with the CAR government, remobilise regional and international partners in support of the revitalisation of the political process, and reposition the mission in effectively implementing its mandate.
Rugwabiza noted the strategic review meeting that took place in Bangui on 4 June, which promoted national ownership through the participation of all the relevant national stakeholders under the leadership of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. The meeting also helped in remobilising regional partners, she said, through the participation of the Angolan and Rwandan foreign ministers and representatives of the AU, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Rugwabiza requested the Council to support the follow-up of the review meeting, which has contributed to reinvigorating the political process.
In their interventions, Council members appreciated Rugwabiza’s leadership in improving relations between MINUSCA and the CAR government and her efforts in trying to inject renewed momentum into the political process. They also welcomed the remobilisation of regional partners and backed the regional approach to assist progress in the implementation of the roadmap adopted by the ICGLR in support of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.
The Council adopted resolution 2588 on 29 July 2021 to extend the CAR sanctions regime and renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts. There were 14 votes in favour and one abstention by China. In its explanation of vote, China said that “the text failed to fully respect the wish of the Government of the Central African Republic for the lifting of the embargo”. Following the adoption of the resolution, five individuals with expertise in armed groups, arms, finance/natural resources, humanitarian issues, and regional issues were nominated to serve on the Panel of Experts. Russia placed a hold on the appointments for several months, however, calling for increased geographical diversity.
On 18 April, the Secretary-General appointed three of the panel members from Costa Rica, the Republic of the Congo and Kenya with expertise on humanitarian affairs, regional issues and arms, respectively. The Secretariat has been in the process of recruiting two additional members. A natural resources/finance expert from the Netherlands was appointed on 1 June, and an armed groups expert is expected to be appointed soon. The panel was supposed to present a mid-term report in January pursuant to resolution 2588, but could not, as three of the experts only started work in April. They were able to travel to Bangui and talk to the CAR authorities, however. Their final report, circulated to Council members last week, is expected to be discussed by the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee on 24 June.
According to the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUSCA, released on 16 June, armed groups continue to pose serious security threats in the CAR. MINUSCA recorded 374 violations of the political agreement during the reporting period, most of which were committed by an armed group known as the Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC); the national defence forces and “other security personnel” have also committed several violations. On 21 December 2021, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee added Ali Darassa to the sanctions list; Darassa is the founder and leader of the UPC, which is accused of committing serious abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in the CAR.
CAR’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvie Baïpo-Temon, has apparently written a letter to the Council reiterating her country’s request for the arms embargo to be lifted to allow the CAR to enhance the effectiveness of its defence and security forces. CAR’s representative reflected the same position at the last Council meeting on the CAR on 22 June.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 50th session, the Human Rights Council is expected to hold an interactive dialogue on 6 July on the oral update of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Yao Agbetse.
Key Issues and Options
The discussion of the arms embargo is likely to continue to be a key issue during the upcoming negotiations on renewing the 2127 CAR sanction regime. CAR will try to solicit the support of some Council members, including the three African members, China and Russia, in pushing for lifting the arms embargo. However, other members oppose this move in the face of increasing violence and the spread of arms.
One possible option is for the Sanctions Committee to facilitate a discussion with the CAR government on the implementation of the National Program for Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (PNDDRR) and putting in place an effective weapons and ammunition management system based on the Secretary-General’s recommendations in his letter of 15 June 2021.
The operation of the Panel of Experts, whose members’ appointment was delayed for several months, is another important issue. Several Council members had expressed concerns over the delay and underscored the need to allow the panel to do its work.
The arms embargo imposed on CAR in 2013 continues to be a controversial issue. In their joint statement during the Council meeting on 22 June, the African members supported CAR’s request for lifting the arms embargo. Russia called for easing the arms embargo until it is finally lifted, while China supported lifting the embargo at an early date.
On the other hand, France and the UK argued against lifting the embargo, maintaining that it does not prevent the CAR government from acquiring military equipment. The decision should, in their view, be based on progress towards achieving the benchmarks set out by the Council, such as the implementation of the PNDDRR and the management of weapons and ammunitions. Furthermore, they indicated that it is difficult to think of introducing any changes to the sanctions regime in the face of continued human rights abuses in the country. Ireland and Norway stressed the importance of addressing delays in the appointment of the Panel of Experts assisting the work of the sanctions committee. Some of these views could be reflected during the upcoming negotiations in July.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 November 2021S/RES/2605||This resolution renewed MINUSCA’s mandate for another 12 months. Thirteen Council members voted in favour, while China and Russia abstained.|
|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.|
|16 June 2022S/2022/491||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the CAR.|
|22 June 2022S/PV.9074||This was a Council meeting on the situation in CAR|