November 2022 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action 

In November, the Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which expires on 15 November.  

The 2127 CAR sanctions regime expires on 31 July 2023, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts supporting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee expires on 31 August 2023. 

Key Recent Developments 

On 19 October, the Security Council met to discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUSCA. Valentine Rugwabiza, the Special Representative for the Central African Republic (CAR) and head of MINUSCA, briefed the Council, highlighting major developments regarding the mission’s strategic priorities over the past four months. She explained the coordination meetings that have been taking place under the chairmanship of CAR Prime Minister Félix Moloua with the objective of accelerating implementation of the roadmap adopted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in support of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR. Rugwabiza noted the steps taken to implement the timelines agreed within this framework, and also mentioned a 14 September meeting between the government and the representatives of 11 armed groups that are signatories of the political agreement to discuss the possible dissolution of these armed groups.  

On 26 August, the government adopted a decree setting up a committee to draft a new constitution with a view to removing presidential term limits. The current constitution, adopted in 2016 following popular consultations, does not allow the president to run for a third term. In a 23 September decision, however, the CAR Constitutional Court invalidated the decree establishing the drafting committee, declaring the committee’s work unconstitutional. Rugwabiza welcomed this decision and commended the maturity of the CAR’s institutions.  

The security situation in CAR remains fragile. MINUSCA has adopted a proactive posture in support of the CAR armed forces (FACA) to curtail the activities of armed groups, improve security, protect civilians, facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance, and help the extension of state authority. But a serious concern has been the resurgence of armed groups in the north-western part of the country and the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which continue to pose threats not only to civilians but also to peacekeepers. On 5 October, Council members issued a press statement condemning the IED attack that led to the deaths of three Bangladeshi peacekeepers on 3 October.  

One of the challenges faced by MINUSCA has been continued violations of the status of forces agreement (SOFA). The Secretary-General’s latest report, dated 13 October, noted a reduction in SOFA violations during the reporting period, but expressed concern about the seizure of contingent-owned equipment and the obstruction of freedom of movement, including through restrictions on night flights. Rugwabiza requested the CAR authorities to lift restrictions on night flights, which she said are critical for the safety and security of peacekeepers. However, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, Francophonie and Central Africans abroad Sylvie Valérie Baipo Temon, who attended the 19 October Security Council meeting, rejected claims about interference with the mission’s freedom of movement and restrictions on night flights and asserted that CAR authorities are simply requesting for procedures to be followed and the country’s sovereignty to be respected.  

Rugwabiza welcomed the work of the Special Criminal Court (SCC)—a hybrid court composed of national and international judges with the authority to investigate, prosecute and try serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the CAR—which started its deliberations in August after having completed the hearings of its first trial. She called on the government to renew the mandate of the SCC and requested international partners to continue providing financial support and expertise to the court.  

Human Rights-Related Developments 

During its 51st session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue on 5 October with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Yao Agbetse, and considered his report (A/HRC/51/59), which covered July 2021 to June. The report found that “armed forces, defence and security forces and internal security forces” have committed multiple human rights violations and international humanitarian law. It also said that “allied Russian forces cannot operate outside the law” and “must refrain from obstructing the work of MINUSCA”. On 7 October, the HRC adopted a resolution that renewed the mandate of the independent expert for one year, without a vote (A/HRC/51/L.35/Rev.1).  

In a 12 October statement following a four-day visit to the CAR, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris welcomed some recent advances in addressing human rights issues but highlighted that challenges persist, including forcible displacement as well as continued reports of summary and extrajudicial execution, arbitrary detention, torture, and conflict-related sexual violence.  

Sanctions-Related Developments 

On 29 July, the Council adopted resolution 2648, extending the CAR sanctions regime for an additional year. Ten members voted in favour of the resolution while five (China, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, and Russia) abstained. In their explanations of vote, China, Gabon, Kenya, and Russia expressed their preference for a full lifting of the embargo.  

Following the extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the work of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, the Secretary-General appointed four panel members on 31 August. They are from Tunisia, Congo, Netherlands, and Norway, with expertise on arms, armed groups, finance/natural resources, and humanitarian affairs, respectively. The Secretary-General indicated that an expert on regional affairs will be appointed in due course. On 30 September, the Panel of Experts briefed the committee on its workplan in accordance with resolution 2648.  

Key Issues and Options 

A major preoccupation for Council members is the renewal of MINUSCA’s mandate. The Secretary-General recommended a one-year extension that maintains the mission’s current authorised strength of 15,760 personnel. He also underscored the need to enhance MINUSCA’s mobility to enable the mission to effectively implement its mandate and called on troop- and police-contributing countries and other partners to provide support in this regard.  

Council members are expected to unanimously extend the mandate in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations in a demonstration of their strong support for the renewed dynamism of the CAR political process. 

Council and Wider Dynamics 

Council members are supportive of regional efforts to reinvigorate the implementation of the 2019 political agreement and the ICGLR roadmap. At the 19 October meeting, they also welcomed the improvement in relations between MINUSCA and the CAR authorities, including the reduction in SOFA violations. Several members supported the call by the Secretary-General for the lifting of restrictions on MINUSCA’s freedom of movement.  

Council members are divided on the issue of sanctions. When the Council renewed the 2127 CAR sanctions regime in July, the three African members—Gabon, Ghana and Kenya—backed CAR’s request for the lifting of the arms embargo, with the support of China and Russia. The other contentious issue that continues to influence the discussions on CAR is the role of the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, and its alleged involvement in serious human rights abuses.  

Last year, China and Russia abstained on the vote renewing the mandate of the mission, arguing that the text did not take into consideration the concerns of the host country. At the 19 October meeting, Russia emphasised the need to maintain dialogue and understanding with the host country for the effective implementation of MINUSCA’s mandate. The A3 also argued that the upcoming mandate renewal should be evaluated in the context of the changing security landscape as well as the needs and expectations of the CAR authorities. 

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
29 July 2022S/RES/2648 This resolution extended the CAR sanctions regime for an additional year.
Secretary-General’s Reports
13 October 2022S/2022/762 This was a Secretary-Generals report on the situation in the Central African Republic
Security Council Meeting Records
19 October 2022S/PV.9156 This was a Security Council briefing on the situation in the Central African Republic.
Security Council Press Statements
5 October 2022SC/15055 This was a press statement condemning the IED attack that led to the deaths of three peacekeepers.