December 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2022
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UNOCA (Central Africa)

Expected Council Action  

In December, the Security Council will receive a briefing on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the implementation of the UN’s regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Consultations are expected to follow. 

The mandate of UNOCA expires on 31 August 2024. 

Key Recent Developments  

The Council last received a briefing on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of UNOCA on 8 June. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee updated Council members on a range of issues, including crucial electoral processes in several countries in the region in 2022 and 2023, the institutional reform being undertaken by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the challenges climate change poses to the region, the fight against terrorist groups in the Lake Chad basin, and maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea. She also provided information on the latest developments in several regional countries, including Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), and Chad.  

The Secretary-General’s semi-annual UNOCA report, which was due by 29 November at the time of writing, is expected to provide updates on the latest political, security and development trends in Central Africa since his last report in May and to elaborate on UNOCA’s activities, including those in support of regional peace and security efforts. On 28 July, the Secretary-General appointed Abdou Abarry of Niger as his Special Representative for Central Africa and head of UNOCA. Abarry replaced François Louncény Fall of Guinea, who served in that position for five and a half years. He assumed his duties on 9 September and travelled to Angola, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and São Tomé and Príncipe to meet the leadership of those countries and other relevant stakeholders and discuss matters of peace and security in the Central Africa region. He also visited the headquarters of the ECCAS Commission in Libreville and the Lake Chad Basin Commission in N’Djamena.   

On 25 July, the ECCAS heads of state and government held a summit in Kinshasa, during which they assessed the regional peace and security situation. The summit, which took place amid rising tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, called in its final communiqué for cessation of hostilities and the immediate withdrawal from captured territories of the M23 Movement, a Congolese armed group that used to operate in eastern DRC and became active again this year. On 25 October, ECCAS heads of state and government met in an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in Chad and appointed DRC President Félix Tshisekedi as facilitator for the Chadian political transition process.  

Transitional Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby had promised in April 2021 to hold an inclusive national dialogue with various Chadian political stakeholders in order to elaborate a new constitution and pave the way for elections. In its May 2021 communiqué on the situation in Chad, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) underscored that the transition period should be completed within 18 months and that no extension would be acceptable to the AU. It also called on members of the Transitional Military Council (TMC)—which assumed power unconstitutionally after the death of former Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno on 20 April 2021—to abide by their commitments not to run in future elections. After several delays, the long-awaited Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue (DNIS) was held from 20 August to 8 October and concluded with recommendations to allow TMC members to run for elections and to extend the transition period for a further 24 months. This triggered violent protests in N’Djamena, during which 50 people were killed.  

On 11 November, the AUPSC met to discuss the situation in Chad based on the report of AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, which, among other things, recommended that the AUPSC impose sanctions on the TMC for violating the AUPSC decision of 14 May 2021 and in line with the AU’s norms and principles on unconstitutional changes of government. With the AUPSC unable to agree on the matter, the proposal was put to a vote. Only three members (Namibia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) reportedly voted in favour, while one member (South Africa) abstained, and the other 11 members (Burundi, Djibouti, Cameroon, Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Tunisia) voted against. 

In Cameroon, the security situation remains a concern in the Anglophone North-West and South-West regions, where there have been clashes between separatist groups and the government. According to OCHA, recent such fighting displaced more than 8,842 people. In recent months, schools and healthcare centres have become targets of attacks, and teachers and students have been kidnapped. Furthermore, armed groups imposed lockdowns for weeks, impeding humanitarian operations in the two regions. 

In the Lake Chad basin, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), composed of forces from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, has intensified its military operations against Boko Haram and the Islamic State-West Africa Province (ISWAP). The MNJTF concluded a major operation, codenamed Operation Lake Sanity, in August, which reportedly helped stabilise the situation in the Lake Chad basin and facilitated the return of displaced communities. In October, the MNJTF reported that it had conducted an intelligence-led operation on a suspected supply route used for terrorist activities in the Lake Chad region and arrested 40 terrorist logistics suppliers.   

Key Issues and Options  

The political and security situation in several parts of Central Africa remains a key concern for the Council. Council members are likely to monitor developments related to the political transition in Chad and the elections that are taking place in several countries in the region over the coming two years. At next month’s meeting, some members may note the conclusion of electoral processes this year in Angola, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Several members may express concern about the outcome of the DNIS and call for a peaceful, inclusive and consensual transition process in Chad. 

The continued threat of terrorism in the Lake Chad basin and maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea have also been matters of concern. The Secretary-General’s 1 November report on piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, submitted pursuant to resolution 2634 of 31 May, indicated that piracy incidents have declined but noted that “there has also been a noticeable shift in the geographical location of piracy incidents from West Africa to Central Africa”. 

Climate change’s exacerbating effects on the peace and security challenges in the region remain an important issue. UNOCA’s June report on “Sustaining Peace in Central Africa through Addressing the Adverse Impact of Climate Change on Peace and Security”, prepared in partnership with ECCAS and the UN Climate Security Mechanism (CSM), will likely be of interest to Council members. An option for members interested in the link between climate and security would be to hold an informal meeting with the drafters of the report, to discuss possible ways for the Council to support the implementation of its recommendations.  

Council Dynamics  

There is broad support by Council members for a holistic regional approach to addressing the peace and security challenges in Central Africa through cooperation between UNOCA and the various regional mechanisms. The issue of climate change continues to be divisive in the context of the discussion on UNOCA. At the 8 June meeting, several Council members highlighted the challenge of climate change in their interventions, but India reiterated its long-standing position that “no artificial link should be drawn between climate change and security-related issues without any firm scientific basis”. 

Several of the country situations in the region remain a focus for some Council members. The UK noted that the situation in Cameroon requires urgent attention and called on all parties to allow safe access to schools and humanitarian assistance, while the US underscored that “[a] broader dialogue without preconditions is needed for a peaceful and durable resolution” of the conflict in the country.  

Some members have also raised concerns about the destabilising role of the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, and its reported involvement in human rights abuses. Some members have raised this issue when referring to the situation in the CAR, where the Wagner Group has deployed. Russia maintained during the 8 June meeting that the group “has strictly complied with all the restrictions that the Council has imposed regarding the Central African Republic”, adding that “the choice of any partner… is the prerogative of the national authorities, including with regard to issues of law enforcement and investigations of violations of international law”. 

The UK is the penholder on UNOCA.  

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Security Council Presidential Statements
12 September 2019S/PRST/2019/10 This presidential statement expressed the Council’s full support for UNOCA.
Secretary-General’s Reports
26 May 2022S/2022/436 This was the semi-annual report on UNOCA.
Security Council Meeting Records
8 June 2022S/PV.9058 This was a meeting on the situation in Central Africa