Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In November, the Council will renew the mandate of MINUSCA which expires on 15 November. The CAR sanctions regime expires on 31 July 2024, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee expires on 31 August 2024.
Key Recent Developments
On 26 October, Rugwabiza briefed the Council on efforts to advance the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR. She referred to the strategic review meeting held in Bangui on 23 October to assess the progress in the peace process which noted the dissolution of 9 armed groups that are signatories to the agreement, the progress in the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of former combatants, the implementation of security sector reform, and the restoration of the authority of the State. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 25 October.)
On 30 July, CAR conducted a referendum on a new constitution, which passed and was formally promulgated on 30 August. However, the political opposition, some civil society and religious organisations, and armed groups contested the result announced by the constitutional court that 95.03 percent of the votes cast were in favour of the new constitution. According to the Secretary-General’s latest report, the new constitution extends the terms of the president and parliamentarians from five to seven years, removes term limits, abolishes certain checks on executive power, and eases the requirements for amending the constitution. The Secretary-General’s report says that MINUSCA did not provide support for holding the referendum because that was not part of its mandate.
MINUSCA is to provide assistance to the CAR authorities in organising local elections, pursuant to resolution 2659 of 14 November 2022, which renewed the mandate of MINUSCA. The government, which had put on hold preparations for local elections because of the constitutional referendum, resumed electoral preparations in September, with the first round of local elections now scheduled for 13 October 2024 and the second round for 26 January 2025. The budget shortfall in organising local elections remains a challenge, although the CAR government has committed to providing some money for local elections and is mobilising resources in this regard. Bilateral and international partners had apparently been reluctant to provide funding because of concerns that the money might be put towards the constitutional referendum.
The security situation remained volatile, according to the Secretary-General’s report, particularly in the east, where there is a limited government security presence and armed groups target minority communities, causing massive displacement. The situation has been complicated by the launching of operations by “other security personnel”—a phrase the UN uses to refer to the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company, and their proxies against the main armed groups affiliated with the leading rebel coalition known as Coalition des patriotes pour le changement (CPC). MINUSCA continues to provide support to the CAR armed forces (FACA) in protecting civilians. In line with its mandate, the mission is also assisting the CAR government in expanding state authority and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The influx of refugees and returnees to the CAR from Chad and Sudan has exacerbated the humanitarian situation. According to OCHA, more than 37,000 people from Chad and more than 19,000 people from Sudan, mostly women and children, crossed into CAR recently.
On 27 July, the Security Council adopted resolution 2693, extending the sanctions measures on the CAR until 31 July 2024 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee until 31 August 2024. There were 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia). The resolution lifted the notification requirement on the supply, sale, or transfer of arms and related materiel and the provision of assistance, advice, and training to the CAR security forces under the 2127 CAR sanctions regime. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 28 July.)
Russia has apparently put a hold on the appointment of members of the panel of experts, whose most recent final report, submitted on 18 May, stated, among other things, that the CAR authorities did not provide clarity on weapons and aircraft that were transferred from Russia without advance notification to the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 August, the UN Independent Expert on the Central African Republic, Yao Agbetse, concluded a 10-day visit to the country. At the end of his visit, he issued a statement expressing “grave concern” regarding the human rights situation in the CAR. Agbetse emphasised that the CAR authorities “urgently need” to involve all stakeholders in “genuine political dialogue aimed at de-escalating the situation” and pressed the authorities to relaunch the implementation of the Khartoum Agreement. He also noted that a growing number of assaults by armed groups are “creating a climate of insecurity” and that these assaults significantly affect CAR’s economic operations and result in severe human rights violations.
Women, Peace and Security
As the Council’s president in June, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) chose to include a focus on women, peace and security (WPS) at the 20 June open briefing on the CAR. UN Women Executive Director Sima Sami Bahous briefed. Among other issues, she highlighted women’s marginalisation in decision-making processes in the CAR. For instance, Bahous reported that when the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR was signed, “only eight of the 78 delegates representing the different parties were women, and only one of the 14 signatories”. She recalled that several women civil society representatives who briefed the Council on the CAR reported that “women are often engaged only in consultations in the margins” and that “initiatives targeting women rarely feed into the formal peace process”. Addressing the under-representation of women in the National Assembly, Bahous referred to a recent UN Women study that found that 43 percent of women candidates at the 2021 legislative elections faced physical violence during their campaigns.
Prior to the meeting, the Council members that signed on to the Shared Commitments on WPS—Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the UAE, and the UK—delivered a WPS-focused statement to the press. (The US joined the Joint Statement of Shared Commitments in July.) Among other matters, the statement encouraged all efforts for the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women in decision-making, leadership, and electoral positions.
On 12 September, the PBC’s CAR country configuration convened an expert-level meeting on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in the CAR. In late September, Albania, as Security Council president that month, sent a letter to the CAR configuration requesting the Commission’s advice for the upcoming mandate renewal of MINUSCA. In November, the configuration chair, Ambassador Omar Hilale (Morocco), is expected to visit the country.
Key Issues and Options
MINUSCA’s mandate renewal will be a key issue for Council members in November. The most likely option for Council members is to extend the mission’s mandate for one year, maintaining its mandate, priorities, and current authorised strength.
Council members expect a straightforward mandate renewal process, but there could be discussions about the sequencing of the mission’s priority tasks. The CAR government may give priority, for example, to MINUSCA’s support for the expansion of state authority and reiterate its request for a strategic review of the mission. Last year, the Council expressed its intention to request an independent strategic review of MINUSCA to assess the challenges to peace and security in the CAR and the constraints facing the mission’s operations. It has yet to make this request, however. (Five years have passed since the last strategic review of MINUSCA.)
The upcoming negotiations could also be complicated by the discussions on the 2127 CAR sanctions regime. With the support of the CAR government, Russia may raise concerns about the Panel of Experts’ mandate, but other Council members may argue that this issue should be raised in July 2024 when the panel’s mandate is up for renewal, rather than during negotiations on MINUSCA.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members support the work of MINUSCA and appreciate its efforts to establish good relations with the host government. They commend the role of regional and sub-regional organisations supporting the implementation of the 2015 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR and welcome the decision of some signatory armed groups to disarm. They also remain concerned about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the CAR.
Council members did not strongly criticise the constitutional referendum, which allowed President Faustin-Archange Touadéra to extend his term. They may, however, call on the president to engage in dialogue with opposition political parties and civil society representatives to address their concerns and build the necessary trust for holding local elections next year.
Some Council members continue to raise serious concerns about human rights abuses committed by armed groups, the FACA, and the Wagner Group. At the same time, they may also commend the national human rights policy the CAR government presented on 10 October in Geneva as a positive step.
Several Council members also consider accountability and justice issues as critical. Reports of the recent decision by the ICC to drop charges against former CAR government minister Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka, citing a lack of evidence and available witnesses, may draw the attention of these members. Gawaka was accused of coordinating operations of the anti-Balaka, a mainly Christian group that fought against the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebel group during the CAR civil war.
Furthermore, several Council members remain concerned about the illegal exploitation of natural resources which continues to fuel the conflict in the CAR.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Harold Agyeman (Ghana) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 July 2023S/RES/2693||This resolution extended the 2127 CAR sanctions regime until 31 July 2024 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee until 31 August 2024.|
|14 November 2022S/RES/2659||This resolution renewed MINUSCA’s mandate for one year until 15 November 2023.|
|14 October 2023S/2023/769||This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the CAR.|