Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In February, the Security Council will hold a briefing and consultations on 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 is expected to brief.
The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 15 November. The CAR sanctions regime expires on 31 July, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee expires on 31 August.
Key Recent Developments
On 26 October 2023, Rugwabiza briefed the Council on efforts to advance the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR based on the Secretary-General’s latest report. The reporting period was marked by some important developments, including the dissolution of 14 armed groups that were signatories to the agreement; the holding of a constitutional referendum on 30 July 2023 and the subsequent promulgation of a new constitution on 30 August; and the postponement of local elections, with the first round now scheduled for 13 October 2024 and the second round for 26 January 2025. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 25 October 2023.) On 15 November, the Security Council adopted resolution 2709, renewing MINUSCA’s mandate for another year, until 15 November 2024. Fourteen members voted in favour and one member abstained (Russia). (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 14 November 2023.)
On 8 December 2023, the CAR government and MINUSCA jointly organised a seminar on resolution 2709 to discuss a coordinated approach towards its implementation, according to a MINUSCA press release. Representatives of the CAR government, the diplomatic corps, regional and other multilateral partners, and the UN system in the CAR participated in the seminar. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix also visited the CAR for three days in December 2023, consulting with CAR authorities on the implementation of MINUSCA’s mandate.
The security situation in the CAR has reportedly deteriorated recently, particularly in the western part of the country. Twenty-three civilians were killed following a deadly attack on 21 December 2023, reportedly by an armed group known as 3R, in Nzakoundou village in Lim-Pende prefecture. MINUSCA has deployed peacekeepers in the region to strengthen security and facilitate humanitarian assistance. On 15 January, an improvised explosive device killed one Cameroonian peacekeeper and wounded five others, including two seriously, in Mbindali, northwest of Paoua in Ouham-Pendé Prefecture, while on a patrol escorting a team from the International Organization for Migration.
In a statement the same day, the Secretary-General condemned the attack and called on CAR authorities to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. On 16 January, Council members also agreed on a press statement that condemned the attack and expressed particular concern about reports of illicit transnational trafficking networks that continue to fund and supply armed groups in the CAR. They stressed the need to investigate the increasing use of explosive ordnance.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 30 November, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons Siobhán Mullally issued a statement at the end of her 7-day visit to the country. The expert urged the government of CAR to intensify its actions in preventing human trafficking, including by addressing issues related to sexual exploitation, and child and forced marriages, among others. In her statement, Mullally commended the government on the “political will” to combat trafficking but emphasised that “authorities must strengthen prevention measures and improve protection and support for victims, including victims of conflict related trafficking”.
On 17 October 2023, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee received a briefing on delivering life-saving assistance in the CAR from an OCHA representative on behalf of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.
On 4 January, the Secretary-General appointed four members of the Panel of Experts assisting the sanctions committee. Russia had put a hold on the appointment of the panel members and only lifted it in the last week of December 2023. An expert on finance/natural resources has yet to be appointed.
Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Developments
In a letter dated 10 November 2023, the Chair of the PBC’s CAR configuration, Ambassador Omar Hilale submitted advice to the Council for the mandate renewal of MINUSCA. The Commission stressed the importance of dialogue, reconciliation, social cohesion, and inclusive governance in achieving peace, security, and sustainable development. It reiterated its concern over the persistent budgetary shortfall for local elections scheduled to take place in October 2024. The PBC also called for additional financial support to ensure access to appropriate and long-term reintegration programmes of armed groups and encouraged continued cooperation between CAR authorities and their partners to create synergy and complementarity, including with peace, development, and humanitarian actors as part of disarmament and demobilisation activities.
In addition, from 7 to 11 November 2023, Hilale visited Bangui. As set out in the terms of reference of the trip, the focus of the visit was to get a better overview, since Hilale’s last visit in 2020, of the inter-linkages between the political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges the country is currently facing, as well as to get an appreciation of the country’s efforts to fight impunity and strengthen its rule of law and justice sector.
Key Issues and Options
The political and security situation in the CAR continues to be a key issue for Council members. They may express concerns over the deteriorating security situation in the country and reiterate their condemnation of the recent attack that claimed the life of a peacekeeper.
Council members may welcome the spirit of cooperation between the mission and the host government. They may also look forward to the independent strategic review requested pursuant to resolution 2709 to assess the challenges to peace and security in the CAR and provide detailed recommendations regarding the possible reconfiguration of MINUSCA’s mandate.
The other issue of interest to Council members is the work of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee. They may welcome the appointment of members of the panel but express concerns about the delay in the appointment process.
A possible option for the Guyanese Council Presidency is to invite Hilale to brief the Council about his visit to the CAR.
Council and Wider Dynamics
While MINUSCA’s mandate renewal negotiations in November 2023 were difficult, they were not as contentious as the 2022 negotiations, which were overshadowed by several controversial issues, including violations of the status of forces agreement. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 14 November 2023.) Nonetheless, as in 2022, Russia abstained on the vote renewing MINUSCA’s mandate in 2023, expressing disappointment, among other things, over the rejection of a reference to “the role of the Central African Republic’s bilateral partners as part of the country’s stabilization”.
CAR’s bilateral engagement with some of the Council’s permanent members at the highest level —including France—seems to have contributed to the easing of tensions between these members and the CAR government. The relationship between the mission and the host country also appears to have improved significantly despite continued reports of violations of the status of forces agreement. While the US seems to have been seeking to engage with the CAR government, it considers the government’s partnership with the Wagner Group, a private Russian military group, an obstacle to improving relations. The US has been encouraging the government to strengthen ties with MINUSCA and “other responsible partners” as an alternative to its relations with the Wagner Group.
The issue of human rights was divisive during the mandate renewal negotiations in 2023. Some members were dissatisfied that MINUSCA’s human rights division released the annual report on the human rights situation in the CAR only after the renewal of the CAR mandate in late 2022. Resolution 2709 requests that the next report be available before mandate renewal negotiations in November.
During the MINUSCA mandate renewal negotiations, China and Russia raised issues related to the 2127 CAR sanctions regime, alluding to the improved situation in the CAR and urging the Council to make adjustments accordingly. However, other Council members argued that this issue should be discussed in July when the 2127 CAR sanctions regime is set for an extension.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Amar Bendjama (Algeria) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions
|15 November 2023S/RES/2709
|This resolution renews the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) for another year, until 15 November 2024.
|14 October 2023S/2023/769
|This was the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the CAR.
|Security Council Meeting Records
|26 October 2023S/PV.9454
|This is the meeting record on the situation in the Central African Republic.