July 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2024
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Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In July, the Security Council is expected to vote to extend the sanctions 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.

Key Recent Developments

On 27 June, Special Representative for CAR and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) Valentine Rugwabiza briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINUSCA and recent developments in the CAR. She highlighted some of the political developments in the CAR following the adoption of the 2023 constitution and progress in the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR. Rugwabiza referred to MINUSCA’s support to the decentralisation of the peace process through the involvement of prefectural implementation mechanisms. She also mentioned the mission’s support for the first high-level national conference on peaceful and prosperous transhumance held on 13 May to develop strategies for reducing seasonal transhumance-related violence. The CAR has been affected by increasing intercommunal conflict as a result of transhumance-related activities, and the conference agreed, among other things, to strengthen the security of transhumance corridors and promote cross-border dialogue.

The CAR is preparing to hold local elections in October for the first time since 1988. A budget shortfall remains an ongoing challenge, despite recent financial commitments to support the election made by some partners, such as the EU, through the UN Development Programme basket fund. The Secretary-General’s report also mentions the CAR government’s formal request to the UN to provide electoral assistance to the country’s presidential and legislative elections, set to be held in 2025-2026. The CAR government seeks MINUSCA’s support in mobilising resources and providing continued technical, operational, logistical, and security support for the local, presidential, and legislative elections.

With the increased military activities of armed groups, particularly along the border, the security situation in the CAR remains volatile. The Secretary-General’s report particularly notes the efforts by armed groups to gain control of mining sites and transhumance corridors. MINUSCA continues to support the extension of state authority in the CAR. Its joint patrols with the CAR armed forces (FACA) are intended to reinforce the state’s presence in conflict-affected areas in order to protect civilians and support local reconciliation efforts.

The restrictions imposed by the CAR authorities on the use of uncrewed aerial vehicles remain in effect, undermining MINUSCA’s freedom of movement. The Secretary-General’s report notes the impact of these restrictions on the implementation of the mission’s mandate, hindering its ability to acquire critical information and develop comprehensive security analyses for operational planning. It also mentions the risk to the safety and security of peacekeepers, as well as the protection of the mission’s installations. MINUSCA has been engaging with the CAR authorities to resolve the issue.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 27 June, Siobhán Mullally, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, presented her report (A/HRC/56/60/Add.2) to the Human Rights Council on her country visit to the CAR from 24 to 30 November 2023. The Special Rapporteur highlighted that trafficking in persons, especially women and children, persists with impunity against the backdrop of continuing conflict and violence in the country. She underscored the importance of achieving peace, justice, and accountability in combating the trafficking of persons in the CAR. The Special Rapporteur also called for implementing an inclusive, gender-sensitive, and effective disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration process.

Sanctions-Related Developments

Following the extension of the CAR sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate in July 2023, four of the five panel members were appointed in January after Russia lifted its hold on their appointment during the last week of December 2023. On 30 May, the Secretary-General appointed Fiona Magnan (Ireland) as the natural resources/finance expert.

On 3 June, the panel briefed the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee on its final report, which described the spillover effects of the conflict in Sudan and its impact on the activities of armed groups in the CAR. The report noted “the presence of Sudanese conflict parties crossing into Central African Republic territory, with confirmed reports of Sudanese Armed Forces air raids in and around border areas”. It also indicated that “[t]he Rapid Support Forces of the Sudan have recruited from among armed groups in the Central African Republic and move between the two countries easily through a long-standing network”.

Additionally, the report highlighted the humanitarian situation in the CAR, which has been exacerbated by the influx of Sudanese refugees. It also stated concerns about the increasing tensions between local communities and refugees, with armed groups infiltrating refugee camps and engaging in forced recruitment, use of child soldiers, and attacks based on religious and ethnic grounds. The panel recommended, among other things, the need to control the surge in arms trafficking from neighbouring countries and the infiltration of foreign fighters into the CAR. It also underscored the need to enhance regional cooperation to address security challenges.

On 15 May, the Secretary-General submitted his report on the CAR authorities’ progress towards the key benchmarks that could guide the Security Council in reviewing the arms embargo measures imposed under the 2127 CAR sanctions regime, pursuant to resolution 2693 of 27 July 2023 by which the regime was renewed. These benchmarks relate to security sector reform; the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation process; and weapons and ammunition management. The report notes the steady incremental progress in implementing these benchmarks and, among other things, calls on the CAR authorities to make further progress in addressing the illicit transfer of arms and ammunition to armed groups operating in the country, including explosive ordnance.

Key Issues and Options

The key issue for Council members in July is the renewal of the 2127 CAR sanctions regime and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the sanctions committee. In light of the CAR authorities’ request for the total lifting of the arms embargo, which is supported by some Council members, the upcoming negotiations are expected to be contentious. In particular, it might prove difficult to maintain the arms embargo despite the complex regional security dynamics and the surge in arms trafficking described in the panel’s final report.

The panel’s own mandate is also likely to be contentious. Last year, Russia was critical of the panel, whose 18 May 2023 report said 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. The report also noted other cases in which advance notification was given about the transfer of Russian military vehicles that were then used at mining sites, contrary to what was stated in the notification.

One option would be to renew the sanctions (that is, the arms embargo, the assets freeze, and travel bans) and the mandate of the panel of experts. Given the views of some Council members, another option for Council members would be to try to achieve a compromise by lifting the arms embargo while renewing the panel’s mandate so it can continue to report on the implementation of the sanctions regime.

Council Dynamics

Last year, the Council renewed the 2127 CAR sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia). The Council also lifted the arms embargo imposed on the CAR government, while maintaining all other sanctions measures, including the obligation for bilateral and multilateral partners to notify the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, except for deliveries to the CAR government.

Russia and China called for the complete lifting of the arms embargo. Russia, in particular, argued in its explanation of vote that armed groups have been acquiring “arms for the 10 years during which the sanctions regime has been in place, and maintaining those restrictions will have no impact on the problem”. China also maintained that “the arms embargo no longer meets the country’s needs, given its situation, and impedes its efforts to enhance its security capacity and to maintain its national security and stability”.

The US, however, argued that the sanctions regime does not prevent the CAR government from acquiring weapons or training and that the Council should not lift the arms embargo until the country makes further efforts to strengthen its stockpile management and address cross-border arms and natural resource smuggling. Additionally, the US expressed alarm about reports that man-portable air defence systems had been transported through the CAR into Sudan by the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company recently renamed the Africa Corps, and underscored the need for oversight of those weapons to monitor the security situation in the CAR and the broader region.

France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Amar Bendjama (Algeria) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.

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Security Council Resolution
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.

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