Central African Republic Mission Mandate Renewal
Tomorrow morning (24 January), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). The draft resolution, circulated by France, was put in blue yesterday evening (22 January) after a single round of negotiations and is expected to extend BINUCA’s mandate for twelve months, until 31 January 2014.
It seems that although some Council members had suggested a technical rollover of BINUCA’s mandate to allow for more time to discuss possible changes, most members agreed that it was important for the Council to send a strong signal demonstrating its support for BINUCA and its concern regarding the recent events in the Central African Republic (CAR). It seems there was also some discussion among Council members on the duration and conditions of the mandate renewal, with some members in favour of shorter renewal periods, while others proposed the inclusion of an obligation to amend BINUCA’s mandate after three months.
Members reached consensus on these issues by requesting the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation on the ground, as well as an assessment of the implementation of BINUCA’s priorities by 31 March, possibly allowing for an adjustment to the mandate. (Such amendments part way through the mandate would require a new Council resolution.) This request is likely to lead to a greater Council focus on the CAR, at least in the first half of 2013. It is likely that Council members will meet in April to discuss issues raised in the Secretary-General’s March assessment report. The draft resolution to be adopted tomorrow also calls for an update report on the situation by 30 June and every six months thereafter.
Besides renewing BINUCA’s mandate, the draft resolution addresses a number of issues arising from recent events. It calls for full implementation of the ceasefire signed by the government and the Seleka rebel coalition on 11 January, and includes strong language on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including the recruitment and use of children as well as sexual violence. It seems that although some members preferred to tone down this language, overall those who wanted stronger language were able to prevail.
The draft resolution also allowed Council members to express their concern regarding the lack of state authority outside Bangui, highlighting the responsibility of the government in maintaining law and order as well as ensuring the protection of the civilian population, including foreign nationals. (On 26 December, protesters attacked the French embassy in Bangui accusing France of abandoning them; French troops were then reassigned to protect French nationals and diplomatic premises. On 28 December, the US embassy was closed and personnel were evacuated. Similarly, the UN temporarily relocated non-essential staff members outside the country.)
Council members also seem to have taken advantage of this opportunity to try and speed up the process for identifying a new Chair for the CAR country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, which has not had a Chair since June 2012.
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