Briefing and Consultations on the Central African Republic
Tomorrow (14 August), the Security Council will receive a briefing followed by consultations on the Secretary-General’s most recent report (S/2013/470) on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, the recently appointed Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) will brief Council members for the first time, along with Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović. It is likely that the Permanent Representative of CAR to the UN, Charles-Armel Doubane, will also participate in the briefing. It is possible that there will be a press statement following the meeting but at press time Council members had not received a draft text.
Tomorrow’s briefing and consultations, the first on CAR since May, come in the wake of the AU’s Peace and Security Council’s authorisation of the deployment of a new mission in CAR to take over from the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the CAR (MICOPAX). The African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) will have an overall strength of 3,652 personnel (including 2,475 military personnel and 1,025 police) and will be mandated to (i) protect civilians and restore public order, (ii) stabilise the security situation, (iii) reform the defence and security sector and (iv) facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid.
While the Council has kept a low profile on CAR in recent months, tomorrow’s meeting may mark the start of a renewed Council engagement on this issue. It seems that in the next month Council members may discuss how to strengthen BINUCA’s mandate in the light of recent developments and how it should respond to the AU Peace and Security Council’s request for financial, logistical and technical support for the new AU-led mission.
The latest BINUCA report, which had been delayed more than a month to allow for taking into account recent developments, was circulated on 5 August. It highlights the challenges in the implementation of the transitional arrangements (the Transitional Charter drafted by the NTC and promulgated on 18 July, the framework developed by the Economic Community of Central African States’ decisions as well as the January 2013 Libreville Agreements), including the weak representation of women in the NTC and lack of geographical inclusiveness, the disagreements over key issues of the transition (i.e. timing or the ineligibility of key actors of the transition in future elections), divisions within the Séléka and the mistrust between the current Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye and the self-proclaimed President Michel Djotodia.
The report also highlights the deteriorating security situation, in spite of a partial return to duty by members of the police and the armed forces, noting an increase in criminal activities due to the proliferation of small arms as well as an upsurge of activity reportedly linked to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Council members will be interested in receiving a further assessment of the security situation in CAR, as well as the current status of the deployment of AFISM-CAR. Council members might also wish to ask Gaye about the coordination between his office and the two AU-led operations in the country (AFISM-CAR and AU-Regional Task Force, which focuses on the LRA), as well as the envisaged information-sharing mechanisms.
It seems Council members are also interested in hearing Gaye elaborate on some of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s recent report, such as “the adoption of sanctions or the establishment of a panel of experts, to ensure that there is no impunity for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights” and the effect such action might have in the current political processes. Some members may be particularly curious about the idea of establishing a panel of experts as a tool to fight impunity. (Nowadays, panels of experts are established mainly in connection with sanctions committees. However, the Council or the Secretary-General can also establish panels of experts for specific investigations.)
The Secretary-General’s report also encourages the Council to “lend its full support to the mission”, so Council members might want Gaye to flesh out the options the Secretariat would consider in terms of logistical and financial support. (Previous support packages to AU-led missions—such as AMISOM in Somalia or AFISMA in Mali—through UN assessed contributions have not been easily agreed upon.)
It is expected that during her briefing Amos will cover her visit to CAR in July with the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Kristalina Georgieva, and the changes in the nature of the humanitarian challenges the country is facing. The protracted humanitarian crisis of December 2012 has evolved into a complex emergency marked by the destruction of traditional livelihoods, the absence of local administrators leading to closure of health facilities and schools and the presence of armed actors hindering humanitarian access.
Šimonović—who visited CAR from 29 July to 2 August—will brief the Council on the human rights situation in CAR, where the lack of adequate resources to monitor and report on alleged human rights violations is impeding the ability of the UN to address widespread human rights violations, including grave violations against children and women by armed forces and armed groups, threats to human rights defenders, the absence of law and order and the pervasive impunity of perpetrators of such crimes.
Council members may be looking for more information on the difficulties faced by the UN in monitoring and reporting on human rights violations and an assessment of what is needed to be able to protect civilians under these circumstances.