Central African Republic:Reinforcing BINUCA’s Mandate
Tomorrow (10 October) the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution updating and reinforcing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) in the light of recent developments, as well as addressing other issues in the country. (BINUCA’s mandate was most recently renewed for one year through resolution 2088 on 24 January.) Following three rounds of largely uncontroversial negotiations which began last Thursday, the draft resolution was ready to be put into blue by Tuesday afternoon (8 October).
The draft resolution updates and reinforces the mandate of BINUCA in five areas: support for implementation of the transition process, support for conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, support for stabilisation of the security situation, promotion and protection of human rights, and coordination of international actors. More specifically, the mandate addresses the electoral process; good offices functions of BINUCA; security sector reform; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration; monitoring, investigating and reporting on human rights violations; and capacity building for the judicial system, including transitional justice mechanisms and human rights institutions. The draft resolution also takes note of the recommendation of the Secretary-General to extend the field presence of BINUCA and requests more information regarding options for establishing a UN guard unit.
The draft resolution also puts the need to update BINUCA’s mandate in a broader context by highlighting recent developments including the seizure of power by force by the Séléka rebel coalition on 24 March and the AU’s authorisation of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) on 19 July.
The section on political transition expresses the Council’s support for the mediation by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) as well as the implementation of transitional arrangements previously agreed this year in Libreville, Gabon and N’Djamena, Chad. In addition the Council expresses its readiness to consider appropriate measures against those who undermine peace and stability and violate transitional agreements. It also reiterates the need for accountability, particularly for those crimes which fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
On the issue of peacekeeping forces in the CAR, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to assist with coordination and planning for ECCAS and the AU, particularly in relation to the transition from ECCAS’s Peace Consolidation Mission in the CAR (MICOPAX) to AU authorised AFISM-CAR. It also encourages countries in the region to participate in the AU force and UN member states to provide support.
While Council members were largely in substantive agreement on most points in the draft resolution, there were some issues which required additional negotiation, particularly on specific language used for human rights and humanitarian access for BINUCA. One compromise seems to have been removing the word “full” in relation to humanitarian access and replacing it with a reference to “in accordance with UN guiding principles on humanitarian aid”. Another compromise was deleting the word “regular” in relation to human rights reporting, apparently at the insistence of at least one Council member who objected to the possibility that it would create a recurring, separate human rights-specific reporting obligation for BINUCA.
It seems one other area of disagreement was in relation on how to abbreviate African-led mission, with France insisting on the usage of the acronym MISCA (Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique). As a result, the draft resolution uses MISCA rather than the more widely used AFISM-CAR when referring to the African-led mission.
In terms of follow-up, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide a report within 30 days with detailed options for supporting AFISM-CAR, including the possibility of transformation into a UN peacekeeping operation. This draft resolution appears to be an intermediate step toward more active UN re-engagement with the CAR, a situation the Council has mostly addressed through a series of press statements since December. The most critical decisions are likely to be taken in November or December in response to the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General regarding specific mechanisms for UN backing of the AU force.
It seems clear that the effectiveness of BINUCA is directly linked with the functioning of AFISM-CAR. Without adequate financial and logistical support AFISM-CAR will struggle to reverse the increasing insecurity within the country. This point was emphasised by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, following a meeting on 7 October with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUCA, General Babacar Gaye, and is likely to be a key issue in future Council discussions.