Adoption of a Resolution on the Central African Republic
Tomorrow (5 December), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution authorising the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), an AU peacekeeping force known by its French acronym MISCA, and a UN trust fund to support it, the deployment of French troops to assist MISCA and a sanctions regime.
Since the Séléka rebels took up arms against the government last December, culminating in the 24 March 2013 ousting of President François Bozize, the political and security situation in the CAR has remained highly volatile and unpredictable.
According to the Secretary-General’s 15 November report on the CAR (S/2013/677), the security situation in the country has continued to deteriorate. The ex-Séléka (now officially disbanded by the transitional authorities) combatants, continue to commit serious violations of human rights with total impunity. In response, militia groups known as the “anti-balaka” have emerged, creating a new dynamic of violence and retaliation. As a result, there are an increasing number of attacks by anti-balaka groups against ex-Séléka forces, as well as local communities, including the Muslim population. These attacks have triggered reprisals from ex-Séléka elements against the population. The report warns that if not addressed, this cycle has the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable sectarian-driven violent scenario with serious regional implications. Furthermore, the crisis has caused 66,000 refugees and the internal displacement of 400,000 persons.
The Council heard a briefing on the report on 25 November from Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. The briefing was followed by consultations in which Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun also participated. Elliason conveyed a sense of urgency to Council members, urging them to save the CAR from descending into chaos, and called for international support for MISCA, with an eventual transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping operation with an estimated strength of 6,000 troops and 1,700 police personnel.
The Secretary-General’s report listed five options for the UN relating to its support of MISCA: mobilising bilateral and multilateral assistance; establishing a UN trust fund of voluntary contributions from UN member states; creating a limited support package funded by assessed and voluntary contributions to cover specific MISCA tasks; setting up a comprehensive logistical support package in order to assist MISCA; and transforming MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission. After consultations, France circulated a draft resolution which included a number of the Secretary-General’s options. The draft authorises MISCA to protect civilians, support reform efforts and create conditions for humanitarian assistance for 12 months. It requests the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund for MISCA through which financial support may be provided. The draft further authorises the French forces in the CAR (roughly 400 soldiers with an additional deployment expected soon) to take all necessary measures to assist MISCA in the implementation of its mandate. Significantly, the draft also requests the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate international humanitarian law and human rights law violations in the CAR since 1 January 2013, including by identifying the perpetrators of such violence. (Rwanda was among Council members pushing for this commission to be included in the draft).
Several areas of contention emerged during the two expert level meetings on the draft text. The original draft proposed by France welcomed the possible transformation of MISCA into a UN peacekeeping mission. It stressed that a future decision of the Council would be required to establish such a mission and requested recommendations from the Secretary-General within three months. While several Council members supported this position, at least two permanent members disagreed with this language and the implication that this transformation is likely to take place.
The initial draft resolution also proposed a sanctions regime and a sanctions committee, imposing an arms embargo on the CAR and a travel ban and assets freeze for those obstructing the transitional process, including through human rights abuses. During negotiations, some Council members were uncomfortable with imposing targeted sanctions at this point, and suggested that the idea of a sanctions regime should be considered only after further reporting by the commission of inquiry. It seems the compromise was to retain just the arms embargo and to establish a sanctions committee with a panel of experts to assist it. It seems, however, that the final draft expresses the Council’s intent to consider imposing targeted measures, including travel bans and assets freezes in the future.
Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.