Briefing on UN Mission and UN Sanctions in the Central African Republic
Tomorrow (9 December) the Council will be briefed by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, on the latest report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and by the chair of the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite of Lithuania, on the work of the Committee and its Panel of Experts (PoE). Consultations on the Secretary-General’s report and the Sanctions Committee will follow the briefings. It is also possible that following the meeting Council members will also begin discussions on a possible presidential statement on the CAR.
The Secretary-General’s Report
Ladsous will likely provide an overview of the continuing dire security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the country outlined in the report (S/2014/857). There have been gross human rights violations and a resurgence of violence perpetrated since October, both in Bangui and throughout the country, by the anti-Balaka, the Séléka and other groups. Some 6,000 Muslims continue to live under difficult conditions in Bangui (the majority of Muslims fled from the capital and other places during the conflict) and by mid-November, there were 410,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), 420,000 refugees and more than 2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, roughly half of the population. (According to the UN Refugee Agency, as of 5 December, the number of IDPs stands at 430,000 people, an “improvement” and significant decrease of about half a million less than at the end of December 2013 and early 2014. At the same time, some 187,000 refugees having fled to neighbouring countries over the last year).
Council members have shown concern over many of the challenges discussed in the report which will likely be a focus of tomorrow’s discussion, including the sluggish progress with respect to issues such as the extension of state authority, the political process, reform in the security, police and justice sectors and others, all within the realm of MINUSCA’s mandate. Regarding the performance of urgent temporary measures by MINUSCA, to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity, as authorised by resolution 2149, a memorandum of intent was signed with the government but action has yet to be taken. One such measure contemplated is the establishment of a special criminal court, composed of national and international magistrates and prosecutors, but so far only a working group was established by the government to develop appropriate legislation. MINUSCA has also adopted standard operating procedures for arrest and detention, with 107 such arrests made so far and the individuals handed over to the CAR authorities. (The report does not specify what then happened with these persons).
Another issue that may be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting is the pace of MINUSCA’s deployment. According to the report, roughly 70% of MINUSCA’s authorised military and police personnel have been deployed and 75% of its civil component. The need for an increase in the number of corrections officers is also stressed. Finally, the Secretary-General indicates that in light of the situation, he intends to submit to the Council prior to the end of the current mandate (30 April 2015) recommendations regarding amendments to MINUSCA’s mandate and troop levels. (In related news, France has recently announced that it will begin gradually pulling from the CAR its own troops, authorised under resolution 2127, eventually lowering its presence from 2,000 to roughly 500 troops). There may be interest among Council members in any initial sense of what sort of amendments to the mission’s mandate may be needed.
Meanwhile, reports from the ground indicate that the sporadic violence continues. On 5 December, media reports suggested that several people were killed and wounded in sectarian violence in the town of Bambari, and hundreds of Christians were still seeking refuge at a local church A UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report released today (8 December) states that up to 10,000 children may have been recruited by armed groups as soldiers in 2014 and more than 430 have been killed or wounded, three times as many as in 2013. Council members may be keen to hear any information Ladsous may be able to share on the 5 December attack, as well as his assessment of the UNICEF report.
With regard to MINUSCA more specifically, Council members will be interested to get more detailed information from Ladsous on the concrete measures taken by MINUSCA to protect civilians and also on steps forward in establishing state authority, in particular by use of the urgent temporary measures as authorised by resolution 2149, as it seems that progress since the mission’s launch on 15 September has been relatively minimal.
Also, they may ask Ladsous to elaborate further on the Secretary-General’s intention to ask for modifications and adjustments in MINUSCA’s mandate prior to 15 April. Some Council members may also inquire as to MINUSCA’s approach towards the return of the uprooted Muslim population to their homes, an issue barely mentioned in the report.
The final report of the Commission of Inquiry, mandated by the Council in resolution 2127 to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and abuses of human rights in the CAR, was not ready by the 5 December deadline and will not be discussed during the meeting.
Ambassador Murmokaité (Lithuania) will provide an update on the work of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee and brief on the final report (S/2014/762) of the PoE assisting it, followed by consultations.
The PoE’s report was presented to the Committee on 7 November and highlights the illicit trade, smuggling and the levying of taxes by armed groups on natural resources, such as diamonds and gold as a means of financing violent operations by the anti-Balaka and the Séléka. The PoE also recommended a list of individuals and entities to be sanctioned by the Committee, mainly related to these activities, although at present Committee members have yet to agree on how to move forward on this issue. According to media reports, one of the names put forward for listing is former interim president and Séléka leader, Michel Djotodia, currently in exile in Benin, for trying to derail the political transitional process.
On 3 December, the Committee met with the representatives of the CAR, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. One issue discussed was the recommendation of the PoE to request neighbouring states to supply the Committee (on a confidential basis) with complete statistics on the import and export of natural resources, including diamonds and gold. It seems that two permanent members are against the recommendation to provide such information.
Also raised during the 3 December meeting was the reported visit of Séléka leader Nourredine Adam to Brazzaville upon the invitation of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is mediating between the parties in the CAR. (Adam is subject to a travel ban by the Committee). Some Committee members commented that while they understand the need for inclusive dialogue as Adam is on the Committee’s sanctions list, Congo should follow the correct procedures to enable Adam’s visit to Brazzaville by requesting that the Committee issue a travel ban exemption.