What's In Blue

Mandate Renewal of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic

Tomorrow afternoon(26 July), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) at its current troop ceiling. MINUSCA’s mandate was originally due to expire on 30 April, but on 26 April the Council extended the mandate through resolution 2281 until 31 July in a technical rollover, to allow time for consultations between MINUSCA and the incoming government on adapting the mission’s mandate to the post-transition period. Resolution 2281 also asked the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of MINUSCA to inform Council members’ deliberations on a new mandate.

The resolution will renew the mission’s mandate until 15 November 2017, which is longer than the usual one-year period, but shorter than the 18-month extension requested by the Secretary-General in his strategic review of 22 June (S/2016/565). France proposed this date in order provide MINUSCA with a longer period to assess the implementation of MINUSCA’s new mandate after the end of the transitional political process and the installation of an elected president legislature and government.

The draft resolution was circulated by France on 15 July and Council members held one meeting on 19 July to discuss the draft text. The draft, which was put in blue this evening, mostly follows the recommendations of the strategic review presented to the Council on 8 July by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous (S/PV.7734). The review notes that there are improvements in the security and economic situation. At the same time, it identifies the continuing operation of the ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka armed groups as the main impediment to the consolidation of peace in the country and notes the need for urgent humanitarian assistance and protection.

Accordingly, the strategy envisioned by the Secretary-General consists of three main pillars. On the political front, the review calls for supporting government dialogue with armed groups, addressing the root causes of the conflict, and establishing state authority throughout the CAR. Regarding security, the report recommends a strong emphasis on protection of civilians, and support for security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programs. Furthermore, the review calls for support for justice and reconciliation efforts. The review does not recommend a change in troop numbers, though it says that in later stages more police units and fewer military units may be warranted.

To adapt MINUSCA’s mandate accordingly, the draft resolution divides its tasks into “immediate priority tasks”, “core priority tasks”, “essential tasks” and “additional tasks”. The immediate tasks include the protection of civilians by “maintaining a robust, mobile and flexible posture”, the promotion and protection of human rights, and facilitating a secure environment for the immediate, full, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance. The core tasks focus on the sustainable reduction of the presence of, and threat posed by, armed groups by supporting the reconciliation and stabilisation political processes, the extension of state authority and support for security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes.

In order to assist in restoring the rule of law in the CAR, MINUSCA’s core tasks continue to include “urgent temporary measures” to arrest and detain individuals. MINUSCA is also to assist the CAR to operationalise the national Special Criminal Court (SCC) and provide technical assistance, in partnership with other international partners, and capacity building for the CAR authorities, in order to facilitate the functioning of the SCC (the SCC is planned to operate within the CAR domestic legal system with international assistance and personnel).

Finally, the Secretary-General is requested to report to the Council on MINUSCA by 1 October 2016, and then every four months thereafter.

While members did not disagree over the tasks of the mission, there were different views regarding the principles of peacekeeping and the several references in the text urging MINUSCA to be more proactive in implementing its protection of civilians mandate. The first draft mandated MINUSCA to protect civilians “including through the use of modern technologies and maintaining a robust, mobile and flexible posture, active patrolling, and to mitigate risks to civilians posed by its military and police operations”. Several Council members took issue with what they viewed as language at odds with the traditional role of peacekeeping. It seems that a compromise was to remove the reference to “robustness” and the usage of “modern technologies” (which some viewed as a cover for more intrusive activities) and to add that MINUSCA is to act within the limits of the principles of peacekeeping.

A related but more specific issue was a request in the draft for the Secretary-General to maximise MINUSCA’s operational capacity and ability to discharge its mandate, “including through enhancing MINUSCA’s intelligence capacities, including surveillance and monitoring capacities”. France and others supported this language, noting that it has been used in other peacekeeping mandates such as Mali, and the need to enhance MINUSCA’s effectiveness throughout the CAR, as called for by the CAR government. However, some Council members took the view that intelligence gathering is a military activity beyond the scope of peacekeeping and such language should be avoided. This led to the addition of “where appropriate” in relation to enhancing MINUSCA’s intelligence capacities.

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