What's In Blue

Posted Thu 26 Jan 2017

Renewal of the Central African Republic Sanctions Regime and Panel of Experts Mandate

Tomorrow (27 January), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution renewing the sanctions regime imposed on the Central African Republic (CAR) until 31 January 2018 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the CAR Sanctions Committee until 28 February 2018.

The security situation in the CAR has continued to be precarious. The government of President Faustin Archange Touadera has limited control outside the capital, Bangui, and efforts to convince various armed groups to disarm have not gained traction, with factions of the Muslim-dominated ex-Séléka and Christian anti-Balaka rebel groups declining to give up their hold on large areas. Violence among ex-Séléka factions and between anti-Balaka, ex-Séléka and other rebel groups has become widespread and more frequent throughout the country, since September 2016. The presence of MINUSCA has not been able to eliminate the threat of armed groups in huge swathes of the country.

Regarding the implementation of the sanctions regime, the Panel of Experts’ final report of 5 December 2016 (S/2016/1032), notes that targeted sanctions against individuals and entities listed by the Committee, while having an important signaling effect, have been poorly implemented. In particular the report notes that listed individuals have been travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond. The Panel also highlighted the continued prevalence of arms-smuggling, focusing on two arms-trafficking routes through the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the southeast and across the Chadian border in the north. A notable recommendation in the report is for the Council to consider the establishment of an arms embargo working group within the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), with a view to coordinating the Mission’s efforts on the implementation of the arms embargo.

The Council members met at expert-level on 19 January to discuss the draft text circulated by France and negotiations then continued via email. Yesterday (25 January), before the final version of the draft was circulated and put under silence procedure, the CAR Sanctions Committee met with representatives of the CAR and neighboring countries (CAR, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda) to elicit their views on the sanctions renewal. Although the negotiations have been, on the whole, non-controversial, there were a few areas of disagreement. One point of contention was over the recommendation on the formation of an arms embargo working group within MINUSCA. In the first draft text, the Panel was requested to provide the Council, in coordination with MINUSCA, additional information on the recommended working group. Some Council members suggested that if such a working group is to be formed within MINUSCA, it is the Secretariat that should consider the functions and structure of such a working group. Against the background of the CAR government requesting the removal of the arms embargo regarding its security forces, the final draft incorporates a suggestion put forward by Egypt, for the Secretariat to provide additional information on the establishment of the working group and, at the same time, develop, by 30 May 2017, “options for the elaboration of benchmarks” to assess and re-evaluate the arms embargo, considering also developments in security sector reform, in consultation with the CAR government.

There was some disagreement during the negotiations over new language on the implementation of the travel ban. As the Panel of Experts had noted a lack of implementation on this front, France suggested additional language, adapted from resolutions 2178 (on foreign terrorist fighters) and resolution 2161 (on Al-Qaida). This included encouraging member states to require that airlines operating in their territories provide advance passenger information to the appropriate national authorities, and that the CAR ensure that fraudulent and stolen passports are removed from circulation, in accordance with its domestic laws. Several Council members questioned the relevance of such language taken from counter-terrorism resolutions aimed at all member states, to a country-specific context where a single country is called upon to implement some of these measures. However, the language was kept in the text, as it was made clear that all measures were to be taken in accordance with domestic law. In addition, as a compromise, language was added to the text clarifying that member states are to require airlines to provide them with information, “as appropriate and in accordance with their domestic laws and applicable international legal instruments and framework documents”.

Another point of contention concerned the listing criteria. One criterion for listing in resolution 2262 was violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including acts involving sexual and gender-based violence. The briefing to the Committee by Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura on 5 August 2016 appears to have convinced some Council members that sexual violence should be specified as a violation. While other Council members at first questioned the necessity of any new language, the draft resolution now includes language identifying sexual violence as a separate criterion.