What's In Blue

Posted Fri 9 Jun 2017

Briefing and Consultations on the Central African Republic

On Monday (12 June), the Security Council will be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic (CAR), Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, on the situation in the CAR. The Council will also be briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, on the human rights situation, and the President of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, about the Sant’Egidio Community’s mediation efforts. The briefing will be followed by consultations.

Onanga-Anyanga is expected to focus his briefing on the two main challenges currently facing the CAR and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA): increasing attacks against civilians and MINUSCA personnel, and the difficulties still facing the political process. In particular, Onanga-Anyanga is likely to highlight recent violence in the eastern and central prefectures that have necessitated robust responses by MINUSCA to protect civilian populations. Onanga-Anyanga may also describe the pressure recent violence has placed on MINUSCA’s ability to respond, including heavy demands on the quick reaction force.

Council members continue to be concerned by the human rights situation in the CAR. Since early May there have been sustained reports of violence across the CAR, displacing at least 88,000 people in May alone according to UNHCR. On 30 May, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released an extensive report mapping human rights abuses in the CAR between 2003 and 2015, which had been requested in resolution 2301 of 26 July 2016. The report, and its conclusion that “many of the violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”, is expected to be the focus of Gilmour’s briefing. Some members may be interested in how “the report will contribute to combating impunity by supporting the prosecutorial strategy of the Special Criminal Court and the development of transitional justice mechanisms,” as asserted by the Secretary-General in his 2 June report on the CAR (S/2017/473).

Impagliazzo is expected to explain to the Council on the mediation efforts by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The Community has held a closed-door session with representatives of armed groups as part of efforts to support the peace process and encourage participation in the dialogue with the CAR government. Council members may discuss how the Council can support efforts to broaden participation in the political process, ensuring the inclusion of parliament, the 14 main armed groups, and community representatives. A related area of interest to Council members may be how to respond to the apparent fragmentation of armed groups and to support government efforts to negotiate with those groups with legitimate grievances, while resisting efforts by spoilers to hinder the process.

Operational aspects of MINUSCA may feature in the meeting as well. The attack in May against MINUSCA’s presence in Bangassou is part of an increase in the deliberate targeting of MINUSCA personnel by anti-balaka militants. May marked MINUSCA’s highest casualty rate since the mission’s inception in 2014. There is expected to be interest among members regarding what the mission can do to improve the safety and security of its personnel. Council members may also raise recent media reports concerning the battalion from the Republic of Congo from which 100 peacekeepers were previously repatriated following sexual abuse and exploitation allegations; in this context, some members may want more information about whether there have been any further issues related to unit discipline and what the mission is doing to strengthen implementation of its sexual exploitation and abuse action plan.

Following the briefing, Council members will hold closed consultations to discuss measures to respond to the current situation, and to maintain and advance the broader stabilisation efforts. Such measures may include: increased support to regional and sub-regional mediation efforts; additional support to operationalisation of the CAR security forces; expanding humanitarian access into areas controlled by armed groups; supporting local reconciliation efforts; and supporting the reestablishment of basic services in areas beyond the capital, Bangui.

Monday’s briefing and consultations are an opportunity to increase the Council’s focus on the CAR. Notwithstanding recent developments, the situation remains a low priority for many Council members, possibly a consequence of an over-crowded agenda. The Council issued two press statements condemning the attacks against MINUSCA and civilian populations in May; however no outcome is currently envisaged following Monday’s briefing and consultations. Council members may revisit the question of an outcome in the coming weeks as it becomes more useful and necessary for the Council to support progress in the political process, or express its concern regarding a lack of progress.