Central African Republic Briefing and Consultations
Tomorrow (23 October), Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); Ambassador Léon Houadja Kacou Adom (Côte d’Ivoire), the chair of the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee; Koen Vervaeke, the Managing Director for Africa of the European Exernal Action Service; and the Special Representative of the AU to the CAR Bédializoun Moussa Nébié are expected to brief on the situation in CAR. The briefing will be followed by consultations, in which Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is expected to participate.
Council members will be eager to hear from Onanga-Anyanga and Lacroix about the latest MINUSCA report (S/2018/922), which includes the main findings and recommendations of the recently concluded strategic review of MINUSCA, conducted by the Secretariat at the behest of the Secretary-General. The strategic review is likely to factor into upcoming negotiations on the renewal of MINUSCA’s mandate, which expires on 15 November. The report suggests that the UN, and MINUSCA in particular, should have a stronger role in the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR—which is led by the AU and includes the participation of the government and 14 armed groups—by closely aligning the mission’s efforts with reconciliation efforts. The Secretary-General has thus asked MINUSCA to reinforce its priority mandated task to support the political process by increasing its substantive and mediation support to the African Initiative to complement its ongoing technical, logistical and security support. The report further notes that an inclusive and transparent electoral process leading to the 2020-2021 elections can serve as an integral part of the political process. In this regard, it recommends that the Council authorise MINUSCA to support the electoral process through good offices, and through technical, operational, logistics and security support and capacity-building particularly to the National Election Commission for the planning and conduct of the next presidential, legislative and local elections, and coordination of international electoral support.
The report further recommends that MINUSCA’s mandate be renewed at current troop levels, while maintaining its current priority tasks of supporting the political process, protecting civilians and facilitating the creation of a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and strengthening its mandate related to political support for the peace process and security strategy. (MINUSCA has deployed 11,170 military personnel, and a total of 750 troops out of the 900 authorised in resolution 2387.) The Secretary-General concludes that enhanced international support from MINUSCA, the EU and others in support of a national security strategy linked to the political process is necessary for MINUSCA’s ultimate exit.
Council members will look to Vervaeke to elaborate on the work of the EU Military Training Mission (EUTM) in helping to make the CAR security forces operational in conjunction with other international partners, including MINUSCA. In this regard, the report recalls and asks the Council to approve the 15 May request of the Secretary-General that the Council authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support for a period of 12 months to the CAR security forces trained by the EUTM, under certain conditions, including that the security forces are vetted and would uphold the principles of accountability and the rule of law (S/2018/463). It laments that MINUSCA is overstretched and notes that it will shift to a more dynamic posture in order to enhance its security efforts without a troop increase.
Adom is expected to brief the Council on his recent visit to the CAR from 2 to 5 October, accompanied by Council experts from France, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, US and Russia. He met with government officials and other stakeholders to discuss the sanctions regime and its implementation. The main issue discussed was the CAR’s continuing request to lift the arms embargo, a step the Council has been reluctant to take due to a lack of progress in security sector reform and vetting of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA). During the visit, Council members were told that while CAR security forces are under-armed, lack of implementation of the arms embargo by neighbouring states has allowed a regular stream of arms and ammunition to reach rebel groups, creating an imbalance of firepower.
Onanga-Anyanga, Lacroix and perhaps other briefers are also likely to address the security, human rights, and humanitarian environment in the CAR. The Secretary-General’s report states that the number of security incidents in the CAR has decreased since 15 June, and the number of civilian deaths linked to the conflict has decreased since January, primarily owing to a decline in intercommunal violence. Notwithstanding this overall decrease, intercommunal violence between pastoralists and farmers continued in some areas with frequent attacks on civilians and MINUSCA, which has been severely hampered by its limited presence and the extremely difficult road and logistical conditions in some of those areas. The CAR is also experiencing record levels of displacement, with more than 616,000 internally displaced persons and 572,062 refugees as at 1 October. Since 2017, the number of documented human rights violations by armed groups and security forces has also increased considerably. Since 15 June, MINUSCA documented 597 new cases of grave human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law affecting 1,077 victims.