Renewal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)*
Tomorrow (7 December), the Council is set to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the authorisation for French forces in the CAR to use all means to support MINUSCA at the request of the Secretary-General.
The latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/922), which includes the main findings and recommendations of the recent strategic review of MINUSCA initiated by the Secretary-General, suggested that the UN, and MINUSCA in particular, should have a stronger role in the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR, led by the AU and attended by 14 armed groups, and that the mission’s efforts should be closely aligned to the initiative. The report further notes that “an inclusive and transparent electoral process leading up to the 2020–2021 elections can serve as an integral part of the political process”, adding that such “support also remains essential for the eventual exit of MINUSCA.” Accordingly, it recommended that MINUSCA’s mandate be renewed at current troop levels, maintaining the current priority mandated tasks of MINUSCA, “to support the political process, protect civilians and facilitate the creation of a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance…while strengthening its mandate related to its political support” for reconciliation efforts and security strategy. The report recommended that the Council authorise MINUSCA to support the electoral process through providing good offices; 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 penholder, France, first circulated the draft resolution on 2 November, and Council members met twice to negotiate the text. The priority tasks of the mission outlined in the draft include the protection of civilians; good offices and support to the peace process, including national reconciliation, social cohesion and transitional justice; facilitating the creation of a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance; and the protection of the UN (referring to UN personnel, sites and equipment).
In accordance with these recommendations, the draft expands the language on MINUSCA’s support to the peace process. MINUSCA is to reinforce its role in the peace process through a greater political role in the African Initiative and the participation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as a full member of the initiative’s Panel of Facilitators, including substantive and mediation support to the African Initiative within its ongoing technical, logistical and security support. MINUSCA will further be mandated to collaborate with the African Initiative to ensure that the Mission’s political and security strategies promote a more coherent peace process that connects both local and national peace efforts. Regarding the electoral process, MINUSCA is to advance the preparation and conduct of an inclusive and transparent electoral process “as a full part of the political process”. Language in an earlier draft mandating MINUSCA to establish an electoral affairs division to begin supporting elections in 2020/2021 as a standalone task was taken out as the US did not want to add a separate task that would require additional expenditures.
The tasks set out in the draft for which MINUSCA will be responsible include: support for the extension of state authority and the national army, the Forces armées centrafricaines (FACA); security sector reform; disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation; the promotion and protection of human rights; and support for national and international justice, the fight against impunity, and the rule of law.
A point of contention during the negotiations was addressing the 15 May request of the Secretary-General that the Council authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support for the CAR security forces trained by the EU Military Training Mission (EUTM), under certain conditions, including that the security forces be vetted and would uphold the principles of accountability and the rule of law (S/2018/463). The latest MINUSCA report reiterates the request and asks the Council to approve it. While EU members were interested in the request being approved, there were concerns over the vetting process of the FACA and potential human rights violations by its troops. In addition, some Council members had reservations about the capacity of MINUSCA to take on additional tasks, as well as the added cost this would entail. The final draft authorises MINUSCA to enhance planning, technical assistance and limited logistical support for redeployment of these units, within the confines of the request of the Secretary-General and in accordance with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, while stating that these are to be carried out “by reallocating approved resources”.
After these major issues were settled, two other points delayed the adoption of the resolution in November. The US objected to certain references in the text to the ICC, most particularly regarding MINUSCA cooperation with the ICC in the context of apprehension of wanted criminals. Russia, for its part, insisted that the text reflect its expanding role in training and arming the CAR security forces as well as a Russian-brokered meeting in Khartoum between the anti-Balaka militia led by Maxime Mokom and the ex-Séléka led by Noureddine Adam (after which the two groups issued a 29 August declaration of commitment towards peace in the CAR through the establishment of the “Central African Forum” as a framework for communication). The draft text, however, referred to the African Initiative as “the only framework for a comprehensive political solution in the CAR” and the need to avoid parallel initiatives. Some members felt that mentioning the 29 August declaration could undermine the African Initiative, which the region and MINUSCA are supporting. On a previous occasion, in a 13 July presidential statement, the Council referred to the African Initiative as “the main framework for a political solution in the CAR” (S/PRST/2018/14).
Despite these disagreements, France put forward a draft text in blue on 14 November. At that point, the US proposed that the Council authorise a “technical rollover” of the mission, to allow time for consideration of the new draft. The Council adopted resolution 2446, extending the mandate of MINUSCA for until 15 December.
France continued to negotiate bilaterally with the US and Russia. At the end of November, the US informed Council members that it was ready to proceed with the French text.
After further discussions with Russia, the new text in blue contains changes regarding reconciliation initiatives in the CAR. While the African Initiative is still referred to as “the only framework for a comprehensive political solution”, the text no longer refers to the need to avoid parallel initiatives but rather for “strengthen [ed] coordination of all efforts and initiatives under the leadership of the African Union” in support of the initiative. It also refers to coordination with EUTM “and other international partners, including France, the Russian Federation and the United States” in security sector reform. At press time, it was unclear if these changes will bring Russia to support the resolution or abstain.
*Post-Script: The vote was delayed until 13 December, when the Council adopted resolution 2448 renewing the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2019. The vote was 13 favour with two abstentions (China and Russia).