What's In Blue

Posted Wed 26 Jun 2024

Central African Republic: Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow morning (27 June), the Security Council will hold an open briefing and closed consultations on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the CAR and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Valentine Rugwabiza is the anticipated briefer. The CAR’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Francophonie, and Central Africans Abroad, Sylvie Baïpo Temon, is expected to represent her country at the meeting.

Rugwabiza is expected to describe the latest developments in the CAR based on the Secretary-General’s most recent report on MINUSCA, which was circulated to Council members on 14 June and covers developments since 15 February (S/2024/473). She is likely to highlight some of the political developments in the CAR following the adoption of the 2023 constitution and the progress in the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR. Rugwabiza may particularly refer to MINUSCA’s support to the decentralisation of the peace process through the involvement of prefectural implementation mechanisms. She might also mention the high-level national conference on peaceful and prosperous transhumance held on 13 May to develop strategies for reducing seasonal transhumance-related violence. The CAR has been affected by increasing intercommunal conflict as a result of transhumance-related activities, and the conference agreed, among other things, to strengthen the security of transhumance corridors and promote cross-border dialogues.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Rugwabiza may elaborate on efforts to prepare for local elections, scheduled to take place in October. A budget shortfall remains an ongoing challenge, despite recent financial commitments to support the election made by some partners, such as the EU. The Secretary-General’s report also mentions the CAR government’s formal request to the UN to provide electoral assistance to the country’s presidential and legislative elections, set to be held in 2025-2026. The CAR government seeks MINUSCA’s support in mobilising resources and providing continued technical, operational, logistical, and security support for the local, presidential, and legislative elections.

The security situation in the CAR is likely to be a focus of tomorrow’s meeting. With the increased military activities of armed groups, particularly along the border, the situation remains volatile. In this regard, the Secretary-General’s report notes efforts by armed groups to gain control of mining sites and transhumance corridors. The final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, which was submitted to Council members in May and covers the period between January and April, described the spillover effects of the conflict in Sudan and its impact on the activities of armed groups in the CAR. The report noted “the presence of Sudanese conflict parties crossing into Central African Republic territory, with confirmed reports of Sudanese Armed Forces air raids in and around border areas”. It also indicated that “[t]he Rapid Support Forces of the Sudan have recruited from among armed groups in the Central African Republic and move between the two countries easily through a long-standing network”.

Additionally, the report of the Panel of Experts expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in the CAR, which has been exacerbated by the influx of Sudanese refugees. It further voiced alarm about the increasing tensions between local communities and refugees, with armed groups infiltrating refugee camps and engaging in forced recruitment, use of child soldiers, and attacks based on religious and ethnic grounds. The Panel emphasised, among other things, the need to control the surge in arms trafficking from neighbouring countries and the infiltration of foreign fighters into the CAR. It also underscored the need to enhance regional cooperation to address security challenges.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Rugwabiza may apprise the Council of MINUSCA’s efforts to support the extension of state authority in the CAR and enhance joint patrols with the CAR armed forces (FACA) to reinforce the state’s presence in conflict-affected areas to protect civilians and support local reconciliation efforts. She may also highlight the mission’s continued support for CAR’s disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration, and repatriation programme in line with its mandate. The report of the Panel of Experts noted problems in the implementation of this programme, such as the use of demobilised ex-combatants as proxies for FACA and their fast-track integration into the armed forces.

Rugwabiza may also describe the effects of restrictions imposed by the CAR authorities on the use of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the implementation of MINUSCA’s mandate. She may note that this hinders the mission’s ability to acquire critical information and develop comprehensive security analyses for operational planning. She might also expound on the mission’s multiple engagements with the CAR authorities to resolve this issue. Some Council members are particularly concerned by this issue; they may reiterate tomorrow their call on the CAR authorities to lift these restrictions and to take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of movement of MINUSCA’s personnel throughout the country.

Several Council members are also likely to express concern about human rights violations and abuses in the CAR. The period covered by the Secretary-General’s report saw a 16 percent decrease in such violations and abuses but a three percent increase in the number of victims, including of grave violations against children and conflict-related sexual violence. The human rights situation in the CAR has been a particularly divisive issue in the Council, partly because of the delay last year in releasing the mission’s report on the human rights situation in the CAR. Resolution 2709 of 15 November 2023, which renewed MINUSCA’s mandate, therefore requested that the report be available before the next mandate renewal negotiations in November. The report—previously annual and now six-monthly—is apparently expected to be circulated to Council members soon.

Some Council members are likely to continue stressing the need to ensure accountability and justice in the CAR. In this regard, they may note the arrest warrant issued by the Special Criminal Court in February against former president François Bozizé for crimes committed during his leadership of the country between 2003 and 2013. The Special Criminal Court is a hybrid court, operational since 2018, composed of domestic and international judges to investigate, prosecute, and judge the most serious crimes committed in the CAR. Bozizé, who leads the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement (CPC)—the main rebel coalition of CAR armed groups, which is based in Chad—reportedly left Chad for Guinea-Bissau following a February 2023 meeting involving CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby in Luanda under the auspices of Angolan President João Lourenço.

Another important issue for Council members is the work of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee. Ahead of the upcoming negotiations on the renewal of the 2127 CAR sanctions regime in July, Temon may reiterate her government’s request for the total lifting of the arms embargo, a call supported by some Council members, including China and Russia. The AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has expressed support for this in the past and may reiterate this position in its upcoming meeting on the situation in the CAR scheduled for 11 July. This is likely to influence the position of the Security Council’s “A3 plus one” members (Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana) in the upcoming negotiations. However, other Council members, such as the US, argued last year that the Council should not lift the arms embargo until the CAR exerts further efforts to strengthen its stockpile management and address cross-border smuggling of arms and natural resources.

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