On Friday (13 July), the Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) addressing the deteriorating situation in the country.
The negotiations, on the whole, reflected the fact that Council members are generally united in their views on the security and political situation in the CAR. In this regard, not much disagreement was evident when Council members met to go over the text a single time, on 6 July. The one area that required compromise was how to characterise potential support that the mission could provide to CAR armed forces.
The dire security situation in the CAR was an important focus of the statement. Self-proclaimed self-defence groups, loosely connected to some members of the anti-Balaka movement, have continued to operate in south-eastern CAR, targeting Muslims. Ex-Séléka, largely consisting of Muslim factions, continue to establish illegal parallel administration and taxation structures in areas under their control, preying on the population. They have also deliberately attacked humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. Government forces and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) have also been losing their grip in recent months over Bangui and Bambari, where the security situation was stable until recently.
Accordingly, the presidential statement expresses the Council’s concern regarding persistent violence perpetrated by armed groups in Bangui and in the rest of the country against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers. The Council also deplores the rise of incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence, and hostility towards MINUSCA and other international actors.
The presidential statement also emphasises the importance of the political process in the CAR. It reaffirms the Council’s support to the AU-led African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR and its roadmap adopted in Libreville on 17 July 2017, and welcomes the conclusion of the second round of consultations by the Panel of Facilitators of the African Initiative. It urges armed groups to cease all forms of violence and destabilising activities; lay down their arms, immediately and unconditionally; and engage constructively in the peace process. The statement further underscores the need for additional progress to be made in an inclusive dialogue between the CAR authorities and armed groups, as well as all sectors of society.
While recognising that measures have been taken by the mission and troop and police-contributors to combat sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), the statement nonetheless expresses grave concern regarding claims of SEA against UN peacekeepers and non-UN forces. In this regard, it reiterates the need for troop and police contributors, and MINUSCA, as appropriate, to investigate these allegations and to hold accountable those responsible for crimes and misconduct.
The Council also emphasises its deep concern with the humanitarian situation in the CAR, noting that almost half the population requires humanitarian assistance. To address this concern, the Council reiterates its demand for full, safe, immediate and unhindered access, and encourages member states to increase funding for the humanitarian needs in the CAR.
The only significant disagreement in the negotiations concerned language regarding the Secretary-General’s request in his 16 May report (S/2018/463) for the Council to authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support to the CAR security forces. The report recognised that such support should only be given under specific conditions, including that the security forces are inclusive and ethnically representative, have been vetted, and uphold the principles of accountability and the rule of law. It recommended that the Council authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support to the CAR security forces trained by the ongoing EU Military Training Mission in the CAR (EUTM-RAC) for a period of 12 months. It stressed that without this support, the ability of the CAR to restore peace and establish state authority would be undermined.
Russia broke silence in an earlier version of the presidential statement in which the Council would have taken note of the Secretary-General’s recommendations on possible support by MINUSCA for the redeployment of CAR forces trained by the EUTM-RAC, in accordance with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, for the Council’s consideration and possible approval after review. Russia, wanting more neutral language that does not limit the Council’s options, suggested simply expressing the Council’s intent to review the recommendations without referring to a possible approval of them. The draft statement that passed silence reflects the more tentative language suggested by Russia.
The Council was last briefed on the CAR on 21 June, by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSCA Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the AU to the CAR Bédializoun Moussa Nébié, and Force Commander of the EUTM-RCA Brigadier General Hermínio Teodoro Maio (S/PV.8291). The meeting was followed by an informal interactive dialogue in which Parfait Onanga-Anyanga and Nébié participated.