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Central African Republic: Sanctions Resolution

Tomorrow (30 January), the Council will renew the Central African Republic (CAR) sanctions regime, consisting of an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze on listed individuals and entities, until 31 January 2019, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 28 February 2019.

Negotiations on the draft resolution commenced with a read through of the text with France, the penholder, on 19 January. It quickly became evident that there was one major issue of contention among Council members concerning the recommendation of the Panel of Experts to add a new listing criterion. On 4 December 2017, the committee had met the panel to discuss its final report (S/2017/1023). The report recommended that the committee encourage the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to report to the committee any acts of incitement to ethnic or religious violence and hatred and to identify the perpetrators or instigators. It further recommended that in the next resolution extending the sanctions regime, the Council include a designation criterion for individuals and entities inciting ethnic or religious violence and hatred, as well as justifying such acts.

When this proposal was put forward during the negotiations, most Council members expressed support for including the new listing criterion. The US, however, took the position that it would not be able to implement such a criterion within its domestic system, maintaining that it is overbroad and would infringe on expressions of views protected under free speech. As an alternative, the US proposed condemning incitement to imminent violence that undermines the peace, stability and security in the CAR, and for listing those that engage in such acts or provide support to such acts. Other Council members did not want the listing criterion to require actions in the furtherance of the incitement, rather than listing individuals for incitement as such, as that would undermine the objective of the criterion in their view.

This impasse appears to have been addressed through carefully crafted language in the final draft. The draft in blue condemns incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence in the preambular paragraph. Additionally, the Council similarly condemns in an operative paragraph all acts of incitement to violence, in particular on an ethnic or religious basis, that undermine the peace, stability or security of the CAR. This paragraph, which directly follows the paragraph outlining the listing criteria for sanctions designation, goes on to state that the Council decides that individuals and entities who commit such acts of incitement to violence and then engage in or provide support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the CAR could [emphasis ours] meet the designation criteria earlier specified.

The draft resolution further states that the Panel of Experts will collect information on incidents of incitement to violence that undermine the peace, stability or security of the CAR, in cooperation with MINUSCA.

Another matter that came up during negotiations concerned the existing listing criterion for committing violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, including those involving targeting of civilians, schools and hospitals. Ethiopia suggested including also attacks against “state institutions” as part of this listing criterion. Some Council members found this addition overly broad. In the end, in an apparent compromise, language was incorporated specifying attacks on civilian objects, including administrative centres and courthouses.

Another small change in the sanctions regime concerns exemptions from the arms embargo. At the initiative of Russia, the resolution will include language indicating that member states providing training and assistance to the CAR security forces, and having notified the Committee in advance, will also be exempt from the arms embargo, thus allowing troops from such states to bring their personal arms with them.

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