Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council this morning authorized the Member States participating in the Inter- African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB), as well as those States providing logistical support, to ensure the security and freedom of movement of their personnel. The authorization is for an initial period of three months.
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1125 (1997), the Council asked the Member States participating in MISAB to report to the Secretary- General at least every two weeks, beginning two weeks from now. After three months, the Council will again assess the situation on the basis of those reports. It stressed that the expenses and logistical support for the force will be borne on a voluntary basis, in accordance with its mandate.
The Council welcomed the efforts of the Member States participating in MISAB, as well as of those States which support them. It approved the MISAB's continued conduct of the operation in a neutral and impartial way to facilitate the return to peace and security by monitoring implementation of the Bangui Agreements. Those efforts include supervising the surrender of arms by former mutineers, militias and all others unlawfully bearing arms.
The MISAB, an 800-man force, was deployed in Bangui on 8 February. Member States in the force are Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Togo. The Mission was set up in January at the request of the Central African Republic following some army rebellions.
Statements were made by the representatives of Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Republic of Korea, Egypt, Costa Rica, France, Chile, Poland, Portugal, United States and the United Kingdom.
The meeting, called to order at 10:57 a.m., was adjourned at 11:43 a.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Central African Republic. It had before it letters from that Government, as well as from the President of Gabon, who writes on behalf of the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB). Both letters ask the Council to approve the mandate of the force and authorize it to act, neutrally and impartially, to fulfil its mandate. The force was set up in January 1997 following serious disturbances in that country.
The letter from the Central African Republic (document S/1997/561) transmits a 4 July request by its President, Ange-Félix Patasse, for the Council to provide a political and legal framework for the States members of the 800-man Inter-African force by authorizing them to restore peace and security in his country. The States -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Togo -- are to disarm former army rebels, militia and all other unlawfully armed persons. The Council is also asked to authorize those States and the States supporting them, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, to ensure the security and freedom of movement of MISAB personnel.
President Patasse says the request is justified by the grave crisis in his country stemming from the army rebellions, which left a large supply of arms in the hands of former rebels and militiamen. Despite MISAB's efforts to maintain security since February, persisting tensions in his country could affect regional stability and threaten international peace and security. The force was established at his request, following a meeting of the heads of State and Government of France and Africa, held at Ouagadougou from 4 to 6 December 1996.
The Mission is under the political authority of Gabon's President Omar Bongo. According to its mandate, annexed to the letter, the former head of State of Mali, General Amadou Toumani Toure, as Chairman of the International Monitoring Committee to supervise the implementation of the Bangui Agreements, shall have appropriate authority delegate to him. It also states that France will provide a logistical command unit and financial support.
Also before the Council was a 7 July letter from President Bongo of Gabon addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/1997/543), in which he asks the Council to authorize the Mission. As mediator in Central Africa and on behalf of MISAB, President Bongo states that, with the disturbances in the Central African Republic, that Government had been unable to maintain law and order. In an effort to help restore peace in Central Africa, the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon and Mali had decided to set up the force, which was established in January and deployed in Bangui on 8 February.
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The Council has before it the following draft resolution, sponsored by the Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea Bissau and Kenya.
"The Security Council,
"Concerned by the grave crisis facing the Central African Republic,
"Taking note with appreciation of the signing of the Bangui Agreements (S/1997/561, Appendixes III-VI) of 25 January 1997 and the creation of the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB),
"Concerned by the fact that the Central African Republic, former mutineers, members of militias and other persons continue to bear arms in contravention of the Bangui Agreements,
"Taking note of the letter dated 4 July 1997 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General (S/1997/561, annex),
"Taking note also of the letter dated 7 July 1997 to the Secretary- General from the President of Gabon, on behalf of the members of the International Committee for the follow-up of the Bangui Agreements (S/1997/543),
"Determining that the situation in the Central African Republic continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"1. Welcomes the efforts of the Member States which participate in MISAB and of those Member States which support them;
"2. Approves the continued conduct by Member States participating in MISAB of the operation in a neutral and impartial way to achieve its objective to facilitate the return to peace and security by monitoring the implementation of the Bangui Agreements in the Central African Republic as stipulated in the mandate of MISAB (S/1997/561, Appendix I), including through the supervision of the surrendering of arms of former mutineers, militias and all other persons unlawfully bearing arms;
"3. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorizes the Member States participating in MISAB and those States providing logistical support to ensure the security and freedom of movement of their personnel;
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"4. Decides that the authorization referred to in paragraph 3 above will be limited to an initial period of three months from the adoption of this resolution, at which time the Council will assess the situation on the basis of the reports referred to in paragraph 6 below;
"5. Stresses that the expenses and logistical support for the force will be borne on a voluntary basis in accordance with article 11 of the mandate of MISAB;
"6. Requests the Member States participating in MISAB to provide periodic reports at least every two weeks through the Secretary-General, the first report to be made within 14 days after the adoption of this resolution;
"7. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said MISAB had already achieved a measure of success, which the present resolution must be seen to support. The Council had a universal responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It also had a responsibility to support regional initiatives. the draft resolution gave MISAB the Council's approval for its continued conduct.
Parties to any conflict must show a willingness to settle the dispute through peaceful means, if there was to be any progress, he said. The parties in the Central African Republic had shown that commitment by signing, on 25 January, a series of documents known as the Bangui Agreements, which were considered by all parties as the means by which they could achieve peace and reconciliation. The MISAB, in its efforts to observe the implementation of those commitments, was doing a good job and deserved the Council's support.
He drew attention to the significant contribution that African countries and the Government of France were making to resolve the crisis and appealed to the international community to continue to support the initiative. There was a linkage between peace and development of which any meaningful international involvement in the Central African Republic should take account.
MARIO LOPES DA ROSA (Guinea-Bissau) said the Security Council should support the mediation efforts of the heads of States from the region. The request that the Council should authorize MISAB to continue implementing its mandate deserved its consideration. Such authorization would help ensure peace and stability in the area. Should the Council act quickly to confer political and legal framework sought, it would send a positive political signal to all parties there to pursue dialogue and national reconciliation.
MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) said the draft resolution before the Council was clear and pointed, approving the continued conduct by Member States
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participating in MISAB of the operation in a neutral and impartial way so that its objective might be attained. Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council would authorize the Member States participating in MISAB and those States providing logistical support to ensure the security and freedom of movement of their personnel. With the adoption of the draft resolution, effective action could be taken to restore peace to the Central African Republic, thereby contributing to the stability of the entire region.
The initiative being taken by countries in the region set a good precedent for the prevention of conflicts in Africa, he said. It was hoped that peace would take root in Central Africa in the very near future so that it might lead to long-term stability and development.
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said his Government was gravely concerned at the continuing crisis in the Central African Republic and its implications for the region. The crisis posed serious threats to regional peace and security. The Republic of Korea applauded the efforts by regional countries and the countries which supported them to resolve the crisis through deployment of Mission. Such efforts deserved strong support and encouragement by the international community.
He expressed the hope that MISAB would continue to lay the groundwork for the return of peace and security to the Central African Republic at the earliest possible date. The Council would continue to scrutinize closely, through periodic reports by the participating countries, the Mission's operations and their impact to help promote an early resolution of the crisis. The Council's endorsement of MISAB would set an important precedent, establishing linkages between the Council and regional initiatives in relating to international peace and security. It was hoped that MISAB's success would encourage further positive developments in regional peace and security initiatives in close cooperation with the Council.
SOLIMAN AWAAD (Egypt) said the regional intervention to address the crisis in the Central African Republic showed that Africa did not lack the means to try to solve its problems at the regional and subregional levels. It also showed the willingness to undertake preventive actions to tackle problems before they deteriorated. Egypt welcomed the diplomatic efforts of those who had been mediating in the conflict in the Central African Republic.
Since social and economic progress would be required to enhance peace there, further assistance should be provided to the country by the various organs of the United Nations system, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and by Bretton Woods institutions, such as the World Bank, he said. The draft resolution should send an important message to the parties to settle their differences through dialogue.
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MELVIN SAENZ BIOLLEY (Costa Rica) said the draft resolution before the Council was evidence of a new approach towards new problems of international peace and security, such as those in Albania and now the Central African Republic. Some of the problems in particular countries threatened to evolve into crises that could threaten international peace and security. The current efforts by the countries of the region to address the problems in the Central African Republic were welcome.
Since lasting solutions to the problems there should include economic, social and political components, international intervention should be accompanied by action to promote economic, social and humanitarian progress, the rule of law and human rights, he said. There was still a need for the holding of an international conference for the reconstruction and development of southern Africa, as had been proposed by the Secretary-General who should try to ensure that such a conference took place.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said his country had, from the outset, supported the requests by the Central African Republic and Gabon for the Council to approve MISAB's mandate and to authorize the force to continue implementing it. Those requests reflected respect for the provisions of the United Nations Charter and for the role of the Security Council, as well as the support for Council backstopping of regional efforts. The vote on the draft resolution would demonstrate that the Council's actions should be transparent and would bear witness to the need for strict respect for the provisions guiding United Nations action.
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said the draft resolution gave needed support to regional efforts to resolve the crisis in the Central African Republic. Chile supported such initiatives by the regional Powers. The MISAB had functioned well and fulfilled a vital function. He commended efforts by the President of Gabon and the countries taking part in MISAB for contributing troops to the Mission, and commended France for its logistical support. It was necessary that the Council provide an appropriate legal framework for the Mission. It was also important that the force be placed under the umbrella of the United Nations and be subject to international monitoring.
ZBIGNIEW MARIA WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said that was not the first time the Council had looked into active regional involvement in a situation which threatened international peace and security. The idea of regional initiatives was becoming more and more popular and was a welcome phenomenon. It was likely the Council would deliberate on the case of a multinational force which had been successfully operating in a European State. It was also likely that it would do so with a great deal of relief, satisfaction and a growing trust that regional leadership could be effective in maintaining international peace and security.
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Regional efforts had managed to prevent a worsening of the situation in the Central African Republic, he said. However, despite regional efforts, the situation in that country continued to threaten international peace and security. The States of the region should, therefore, be given adequate support. The future of the Central African Republic ultimately belonged to its people. That fact should not be overlooked when planning international action, including United Nations involvement.
JOSE TADEU SOARES (Portugal) paid tribute to the decision by countries of the subregion to help restore peace and stability in the Central African Republic, particularly for their efforts to disarm former mutineers, militia and others who were unlawfully armed. He stressed the importance of the democratic process, and of helping to prepare for the election to be held there in August 1998.
While MISAB's ongoing efforts represented an important contribution towards national reconciliation, the situation remained volatile and could affect regional stability and peace, he said. With the proliferation of weapons in the hands of former mutineers and some members of the civilian population, the continuous support of the international community was not only vital for political stability and peace in the country, but also in the entire subregion.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said MISAB had accomplished much to restore peace and security to the Central African Republic. The United States wished to express its support for the nations participating in that force, which had been a critical element in restoring stability. It was also an important milestone in the development of an indigenous African peace-keeping capability. The Inter-African Mission would be an important precedent and test case for further African peace-keeping efforts.
Nevertheless, continued instability in the Central African Republic was a cause for concern, he said. Hostilities had abated since the signing of the Bangui Agreements and the creation of the Mission on 25 January, but the job was not over and all elements had not renounced violence or turned in their weapons.
He drew attention to the financial and other contributions of France and other donors, which had made the Mission possible. The resolution before the Council stated that the expenses and logistical support for the future would be on a voluntary basis; the Mission would not become a United Nations- assessed operation. The text's request for bi-weekly reports from the Mission was welcome. The Secretary-General should also take steps to increase the United Nations knowledge of developments in the Central African Republic, so as to provide his own views to the Council.
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Council President Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom), speaking as his country's representative, paid tribute to the African and French troops who had lost their lives in trying to bring peace to the Central African Republic, as well as to the regional leaders and others involved in the current mediation efforts. The initiatives taken in the Central African Republic showed the importance and effectiveness of African leadership in dealing with conflict and instability in the region.
The scope of MISAB's operations should be clearly defined, something the draft resolution would help achieve, he said. The Council must have a clear sense of the Mission's tasks in order to effectively monitor their implementation. He, therefore, looked forward to receiving further reports on MISAB's progress, as well as on the longer-term prospects for the political process in the Central African Republic.
The draft resolution was adopted unanimously as Security Council resolution 1125 (1997).
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