14 December 2011
Security Council
SC/10488

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6687th Meeting (PM)


Central African Republic’s Political Dynamic Offers Chance for Peace, but Failure


to Finance Disarmament Could Result in Renewed Violence, Security Council Told


Margaret Vogt, Head of UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, Briefs; Belgium,

Chair of Peacebuilding Configuration, Says Funding Disarmament Major Challenge


The positive dynamic initiated between the Government of the Central African Republic and politico-military groups offered “a real chance for peace”, but several obstacles risked blocking that process and could ultimately result in another cycle of generalized conflict, triggering serious repercussions in the subregion, the United Nations top official in that country told the Security Council this afternoon.


A lack of funding to complete the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and to launch phase two of security sector reform could put the country back on the “brink of disaster”, said Margaret Vogt, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).


“We are now at a highly precarious juncture in the Central African Republic,” she said, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on recent developments there.  “Failure to find resources to conclude disarmament in the north and north-east, where all the politico-military parties are anxiously awaiting the disarmament of their forces, may lead to a major resurgence of violence and further undermine security in a region, where under normal circumstances, movement is highly impacted by insecurity.”


The Government required about $3 million to complete national disarmament and about $19 million for reintegration, she said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s urgent appeal for the international community’s support, found in his latest report on the Central African Republic and the Mission’s activities (document S/2011/739).


For its part, BINUCA had continued its work, including focusing on elections for the first half of the year.  As she had mentioned in her previous briefing, she had focused on managing post-election tensions and the commencement of the disarmament and demobilization process.  She had also paid particular attention to issues relating to the protection of civilians, especially women and children.  Other areas she had focused on included the complex regional security environment, with the current report providing an analysis of developments in those above-mentioned fields.  Among the Mission’s additional activities was helping to curb the destabilizing impact of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Front populaire pour le redressement (FPR), an armed group operating in the country, she said.


Highlighting positive developments in the country, she said despite divisions on the political front, the Government’s engagement with consultations with the opposition was an unexpected and major breakthrough.


Highlighting positive developments in that country, she said despite divisions on the political front, the Government’s engagement in consultations with the opposition on reform of the electoral code and establishment of a permanent electoral body “was an unexpected and major breakthrough”.  A second round of discussion was scheduled for January.


Other steps forward included the ongoing disarmament process and visits by the Peace and Reconciliation Caravan in the north-east, the establishment of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave violations committed against children affected by armed conflict, and the signing of action plans for the release and reintegration of children associated with the groups Convention des patriots pour la justice et la paix (CPJP) and Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR), she said


However, daunting challenges remained, including a dire HIV/AIDS pandemic and the presence of the two foreign armed groups, the Front Populaire pour le Redressement, led by Chadian rebel leader Baba Laddé, and LRA, both posing threats to peace and security in the country.  She reiterated the need for support in efforts to tackle those problems.


Belgium’s Ambassador, Jan Grauls, speaking as Chair of the Country-Specific Configuration on the Central African Republic of the Peacebuilding Commission, agreed, calling the lack of financing for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts a “major and pressing” challenge.


Discussing the prospects for the future, based on his on-site visit to the country in October, he noted that it was the promise of support for reintegration that had enabled the Government to disarm and demobilize the rebels in the west of the country and to sign an agreement with CPJP. 


Implementation of that pledge was highly desirable.  The Peacebuilding Fund and World Bank would consider ways to contribute to that, but so should other potential donors, he added. 


While the Government had already made considerable strides in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and had brought the CPJP to the negotiating table so that it could join the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said the security situation was linked to that of the subregion, whose context could undo fragile progress.  Destabilizing threats included LRA and new mercenaries from Libya, who often joined armed groups.  Heads of neighbouring States had an important opportunity to address the problem of subregional insecurity and its impact on the Central African Republic.


Turning to the political climate and good governance, he said this year’s legislative elections had led to political reshuffling — the main parties had left the National Assembly, giving the majority to the presidential party.  In late November, an inclusive workshop had been held on electoral reform, and the Government had demonstrated its awareness of the need for seeking broad consensus.  The Peacebuilding Commission encouraged the Government to extend that inclusive approach to public policy. 


The opposition should be constructive in its approach to dialogue; its boycott of the elections had been counterproductive, he said.  Good governance and improved public finance management were crucial, he said, adding that the Commission encouraged the Prime Minister’s initiative to hold a national workshop on combating corruption.  The National Assembly also had a major oversight responsibility in that regard.


As the new national poverty reduction strategy unfolded, it was clear that peacebuilding was a core element, involving Government efforts and those of international partners, he said.  The strategy must also win broad national consensus. 


The Commission was ready and available to support the country in the period ahead in terms of mobilizing funds to contribute to peacebuilding, but the Government should identify its priorities and present realistic numbers, he said.


The Central African Republic’s Prime Minister, Faustin Archange Touadera, said the Secretary-General’s latest report provided a clear snapshot of his country since last July, reflecting significant progress on the political level.  The country had indeed remained fragile and numerous challenges posed grave risks to destroy the chance of lasting peace.


Emphasizing that the lack of financing could jeopardize all progress made to date, he said his Government’s efforts included continuing to fight against LRA, insisting that Chadian rebel Mr. Laddé leave the country, working on anti-corruption efforts, establishing good business practices, signing a peace agreement with CPJP and implementing demobilization initiatives.


His presence at this Security Council meeting was testimony to the Government’s strong will to pursue every avenue to pursue peace and security with a view to bolstering sustainable development, he concluded.


The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 3:50 p.m.


Background


In the report before the Security Council for its consideration of the situation in the Central African Republic (document S/2011/739), the Secretary-General notes that the mandate of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) will expire on 31 December.  In view of the leading role it plays in the peace consolidation and reconciliation process and of the need for continued United Nations integrated support for the country in facing peacebuilding challenges, and following consultations with the Government, he recommends that BINUCA’s mandate, as approved by the Security Council in its presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/5), be extended for another year.


The Secretary-General, in his report, declares that the country “is at a critical juncture”.  The new Government has indicated its commitment to consolidating peace and addressing outstanding peacebuilding challenges through a comprehensive programme.  However, the absence of political space for the opposition has added to the atmosphere of tension in the country.  Respect for freedom of expression and assembly, for the rule of law and for national institutions are essential for democracy.  He welcomes the Government’s intention to work towards an all-inclusive political approach for the reform of the electoral code and the establishment of a permanent electoral management body responsible for organizing future elections.


He also welcomes the significant progress made in the disarmament and demobilization of former combatants in the north-west.  He is concerned, however, that the recent fighting between armed groups has had severe repercussions on the humanitarian and security situation.  He welcomes the 8 October ceasefire agreement and urges that it be fully implemented.  CPJP (Convention des patriots pour la justice et la paix) must join the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement without delay.  It is important that all armed groups remain committed to the Peace Agreement and desist from violence and preying on civilians.


The report finds that the presence of the Chadian rebel leader Baba Laddé on the territory of the Central African Republic poses serious security risks and threatens peace consolidation efforts.  In that, the Secretary-General encourages the Government of the Central African Republic to liaise with the Government of Chad and intensify its efforts in support of negotiations between Chad and the rebel leader.  BINUCA will continue to support the Government’s efforts in this regard.


Further, the Secretary-General remains concerned about human rights violations and abuses, particularly in conflict zones, and the level of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such crimes.  He urges the national authorities to ensure that those responsible for human rights violations, including members of security and defence forces and armed groups, are held accountable.  BINUCA and national human rights organizations will continue to closely monitor and report on the human rights situation in the country and assist relevant stakeholders in the protection and promotion of human rights.  The Government and its international partners are encouraged to extend the maximum possible support to the country’s justice system.


Asserting that children must be enrolled in schools, not in armed groups, the Secretary-General notes with concern that self-defence militias continue to recruit and use children.  He urges the Government to use its influence over those militias to ensure the removal of children from their ranks, and to sign an action plan with the United Nations.  Women continue to suffer severe discrimination despite all the encouraging efforts made by the Government and civil society organizations.  He, thus, reiterates his appeal to the Government and the National Assembly to expedite the adoption of the revised family code, which will go a long way in further enshrining gender equality in the national legislation.  He calls upon the Government and other national stakeholders to take additional necessary steps to increase women’s participation in politics.


Also according to the report, the Secretary-General welcomes the recent initiatives and commitments by the Government to promote good governance, especially in the management of public finances and natural resources, and in combating endemic corruption, which constitutes a strong disincentive to partners and investors.  He encourages the Government to more meaningfully engage with the Bretton Woods institutions; their assistance is critical for the revitalization of the economy and for the development of the country.


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