Council backs AU peacekeepers for Central African Republic

UN Security Council welcomes decision by African Union to authorize the deployment of an “African-led International Support Mission in the CAR”. Photo: UN Photo/Sarah Fretwell

Seriously concerned by the deteriorating security situation and widespread human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today “reinforced and updated” the United Nations peacebuilding office in the country, while also calling for a political resolution to the conflict.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution, the Council adjusted the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA) in the five key areas: support for implementation of the transition process; support for conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance; support for stabilisation of the security situation; promotion and protection of human rights; and coordination of international actors.

The 6-page text also welcomed the decision of the African Union to authorize the deployment of an “African-led International Support Mission in the CAR” to be referred to as MISCA, and looked forward to its swift establishment, “which will represent a major contribution towards creating the conditions for a stable and democratic CAR exercising authority over its national territory and assuming its responsibility for the protection of its civilian population.”

The members urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit within 30 days, in close cooperation with the AU and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), a written report on the planning of MISCA.

The plan is to include a possible option of transforming the AU Mission into a UN peacekeeping operation “subject to appropriate conditions on the ground.”

The 15-member Council also urged “the holding of free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections” to be held within 18 months after the beginning of the transition period which took effect on the 18 August.

The Council tasked BINUCA to work with all parties to facilitate the full implementation of the Libreville Agreement - signed in the Gabonese capital of Libreville on 11 January - as part of its mandate to help consolidate peace in CAR, including support for security reform and reintegration of ex-combatants.

It also expressed readiness to consider “appropriate measures” against those who undermine peace, stability and security, impede the political transition and fuel violence.

Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the CAR witnessed a resumption of violence last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January, but the rebels again seized the capital, Bangui, in March, forcing President François Bozizé to flee.

There is now a transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, entrusted with restoring law and order and paving the way for democratic elections. But armed clashes in the north-east have increased since the beginning of August, and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation that affects the entire population of some 4.6 million.

In addition, there are continued reports of gross human rights violations, committed by the Séléka coalition and the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), including the deliberate killing of civilians, acts of sexual violence against women and children, and the destruction and looting of property, including hospitals, schools and churches.

In this latest resolution, the Security Council members stressed that the Séléka and the LRA, as well as other perpetrators of these attacks “shall be brought to justice.”

They demanded “safe and unhindered access and the timely delivery” of humanitarian aid to persons in need, and an end to the recruitment of children.

The Council also called all the groups to issue clear orders against sexual violence, and to investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable.

The resolution also reiterated the Council’s condemnation of the devastation of natural heritage, noting in particular that poaching and trafficking of wildlife are among the factors that fuel the crisis in the country.