Central African Republic’s Progress Risks Reversal Unless Leadership Commits to Inclusive, Transparent Governance, Security Council Hears

SC/12439
8 July 2016
7734th Meeting* (AM)

Central African Republic’s Progress Risks Reversal Unless Leadership Commits to Inclusive, Transparent Governance, Security Council Hears

Peacekeeping Chief Leads Peacebuilding Configuration, Sanctions Committee Chairs in Briefing Members on Still-fragile Situation

The Central African Republic’s remarkable progress over the past two years risked being reversed unless national authorities demonstrated commitment to inclusive and transparent governance, and to addressing the root causes of the crisis afflicting the country, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations warned as he briefed the Security Council today.

Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous said the Central African Republic had made considerable progress since April 2014, adding that after two years of political transition, voters had cast their ballots peacefully and democratically.  They had offered a positive example in a region where electoral outcomes were often either known in advance or contested, he said, noting that the successful formation of a new Government had raised expectations for lasting and positive change.

At the same time, he continued, the Central African Republic faced a fragile security situation characterized by weak, sometimes non-existent State capacities in various parts of the country.  Division, exclusion and marginalization persisted alongside low economic development and lack of access to basic services, especially security.  Furthermore, armed groups controlled vast parts of the national territory, presenting a “huge threat” to civilians.

He presented the findings of a the Special Report of the Secretary-General strategic review of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (document S/2016/565), carried out from 7 to 17 May, saying its goal was to ensure that the Mission’s future mandate was adapted to a post-transition stabilization environment that would facilitate peacebuilding.  Recalling the 19 June detention of six members of the national police by a local self-defence group in the PK5 area of the capital, Bangui, he said that incident — as well as reported renewed efforts to unite the ex-Séléka armed group under the leadership of Nouredine Adam — had occurred alongside an alarming humanitarian situation that had rendered 2.3 million people — half the population — food-insecure, with some 20 per cent of the population displaced.

Such events were a stark reminder of the fragility of the situation, he emphasized.  As such, the strategic review recommended that MINUSCA prioritize the protection of civilians, the creation of conditions to facilitate assistance and the return of refugees and displaced persons.  The most important strategic objective over the next two or three years should be to support the reduction of armed groups.  In that way, he said, MINUSCA could assist in creating a secure environment for civilians, help to foster Government services, establish an inclusive political climate favouring the protection of human rights, combat impunity and expand the rule of law.

The special report recommended renewal of MINUSCA’s mandate for 18 months at the current authorized military and police strength, he said, outlining a “sequenced and flexible” three-pronged approach to achieving the proposed strategic objective.  The Mission would also prioritize the development of a comprehensive approach to addressing the presence of armed groups, including in support of continued dialogue initiated by the President of the Central African Republic.  Other recommended priority activities would include providing support for implementation of a national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and a community violence-reduction programme, and the coordination of international support for security sector reform, he said.  That would entail working with the European Union Training Mission and taking a lead role in reform of the police and gendarmerie.

Among other proposals, he continued, the strategic review recommended continuation of MINUSCA’s urgent temporary measures mandate, at the Government’s request, as well as efforts to assist in the formation of the Special Criminal Court to tackle impunity.  “MINUSCA cannot act alone in support of the Government’s efforts,” he stressed.  Partnerships with Bangui, regional stakeholders and other international actors must underpin the strategy under the principles of complementarity and comparative advantages.  He welcomed the Government’s efforts to develop a mutual accountability framework, saying it should be endorsed by national and international partners, and go hand in hand with the identification of humanitarian, recovery and peacebuilding needs in advance of the donors’ and investors’ conference planned for Brussels in November.

He pointed out that President Faustin Archange Touadera had put together a Cabinet that included representatives from each of the country’s prefectures and had extended a hand to the armed groups.  “The President is clearly trying to break with the past,” he said.  “We need to understand that this is a long-haul effort.”  The sense of responsibility demonstrated by the new authorities would be essential to mobilizing collective efforts to defend the gains already made.  “MINUSCA has to be the last United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country,” he emphasized.

Also briefing the Council were Omar Hilale (Morocco), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, and Volodymyr Yelchenko (Ukraine), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic, who both provided updates on recent developments.

Mr. Hilale said that implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations would help the authorities move towards stability.  The President was benefitting from strong popular support that must be maintained with international support.  A transparent and inclusive political process would be the key to ensuring the entire population’s engagement and to facilitating rebuilding of the social contract.  “Although the new political reality in the country is full of daunting challenges, it also brings opportunities never seen before,” he said.

To be sure, he continued, neighbouring countries still had an important role to play in terms of seasonal migration and illicit trafficking, and the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) was well positioned to coordinate such efforts.  For its own part, the Central African Republic configuration would continue to work towards a coordinated, coherent approach and to advocate stronger international support.  The success of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and that of security sector reform, were essential, he said, stressing that the international community must firmly stand by the President, who had made security a priority.

He went on to underline that the lack of capacity remained a main challenge to development, calling upon Member States to provide training under South-South or triangular cooperation schemes.  The establishment of the Special Criminal Court was rife with challenges, from funding to the protection of magistrates, witnesses and victims.  However, its creation was necessary for the prosecution of cases involving violent crimes, he said, urging the new authorities to expedite bureaucratic processes.

Noting that the recently dispatched recovery and peacebuilding assessment mission — comprising the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations — had coincided with the strategic review of MINUSCA, he said that that overlap and ability to coordinate views was a good example of the coherence needed in a joint approach to addressing urgent needs.  With the dire humanitarian situation showing no signs of abating, the humanitarian appeal chronically underfunded, and 90 per cent of all aid provided by just a handful of donors, the international community could and must do more, he emphasized.  “I cannot say it enough, the country is at a critical juncture and will need our constant support to ensure a return to stability,” he stressed.  “We need to expand, urgently, the pool of donors, taking into account that different types of support would be helpful.”

Mr. Yelchenko briefed on his visit to the Central African Republic from 24 to 27 May, saying that the need to strengthen collaboration among the authorities in Bangui, the 2127 (2016) Committee and its Panel of Experts had been a central theme of that trip.  Emphasizing that the arms embargo imposed on Bangui the Central African Republic was intended to protect people from armed groups determined to bring weapons and ammunition into the country, he recalled that in the course of 2016, the Committee had received six requests for exemption from the embargo, of which it had approved five.  Concerning the travel ban, he said the Committee had written to Chad, Kenya and South Africa to stress the importance of impeding travel by sanctioned individuals.  If no feedback was forthcoming, he and the Council President should engage bilaterally with the concerned States, he suggested.

Regarding the asset freeze, he said he had raised the case of Alfred Yekatom, a sanctioned individual who had won election to the National Assembly and was receiving a monthly salary — a violation of the asset freeze in the absence of a request for exemption.  Underlining his firm belief that sanctions were still relevant, he said that, as Chair, he would ensure that the Committee remained fully engaged, including by regularly updating the list of individuals and entities who met the sanctions criteria, and by considering new sanctions designations.

The meeting began at 11:08 a.m. and ended at 11:52 a.m.

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*     The 7733rd Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.