|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6147th Meeting* (AM)
IMPLEMENTING STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK FOR PEACEBUiLDING BEST WAY FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN
REPUBLIC TO ADDRESS MULTIFACETED PROBLEMS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Under-Secretary for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pasco Briefs,
Along with Chair of Peacebuilding Commission’s Central African Republic Configuration
If the Central African Republic was to build on the momentum created by the national political dialogue held in late 2008 and to overcome threats posed by sporadic rebel violence in its northern villages, the United Nations top political official today told the Security Council that the country must take ownership of and fully implement its recently adopted peacebuilding framework, which covered key priorities such as security, disarmament, good governance and development.
Briefing the Council on the situation in the Central African Republic, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the post-dialogue period had been characterized by two seemingly contradictory trends. On one hand, significant efforts were being made to implement the recommendations of the 2008 National Political Dialogue, including the formation of a broad-based Government and the establishment of a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Steering Committee, with a view to consolidating the momentum for peace. On the other hand, there had been a resurgence of rebel violence in the north of the country, clearly contradicting the spirit of reconciliation the Dialogue sought to engender.
Specifically, he noted that just yesterday, there had been reports of rebel attacks on the village of Birao. After several hours of fighting, Central African Armed Forces and troops of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) had repelled that attack. The total number of casualties remained unknown. The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) had relocated 18 non-governmental organization personnel to its headquarters in Birao. Mr. Pasco stressed that underlying those two contradictory developments was a third element, namely, the increasing fragility of the peace process and of the country itself.
Having just returned from the country, he had been able to see first-hand the impact of years of instability and insecurity there. At the same time, he had also heard words that reflected the profound faith that the Government and people had in the United Nations, which they saw as a reliable partner for the realization of their aspirations for a better future. The problems are huge, but he was convinced the United Nations could help move them towards a solution.
Among the challenges ‑‑ and priority areas where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had called for specific action ‑‑ he noted that a key measure related to the preparations for and conduct of legislative and presidential elections in 2010, was the establishment of an independent electoral commission. That panel, to be made up of the different shades of political opinion and civil society, would ensure a credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process. The Secretary-General had called on the authorities to ensure that the polls were held on schedule to prevent a constitutional power vacuum, which could further complicate an already fragile political environment, and possibility spark renewed violence.
Turning to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the country’s ex-combatants who had agreed to end rebellion and join the peace process, Mr. Pasco said that, while the concrete launching of demobilization operations had yet to begin, critical preparatory work had advanced, with technical documentation adopted, provisional lists of potential ex-combatants submitted to the United Nations, and initial funding of about $4 million released by the Peacebuilding Fund to kick-start that exercise.
He said that President François Bozizé had reaffirmed the determination to take personal control of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and to make available about $16 million in financial assistance pledged by the country’s economic and monetary parties, of which $10 million had already been disbursed. At the same time, the Secretary-General had appealed to the wider international community to provide additional support for the successful completion of the estimated $30 million programme, “on which imperatives for security and peaceful elections hinge”.
Continuing, Mr. Pascoe said demobilization was only part of the broader security sector reform in the country, the success of which would, in turn, help institute, for the first time in nearly three decades, a multi-ethnic, professional and republican military and security establishment for the defence of democratic institutions and not in the service of partisan and mono-ethnic movements.
“The best way forward now to address the multifaceted problems besetting the Central African Republic is through the implementation of the recently adopted Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding,” he said, stressing that it was vital for the country to take ownership of the blueprint, which identified three key pillars for sustainable peacebuilding, namely security; good governance, including a respect for human rights; and development. The United Nations would work in partnership with the country to support its efforts to implement those strategic priorities.
He also reminded Council members that they had previously endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposal to transform the current mission into the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA), the purpose of which was to maximize the world body’s contribution to the country, minimize the risk of duplication and simplify consultations with its partners and the country’s authorities.
The Secretary-General’s current report set out the proposed structure and staffing of such an integrated mission, and proposed that it be operational by 1 January 2010. He said the Political Affairs Department would use the intervening period to finalize recruitment of personnel and to address related logistical and other preparatory tasks, so that the new office took off smoothly and on schedule.
Finally, Mr. Pascoe introduced the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of United Nations Peace-Building Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA), Sahle-Work Zewde, who planned to depart in a few days for Bangui to take up her assignment.
Also briefing the Council was Jan Grauls (Belgium), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, who provided some detail on the strategic peacebuilding framework adopted on 6 May. That Framework focussed on security sector reform and demobilization of ex-combatants; good governance and the rule of law; and the establishment of embryonic structures for socio-economic development for the whole territory. Those three priorities corresponded perfectly with the conclusions of the December 2008 political dialogue between Government, non-armed opposition, rebel groups and civil society.
The Commission had focused on stability and peace in the country through the drawing up of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme integrated in a security sector reform programme and preparations for the 2010 elections. Without success of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, the election process could not be carried out, which would put stabilization of the country at risk. Work on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme was progressing. Recalcitrant rebel groups were returning to the peace process and financing of the first phase of the programme was assured, thanks to contributions by the fund for peace consolidation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The programme’s Steering Committee must now quickly validate the lists of combatants submitted by political-military groups.
To consolidate peace and stability, the Central Africans needed support from the international community, Mr. Grauls continued. To that end, he had visited several Governments and organizations to sensitize them to the needs of the Central African Republic. He added that the wider Peacebuilding Commission welcomed the announced proposed transformation of BONUCA into an integrated office, which would allow for further support of the Commission’s work. In particular, he welcomed the establishment of a human rights and justice department with advisers for gender issues and child protection.
In his statement, Fernand Poukré-Kono (Central African Republic) said that in 2009, a key year for his country, courageous measures must be taken to implement the recommendations of the political dialogue, to confront the challenges of establishing the disarmament and reintegration programme, mobilizing resources, and carrying out the 2010 elections. If implementation of those programmes was slow, it was due to lack of finances. There existed, however, a true will to move towards reconciliation, as the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement was considered to be irreversible.
He said that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme was progressing, but must be brought in line with security sector reform, including deployment of security and defence forces. Although the Government would keep to the timetable for elections, it was counting on United Nations support.
Mr. Poukré-Kono regretted that recent clashes between several rebel groups and Government troops and intercommunity violence had caused displacement of people, which added to the problem of Sudanese refugees in the country. It was also regrettable that, where there was violence, there were human rights violations. The authorities, however, had taken measures to prevent further violence and the National Committee on Human Rights was being established. He welcomed an integrated office as follow-up to BONUCA, as that allowed for coordination of all United Nations activities on the ground.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m.
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