|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Central African Republic configuration
1st Meeting (AM)
Peacebuilding Commission Adopts Conclusions, Recommendations of Second Biannual
Review of Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Central African Republic
Special Representative Vogt Says Political Engagement, Inclusive
Dialogue among Conflict Parties, Civil Society Key to Consolidating Peace
Political engagement would be a key component for building peace in the Central African Republic, the top United Nations official in that country said this morning as the Peacebuilding Commission configuration dealing with that country met to adopt the second review of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic.
Approving the draft conclusions and recommendations of the second biannual review of the Strategic Framework (document PBC/5/CAF/L.1), the Commission outlined key suggestions for Government action in agreed priority areas, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; security sector reform; and good governance and the rule of law. The review notes that ensuring the sustainability of recommendations for inclusive political dialogue and peace consolidation throughout the territory would continue to require regular and continuous follow-up, in particular of commitments made by the various stakeholders.
Addressing the Commission via teleconference from Bangui, Margaret Vogt, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), said that yesterday, the Government had been officially approached by the Organization to put in place a dialogue among the parties to the conflict, civil society and community leaders to discuss the electoral framework and institutions. That discussion should be as inclusive as possible, she said, and would hopefully be held before the end of the month.
She went on to say that despite some major critical sectors, the political climate remained relatively calm. However, some areas had seen an increase in roadblocks, with people illegally demanding money for passage. That and other difficulties pointed to the need to speed up the reintegration process for ex-combatants.
Further, she said, the disarmament process was encountering serious shortfalls in funding, and all groups were experiencing anxiety in that regard. Travelling throughout the region, she had been asked by many actors when the disarmament process would be instituted. Thus, the need to address the shortfall in the disarmament and reintegration framework was pivotal.
After a difficult few weeks, she said she was happy to report that there had been a major thaw in relations between the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), after the signing of a ceasefire on 8 October. That had led to a demilitarization of the town of Bria, and the launch of a “peace caravan” involving leaders from the CPJP and the UFDR, as well as religious and community leaders. The caravan travelled to communities that had been badly traumatized by conflict to show people that reconciliation was truly possible.
She said that thus far, when the peace caravan arrived at a given location, people turned out in large numbers, and many women broke down in tears “because they have suffered for so long, and all they want is to have peace”.
Also addressing the Commission, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, stated that there were lots of positive developments and progress in the field of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). However, unless the “R” in DDR was tackled expeditiously, there would be loss of the gains from the “DD” process.
Highlighting lessons learned during the recent seminar in Rwanda, she stressed the critical importance of leadership at all levels. There was a “near obsession” with transparency in Rwanda, with systems to track where donor funds and Government budgets were going. That was very necessary to generate donor confidence, and it had resulted in “the happy situation” of Rwanda receiving a billion dollars in official development assistance (ODA) this year.
In conclusion, quoting President Kagame, she added that most post-conflict fragile countries were not poor, but rather were “rich in natural resources”. However, either those resources were not developed or the benefits of those resources did not accrue to the general populations.
Charles-Armel Doubane, representative of the Central African Republic, said that his was a “fragile” country with conflicts in the security area, as well as economic and political discord. The report before the Commission today contained a series of remarks addressed to his Government that dealt with the implementation of the statement of general policy.
Regarding the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), he said funds must be made available to deal with DDR in the Central African Republic. The process had begun thanks to CEMAC funds allocated through the late Gabonese President Omar Bongo Ondimba, however, to date, only about 42 per cent of the relevant programmes had been implemented. While those funds were overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it remained to be seen what actual impact was being made on the ground.
During the ensuing discussion, delegations commended progress made so far and addressed outstanding challenges for the Central African Republic, including security sector reform and further negotiations among all political actors in the region. Indonesia’s representative welcomed the attention given to reintegration strategies, which also encompassed efforts to provide legitimate and appealing alternatives for income generation for ex-combatants. That endeavour would be aimed at improving the social and economic development of regions affected by the conflict.
Delegates also welcomed the ceasefire of 8 October, as it had served to dissolve tension between rebel groups and move the country further towards peace. Nigeria’s representative supported the thaw in those “frosty” relations, but expressed concern over possible infiltration of the country by foreign elements. He recommended robust regional engagement to develop actionable working strategies to ensure security in the region as well as in the country.
Regarding broader reconstruction efforts Rwanda’s representative said that his country was a “shining example” to be followed, and showed that there “could be good news coming out of Africa”. Many African countries were in fact in post-conflict situations, and those lessons learned were worth sharing and could lead to measurable results.
To help counter the ongoing violence in and around the Central African Republic in the meantime, the representative of the United States said his Government had recently deployed a small number of military personnel to areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in order to protect the population. He went on to say that the Peacebuilding Commission should continue to pursue the implementation of a strategic framework, and he encouraged the Government of the Central African Republic to work with the international community and BINUCA to develop a security sector reform strategy focused on an effective, well-trained and ethnically balanced military that respected human rights and did not prey upon the people it was meant to protect.
Also speaking during the debate were the representatives of Canada, European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Libya and France.
The Peacebuilding Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
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