Geneva, Switzerland

20 January 2014

Secretary-General's message for Human Rights Council Special Session on Central African Republic [delivered by Mr. Michael Møller, Acting Head of the United Nations Office in Geneva]

I thank the African Group for taking the initiative to call this special session on the Central African Republic– a crisis of epic proportions which requires immediate and concerted action.

The CAR is in freefall.  Public service institutions have collapsed.  Security forces have disintegrated.  Fear has enveloped the country.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN entities have documented unspeakable and widespread human rights violations.  These appalling abuses have divided Christian and Muslim communities that for decades have co-existed peacefully as neighbours and friends. 

The deteriorating security situation has forced one-fifth of the population to flee their homes, and more than half the population now needs humanitarian assistance. The United Nations has scaled up its emergency response, but the humanitarian appeal remains woefully underfunded.  I urge Member States to demonstrate their solidarity and support this life-or-death effort.

I call for an immediate end to the cycle of violence and retaliation before the divide between the communities takes deep root and sectarian violence escalates into further mass atrocities.  Religious tensions have not been part of the CAR’s past and they must not become part of its future. 

I also urge all to prioritize national reconciliation and lasting peace.  This will require the re-establishment of an effective governing administration and justice system founded on respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights. We must support the transitional authorities in this challenging task.

There will be no reconciliation without accountability.  In accordance with Security Council resolution 2127, the United Nations is establishing an International Commission of Inquiry to document abuses and human rights violations.

This vital Commission along with the Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert will cooperate closely in their complementary roles to fight impunity and protect human rights in the Central African Republic.

I urge the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the General Assembly, other United Nations bodies, the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States, along with national authorities, to combine their efforts to resolve the crisis and avoid further human suffering.

By acting collectively and in unity, we can uphold our responsibility to protect the people of the CAR and help them move from destitution and despair to a more hopeful path. 

We must act together – and act now – to pull the CAR back from the brink of further atrocities.