Renew Mandate of United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Central African Republic with Focus on Elections, Top Official Urges Security Council

Report
from UN Security Council
Published on 25 Oct 2019 View Original

SC/13995
25 OCTOBER 2019
SECURITY COUNCIL
8646TH MEETING (AM)

Côte d’Ivoire’s Delegate Stresses Support of African Members for Lifting Sanctions

The ranking United Nations official in the Central African Republic appealed to the Security Council today to renew the mandate of the Organization’s peacekeeping mission in that country with a focus on elections planned for 2020 and 2021, as well as other challenges.

“The Central African Republic needs all its partners and friends to transform the dream of peace, prosperity and development of millions of Central Africans into a lasting reality,” emphasized Mankeur Ndiaye, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Presenting the latest report on the situation (document S/2019/822), he urged support for elections critical to the extension of State governance throughout the country and full implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic of 6 February 2019. Support for the Political Agreement has become a major effort of MINUSCA since it was signed, he added.

The Government’s significant progress towards implementation, with MINUSCA’s support, includes monitoring mechanisms put in place at the prefecture level, the deployment of mixed security units and other national forces, the demobilization of armed groups, building judicial capacity and funding development projects. He emphasized that MINUSCA’s robust posture under its protection mandate thwarted violations of the Political Agreement by the “3R” [Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation] armed group.

However, significant challenges remain, he cautioned, including human rights violations and violence linked to two signatory armed groups in the north-east since July. Further challenges include those brought on by the dry season, the radicalization of rhetoric by certain actors and the backlog of legislation required under the Political Agreement. He called upon the parties to redouble their efforts to fulfil their obligations under the accord, pledging MINUSCA’s continuing support.

Noting that local elections have not been held in decades, he said holding them would go a long way towards strengthening decentralization and local governance. Preparations have already begun, but progress is still threatened by a lack of resources, an appropriate mandate for MINUSCA and other obstacles, all of which reduce the confidence of the political class. He went on to warn that delaying the elections would be harmful, calling for international mobilization to prevent delays.

Also briefing today, Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, welcomed the support of neighbouring countries for the progress achieved — especially Cameroon, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — recalling that that more than 350,000 refugees and internally displaced persons returned to their homes between January and September. More returns are planned, he added. Urging the Security Council to grant MINUSCA an appropriate mandate, he also welcomed the convergence in the positions of the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union. “It is essential that the international community collectively continue to support the implementation of the [Political Agreement] which remains the point of reference for the return of stability in the country,” he added, stressing: “There is no Plan B.”

Turning to humanitarian challenges, he urged stakeholders in the Central African Republic as well as partners to remain focused on the needs of women and children, underlining the African Union’s commitment to a policy of zero tolerance for sex-related violence or exploitation of children.

Stefano Tomat, Director for Integrated Approach for Security and Peace within the European Union’s External Action Service, said the regional bloc would like to see the Government act with greater determination on transitional justice, in parallel with such issues as decentralization and the integration of former members of armed groups. More must also be done about including civil society, political parties, the military and women in the peace process, he added. Noting the continued fragility of the security situation, he said the bloc particularly supports MINUSCA’s robust stance, emphasizing that its assertiveness sends a positive signal to civilian groups. The European Union would also like to see the deployment of more special mixed security units, stressing the critical need to demobilize, disarm, vet and train combatants identified to join them. The European Union is prepared to extend its support for the mixed units and for the African Union’s military observers, but MINUSCA’s mandate must expand to support security and logistics in order to ensure elections are held on time.

Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, emphasized that the Council’s three African members support the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Central African Republic. He urged signatory parties to the Political Agreement to push forward local peace and reconciliation initiatives, stressing that they must include women, young people and other members of civil society. He also called for the establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission that would be responsive to the needs of victims.

The representative of the United States said MINUSCA’s top priority is to protect civilians, stressing that there is no contradiction between that task and the Mission’s good-offices mandate. He called for adequate vetting of former combatants wishing to join the mixed security forces.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 10:50 a.m.

Briefings

MANKEUR NDIAYE, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), introduced the latest report of the Secretary-General on that country (document S/2019/822). Noting that MINUSCA’s mandate will expire soon, he paid tribute to Mission personnel who lost their lives in the course of their work, while emphasizing the complexity of their mandate with its priority of protecting civilians, restoring State authority, promoting human rights and supporting the peace process. He went on to recount the events leading to the signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic of 6 February 2019, recalling that since his last report in June, progress under the accord included making operational, in the main, the follow-up monitoring mechanisms that have permitted the avoidance or containment of crises at the prefecture and sub-prefecture levels.

In addition, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra launched the first special mixed security unit authorized under the Agreement in the north-west on 16 October, he reported, noting that additional units are planned in the north-east and south-west. They will allow continued engagement with armed groups on the peace accord, he said. Meanwhile, national demobilization efforts have stepped up, but the reluctance of the “3R” [Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation] armed group to participate in the process remained a major challenge, he added, pointing out that MINUSCA’s robust posture has thwarted repeated violations by that group and forced its leader to be more cooperative. Concerning progress on justice and reconciliation, he said participative consultations on creating a future justice commission continued, while cautioning that the mechanisms envisioned will not provide justice for all victims of conflict. For that reason, he explained, MINUSCA continued its support for the Special Criminal Court and for the strengthening of capacity in ordinary jurisdictions, he explained. The Mission also continued to promote awareness of the Political Agreement, in conjunction with civil society, women’s organizations and religious leaders.

In the area of development, he continued, funding has been dispensed and the national recovery plan has been able to fund four projects intended to make tangible improvements in the lives of the Central African Republic’s people, he reported. All the progress has been due to engagement by the Government, supported by its partners and MINUSCA, he emphasized. As for progress on governance, he said all prefectures are in place and the national security forces have been deployed in many areas, sometimes co-located with MINUSCA. Such deployments, in addition to security-sector reform, led to the loosening of sanctions imposed on the country, he said, while noting that significant challenges still confront the Central African Republic. They include continuing human rights violations, although the number of certain crimes has decreased, he said. Expressing particular concern about the situation in the north-east since July, he reported that violence connected to two armed movements that are signatories to the Peace Agreement resulted in deaths, mostly of combatants, and the displacement of several thousand people. MINUSCA, the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have moved to contain the violence, which has taken on a regrettable ethnic nature, he said.

He went on to cite further challenges, including those brought on by the dry season, the radicalization of rhetoric by certain actors and the backlog of legislation required under the Political Agreement. Calling upon signatory parties to redouble their efforts to fulfil their obligations under the accord, with MINUSCA’s support. The Mission has demonstrated its willingness to take a robust posture in protecting civilians during Operation Anvil in the west, he noted. In continuing to support implementation of the Political Agreement, it needs adequate logistical and technical resources to support elections planned for 2020 and 2021, as well as further support from the international community. Noting that local elections have not been held in decades, he said they would go a long way to strengthen decentralization and local government.

Preparations have already begun, supported by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he said, while cautioning that progress is still threatened by lack of resources, an appropriate mandate for MINUSCA and other obstacles, all reducing the confidence of the political class. Warning that delay would be harmful, he called upon the international community to mobilize so as to ensure the elections take place credibly and on schedule. He concluded by issuing a strong appeal to neighbouring countries, underlining that their contributions to the Central African Republic’s stability remains crucial. In that regard, he commended the Governments of the Central African Republic, Cameroon and Congo for reviving their respective joint commissions and encouraged the launch of similar mechanisms with Chad and Sudan. “The Central African Republic needs all its partners and friends to transform the dream of peace, prosperity and development of millions of Central Africans into a lasting reality,” he emphasized.

SMAIL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, briefed via video-teleconference from Addis Ababa, noting that the situation in the Central African Republic has seen a general decline in violence — “a tangible outcome of the Political Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation”, signed in Bangui in February. The national defence and security forces are now patrolling the entire country and several important police-training sessions have been held, he noted.

Welcoming the support of neighbouring countries for such efforts — especially Cameroon, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — he said more than 350,000 refugees and internally displaced persons returned to their homes between January and September, adding that more returns are planned. Despite those improvements in the security situation, however, some violations of the Political Agreement have been reported, he said, citing attacks that resulted in the loss of life, notably on 21 May in Praoua, and in September and October in Birao. “This is no way slows down the implementation of the peace process,” or plans for the elections slated for 2020 and 2021, he stressed.

Underlining the African Union’s commitment to the Political Agreement — and its support in helping the parties adhere strictly to the electoral timetable — he called upon all stakeholders to push forward within those frameworks, while urging the Security Council to grant MINUSCA an appropriate mandate to support the timetable. He went on to welcome the convergence of positions on the part of the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union, stressing: “It is essential that the international community collectively continue to support the implementation of the [Political Agreement] which remains the point of reference for the return of stability in the country.” He added: “There is no Plan B.”

Whereas the deployment of formed mixed security units in the west on 16 October was a great accomplishment, a similar force should now be deployed in other parts of the country, he said. MINUSCA must provide such efforts with all the necessary logistical support, especially in terms of housing and transport. Turning to humanitarian challenges, he urged stakeholders in the Central African Republic as well as partners to remain focused on the needs of women and children, underlining the African Union’s commitment to a policy of zero tolerance of any sex-related violence or exploitation of children.

STEFANO TOMAT, Director for Integrated Approach for Security and Peace, European Union External Action Service, said that despite progress in implementing the Political Agreement, there have been setbacks in terms of security and the commitment of certain parties. The Government of the Central African Republic continues to deliver despite challenges and slow processes resulting from the lack of capacity, he said, noting that neighbouring countries are also actively contributing to the creation of a positive climate for implementation of the Political Agreement. The European Union would like to see the Government act with greater determination on issues of transitional justice, he continued, saying the authorities should also move in parallel on such issues as decentralization while cohesively integrating members of armed groups into implementation of the Political Agreement.

More must also be done about including civil society, political parties, the military and women in the peace process, he added, pointing out that despite some noticeable improvements, the overall security situation remains fragile. Several armed groups continue to attack civilians as well as each other, he noted, emphasizing that the Political Agreement’s guarantors should not shy away from using the provisions of its Article 35 to engage non-compliant armed groups. He emphasized the European Union’s particular support for MINUSCA’s robust responses, saying its assertiveness sends a positive signal to civilian groups. The European Union would like to see the deployment of more special mixed security units, he said, stressing the critical importance of demobilizing, disarming, vetting and training combatants identified to join them. The bloc will continue to fund the special mixed security units and will buttress its initial contribution of €3.4 million, he said.

He went on to point out that the European Union Training Mission in the Central African Republic has facilitated the armed forces trainers in charge of the special mixed security units. The bloc also funds African Union military observers, he added, emphasizing that in order for it to mobilize further support, MINUSCA’s mandate must expand to support security and logistics. Underlining that the constitutional calendar must be respected, he said postponement of the elections is not an option. He went on to note that the European Union has mobilized €850 million since 2014, he added. The Bêkou Trust Fund has reported that 1.7 million medical consultations helped people to recover, including more than 80,000 children and pregnant women. Skilled birth attendants assisted in about 170,000 births and similarly impressive figures can be found in the areas of primary education, animal health, microfinance and textiles. The bloc has also equipped and helped thousands of small farmers and associated groups across the local markets, he added.

Statements

TIEMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking also on behalf of Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, underlined the need to protect civilians while improving the humanitarian situation and living conditions. He also called upon all stakeholders to “join their efforts to make up for lost time” by promptly implementing key elements of the Political Agreement in the political and security spheres. Welcoming recent meetings between the parties, he urged them to push forward local peace and reconciliation initiatives, emphasizing that they must include women, young people and other members of civil society. In that regard, he called for the establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission that would be responsive to the needs of victims. He went on to emphasize that the Council’s three African members support the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Central African Republic, while pledging their full commitment to the quest for peace and stability in the country. Preserving the Political Agreement requires the holding of peaceful and fair elections, he stressed, urging Council members to take MINUSCA’s critical electoral-support role into consideration when it renews the Mission’s mandate.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States), expressing concern that some armed groups continue to violate the Political Agreement, emphasized that MINUSCA’s top priority is protecting civilians, adding that there is no contradiction between that task and the Mission’s good-offices mandate. Calling for the appropriate vetting of any rehabilitated former combatants wishing to join the new mixed-unit security forces, he said the units must be provided with the necessary logistical support and salary payments. He went on to express hope that the Central African Republic can make progress in relation to the benchmarks for lifting the sanctions He also stressed his delegation’s support for more effective peacekeeping efforts, including such initiatives as the “short loop casualty evacuation process”, saying it makes both civilians and peacekeepers safer.

For information media. Not an official record.