In its resolution 2387 (2017) , the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2018 and requested that I report on its implementation. The present report is su bmitted pursuant to that resolution.
Further to my initiative to reform peacekeeping and my Action for Peacekeeping initiative, I asked Juan Gabriel Valdés to lead an independent strategic review of MINUSCA. He undertook that review from June until September 2018, with 15 multidisciplinary experts from various agencies in the United Nations System, and visited the Central African Republic from 2 to 15 July. He consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including President Faustin - Archange Touadéra, Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji and members of his Government, representatives of the National Assembly and main political parties, armed groups, civil society, women and youth groups, religious leaders and the Central African population, as well as memb ers of the diplomatic community, including the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the European Union, MINUSCA and the United Nations country and humanitarian teams. In addition to Bangui, the team visited Bambari, Bang assou, Bouar, Bria and Kaga Bandoro, and sought consultations in Addis Ababa, Libreville, Paris, Washington, D.C. and New York. The main findings and recommendations of the review are included in the present report.
Past peace agreemen ts in the Central African Republic, supported by interventions by the subregion, the African Union and the United Nations, have fallen short of resolving the scourge of violence and conflict that have resulted from the systematically unaddressed and deep-rooted issues of poverty, inequality, impunity, marginalization, contested citizenship and discrimination. The State has struggled with its capacity and presence, resulting in difficulties in providing its citizens with basic services and security, and an e conomy based on natural wealth that benefits few. As a result, the country has faced a continual cycle of violence and instability, particularly in the remote north - east. The violence in 2013 and 2014 brought additional religious and intercommunal dimensio ns to the conflict; religion and ethnicity are still used to incite violence. Those combined factors led to the near collapse of the State, prompting the deployment of MINUSCA, following interventions by the African Union and by France.
The presence of MINUSCA has contributed to important successes, including the organization of the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation and the presidential and legislative elections held in 2015 and 2016, which successfully returned the country to constitutional order . The Mission also prevents atrocities on a daily basis and continues to preserve and protect the legitimacy and territorial integrity of the State. However, four years into the deployment of MINUSCA, and despite significant investments by the international community, the crisis persists with a serious risk of reversal. It seems gridlocked owing to global, regional, national and local conflict drivers, despite the progress achieved. The elections of 2015 and 2016, which were the first democratic, free and f air elections of their kind in the country, brought only a temporary reduction of violence. They did not generate the conditions or framework necessary for an inclusive peace process that would facilitate disarmament and reconciliation. In the months after the elections, the posture of armed groups hardened, amid unmet expectations of power - sharing arrangements and competition over control of territory and access to natural resources, while their attacks on civilians grew and profits from illicit economic activities remained largely unhindered.
Furthermore, after the elections, international and regional attention shifted to other critical crises. This was illustrated by the reduction in international forces in the country, which are essential for MINUSCA to carry out its peacekeeping mandate and prevent an expansion of armed groups. The region continued to play a significant role, while evolving geopolitical dynamics added to the complexity of the conflict. In that context, various mediation efforts were initiated. Most were eventually subsumed into the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation, under the auspices of the African Union and ECCAS, to which the United Nations committed its full support.
Early in 2017, the security situation deteriorated, primarily owing to political and security assumptions that did not materialize. In its resolution 2387 (2017) , the Security Council focused the mandate of the Mission on supporting the political process with the objective to contain the security situation, protect civilians and create conditions to enable humanitarian access. Ten months later, that approach has been successful to a degree — the political process is on track, while the political strategy of MINUSCA has facilitated the stabilization of many areas and has contained the security situation in others. However, the political and security dynamics in the country have not changed, the lives of ordinary Central Africans have not improved meaning fully, and the violence has not stopped sustainably.
It was within that context that I co - chaired with President Touadéra, the President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Secretary - General of ECCAS, Ahmad Allam-Mi, a high-level ministerial meeting on the Central African Republic in the margins of the seventy - third session of the General Assembly of the United Nations to discuss the way forward. At that meeting, participants expressed their support for President Touadéra’s efforts to bring about peace, national reconciliation and development in his country, while recognizing that stability in the Central African Republic was crucial for regional stability. They recalled the need for all countries of the subregion to remain engaged constructively and for all mediation efforts to be closely coordinated within the African Initiative in order to strengthen the peace process.