posted on Mon 27 Jan 2014 7:01 PM
Resolution Renewing Peacebuilding Office Mandate and Expanding Sanctions in the CAR

Tomorrow (28 January), the Council is expected to adopt a resolution, which went into blue this evening, extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) for a year. The resolution will enhance BINUCA’s role in assisting the transitional political process, authorise an EU intervention force and expand the sanctions regime for the Central African Republic (CAR) to include targeted sanctions over those who obstruct the transitional process or commit humanitarian law and human rights abuses. When the Council adopted resolution 2127 on 5 December 2013 it imposed an arms embargo and established the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee. At that point some Council members were not ready to impose a travel ban and assets freeze but the resolution expressed the intent to consider imposing these targeted sanctions in the future. The draft mandate renewal resolution also authorises an EU force for a period of six months from its full deployment.

The draft resolutuion specifically calls for an assets freeze and travel ban to be placed on individuals who hinder the political process, violate the arms embargo, or violate human rights and international humanitarian law including through acts of sexual violence and targeting of civilians. Also affected by these targeted sanctions will be individuals and entities that have recruited and used children in armed conflict; provided support for armed groups through illicit exploitation of natural resources; obstructed the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the CAR; and are involved in attacks against UN missions or international security presences.

It seems that during the negotiations there were some disagreements on including all of the above elements in a single resolution, which was a mixture of Chapter VI mandate (BINUCA) and Chapter VII (the EU force and sanctions) of the UN Charter, but eventually an agreement was reached.

The draft resolution also updates and reinforces BINUCA’s mandate. The mission will support the implementation of the transition process; conflict prevention; humanitarian assistance; the restoration of state authority; the stabilisation of the security situation; and promote and protect human rights. Additional tasks include cooperation with the Sanctions Committee and its Panel of Experts and coordination of international actors.

Since the Council adopted resolution 2127, the possibility of establishing a UN peacekeeping operation continues to be discussed among Council members. The draft resolution, however, does not address this matter due to differences within the Council and the fact that the latest Secretary-General’s report on BINUCA (S/2013/787) contains no specific recommendations on the matter, unlike the Secretary-General’s report of 15 November 2013 (S/2013/677). The Secretary-General is only expected to report to the Council with recommendations on a possible UN peacekeeping force, as well as on progress towards meeting the appropriate conditions on the ground, in March.

While there may be general agreement that such a mission may be inevitable, there are disagreements on when and how this can take place. Russia, the US and the African Council members believe the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) and the other international forces should be given time to fulfil their mandates and restore security in the CAR, while close attention should be paid to ensuring the success of the transitional political process. The AU, which a UN peacekeeping mission would likely be dependent on for troops, is currently of the firm position that the establishment of a UN mission should wait for a future point in time.

Another consideration raised against creating a UN peacekeeping mission at this point is the cost of such a mission. The reluctance to increase the peacekeeping budget was evident when the Council authorised an increase in peacekeepers in South Sudan by transferring troops from other UN missions.

Other Council members, first and foremost France, the pen-holder on the CAR, are highly supportive of a UN peacekeeping force to take over operations in the CAR, viewing that as the only effective solution to the crisis. They believe that BINUCA should become its civilian component and that this is necessary for the force to be able to address both the security threats and reforms and assistance needed in the political, institutional and humanitarian spheres.

In the meantime, however, the 20 January EU authorisation for a military mission to the CAR of up to 1000 troops provides some breathing room. The force is to deploy around Bangui airport, where many civilians have taken refuge. The force is expected to begin operations towards the end of February, but it is currently unclear which EU countries will contribute troops.

Although the humanitarian situation in the CAR continues to be dire, the 20 January election Catherine Samba-Panza as interim President of the CAR by the interim National Council, as well as the appointment of Prime Minister André Nzapayeke on 25 January, were welcome developments on the political front.

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