posted on Wed 9 Apr 2014 5:04 PM
Resolution Establishing UN Peacekeeping Mission in CAR

Tomorrow (10 April), the Council is set to adopt a resolution establishing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 30 April 2015, largely in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/142). The text was put in blue today. Among the new mission’s key tasks will be protection of civilians (including by disarming armed groups), supporting the implementation of the transitional political process and the restoration of state authority, facilitating humanitarian assistance, promoting and protecting human rights, supporting national and international justice and rule of law efforts, and supporting security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation efforts.

The new mission will take over responsibilities from the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) as of 15 September. MINUSCA is envisaged to originally comprise 10,000 military personnel and 1,800 police personnel and the currently existing UN political mission—the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office the in CAR (BINUCA)— is expected to be integrated into MINUSCA. The draft resolution authorises the French forces of Operation Sangaris in the CAR to use all necessary means to support MINUSCA. The draft also welcomes the recommendation of the Secretary-General to adjust the mandate of MINUSCA as the situation on the ground evolves and requests him to develop a concept of operations and benchmarks for this sequencing.

Negotiations on the draft resolution, which was drafted by France, commenced early last week and, while there were some points of disagreement, there was general agreement about the need for a strong peacekeeping mission. Overall, the draft resolution establishes a peacekeeping mission with a strong protection mandate, while ensuring that some of the robust powers that have been given to the mission are on an exceptional basis and must be carried out in accordance with peacekeeping principles.

One issue that came up was granting MINUSCA, at the request of the CAR authorities, the mandate to adopt temporary measures to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity (measures of this sort may include the authority to arrest and detain individuals). During negotiations on the resolution, language was added to this paragraph to highlight that these urgent temporary measures be adopted on an exceptional basis. In addition, China and Russia requested that there be an official written request from the government of the CAR to allow for such authority to MINUSCA. Such a letter was sent to the president of the Council on 8 April by the CAR president, Catherine Samba-Panza, requesting that MINUSCA should have the capability to take “urgent temporary measures” in the security and rule of law areas.

Another point on which Council members could not fully agree had to do with providing temporary financial assistance to MISCA prior to the 15 September transition, in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recommendation. The US, while it has been able to provide certain MISCA contingents with financial and logistical support bilaterally, for domestic legal reasons, found it difficult to accept inclusion of such assistance in the resolution. As a compromise, the draft resolution includes an authorisation for the Secretary-General to deploy military enablers for MINUSCA prior to 15 September and accelerate the deployment of military and civilian components of MINUSCA in order to respond to the needs of the population in the CAR.

As with other recent Council resolutions, another disagreement revolved around reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and international justice mechanisms. The current draft resolution contains references to accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses and to the decision of the ICC prosecutor of 7 February 2014 to open a preliminary investigation into the situation in the CAR since September 2012. (CAR is a state party to the ICC). On the insistence of Russia, language on MINUSCA’S mandate to support international justice efforts-including the ICC- was modified into more general language on justice focused on supporting and working with the CAR transitional authorities to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including through cooperation with countries in the region and the ICC. Finally, earlier versions of the draft resolution included an annex of three names to be placed on the CAR sanctions list, but several Council members took the position that they needed more time to consider and vet the proposed names. The current draft does not place targeted sanctions on any individuals but recalls the CAR 2127 sanctions committee and the sanctions regime established under resolutions 2127 and 2134.

The new peacekeeping mission is being set up in the midst of a deteriorating security, humanitarian and human rights situation in the CAR. Yesterday (8 April), High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay briefed Council members in consultations on several situations, including the CAR. Following her recent visit to the country, she noted that the situation remains dire, with inter-communal hatred “at a terrifying level”. She also noted that roughly 15,000 Muslims are reportedly trapped in Bangui and in other areas, protected by international forces, but nevertheless in an extremely dangerous situation. She also highlighted that, while large-scale massacres seem to have halted, people are still killed on a daily basis, especially by the anti-Balaka militia groups. Pillay urged the Council to proceed and deploy a robust peacekeeping mission and stressed the need for police forces to restore law and order and security for the population.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.