The situation in the Central African Republic Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in that country (S/2009/309)
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Du Xiaocong
|Mr. De Rivière
|Mr. Hoang Chi Trung
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in the Central African Republic
Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in that country (S/2009/309)
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of the Central African Republic, in which he requests to be invited to participate in the consideration of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the consideration of the item, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
It is so decided.
Also in accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to His Excellency Mr. Jan Grauls, Chair of the Central African Republic configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission and Permanent Representative of Belgium.
It is so decided.
I invite Mr. Grauls to take a seat at the Council table.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
Members of the Council have before them document S/2009/309, which contains the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in that country.
At this meeting, the Security Council will hear briefings by Mr. Lynn Pascoe and Mr. Jan Grauls. I now give the floor to Mr. Pascoe.
I appreciate the opportunity to present the latest report (S/2009/309) of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (BONUCA) in that country.
There were significant developments in the Central African Republic during the period under review. Those included the efforts to implement the outcomes of the historic inclusive political dialogue held in December 2008. The dialogue itself was widely welcomed, especially by the people of the Central African Republic, as the most far-reaching endeavour towards genuine national reconciliation since the eruption of the current crisis in the mid-1990s.
Members will recall that, in its presidential statement of 7 April 2009, the Security Council welcomed the successful convening of the dialogue and reiterated
“its full support for this process, as an effective framework to foster national reconciliation and stability in the Central African Republic”. (S/PRST/2009/5, first paragraph)
The post-dialogue period has, in the main, been characterized by two, sometimes contradictory, trends. On the one hand, significant efforts have been and continue to be made to implement the recommendations of the dialogue with a view to consolidating the momentum for peace in the country. A broad-based Government was formed, a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Steering Committee was established and a Follow-up Committee was set up to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the dialogue, with the participation of the United Nations and other key international partners.
On the other hand, there has also been a resurgence of rebellion in the north of the country — a development that contradicts the spirit of reconciliation that the dialogue sought to engender. For instance, on 21 June, there were reports of rebel attacks in Birao. After several hours of fighting, forces of the Central African Republic and of the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement repelled the attack. The total number of casualties remains unknown. The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) has relocated 18 international personnel of non-governmental organizations to MINURCAT headquarters at Birao. Underlying those two contradictory developments is a third element, namely, the increasing fragility of the peace process in the Central African Republic and of the country itself.
I have just returned from a visit to the Central African Republic. I was able to see for myself the impact of years of instability and insecurity on the country. But I also heard words that reflected the profound faith that the Government and the people of the country have in the United Nations, which they view as a reliable partner for the realization of their aspirations to a better future. The problems are huge, but I am convinced that the United Nations can help to move them towards a solution.
As the Council is meeting here today, the National Assembly of the Central African Republic is holding an extraordinary session to discuss and adopt a new electoral code to guide the preparations for and conduct of legislative and presidential elections in 2010. We are concerned by claims by opposition political parties that some key provisions of the code submitted to the Assembly by the Government are at variance with the version of the document that was adopted by the ad hoc Committee charged with revising the electoral code. The organization of peaceful, transparent and credible elections is contingent on the adoption of an electoral code that is accepted by all stakeholders.
Another key measure linked to the electoral code is the establishment of the independent electoral commission, as called for by this past December’s inclusive political dialogue. That commission, to be made up of different shades of political opinion and civil society, would ensure a credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process. We have received a request for electoral assistance from the Government, and once the commission is established we will dispatch a needs-assessment mission promptly to Bangui to assess ways in which the United Nations can contribute to the process.
The Secretary-General has called on the Central African Republic authorities to ensure that elections are held on schedule, as provided for in the Central African Republic Constitution, in order to prevent a constitutional power vacuum that could further complicate an already fragile political environment, including the possibility of renewed violence. We have also urged all political leaders to avoid intimidation, harassment and incitement and to work to eliminate the current climate of mistrust and suspicion in the political landscape of the Central African Republic. It is especially important for the Government to guarantee security and a level playing field for all participants if the electoral process is to proceed peacefully and with credibility.
Another important challenge facing the peace process is that of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the country’s ex-combatants, who have agreed to end rebellion and join the peace process. While the concrete launching of DDR operations has yet to begin, critical preparatory work has advanced, with technical documentation adopted, provisional lists of potential ex-combatants submitted to the United Nations, and initial funding of about $4 million released from the Peacebuilding Fund to kick-start the project. During my meeting with President Bozizé, he reaffirmed his determination to take personal control of the DDR process and to make available the financial assistance of 8 billion CFA francs — about $16 million — pledged by the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) to finance DDR projects. At this point, I would like to say what a critical role Ambassador Grauls played in his most recent visit to the Central African Republic in ensuring that this money was available for this very valuable process.
Subsequently, we were informed that a total of 5 billion CFA francs — about $10 million — of the CEMAC funds had already been disbursed. The Secretary-General has appealed to the international community to provide additional support for the successful completion of the estimated $30 million DDR programme, on which the imperatives for security and peaceful elections hinge.
DDR is only part of a broader programme of security sector reforms. Its success will strengthen efforts to make progress towards security sector reforms in the Central African Republic. A successful security sector reform (SSR) would in turn help institute, for the first time in nearly three decades, a multi-ethnic, professional and republican military and security establishment for the defence of democratic institutions and not in the service of partisan and mono-ethnic political movements. The Secretary-General has appealed for international support for programmes being put forward by the Central African Republic authorities in support of the national security sector reform strategy, including the organization of the donors’ round table on security sector reform scheduled for October this year.
During my visit to the Central African Republic, I had the opportunity to visit the military component of the peacebuilding mission of the Economic Community of Central African States based in Bangui. This force of 520 troops is making a major contribution, in partnership with the United Nations and other partners, towards the stabilization of the Central African Republic. I salute their courage and determination and commend their Governments for the concrete demonstration of political will and solidarity in support of peace in the Central African Republic.
Two days from now, the Bretton Woods institutions will examine the possibility of granting debt relief to the Central African Republic under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative. As pointed out in the Secretary-General’s report, the country’s macroeconomic reforms have been widely acclaimed by international partners and are credited for turning a previously bleak picture into one in which not only is economic growth happening, but in which long-term prospects are rated as encouraging and deserving of enhanced donor support. Should those reforms continue and should the overall climate of political stabilization persist, it is reasonable to be hopeful about the possibilities of reducing the desperately high levels of poverty and misery in the medium term.
The best way forward now is to address the multifaceted problems besetting the Central African Republic through the implementation of the recently adopted strategic framework for peacebuilding. It is vital that the Central African Republic take full ownership of the road map, which identifies three key pillars for sustainable peacebuilding, namely, security through DDR and SSR, good governance, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, and development. The United Nations will work in partnership with the Central African Republic to support its efforts to implement these strategic priorities.
Allow me to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the important contribution being made to that end by the Peacebuilding Commission, especially its country-specific configuration for the Central African Republic, led by Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, who, as an example of his commitment to the goal of promoting the sustainable stabilization of the Central African Republic, last month undertook his fourth mission to the country in a year. He has been a strong voice of the international community for reform and progress in the Central African Republic.
Members will recall that the Council has endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposal to transform BONUCA into a United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). The purpose is to maximize the United Nations contribution to the Central African Republic, minimize the risks of duplication and simplify consultations with our partners, including the Central African Republic authorities.
The report of the Secretary-General before the Council sets out the proposed structure and staffing of BINUCA, as requested by the Council in April. As the transition process proceeds, the Secretary-General proposes that BINUCA become fully operational by 1 January 2010. We will use the intervening period to finalize recruitment of personnel and to address related logistical and other preparatory tasks so that the new Office can take off smoothly, as scheduled, on 1 January 2010.
I am delighted to have with us here today the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic and head of BONUCA, Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, who departs in a few days for Bangui to take up her important assignment. The Central African Republic authorities, during my recent visit, welcomed her appointment, thanked the Secretary-General for his continued support and reiterated their cooperation with BONUCA. I also want to express my appreciation to Mr. Sammy Kum Buo, the Director of the Africa II Division of the Department of Political Affairs, who has aptly filled in for the past three months as Officer-in-Charge in Bangui. He has done an excellent job in bridging the gap.
In conclusion, allow me to add my voice to that of the Secretary-General and other world leaders who have paid tribute to the late Gabonese President for his mediation in various conflicts across Africa. President Bongo was a strong advocate of peace whose passing has been felt not least in the Central African Republic, a country that was close to his heart. Six months ago, he personally travelled to Bangui twice within two weeks to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the inclusive political dialogue. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement for the Central African Republic, which forms the foundation of the current peace process, was signed exactly one year ago yesterday, on 21 June 2008 in Libreville, Gabon, under his chairmanship.
I thank Mr. Pascoe for his briefing. I would also like to thank Mr. Pascoe for bringing to the Council’s attention the presence of Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic. On behalf of the Council, I wish to congratulate her on her appointment and to convey our best wishes to her on her assignment. The Council looks forward to working with her.
I now give the floor to Mr. Jan Grauls.
I should like at the outset, Sir, to thank you for giving me the opportunity once again to address the Security Council in my capacity as Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission country-specific configuration on the Central African Republic. I should also like to warmly welcome the appointment of Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and to assure her of the Commission’s support.
Since I last addressed the Council in March, the Peacebuilding Commission adopted its strategic framework for peacebuilding on 6 May. The framework is a kind of road map for achieving the goals that the Commission has set itself. From 21 to 23 May, I led a mission to Bangui to officially present the framework to all actors of Central African society.
As Mr. Pascoe noted, the Commission has decided to focus on three urgent priorities: security sector reform (SSR) and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme for ex-combatants; good governance and the rule of law; and the identification of development poles, to be considered as embryonic structures created to relaunch socio-economic development throughout the Central African Republic. Those three priorities correspond perfectly to the conclusions reached by the inclusive political dialogue that brought the Government, the unarmed opposition, rebel groups and civil society together in December.
The Commission is currently focusing its attention on two files that are critical to stability and peace in the Central African Republic. I refer to the drafting and implementation of a DDR programme thoroughly integrated into the SSR programme, and the preparation for elections in 2010. Without successful DDR, the electoral process may be compromised, and without a successful electoral process the entire country runs the risk of being destabilized.
The drafting of the DDR programme is progressing. Considerable technical work has been completed, and political conditions are being established so that the programme can be launched in optimal circumstances. In that regard, I note the return of recalcitrant rebel groups to the peace process, which is an encouraging sign. The financing of the early DDR phases seems to be assured thanks, among other things, to contributions from the Peacebuilding Fund and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and to the agreement of President Bozizé to allocate to DDR all the funds pledged by the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, pursuant to the communiqué issued by the heads of State in Libreville on 30 January. We encourage the Government of the Central African Republic to pay those funds into the UNDP Trust Fund in order to ensure their transparency and effective management.
If the DDR process is to begin expeditiously, the Steering Committee must rapidly proceed to validate the submitted lists of recognized combatants belonging to political-military groups. The Commission also encourages the strengthening of the subregional Mission de consolidation de la paix en République Centrafricaine, which will be called on to supervise the DDR programme.
I wish to say a word on the electoral process. If it is to unfold in acceptable conditions, the process must enjoy the assistance of the international community. In that regard, the authorities of the Central African Republic must urgently establish the Mixed and Independent Electoral Commission, the only national body authorized under the Constitution to undertake preparations for elections and to adopt changes to the electoral code. The activation of the Commission is necessary to ensure the firm commitment of the United Nations and other actors of the international community.
In agreement with the Government of the Central African Republic, it has been decided that an initial assessment of the implementation of the strategic framework will be carried out in six months. The biannual assessments should allow us to maintain the momentum of the peacebuilding process in the Central African Republic.
In order to strengthen peace and stability in their country, the people of the Central African Republic need the support of the international community. The encouraging signs to which I have referred are an appeal to which we must respond positively. That is why, since the strategic framework was adopted, I have visited various Governments and organizations in order to make international partners aware of the needs of the Central African Republic and to invite them to join in the Commission’s efforts. I have noted an upsurge in interest in the Central African Republic, a country that, perhaps with reason, was long considered an orphan of international assistance.
It is important to involve non-governmental organizations in those awareness-raising efforts. At the most recent meeting of our configuration, two important international non-governmental organizations confirmed that they would increase their presence on the ground in the country. Some countries have also conveyed to me their willingness to consider specific proposals for a new or increased involvement in the Central African Republic, pursuant to the priorities of the strategic framework. I feel that, while it may yet appear to be low-key, this renewed interest of the international community in the Republic must still be underscored.
The Peacebuilding Commission advocated the transformation of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic into the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office, and in that regard welcomed the presidential statement of 7 April (S/PRST/2009/5), whereby the decision was taken in principle to establish the new Office as soon as possible. The Commission is pleased to note that the new structure for the Integrated Office, as proposed in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/309), will allow us better to assist its work. The Commission especially welcomes the establishment of a Human Rights and Justice Section, to include prison experts, among others, and of a Security Institutions Section. The creation of the posts of Gender Adviser and Child Protection Adviser are also very welcome proposals. I express the hope that the new integrated structure will be established as soon as possible in order to facilitate the implementation of the Peacebuilding Commission’s strategic framework. It would indeed be regrettable to waste time.
With the death of the President of Gabon, the late El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, the Central African Republic has lost a founding father of its peace process. I salute the vision and untiring support that the late President gave to the Central African Republic in recent years in order to help it turn towards a more hopeful future. The peacebuilding process will continue to require the full attention of the Government of the Central African Republic and its international partners in the coming months and years.
I think Mr. Grauls for his briefing.
I now give the floor to the representative of the Central African Republic.
My delegation welcomes your presidency of the Security Council for June, Sir, and congratulates you thereon. Turkey’s commitment to peace in the world and its unequivocal support for developing countries reflect its genuine desire to promote truly global multilateralism. My country, the Central African Republic, thanks the Turkish Government for the multifaceted assistance it has provided to the Central African Republic and will continue to provide in the future.
The Central African Republic also thanks the Secretary-General for his recent report (S/2009/309) on the situation in the Central African Republic and on the activities of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (BONUCA) in that country. We commend Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe for presenting the report and his informative briefing. We cannot fail to note the full role that Mr. Sammy Kum Buo, Director of the Africa II Division in the Department of Political Affairs and Officer-in-Charge of BONUCA, has played in recent months. His interim term was noteworthy because he was able to address all the thorny issues with the managing authorities and key actors of the Central African Republic.
We also wish to congratulate Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde on her appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BONUCA beginning 15 June 2009. We appreciate her appointment, which was completed after a rigorous selection process. Her experience is reassuring because she is already familiar with the problems of the Central African Republic, having worked on the subject within the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. My country offers her its full support during her term in office. Our hopes have been fulfilled and we thank the Secretary-General most sincerely.
We must also pay well-deserved tribute to her predecessor, Mr. François Lonseny Fall, for his dedication and determination to move the Central African Republic issue forward.
2009 is a key year for the Central African Republic, which must now take courageous measures to determine its future. The implementation of the recommendations of the inclusive political dialogue, and in particular the establishment of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, the organization of general elections in 2010 and the mobilization of resources, are the challenges to be taken up in the coming months.
My delegation notes the progress achieved after the holding of the political dialogue, including the establishment of the Follow-up Committee for the implementation of the dialogue recommendations, the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Steering Committee and the High Court of Justice. Any apparent delay in the implementation of those programmes is due to a lack of financing, which has yet to be mobilized.
At the political level, there is a genuine resolve to move towards reconciliation, even if a few political and military actors seem to be choosing the path of force. My Government recognizes that the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement launched an irreversible peace process. The Government is striving to make its influence felt in everyday affairs, as it has informed the Council on several occasions.
President Bozizé met with the Libyan leader and current Chairperson of the African Union and asked him to support the cause of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Central African Republic. The return to the country of one of the political and military chiefs, Abakar Sabone, is a good sign that the country is progressing little by little along the path towards true reconciliation. The DDR programme is advancing slowly but surely. Working documents have been created and lists of political and military groups drafted, and a team has been established to manage and mobilize contributions from the Peacebuilding Fund. However, that programme must be brought into line with security sector reform and the development hubs. If they are to be reintegrated into civilian life, ex-combatants must have training to allow them to make a living. It is therefore important for the development hubs to become a reality in due time.
Security and defence forces must also be deployed in tandem with those programmes. At the same time, that deployment is of major concern of the Government of the Central African Republic, which is doing its best to find financing because it wants DDR to be implemented as quickly as possible. Funds already collected by the Central African Economic and Monetary Community will be allocated exclusively to the peace process. We wish here to pay a well-deserved tribute here in memory of His Excellency El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, for his personal involvement in helping to resolve the crisis in the Central African Republic and for being a mobilizer of funds to contribute to peacebuilding and disarmament.
The issue of elections in 2010 is not problematic, because the Government intends to respect the electoral timetable. Thus, the draft electoral code to launch that process remains under consideration by the National Assembly. The Government is counting on the support of the United Nations to successfully complete the process.
With respect to humanitarian issues, it is regrettable to note that, in the northern part of the country, clashes between certain rebel groups — including the Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain and the Convergence des patriotes centrafricains pour la justice et la paix — with the Forces armées centrafricaines (FACA), have displaced Central Africans inside and outside the country. We also note a new manifestation of violence in the northern part of the country — inter-community violence. But the Central African Republic is also a welcoming country, and has received Sudanese refugees who have fled the violence in Darfur since 2007. Thanks to the joint action of the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and other humanitarian agencies, as well as the National Commission for Refugees and the local population, refugees and displaced persons are receiving assistance.
Where there is violence, human rights violations are inevitable and we bitterly regret that. The Central African Republic is emerging painfully from a long period of crisis and the deployment of its defence and security forces is occurring gradually in areas where violence persists because of the actions of rebel groups and widespread banditry. Nevertheless, the authorities of the Central African Republic have taken measures to prevent all acts of violence in conformity with the law. Thus, new penal and military codes are being finalized. A national human rights commission will be established to address all human rights issues in the Central African Republic, including the rights of women and children in armed conflict, as well as the rights of refugees.
In the context of restructuring the army and raising the moral standards of the military, on 11 June the National Assembly enacted a military training law for FACA and the police for the period 2009-2013. The law is aimed at consolidating and conditioning the necessary personnel for FACA and the national police in the areas of recruitment, training, retirement and career management, and at identifying the budgetary contributions of the State and the international community that are necessary in order to achieve the objectives set for 2013.
Since our country has been on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission, the authorities of the Central African Republic have cooperated fully with the country-specific configuration on the Central African Republic, chaired by Ambassador Jan Grauls, Permanent Representative of Belgium. In his determination and ardent desire for us to succeed, he has taken a series of measures that have moved the situation in the Central African Republic decidedly forward. His many missions to Bangui and throughout the world to plead the case of the Central African Republic plainly demonstrate that he is a staunch defender of those in need. The Central African Republic is very grateful for his commitment.
The strategic framework adopted on 6 May 2009 resulted from intensive consultations among all stakeholders in the Central African Republic and the international community. That document, which will be revised every six months, was presented officially to the Central African Republic parties by Ambassador Grauls when he visited from 21 to 23 May 2009. That visit was truly successful in that it brought together many members of the Government, civil society and other stakeholders, including the media, which duly disseminated the message of the Chairman of the configuration on the Central African Republic. National ownership remains the leitmotif of the strategic framework’s success. However, the international community should also demonstrate its flexibility by lending its unconditional support to achieving the set objectives.
The Government supports that programme and is ready to invest in its success. May we all support the configuration’s Chair in his determination to meet the schedule for the best results. The fight against the poverty afflicting most of the Central African Republic’s population requires respect for the established programmes. The political will of the authorities has already been confirmed by its simple resolve to hold elections in 2010 and to complete the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme as soon as possible.
We welcome the decision to transform the United Nations the Peacebuilding Support Office into the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). That new structure will allow the activities of the United Nations system to be coordinated on the ground as it supports the political, socio-economic and sustainable development activities in the Central African Republic. The future BINUCA will have the advantage of being deeply involved in implementing the strategic framework.
While we generally accept the contents of the report of the Secretary-General, we nevertheless have an objection to raise with regard to paragraph 74. The information contained in that paragraph, in our opinion, is not in line with the history of the Central African Republic. Contrary to what is written, the national day is celebrated solemnly and joyously by the people each 1 December, except for one period only when there were repeated mutinies. That celebration takes place throughout the territory, without exception. The Republic’s fiftieth anniversary, like those of previous years, was greatly appreciated, and we expect the same for the fifty-first anniversary in December 2009.
Lastly, we would like to reiterate our full support for the activities of the United Nations in the Central African Republic, which, we hope, will continue in the future. The recent visits of Under-Secretary-General Lynn Pascoe, head of the Department of Political Affairs, were well received by the authorities in the Central African Republic, which had not been visited by a United Nations high official since the country emerged from the crisis. Mr. Pascoe went to the Central African Republic without preconceptions and to listen to the authorities. In that visit, we felt the United Nations presence even closer to the Central African Republic.
We also thank all other bilateral and multilateral partners that are contributing effectively to the cause of stabilization and sustainable peace in the Central African Republic. They can rest assured of the full and good cooperation of our Government.
There are no further speakers inscribed on my list.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the course of the Council’s prior consultations, I now invite Council members to informal consultations to continue our discussion of the subject.