Statement by Mr. Petr Iliichev, Chargé d'Affaires, at the Security Council on the situation in the Central African Republic
We would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic, Mr. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, for his briefing. We also thank Mr. Andrew Gilmour and the representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio.
We share the concerns about the continuing instability in the Central African Republic, especially in the area of security. As we can see, intercommunal strife continues in the country. Criminality and banditry are widespread. There are bloody clashes taking place on religious and ethnic grounds. Intense skirmishes between armed groups continue as they fight over territory, key trade routes and resources. The situation is further complicated by the fact that State administration and security bodies are either paralysed or simply absent in many parts of the country. As was the case before, Bangui is the only island of tranquillity in the country. Clashes between non-State armed groups in the central and eastern regions of the country and insurgents’ attacks on civilians and humanitarian personnel and peacekeepers not only undermine the security situation, but also impede national reconciliation.
Clearly, given such a complex military and political situation in the Central African Republic, the stabilizing role of the United Nations peacekeeping Mission cannot be overemphasized. Blue Helmets, who put their own lives at risk, are trying to put out the flames engulfing the country. We pay tribute to their heroism and their determination to help the people of the Central African Republic and to achieve peace.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that, in confronting the challenges facing the country, the Administration of President Touadéra has so far not been able to count on its own armed forces, which in fact exist on paper only. Two battalions made up of 1,500 troops will conclude their training at the end of 2017. It will take years for reliable armed forces to form in the country. The international community must pay attention to the need to strengthen the capability of the Central African army in order to achieve lasting security in the country.
In addition, we would like to point out the need to balance the due diligence policy in the area of human rights with supporting the security sector of the Central African Republic. The task of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic is to help stabilize the country. However, without urgent reforms, the Blue Helmets will not be able to transfer responsibility to the armed forces of the country. The peacekeepers in the Central African Republic will not be there forever. We must remember that.
We are concerned about the further deterioration in the social, economic and humanitarian situation in the country and the continuing severe lack of financing for humanitarian needs. Today, the country faces another problem in the humanitarian sphere, namely, illegal armed groups who continue to attack humanitarian workers. Last year, 31 per cent of such attacks throughout the world took place in the Central African Republic. We call on all parties to the conflict to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access on the ground. On their part, the authorities should create conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes.
The Central African Republic authorities have the overarching task of getting the country’s judicial bodies to function. In the circumstances it will be essential to focus on restoring national capacity. The use by peacekeepers of temporary emergency measures and the protracted process of establishing a special criminal court do not constitute a panacea for the country’s problems where combating impunity is concerned. After almost two years this institution is still not functioning, and there have been serious problems with its financing. On top of that, the global experience has been that various types of courts involving international participation have generally been relatively ineffective and very costly.
We would also like to draw attention to the fact that one of the demands of the armed groups regarding a general amnesty is meeting with hostility not only from the Government — thereby delaying the national dialogue — but also from many international stakeholders. In that regard, we urge Bangui not to rush into a final decision. After all, amnesty does not imply impunity, and a promise to grant it does not devalue the achievements of the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation in 2015. If we are to advance the process of reconciliation and the healing of wounds, it is essential to ensure that all the parties are motivated to participate. If not, we run the risk of the conflict continuing for years.
The Central African Republic needs major reforms and modernization in every area of life. The process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation must receive extra impetus, which can be achieved only with international assistance and, most important, regional and subregional mediation. In that connection, we note the mediation efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States. However, it is clear that the potential for stronger regional support for the country’s national dialogue is far from being fulfilled. As we have seen from other examples of successful conflict management in Africa, it is regional mediation that to a great degree has a defining role to play in encouraging the parties to conflicts to undertake direct dialogue.