CAR: The priority must be to halt violence perpertrated by armed groups [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 20 June 2019
At the outset, I would like to warmly thank Mr. Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic; Mr. Matias Bertino Matondo, African Union Special Representative; and Mr. Koen Vervaeke, Managing Director for Africa of the European Union External Action Service, for their very enlightening briefings. In particular, I would like to welcome Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ndiaye, who is here in the Chamber for the first time. I commend his efforts since he assumed his post and pledge France’s full support in helping him carry out his important tasks.
1/ The signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, on 6 February in Bangui, created genuine prospects for emerging from the crisis and achieving lasting peace in the Central African Republic. We are therefore fully committed to its implementation and welcome the first measures taken by the Central African authorities, under the direction of President Touadera, for the agreement to be translated into action.
I would mention in particular the formation of a new inclusive Government, the work undertaken to expedite the operationalization of the Unités spéciales mixtes de sécurité, the establishment of structures for monitoring the implementation of the agreement, including the first meetings of the executive monitoring committee, and the revival this past May of the joint commission between the Central African Republic and Cameroon.
Nonetheless, we remain alarmed by the continued violence by armed groups, which continue to recruit children into their ranks and violate the arms embargo to re-arm themselves. The humanitarian consequences are horrific, primarily impacting the most vulnerable populations: internally displaced persons, children and women. The recent violence perpetrated by the Retour, réclamation et rehabilitation group in the Paoua region, which claimed the lives of more than 50 civilians, is unacceptable. It constitutes a serious violation of the peace agreement, and we strongly condemn it, as we do some armed groups’ targeting of humanitarian workers, who at times pay with their lives for their commitment. We have taken note of the reaction of the leaders of Retour, réclamation et rehabilitation group following the attack in late May to put an end to such acts. We expect them to locate the individuals responsible within their ranks and deliver them without delay to justice to answer for their crimes. We also welcome the response of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in adopting a firm and robust posture towards the Retour, réclamation et rehabilitation group, thereby safeguarding the peace agreement. That posture is indispensable and must continue to be deployed towards armed groups. In that regard, too, MINUSCA can count on our full support.
Against that backdrop, we believe that the priority in implementing the peace agreement must be to stop the violence perpetrated by armed groups, disarm and demobilize them and to gradually re-establish State authority throughout the territory. The Central African Government, for its part, must also continue its communication efforts on the peace agreement, embark upon the process towards the adoption of a law on decentralization and make progress in the establishment of the truth, justice, reconciliation and reparations commission. Those are ways to ensure greater involvement by the people, especially women and young people, in implementing the agreement, to make local Government closer to the population and to respond to the demands of the Central African population for justice, which also entails the continuation of its work by the Special Criminal Court and the strengthening of the national judicial system.
2/ For the implementation of the peace agreement to succeed, the international community’s full and coordinated engagement in support it, both politically and financially, is indispensable. In that regard, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the countries of the region, as guarantors of the peace agreement, have a crucial role to play. We therefore encourage the African Union and ECCAS to continue their efforts, together with the United Nations and the countries of the region.
For its part, France is and will remain fully committed to supporting the implementation of a peace agreement. France has thus far — and this is not an exhaustive list — provided €10 million in budgetary support to strengthen public administration in the Central African Republic, and we are continuing to train 200 national public servants. On the security front, we are providing complementary training for between 850 and 950 members of the Central African Armed Forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic (EUTM-RCA). In terms of rehabilitation, we are funding quick-impact projects totalling €28 million for the development of economic activities and the integration of the population.
Beyond our bilateral commitment, I would also like to welcome the commitment of the European Union, which is the leading development partner of the Central African Republic. The EUTM-RCA, of which France will take command on 1 July, remains the point of reference in the training of Central African Armed Forces. It has trained and qualified more than 3,000 Central African soldiers and began training another 1,000. It will contribute to the establishment of the garrison army model with the redeployment of Central Africa Armed Forces contingents in Bouar.
3/ Before concluding my remarks, I would like to reaffirm France’s full support for MINUSCA. As we all know, MINUSCA operates in a difficult environment, but it plays a vital role in stabilizing the Central African Republic. It plays a crucial role in the implementation of the peace agreement. In that regard, I would refer to the establishment and deployment of Unités spéciales mixtes de sécurité, which must help improve security across the country and restore State authority. That is why we will continue to ensure that MINUSCA has the necessary means to fulfil its mission.
I would like to pay tribute here to troop- and police-contributing countries for their commitment in the Central African Republic and to commend all the efforts undertaken by MINUSCA to increase its mobility, improve its operational performance where shortcomings had been identified and continue the work undertaken to prevent cases of sexual exploitation and abuse and ensure that they do not go unpunished.
Finally, with the elections of 2020 and 2021 on the horizon, which must anchor the Central African Republic in democracy, we believe that MINUSCA should be able to play a supporting role to the conduct of the elections, in support of the Central African authorities. The recommendations that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General will make in that regard will therefore be considered with the greatest attention. We call on all Central African actors to assume their responsibilities to ensure that the preparations for the elections can take place in a calm and constructive environment.
The peace agreement can and must mark a new beginning for the Central African Republic, which is why it is essential for the Security Council and the international community to remain mobilized and united in supporting the Central African Republic and MINUSCA.