Who we are?
In relation with the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central Africa (MINUSCA), the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is established as the Weapons and Explosive Hazards Management section, operating under the pillar of protection of civilians, headed by the DSRSG/Political.
Why we are here?
The Central African Republic (CAR) is at the center of a region where weapons are subject to illegal traffic, weakening its security and affecting its stability and rule of law. CAR has few specialized facilities for the storage of weapons and ammunition. The few number of armories and ammunition depots whose country was equipped before UNMAS intervention in CAR did not meet minimum international standards and were looted by armed groups during the 2011-2013 events which resulted in unregulated use and misuse of weapons and ammunition, representing a major obstacle to the stabilization of the country.
A large amount of small arms and light weapons (SALW), as well as other explosive hazards, are under the control of armed groups and some are dispersed within the civilian population or abandoned throughout the country. The proliferation of weapons, ammunition and explosive hazards generates significant risks to the Central African population. Acts of armed violence are numerous and the country suffers from high levels of insecurity, but the consequences of this proliferation goes beyond the occurrence of violent incidents. The heavy human cost of the country is coupled with major economic difficulties. Insecurity and fear make trade difficult and sometimes impossible. It is therefore fundamental for the reconstruction of the country that peace and security are restored.
The proliferation of weapons in CAR also limits the State's ability to ensure the security of the population including in border areas, which are strategic for the fight against cross-border crime and illegal trade, including the arms and endangered species trafficking. The presence of multiple armed groups throughout the territory has led to the creation of lawless zone.
Recent developments in the security sector were materialized in CAR with the signing of various framework documents such as the National Strategy for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in March 2017, the National Defense Plan (NDP) in September 2017, as well as the Defense Force Deployment Guidance Document in October 2017 and the Global Plan for Resizing and Redeployment of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in March 2018. These developments allowed for a coherent and coordinated support with the National Authority and international partners in the field of weapons and ammunition management (WAM).
Currently, the national WAM capacity, including weapons control in CAR is limited and requires to be improved.
The CAR has laws relating to the management of SALW. However, the operational capacity of the national institutions and the scope of the law are currently insufficient to tackle the problems facing the country in this field since the 2013 crisis.
What we do?
In accordance with Security Council Resolution 2448 (2018), UNMAS provides technical assistance and support by:
- Engaging in the development of WAM capacities, through the construction, rehabilitation and deployment of specialized weapons and ammunition storage infrastructures and in compliance with international standards
- Developing a national stockpile management capacity for weapons and ammunition management through specialized training;
- Providing technical support and expertise for the operationalization of the National Commission for the Fight against Small Arms and Light Weapons (NATCOM-SALW); and
- Support the coordination of the response to threats posed by explosive devices.
In addition, UNMAS extends its capacity building activities to the National Defense Forces in the management of weapons and ammunition through the provision of specialized storage infrastructures as well as trainings for the benefit of the FACA, through the financing of the European Union's External Action Service (EEAS).
Moreover, UNMAS supports Security Council resolution 2454 (2019) renewing the arms embargo and the mandate of the panel of experts in support of the Sanctions Committee. The resolution requests "in this regard the Secretary-General, in close consultation with MINUSCA, UNMAS and the Panel of Experts, to conduct, no later than 31 July 2019, an assessment on the progress achieved on the key benchmarks that will be established pursuant to paragraph 9 and further expresses its intention to review, by 30 September 2019, the arms embargo measures on the Government of the CAR in light of this assessment."
The Road Ahead
The UNMAS programme in CAR supports the operationalization of the NATCOM-SALW, including participation to national initiatives and provision of technical expertise. In addition, UNMAS contributes to the protection of civilians through security activities and destruction of explosive hazards, and finally the strengthening of national capacity in WAM.
UNMAS intends to continue its contribution to MINUSCA’s objectives and priorities and efforts of the entire humanitarian community through the National Plan for Recovery and Consolidation of Peace (RCPCA) in the areas of SSR, the Restoration and Extension of State Authority (RESA), the deployment of the National Defense and Internal Security Forces. In addition, UNMAS wants to continue to participate in the professionalization of FACA and ISF, through a wide range of WAM training and provision of specialized infrastructure; supporting the Central African authorities in strengthening their capacities in the field of WAM and in the preparation of strategic documents.
- Protection of Civilians:
- In the absence of a national authority dedicated to this task, UNMAS aims to support the coordination of activities related to explosive hazards, in order to respond effectively to any threat.
- Support to RESA
- Technical support for the operationalization of the NATCOM-SALW. In particular, assistance in implementing the National Strategy and a National Action Plan for the control and management of SALW, aiming to reduce risks associated with the proliferation of weapons and ammunition;
- Support the WAM national capacity development promoting safe management of weapons and ammunition;
- Provision of specialized weapons and ammunition storage infrastructures for the National Defense and Internal Security Forces; and
- Improve the capacities of the National Defense and Internal Security Forces to better manage weapons and ammunition, offering comprehensive training for Weapon Storekeeper, Ammunition Storekeeper, Ammunition Store Inspector, Ammunition Store Manager, Weapon Cutting Operator, Marking and Record Keeping Operator, Weapons Maintenance, destruction of obsolete ammunition; and
- Monitor national WAM activities.
3. Support to the arms embargo:
- Support the Panel of Experts in the application of the arms embargo;
- Provide technical expertise to the national authority specific to WAM within the context of the arms embargo; and
- Technical support to the Sanctions Committee, responsible for the implementation of the embargo regime established pursuant to the Security Council decision by resolution 2454 (2019).
To better address the priorities of the national authorities and of MINUSCA, in supporting the RESA, national reconciliation as well as peace and security, UNMAS is seeking additional funds. This will allow UNMAS to support the deployment of the National Defense and Security Forces in terms of specialized weapons and ammunition storage infrastructures and WAM capacity development, the operationalization of the NATCOM-SALW, as well as armed violence reduction activities and raising awareness of violence prevention.
For more information:
Mine action portfolio website for CAR: http://www.mineaction.org/resources/project-result/983/945-1156-946-1157-1158-1159-1160-947-949-1161-950-1162-948/All/0)
 The exception of some initial rehabilitations and construction of specialized infrastructure by the United Nations and other international partners.
 International Ammunition Technical Guideline, International Small Arms Controls Standard and Modular Small-arms-control Implementation Compendium