The Civil Affairs team within MINUSCA focuses on providing support to local level efforts and bottom up approaches to protection, political dialogue and the promotion of social cohesion, as well as the extension of state authority throughout the Central African Republic, in support to national and local authorities and in conjunction with the United Nations Country Team. The Civil Affairs component is deploying largely at the local level to engage with communities and develop local networks and partnerships, ensuring that the mission has access to information and early warning about conflict dynamics, as well as gauging and responding to local perceptions and expectations in regards to the political process. Civil Affairs is also playing a key role in supporting coherence among mission components and other external actors, serving as a link between emergency relief on one hand and stabilization processes on the other, as concerns its three main areas of work, which are as follows:
- Protection and community liaison: liaison with authorities and communities on their protection needs, to include the establishment of alert networks and protection plans.
- Community dialogue and social cohesion: social cohesion, conflict resolution, support to civil society organizations (including youth and women) and confidence building, including through outreach activities.
- Restoration of state authority: support to the deployment of territorial administration and restoration of state authority, preservation of territorial integrity, and strengthening of administrative and social services delivery at the local level.
- Adapting and developing pilot tools implemented in other UN Missions regarding the protection of civilians, to include the Community Liaison Assistant (CLA) program. CLAs serve as a liaison between authorities, communities and MINUSCA Force elements, particularly in the context of communicating the needs and concerns of communities with regards to protection issues. Civil Affairs will also oversee the establishment of Community Protection Plans, intended to provide a strategic overview of protection needs and practices in a given area, and Community Alert Networks, intended to enhance mechanisms for early warning and early response for communities at risk.
- Providing support to the establishment of conflict-management mechanisms to encourage activities in the areas of community dialogue, reconciliation and peace consolidation. In this context, Civil Affairs has undertaken to map civil society organization networks in the CAR, and to establish a basis for cooperation with a view to developing a nationwide strategy. This strategy will aim to build civil society’s capacity to work with the government in the national reconciliation strategy and facilitate its role in local mediation and conflict resolution.
- Supporting the extension of state authority at the local level to increase access to administrative and social services, as well as measures that promote transparency and accountability. Key, immediate Civil Affairs tasks here include the facilitation of logistic support for the deployment of state administrative personnel, the basic rehabilitation and equipping of administrative offices, and capacity building of redeployed personnel.Moving forward, the broader MINUSCA strategy for the restoration of state authority will require increased coordination and integration of programming across the Ministry of Territorial Administration (MATDR), MINUSCA and the UN Country Team.