Note to Correspondents: Conclusions of the High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Central African Republic
2. Président Touadéra renewed its commitment to bring peace and stability in the Central African Republic. He highlighted the efforts in the implementation of the reforms plan of the Government, including within the framework of the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan (RCPCA) and the Framework of Mutual Accountability (CEM-RCA). He emphasized on the progress in several areas, including the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration pilot project, community violence reduction programmes, security sector reform and deployment of defence and security forces, restoration of State authority, justice and reconciliation. He also stressed the efforts to address socio-economic concerns of the Central African population. The President reiterated his full support to the African Initiative as the only framework for the dialogue and expressed his commitment to find a political solution with armed groups. In this regard, participants expressed support for President Touadéra’s efforts to bring about peace, national reconciliation and development in his country.
3. Despite the notable progress achieved in the country since the return to constitutional order, participants expressed deep concern over the violence in various parts of the country and its dire consequences on the population. They condemned attacks against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, as well as ongoing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law. They also condemned the rise of incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence. Participants stressed that this must end. They highlighted that a durable peace could only be achieved through a comprehensive political process that addresses the root causes of the conflict, accountability, and the building of effective and inclusive State institutions.
4. Participants welcomed the noteworthy progress made by the Panel of facilitators for the African Initiative for peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic. They emphasized that the African Initiative should remain the only framework for the peace process in the country. It should be transformed into a comprehensive process that enjoys broad popular support and legitimacy and which takes into account national and regional dimensions. The participants invited partners of the Central African Republic to integrate their contributions in the global political process and avoid the promotion of parallel initiatives. For its success, participants emphasized the importance of the political role and the high-level commitment of the region, namely the neighbouring countries, the Economic Community of Central African States, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the African Union and the United Nations, for the promotion of lasting peace and stability in the Central African Republic.
5. To this end, participants called for MINUSCA to play a greater political role in the peace process. In addition, beyond its ongoing technical, logistical and security support, MINUSCA will also increase its support to the African Initiative.
6. Participants also welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to further align MINUSCA’s political and security strategies to the African Initiative, guaranteeing a more coherent peace process that connects local and national peace efforts with the ongoing efforts to advance disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform, the fight against impunity and the restoration of State authority, while mainstreaming human rights.
7. Participants emphasized that issues of priority to the Central African people – the greatest victims of the crisis – must be at the heart of the peace process and the international community’s efforts. This could be done by placing their important concerns at the center of the peace process. To be sustainable, the peace process must also be accompanied by material benefits for the population, including critical investments in infrastructure, which would not only address the severe logistical challenges in the country but also strengthen the Government’s and MINUSCA’s mobility and ability to provide security and protect civilians. It would also facilitate the creation of a secure environment for the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance.
8. Development actors must also play a central role in building and sustaining peace in the Central African Republic. Setting up inclusive institutions, building capacities to deliver services and investing in critical infrastructures are key to address popular grievances and to respond to the long-standing drivers of conflict in the Central African Republic. Collaboration with the World Bank, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and other development actors was stressed in this regard. Participants recognized that while this would not be an easy task, it remains critical for a genuine reconciliation process.
9. The need for closer linkages between the peace process and justice was highlighted. Participants recalled that one of the key demands of the Central African population at the Bangui Forum in 2015 and included in the road map of the African Initiative, was the call for accountability and justice. They emphasized the importance that transitional justice is embedded within the political process, while ensuring accountability for grave crimes and to ensure an effective redress for victims and support for national reconciliation. Efforts should also be aimed at strengthening national justice and corrections institutions.
10. The effective implementation of the Central African peace process is also contingent to security conditions conducive of dialogue. Hence, the participants encouraged MINUSCA to shift to a more dynamic posture to fully align its security capacities and its operational efficiency in support of the peace process, with due consideration to the Central African context and environment. It must be complemented by a comprehensive national security strategy that is equally aligned to the peace process, including rebuilding and deploying the national defense and security forces with the support of MINUSCA, the European Union Training Mission and other partners’ as recommended in the Secretary-General’s 15 May 2018 letter to the Security Council, and utilizing non-military United Nations’ capacities and strategies to address the manifestation of armed groups and self-defense militias.
11. Participants welcomed progress to extend State authority throughout the country, including the deployment of all prefects, most sub-prefects and many magistrates as well as improving basic social services. It was recognised that within the framework of the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan and the Mutual Commitment Framework, the Government and partners have launched vital projects targeting basic social services. In this regard, the participants called on the partners to honor their commitments pledged during the Brussels’ Conference in November 2016.
12. Concerning the 2020 elections, the participants recognized that peaceful elections are an opportunity to nurture democratic values and principles. While they are not an end state or a solution in its own right, the participants also recognized that they are an important step in the political process as well as an opportunity for nation-building and reconciliation. This would also demonstrate that the Central Africans themselves bear the responsibility for the stabilization of the country.
13. Participants recognized the financial challenges facing the African Initiative and encouraged efforts to actively support sourcing more secure funding. They called on Member States represented on the Panel of facilitators to reinforce their financial support to the African Initiative. They further called on the international community and donors to sustain adequate financial support to the political process. They also stressed the urgent need for further funding for humanitarian activities which remain largely underfunded.
14. To achieve all the objectives discussed, participants agreed that a shared vision and a stronger commitment is essential and to unify their efforts. The participants called for strengthened coordination and partnerships among the African Union, United Nations, ECCAS and all other partners through the International Support Group as well as in the in-country mechanism at Bangui level, including Security Council members active in the Central African Republic, should be strengthened. They recognized that an inclusive, transparent and coherent approach between all partners is the only way forward. To this end, the United Nations and the African Union agreed to jointly nominate a Special Envoy to promote efforts to achieve success of the African Initiative in liaison with all the partners of the Central African Republic, including those from the region.
15. Participants expressed gratitude to all troop- and police-contributing countries for their support to peace and stabilization efforts in the Central African Republic. They also paid tribute to peacekeepers and humanitarian workers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of peace. They strongly condemned the targeted and manipulated attacks against MINUSCA peacekeepers and against humanitarian workers and called on the Government to publicly condemn those attacks, and to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and instigators of these crimes.
16. Participants welcomed the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and supported the Declaration of Shared Commitments of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, which was endorsed by the Central African Government and nearly all participants. They recognized the need to advance political settlements and make peacekeeping operations more effective. Participants called on Member States to deliver on their commitments in the Central African Republic. In this regard, participants reiterated their steadfast support to MINUSCA, highlighting the importance of its support to and engagement in the peace process.
17. In conclusion, participants highlighted that a unified support to the Central African Republic and the peace process is the key to achieving stability, not only in the country but also in the region.