H.E. Omar Hilale (Morocco)
Chair of the Central African Republic Country-Specific Configuration
The CAR is the fourth and latest country to be considered by the PBC, following Burundi, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. The country has experienced a multidimensional crisis over several decades, and the sociopolitical situation remains fragile, especially in its national institutions and political processes.
The civilian population in conflict zones is particularly vulnerable. Violence continues in certain parts of northeastern CAR, where rebel activity as well as clashes between government forces and armed bandits (known ascoupeurs de route, or "road-blockers") have aggravated the humanitarian situation. The UN estimates at least 300,000 displaced citizens, of whom 200,000 are internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in deplorable conditions. The other 100,000 are refugees in neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Sudan. Women and children in particular have been victims of sexual violence and significant violations of human rights. While some 85,000 displaced persons have returned as the security situation in some regions improved, tackling the precarious socioeconomic climate, strengthening respect for human rights and ensuring political stability remain some of the key challenges the Government faces.
The PBC at Work
At the initiative of the Government of CAR, the President of the Security Council wrote to the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission on 30 May 2008 requesting the PBC to prepare recommendations on the situation in CAR with respect to:
- The organization and holding of an inclusive political dialogue.
- The development of an effective and sustainable reform of the national security sector system.
- The re-establishment of the rule of law, including respect for human rights, and good governance in all regions of the country.
The PBC placed CAR on its agenda on 12 June 2008 and elected Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, as Chairperson of the Commission's country-specific configuration on Central African Republic. To begin work on developing a Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding, the Chair of the CAR Configuration made exploratory visits to Bangui to consult with national authorities and identify other key stakeholders, including UN staff, the diplomatic corps and civil society on the ground. Over the course of a year, the CAR Configuration and the Government of CAR developed the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding setting out three priority areas for peacebuilding: reform of the security sector and DDR (Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration); strengthening good governance and rule of law; and the promotion of regional development and revitalization of local economies through "development hubs."
In developing the Strategic Framework, the CAR Configuration was careful to consider existing national strategies such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and recommendations emerging from the Political Inclusive Dialogue, which took place in December 2008 as a means of promoting national reconciliation among government authorities, opposition political parties, armed groups and civil society. The PBC saw the Inclusive Political Dialogue as a necessary condition without which significant progress could not be achieved in the three key areas selected for peacebuilding.
Following the sudden rise in violence of the Séléka (Muslim coalition of rebel groups against former national leader Bozizé) and their capture of the capital in 2013, UN peacekeeping initiatives increased in number and intensity. In 2014 a transitional government only to be destroyed by the partitioning of the country due to months of internal strife. Under international supervision and after settlement of some disputes between rebel forces, President Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected in February 2016.
Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium served as the most recent Chair of the CAR Configuration. He resigned from this post in June 2012. Currently, there is no Chair of the CAR Configuration, and the PBC Chair serves as the Configuration's Interim Chair.
The PBC formally adopted the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in CAR on 7 May 2009. The document identified three priority areas for peacebuilding, including security sector reform, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR); governance and the rule of law; and "development poles" in rural areas, aimed at regional growth. Although the last Biannual Review publicly available dates back to 2011, the CSC Chair's notes on the April 18th 2016's Informal Meeting of the CAR in which the peaceful election of Touadera is welcomed and praised by the Commission while the persistence of violence in the country is lamented. The importance of a coordinated and hollistic approach to peacebuilding is highlighted along with the need for different UN agencies to cooperate in order to present a united, clear strategy.