Analysis of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic (October 2018)

By Kata Lucas

This report covers major political and security developments in CAR from 15 June to 15 October 2018 pursuant to Security Council resolution 2387 (2017), which extended the mandate of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) till 15 November 2018.

Overview

The report provides an update on the activities of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) in the Central African Republic (CAR) from 15 June to 15 October 2018 pursuant to resolution 2387 (2017). The report discusses the political situation including, progress and challenges in the operationalization of the African Initiative, the main principle framework for the peace process in CAR, and preparations for elections scheduled for 2020 and 2021, including an electoral needs assessment mission. [1]S/2018/922 paras. 8, 13 The Secretary-General also discusses the security and humanitarian situation, including the continued instability outside the capital, as armed groups regularly attack civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarians, and notes record levels of displacement; with more 616,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 572,062 refugees as of October 2018. [2]S/2018/922 paras. 15, 24  The report also highlights challenges in extending the State’s authority, noting that the State remains largely unable to provide basic services and infrastructure to the population outside Bangui. [3]S/2018/922 para. 29 Further, the Secretary-General reports that since 2017, the number of documented human rights violations by armed groups and security forces has considerably increased. However, MINUSCA noted a decrease in civilian deaths linked to the conflict since January 2018, primarily due to a decline in intercommunal violence. [4]S/2018/922, para. 36

The report reference issues of women, peace and security (WPS) in the context of peace and conflict processes, electoral processes, protection of civilians, human rights reporting, including conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), transitional justice, in the MINUSCA’s composition, and in regards to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). While WPS references transcend numerous thematic issue areas, reporting falls short of MINUSCA’s mandate in terms of integrating a gender lens, as references to WPS are general and descriptive, lacking details, data, and analysis. The current report is largely consistent with the previous report of June (S/2018/611). However, the previous report included sex and age-disaggregated data in the context of human rights abuses and in reporting on CRSV, while the current report does not include such data. [5]S/2018/611, paras. 53, 57

Analysis by Issue Area

Peace and Conflict Processes

The Secretary-General broadly references women’s participation in UN-organized activities in regards to the African Initiative, notes critiques of the African Initiative by civil society organizations (CSOs), and in the observations, the Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of youth and women’s participation in the peace process. [6] S/2018/922, paras. 8, 9, 80 While it is positive that the Secretary-General includes the aforementioned references to WPS, future reporting should include sex and age-disaggregated data and a gender analysis of participation in peace and conflict processes pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [7]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 4  This should be feasible given that the mission is mandated to deploy gender advisers and that MINUSCA is to mainstream gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout its mandate and assist in ensuring the “full and effective participation, involvement and representation of women in all spheres and at all levels”. [8]S/RES/2387 (2017), OP. 42(a)(iii), OP. 51 The inclusion of such data and analysis will enable the Council to receive gender-sensitive and intersectional information on participation and have the potential to inform decision-making.

Political Processes

Women’s participation is broadly referenced as part of the electoral needs assessment mission that visited the country in September, part of the government’s election preparations for 2020 and 2021. [9]S/2018/922, para. 13 Negatively, this is the only reference to women’s and civil society’s participation in political processes. In the future, reporting should include specific information on all efforts to foster women’s or women’s groups participation pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013). [10]S/RES/2212 (2013), OP. 6

Protection of Civilians

The Secretary-General broadly references women in the context of protection of civilians. First, the Secretary-General notes the persistence of insecurity and threats against civilians, especially women and children. Second, in the recommendations, the Secretary-General states that MINUSCA and OHCHR will ensure that human rights, including the protection of women and children are mainstreamed in the mission’s comprehensive security strategy. [11]S/2018/922, paras. 15, 67

In the future, pursuant to resolution 1888 (2009), information on steps taken to implement measures to protect civilians, including against sexual violence, should be included in reporting. [12]S/RES/1888 (2009), OP. 25, OP. 26 Pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013), reporting should also include sex and age-disaggregated data and a gender analysis of civilian protection. [13] S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2 Furthermore, pursuant to resolution 1820 (2008), the Secretary-General and relevant UN agencies should strive to consult with women and women-led organizations to develop effective mechanisms for providing protection from violence. [14]S/RES/1820 (2008), OP. 10 Further, future language on protection should be altered, so as to not essentialize women and children as homogeneous groups, as the two groups are unique and diverse.

These improvements in reporting are plausible given the gender expertise that exists in the mission, and are crucially important in painting a gender-informed picture of protection.

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Gender-Based Violence

The Secretary-General discusses human rights abuses, including CRSV and GBV without integration of gender lens in reporting per resolutions 1888 (2009) and 2122 (2013). The Secretary-General notes that the most widespread violations include CRSV, including that there was an increase in the number of incidents of sexual violence reported by victims to the national police rapid intervention unit in the reporting period and that difficulties remain in ensuring rapid trials for accused perpetrators. [15]S/2018/922, para. 40 In the context of a paragraph on displacement, the Secretary-General emphasizes continued insecurity exacerbates food insecurity and malnutrition, which has a disproportionate effect on women and children in terms of broader protection concerns, including GBV.

Reporting falls short of MINUSCA’s mandate, as references to WPS are general and descriptive, and lack details, data, and analysis. Per the MINUSCA’s mandate, the mission is to monitor, investigate and report on violations and abuses committed against children and women, including rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict. [16]S/RES/2387 OP. 43(d)(ii) Given the existence of gender expertise in the mission, and pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013), reporting should include sex and age-disaggregated data and a gender analysis on human rights violations and abuses, so to inform and enable the Council to make gender-responsive decisions. [17]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP.  2

Security Sector

In regards to the security sector, the Secretary-General indicates that five new prefects, including three women, were nominated to replace retired prefects. [18]S/2018/922, para. 30 Reporting should continue to include such data, and also be expanded to include information on women’s participation across the security sector pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013). [19]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 4

Transitional Justice

Positively, the Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of gender-sensitive, victim-centered, judicial and non-judicial transitional justice processes, noting the importance of the continued role of the UN, particularly MINUSCA in such processes, and the importance of mechanisms beyond legal justice, including truth, reconciliation, and reparations. [20]S/2018/922, paras. 59 and 85 The Secretary-General should continue to emphasize and acknowledge the importance of gender-sensitive transitional justice, noting the importance of mechanisms beyond legal justice reflective of resolutions 2106 (2013) and 2122 (2013). [21]S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 4, S/RES/2122 (2013), OP 10

Strategic Review and Composition of MINUSCA

The Secretary-General references women’s and civil society participation in the strategic review of MINUSCA, and also reports on MINUSCA’s assistance in recruiting CAR armed forces personnel, using quotas for geographic and gender balance. [22]S/2018/922, paras.  2, 34, Additionally, the report provides data on the number of women in the military, police, and civilian components of MINUSCA. [23]S/2018/922, paras.  45, 47, 48  Negatively, the report provides minimal information on women’s participation in the strategic review, as such it difficult to ascertain the extent and quality of participation. The Secretary-General should continue to report on MINUSCA’s recruitment support to the CAR armed forces and on number of women across the mission, which are reporting requirements reflective of the MINUSCA’s mandate. [24]S/RES/2387 (2017), OP. 43(b)(iv)

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA)

The Secretary-General provides detailed references to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in one paragraph of the report, including the number of new allegations and the number of victims referred for assistance, several initiatives by the mission, UN agencies, and international and national humanitarian organizations to prevent and respond to SEA and a joint technical review visits to two troop-contributing countries for MINUSCA pursuant to resolution 2272 (2016). [25]S/2018/922, para. 51  In the recommendations, the Secretary-General makes a broad comment about continuing to enforce his zero- tolerance policy on SEA. [26]S/2018/922, para. 68 In the future, reporting should include information on any gender-sensitive guidance or training for military and police personnel, including the UN pre-deployment scenario-based training on prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013).  [27]SCR 2122 (2013), OP. 9

References

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