Explanation of Vote after the Renewal of Sanctions in the Central African Republic

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 31, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President. The United States is pleased to join the large majority of Council members in voting in favor of this resolution renewing the sanctions regime in the Central African Republic. We hope the extension of the arms embargo, asset freeze, and travel ban will keep necessary pressure on the armed groups that continue to undermine CAR’s peace and security.

This decision is grounded on the overarching goal to strengthen the Central African Republic as a country, as a whole, and support its institutions. However, this resolution aside, that a dynamic that played out in this negotiation, we must raise the issue of recent remarks on this matter from the Russian Ambassador in Bangui that are deeply concerning. In public comments, the Ambassador denigrated any members of this Council who would disagree with Russia’s position, saying that those governments – including my own – quote “do not want peace and security in the country” and are, quote, “against the interests of the CAR’s people.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The members of this Council differ regarding technical elements most appropriate for an effective sanctions regime, the issues we seek to highlight in Security Council resolutions, and even sometimes how to characterize recent developments in the Central African Republic. But all of us are engaged on this matter because we want to see peace and security in the Central African Republic and elevate the interests of the Central African people.

The United States demonstrates our commitment as the largest single-country humanitarian donor in the Central African Republic. Our life-saving assistance of more than $140 million in just the last year is directly helping millions of Central Africans who were forced to flee their homes. Moreover, we are helping to rebuild the Central African Republic’s security institutions, so that they can protect the people and the territory of the Central African Republic. If our Russian colleagues are suggesting that life-saving humanitarian aid is against the interests of those who depend on it, it would not be the first time they have done so in the Security Council this month. But that would not make the claim true.

As other speakers have noted, we believe this Council would be favorably disposed to exemption requests from the Central African Republic government to import new arms, but we have not received any such requests since the last relaxation of the arms embargo in September. We look forward to future reporting on progress toward the benchmarks for the next iteration of this resolution. Colleagues, Russia’s divisive propaganda leads down a dangerous path. Central African Republic is a fragile state, and it is in the interests of all of us in the international community to support its return to full sovereignty and avoid any acts that could destabilize the country. This point is crucial in the run-up to the December 2020 elections.

We should all be seeking to de-escalate tensions and build confidence among political actors, rather than spread false narratives. We should support political dialogue and transitional justice, and work transparently to address violations of the peace agreement in a constructive, consultative manner with the UN and the African Union. Rather than questioning the motives of Council members whose views do not align with their own, we hope that Russia will work cooperatively with the United States and other friends of the Central African Republic to support the strengthening of state institutions in a transparent and coordinated way, and to ensure that elections in December 2020 are free and fair.

Thank you, Mr. President.