Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 23, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to all our briefers, whose reports today – I think – have painted a clear image of the current challenges in the Central African Republic. I also want to say, on behalf of my delegation, thank you to President Lourenço for being here today, sharing his views and updates on the situation. And thank you, especially, to SRSG Ndiaye for the important contributions MINUSCA is making every day to save lives.
I want to begin by expressing the deep appreciation of the United States for all the troop- and police-contributing countries and civilian staff, whose presence on the ground in CAR is so, so critical. The United States condemns all attacks against peacekeepers in the strongest terms, and we again stress that these attacks may constitute war crimes under international law.
As we heard today, there are a growing number of reports of human rights violations and abuses, especially those appearing to target members of the Muslim community. The United States is deeply concerned by these reports. We are troubled, as well, by continued reports of Central African Armed Forces and Russian instructors committing violations of international humanitarian law and the UN arms embargo.
In his report, the Secretary-General notes a 28 percent increase in incidents of human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law over the past four months. Furthermore, the Secretary-General’s report marked an alarmingly sharp increase in abuses committed by national and bilateral personnel. I think we need to be clear about these bilateral personnel – the individuals committing what many are now referring to as “atrocities” are not independent actors – they are operating as a direct extension of Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
We remain deeply disturbed that a member of this Council has failed to take action to prevent its mercenaries from impeding MINUSCA’s freedom of movement on a daily basis. We condemn – as others have – the appalling incident in which these bilateral Russian actors threatened the Deputy SRSG and a UN delegation that was on a humanitarian mission to Bang on May 28. These life-threatening actions interfere with MINUSCA’s ability to conduct its daily operations, they endanger peacekeepers and civilians, and they prevent humanitarian actors from delivering assistance. These types of abuses undermine stability and security in CAR, and they threaten to derail the fragile peace that Central Africans have been working to realize since 2013.
We call on all Member States to support MINUSCA and the peacekeepers whom we have sent into harm’s way. The United States reminds the CAR government that it is responsible for the safety and security of UN personnel serving in CAR and for upholding the Status of Forces Agreement. We call on the Government of CAR to ensure that all security actors operating on its territory respect the SOFA and the authority of the mission.
We reiterate the need for all security actors in the country to respect human rights and comply with international humanitarian law. It is critical that everyone focus on credible security sector reform – fully coordinated with MINUSCA and other security partners – rather than undermining those reform efforts and fueling the conflict in CAR.
The Council must speak with one voice against abuses and actions that destabilize CAR and risk the lives of civilians. MINUSCA has made tangible gains in supporting CAR on its path to peace and stability. We cannot let the irresponsible and unrestrained actions of mercenaries imperil this progress. The United States will continue to support accountability for those who commit human rights abuses and violations. The people of CAR deserve justice.
Let me close by saying we congratulate the newly appointed Prime Minister of CAR, Henri Marie Dondra. The United States looks forward to further strengthening our bilateral partnership with CAR, and we hope the new government will bring renewed energy to fully implementing the 2019 peace agreement.
It is essential the ongoing violence in CAR is brought to an end in a peaceful manner, with full implementation of the peace agreement and inclusive political dialogue. In that regard, let me emphasize that it is crucial to take the needs of women and girls into account. Ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all spheres, at all levels of political leadership, and throughout the peace process can yield substantial benefits for long-term peace and stability in CAR.
Thank you, Mr. President.