Thank you, Mr. President. I also thank each of our three briefers today for their presentations and for the work that they’ve done in support of peace and security in the Central African Republic over the last year. We would also like to extend our thanks to Ambassador Adom for his exceptional leadership in bringing the CAR sanctions committee to Bangui earlier this month for a trip that was enlightening and instructive for everyone. We particularly note his leadership in sharing Cote D’Ivoire’s positive experience with a post-conflict arms embargo.
One year ago, the United States joined other Security Council members to support an increase in MINUSCA’s troop ceiling by 900 military personnel, reaffirming the depth of our commitment to the peace and security of the Central African Republic. Despite notable delays in receiving these troops, MINUSCA continued to make progress on its mandated tasks, resulting in significant gains in the security and stability of CAR. This became clear to us when a U.S. delegation visited Bangassou earlier this month, something that would have been impossible a year ago. They heard firsthand accounts of the positive impact MINUSCA has had there. There is no doubt in our minds that MINUSCA is making a positive difference in the lives of Central Africans.
There has also been notable progress in restoring state authority and building the capacity of the Central African government, including the Central African Armed Forces, or FACA, and Internal Security Forces. The fact that there are now four FACA battalions and more to come, trained by the European Union and deployed around the country, proves that CAR is on a positive trajectory.
Mr. President, we further commend the progress of the Central African government, assisted by MINUSCA and other international partners, in operationalizing the Special Criminal Court. The official opening of investigations by the SCC this month marks an important step forward in the fight against impunity and ensuring justice for victims.
There are still many challenges to overcome. We are particularly concerned about the situation around Bria, with attacks on civilians in August and September, and the kidnapping last week of UN police officers.
Our collective goal should be a political solution for durable peace and recovery. The United States believes the African Union Peace Initiative represents the best path to achieving this goal and enabling the conditions for the extension of state authority to promote development.
However, in order for the AU Peace Initiative to be successful, every actor must commit to transparency and coordination. As I said at the High-Level Ministerial on the CAR Peace Process, the Central African people have seen previous dialogues that produced agreements but not results. We must all work together in good faith to change this narrative and to support President Touadera and his government as they strive for peace, justice, accountability, and the prevention of future atrocities.
For our part, the United States will financially support the AU Peace Initiative. We are working in partnership with the EU, MINSUCA, and Central African officials to ensure that peace talks address the underlying causes of armed conflict.
We are also carefully considering the Secretary-General’s recommendations for changes to MINUSCA’s mandate and look forward to a conversation about the best means to achieve our common goals.
Mr. President, the people of the Central African Republic have already seen multiple peace agreements signed, followed by collapse. They have heard about programs to demobilize, disarm, and re-integrate former combatants, which enriched the few but not the many. They have seen previous attempts at security sector reform fail. And they continue to rely on humanitarian aid to survive.
Whatever we agree in the next mandate renewal, it should be based on the lessons we’ve learned from the past to help the Central African people seize a brighter future. We look forward to working with the Council and our UN counterparts in this effort. Thank you.