Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Central African Republic

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
February 21, 2019


Thank you, Madam President, and a warm welcome to Foreign Minister Baipo-Temon. Thank you, Special Representative Onanga-Anyanga, for your briefing and, more importantly, for your stewardship of MINUSCA over the past three-and-a-half challenging years.

Parfait, your leadership of the Mission during some particularly difficult moments, especially leading up to the historic presidential election, was enormously valuable. The United States deeply appreciated your consistent effort to make the most of MINUSCA’s resources, your honesty in assessing the challenging circumstances in the Central African Republic, and your positive and deeply respected leadership in the face of many crises. We wish you the very best as you transition from Bangui.

Commissioner Chergui, thank you for your briefing today and for the AU’s leadership over the past month in Khartoum in facilitating efforts and engagement that led to the February 6 peace agreement. We also want to thank Ambassador Adom and Ambassador Hilale for their respective leadership of the sanctions committee and the PBC, and for their insights into this particularly important moment in CAR. Thanks too to Mr. Bervaki.

Madam President, just over two months ago, as the Security Council renewed MINUSCA’s mandate, this Council was deeply concerned by the sustained levels of violence and insecurity in CAR and cautious about prospects for long-term peace.

Today, CAR is just more than two weeks beyond the signing of a peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups.

The United States welcomes the efforts of President Touadera and CAR authorities, the commitment of armed group leaders, and the support of regional actors in reaching this agreement. These conversations about the future of CAR would have been unimaginable just last year.

With that said, the agreement is built on trust and confidence: trust and confidence among the signatories, trust and confidence among the supporting actors in the agreement, and most importantly, the trust and confidence of the Central African people that their leaders will finally put an end to the cycles of horrific violence that have plagued CAR for far too long.

Unfortunately, Madam President, trust and confidence have been in short supply over the past several years. The Central African people are well aware that previous peace agreements failed to hold. The signatories of this agreement must fully implement its content to earn the trust and confidence of the Central African people.

The United States is deeply committed to supporting the people of the Central African Republic as they work to build a peaceful and prosperous future. In the past several years, we’ve committed billions of dollars to life-saving humanitarian assistance, to helping displaced people and refugees rebuild and sustain their lives, to capacity-building efforts, particularly in the security and judicial sectors, and to the UN’s efforts in support of long-term peace and stability of CAR.

In particular, we wish to highlight the importance of language in the agreement pertaining to justice and accountability. For far too long, impunity has protected perpetrators of horrors of the past several years. In our view, justice and accountability are essential to achieving lasting peace and stability in CAR, and we strongly support victims in seeking justice.

Madam President, we commend the signatories to the agreement for acknowledging the need for justice and accountability, including the commitment to create a Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Reconciliation Commission. We hope these efforts will be built on inclusive basis, like the Bangui Forum. We also urge all parties to fully support and cooperate with the Special Criminal Court.

We’re grateful to now have on this Council South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, and Peru, three countries who’ve had their own Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and know the challenges of such an effort. We expect the Council will gain from their experience and expertise as we address the situation in CAR going forward.

We look forward to working with other partners as well to support the government in keeping its commitments under the peace agreement. We’re under no illusion that this path will be easy or fast, but it is the only path.

However, Madam President, it will be essential that all partners uphold high standards to avoid undermining peace and security in CAR. In this context, we’re deeply disturbed by reports of torture performed by Central African troops and Russian trainers in Bambari. This is completely unacceptable. We urge the Central African authorities to investigate these allegations and hold accountable those responsible, as we have similarly called on them to investigate the murders of three Russian journalists in August 2018.

Madam President, any international support to the CAR government should be transparent, well-coordinated, and consistent with the highest standards of military conduct and Central African law, including respect for human rights and a commitment to upholding them. It must also be consistent with member states’ obligations under the Security Council sanctions regime concerning CAR.

We look forward to joining tomorrow’s meeting with the UN, AU, CAR government and other international partners to continue the conversation on how to support the implementation of the peace agreement.

I thank you.