Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate U.S. Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 19, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. Let me first welcome the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic and also the Representative of Rwanda. Thank you, SRSG Rugwabiza for your briefing. It was quite comprehensive. Your report highlights the essential role MINUSCA plays in protecting civilians and providing stability in the Central African Republic. I would also like to convey the United States’ deep appreciation to the mission leadership, its peacekeepers, and the troop- and police-contributing countries for the sacrifices they make each and every day in pursuit of peace in the Central African Republic.
Tragically, three Bangladeshi peacekeepers made the ultimate sacrifice earlier this month, killed by an explosive device while on patrol. While we do not know who bears responsibility for laying the device that took their lives and gravely wounded another, their deaths were even more tragic because evacuation options were limited by the Central African authorities’ restrictions on the mission’s evacuation procedures. If MINUSCA had been able to swiftly evacuate the peacekeepers by air, rather than by a nine-hour journey overland, they might still be with us today.
As such, the United States joins in calls for a rigorous investigation that identifies and brings to justice those responsible. We also call on the Government of the Central African Republic to adhere to the Status of Forces Agreement and lift restrictions on MINUSCA’s movement. As we approach MINUSCA’s mandate renewal, we must ensure the mission has all the tools necessary to protect the safety and security of UN personnel.
The flow of illicit arms negatively affects regional security, as well as the safety and security of civilians and peacekeepers. As this tragic incident demonstrates, the current sanctions measures remain critical until CAR and regional states can address cross-border smuggling and diversion to armed groups. We are likewise concerned by the Panel of Experts reporting that anti-personnel landmines continue to be found in CAR. We urge all actors to immediately halt the use of land mines, especially as part of a strategy to control illicit mining.
Despite these challenges, MINUSCA’s robust and proactive posture protects civilians, helps push armed groups to disarm and return to the peace process, and safeguards communities, allowing displaced civilians to return home.
We commend enhanced cooperation between the mission and the Central African Armed Forces. Joint operations are a means of further professionalizing the Central African security forces and supporting a durable restoration of state authority.
With that said, the military alone will not bring peace to the Central African Republic. A stable, prosperous state can only emerge through an inclusive political dialogue, full implementation of the 2019 peace agreement, expansion of state authority, and justice for victims. We likewise stress the importance of women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and leadership in these processes. Integrating women, youth, and minority voices into all levels of decision-making ensure peace processes are effective and sustainable.
We are encouraged by the Central African Republic’s initiative to advance the peace process, specifically Prime Minister Moulou’s leadership. But CAR can’t do it alone. Constructive engagement by partners lends further support to the peace process and overall regional stability. Unfortunately, some entities continue to destabilize and exploit the Central African Republic.
The Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, whose forces are referred to as “other security personnel” in the Secretary-General’s report, perpetrated numerous incidents of human rights abuses during the reporting period, often in the presence of national defense forces. Independent investigations continue to corroborate these reports and note Wagner forces are re-arming ex-combatants, creating proxy militias outside the government’s authority, and stealing the country’s mineral wealth. These egregious activities exacerbate violence, restrict the Central African Republic’s development, and undermine regional stability. The Central African people deserve better.
The United States remains a steadfast partner of MINUSCA. We look forward to working with you, SRSG Rugwabiza, the Central African people and government, and members of this Council to bring peace to the Central African Republic. Thank you, Mr. President