U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 24, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you, Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, Commissioner Chergui, and Director Laranjinha for your briefings today. My thanks especially to Ms. Ekomo-Soignet for adding a voice that is too often missing since the inclusive dialogue of the 2015 Bangui Forum.
First, I would like to express my gratitude to the women and men of MINUSCA who serve, at great personal risk, to protect Central Africans. I extend our deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the peacekeepers who have been killed serving in the mission. The United States condemns attacks on peacekeepers in the strongest terms, and we stress that these attacks may constitute war crimes under international law. Those involved in planning, directing, sponsoring, or conducting attacks against UN missions will be held responsible.
We also thank the UN Mission in South Sudan for their inter-mission cooperation in support of their colleagues in the Central African Republic during this period of heightened need.
Mr. President, the next round of legislative elections will be held on March 14. Unfortunately, there are those who still seek to disrupt the democratic process in the Central African Republic and deprive its citizens of the right to select their representatives. We urge all actors in the Central African Republic to cease attacks and avoid a repeat of the increase in violence from December.
As the Secretary-General noted in his report, “the crisis in the country is inextricably linked to the dynamics in the Central African region.” The United States welcomes the decision of the Economic Community of Central African States to appoint a mediator for the Central African Republic and looks forward to the naming of this mediator as soon as possible. We note the engagement of the leadership of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and welcome their support regarding the future of the 2019 peace agreement.
Mr. President, the 2019 peace agreement is the only agreed-upon framework for peace in the Central African Republic. We therefore urge the Central African Republic’s neighbors to implement their commitments under the peace agreement to help secure borders and limit the flow of weapons and fighters into the Central African Republic. These initiatives will be most effective if partners build on the existing framework and take into consideration the work that has been done so far. Discarding the agreement for the sake of creating a new process will set the Central African Republic back and keep both domestic and international actors in the current harmful cycle of merely reacting to conflicts. The peace agreement provides a long-term framework to help put the Central African Republic on a path to sustainable political and social stability, while making clear that impunity is not acceptable.
The United States takes note of the Secretary-General’s request to increase MINUSCA by 2,750 military and 940 police personnel to enhance the mission’s ability to perform its Security Council-mandated tasks. We appreciate the urgent need to prevent and reverse a further deterioration in the security situation while creating space for the political process to advance.
The United States remains concerned about operational coordination on the ground, where Russian civilian military instructors and Rwandan troops are operating on a bilateral basis with only minimal transparency with the MINUSCA peacekeeping mission and humanitarian actors. We welcome efforts by the Central African authorities and MINUSCA to establish a coordination mechanism and we call on all parties to participate fully. The lack of coordination, if it continues, could severely undermine MINUSCA’s ability to carry out its mandate, endangering UN peacekeepers and humanitarian actors.
As we consider the Secretary-General’s request for more troops and police, we urge the UN to ensure that any reinforcements are identified and deployed according to the UN’s own best practices. This Council should be wary about any proposal to bypass the UN’s own procedures for selecting peacekeeping units; the UN must use the Peacekeeping Capabilities Readiness System, for which the rapid deployment level was created for just this type of emergency scenario.
The UN must also continue to live up to its commitment to zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, known as SEA. The United States is deeply troubled by proposals to expand units with a pattern of SEA allegations, which would be counter to the objective of keeping civilians safe. As we consider increasing MINUSCA’s size and capabilities, we must invest in the long-term operational effectiveness of UN peacekeeping by promoting performance, transparency, and accountability. As the United States reiterated during last week’s General Assembly Open Debate on Peacekeeping Operations, the unanimous adoption of the U.S.-drafted UN Security Council Resolution 2436 made it clear that performance and accountability in UN peacekeeping is a priority of the Security Council.
Finally, Mr. President, the United States would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, for his untiring efforts and invaluable support in contributing to peace and stability in the Central African Republic. The task has not been easy, and the road has been rough, but through the good offices of the Special Representative, MINUSCA has sought political solutions to the increased tensions and election-related violence while maintaining its impartiality. Enabling political dialogue among national stakeholders that reflects the needs and perspectives of the country must remain a priority.
Thank you, Mr. President.