U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 21, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, SRSG Ndiaye, for your briefing today.
Mr. President, the United States extends our deepest condolences to the families of the two Burundian peacekeepers killed on December 25, the Rwandan peacekeeper killed on January 13, the Burundian peacekeeper killed on January 15, and the Gabonese and Moroccan peacekeepers killed in an ambush on January 18. We also express our deep condolences to the Cameroonian peacekeeper who died on January 3. Each of these deaths is a terrible loss for the loved ones left behind, but taken collectively, they’re an outrage against all UN Member States and the entire UN system. Attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law and may meet the criteria for designation under UN sanctions. They must stop and they must stop now.
Mr. President, the United States takes note of Monday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court. These elections were carried in the face of significant disruptions with numerous armed groups and political actors using violence to try and scuttle the democratic process. Now that the Constitutional Court has ruled on election challenges, we urge all parties to respect the Court’s ruling and adhere to the democratic principles of good governance and equal treatment for all under the law. We further call on Central African political leaders to build an inclusive government that represents and serves all Central Africans, addressing underlying sources of tension peacefully.
We sincerely appreciate MINUSCA’s efforts to carry out its mandate and protect innocent civilians across the country in recent weeks, particularly in Bangui, Bouar, and Grimari. MINUSCA peacekeepers have repeatedly repelled armed group attacks at great risk to their own personal safety, reflecting the very best of peacekeeping’s potential to contribute to international peace and security. In doing so, MINUSCA has not only valiantly delivered on its mandate to protect civilians, but also contributed to the Central African Republic’s democratic process.
Again, we would note that the effort to protect civilians and support the peaceful conduct of elections resulted in the loss of seven UN Peacekeepers in less than four weeks. Despite these efforts, we regret that in many cases armed groups’ actions did indeed hinder Central Africans’ right to vote.
While recognizing MINUSCA’s important role in the security response to armed group attacks, we must also acknowledge that we are dismayed by the Central African military’s pattern of widespread desertions and defections. This was also the pattern in previous violence in 2013, but we would have hoped to see a change due to significant investments in training, equipment, and direct budgetary support by numerous friends of the Government of the Central African Republic.
We look forward to receiving the Government of the Central African Republic’s assessment of what went wrong and call on the Ministry of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General to make recommendations for the future. We welcome the Central African Republic government’s invitation to the international community to be part of this assessment, and commit to the United States to playing an active role. All individuals responsible for human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable.
For the United States, we will be thinking carefully about how our support going forward needs to be calibrated to ensure better performance and assumption of responsibility on the part of the Central African Republic government for basic administrative tasks such as the payment of salaries and the resupply of forward operating bases.
Mr. President, we understand the Central African government requested today’s session to discuss the lifting, even temporarily, of the arms embargo. Based on recent reports of fighting and the Central African military – or FACA’s – performance, the United States is concerned about the FACA’s ability to properly utilize and account for their weapons and equipment. We remind the Council that all requests to provide armaments have been approved, and there are no outstanding requests before the Sanctions Committee.
We also remain concerned about insufficient coordination by bilateral troops with MINUSCA peacekeepers and humanitarian actors. If the status quo continues, this poor coordination could severely hinder the delivery of life-saving assistance, it could undermine MINUSCA’s ability to fully implement its UN Security Council mandated tasks, including the protection of civilians, and it could place peacekeepers and humanitarian workers in grave danger.
We urge all actors on the ground in the Central African Republic to coordinate transparently by providing timely information to MINUSCA and other partners in Bangui to ensure the safety and security of all actors operating in this complicated theatre of operations.
We condemn attacks against humanitarian actors and the theft and destruction of equipment and other resources that enable humanitarian actors to meet urgent needs. We urge all parties to allow delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance now.
We urge the Economic Community of Central African States, the African Union, and the UN in their efforts to call for a political dialogue and hold armed actors accountable. Clearly, the security situation in the Central African Republic has deteriorated in the electoral period. We look forward to working closely with the UN and other members of this Council to come up with better solutions before the next UN Security Council meeting on this topic in February.
Thank you, Mr. President.