Credit: UN Photo/Clara Padovan
By Devon Giordano and Eliana Sherwood
As is evident in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the nature of UN Peacekeeping Operations is evolving. The Intervention Brigade established within the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) in 2013 is the first of its kind. It could be a pioneer UN peacekeeping mission that authorizes use of force as necessary to protect civilians, and even go on offensive attacks if it is vital for the safety and security of the civilian population. However, the DRC is still the only country that hosts this new style of peacekeeping, which helped to end the M23 rebellion and led to peace talks between the government and rebel groups. UN peacekeeping missions in other African countries continue to struggle, for example in the Central African Republic (CAR), where the political and the security situations are quickly deteriorating.
The UN Security Council has expressed fears that the CAR could create regional instability. The country has continued to slide into chaos since the rebel takeover in 2013 and recently armed groups have begun to incite Christians and Muslims into violence against each other. In recent months, Muslims have become increasingly targeted by the violence. Thousands have fled the country after attacks by armed Christian militias and officials at the UN have called the situation a “de facto ethnic cleansing.” Although genocide is not confirmed, the risk of genocide is present if measures are not taken to hold perpetrators to account.
In its most recent resolution (2149 of 10 April 2014), the UN Security Council created an official UN peacekeeping operation in the CAR. The mission, known as MINUSCA, will be comprised of 10,000 military troops and 2,000 police and will begin action by September 15, 2014. MINUSCA’s mandate, adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, has provisions for the protection of civilians, support for the reform of internal police and security forces, facilitation of humanitarian aid delivery and assisting the formation of political peace processes in the country. Importantly, the mandate openly calls for cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and allows the mission to adopt “urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis” in order to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity. The international community is hopeful that the new peacekeeping operation will be able to maintain peace and reinforce the fight against impunity.
WFM-IGP’s program on the Rule of Law--the Coalition for the ICC--has publicized press releases, along with news and statements from their membership, as well as communications from the ICC prosecutor related to the situation. Coalition members have urged the UN and other relevant organizations to deploy peacekeepers to the country and called for those responsible for alleged crimes to be held accountable. Further, they have actively used social media and the hashtag #CARcrisis to draw attention to the situation.
WFM-IGP’s program on Peace, Human Security and Conflict Prevention--the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP)--has published a Q&A Factsheet on the Responsibility to Protect and the CAR and blogged about the issue. According to ICRtoP, the international community has a responsibility to protect the civilian population of the CAR from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The responsibility to protect the civilian population is the undertaking of many different actors, including international organizations, regional and sub‐regional organizations, states, civil society and individuals. Although the UN, and many international organizations. have acted to help end the conflict, the response has been slow and the situation has become too intense to easily fix. However, it is hoped that by upholding the Responsibility to Protect in the CAR, further violence or threat of genocide can be stopped.
WFM-IGP will continue to monitor the evolving peace keeping operations in Africa and the situation in CAR and bring you the latest updates. For more updates from WFM-IGP, please subscribe to our list serve: www.wfm-igp.org or follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/worldfederalist) and Twitter (@worldfederalist).