Since its independence in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been marked by authoritarian rule and instability. In the 1990s, growing rural insecurity, mutinies, poor governance, and state absence from many areas of the country facilitated the emergence of political-military opposition groups and increased violence. In 2013, following a coup, state institutions collapsed, and the situation evolved into a civil war running along ethnic and religious divides. Elections in 2016 marked a milestone in the process to rebuild state institutions, but critical reforms to address the root causes of conflict stagnated and Bangui elites continued to exploit the use of violence and instability for political and economic gain.
In December 2020, ahead of political and presidential elections, six opposition armed groups formed a new alliance called the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) and launched an offensive against the government. The CPC quickly took control of major towns and large areas of the country and eventually reached the outskirts of the capital, Bangui. The Government of CAR, with international military reinforcements, defended Bangui and mounted a counteroffensive. Government, international, and opposition forces have all faced allegations of violations of international human rights and/or humanitarian law. Since the outbreak of the December violence, over 200,000 people have fled their homes and conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) has sharply increased. Today, civilians in CAR continue to face numerous threats to their immediate safety and well-being.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was deployed to CAR in 2014 to protect civilians and help stabilize the country.
CIVIC has led research and advocacy to improve MINUSCA’s protection of civilians mandate and related activities since the UN Security Council first authorized the Mission’s deployment. Currently, CIVIC’s peacekeeping research in CAR focuses on MINUSCA’s early warning and rapid response (EW/RR) mechanisms and the Mission’s efforts to mitigate harm to civilians that could result from the Mission’s own presence, activities, and operations.
In addition, CIVIC is continuing its research and advocacy in CAR to advance the following cross-cutting objectives:
- The protection of civilians remains a priority for UN peacekeeping missions;
- Peacekeeping performance is strengthened by ensuring that mandates are matched with adequate means and resources.
- Communities at risk of violence are safely and effectively engaged in mission planning and activities to protect civilians;
- Peacekeeping missions integrate a gender-sensitive approach to the implementation of protection of civilians mandates;
- Mission planning and decision-making is linked to assessments of threats to civilians; and
- Accountability systems for underperformance are improved.
Examples of CIVIC’s research and advocacy in CAR include:
- How the UN can strengthen its peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic amid a changed conflict
- Why immediate action is needed to strengthen MINUSCA’s protection of civilians in CAR
- How MINUSCA strengthened community engagement to safely and effectively engage local communities
- How MINUSCA has incorporated gender into its conflict analysis and prioritized efforts to protect civilians from conflict-related sexual violence
- MINUSCA’s implementation of its protection of civilians mandate in 2016