In the words of the UN Security Council, there has been “a total breakdown in law and order” in the Central African Republic (CAR) following the March overthrow of the government by the Séléka rebel group.
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To mark UN International Day of Peace, today’s article is by Donata Garrasi of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
In the words of the UN Security Council, there has been “a total
breakdown in law and order” in the Central African Republic (CAR)
following the March overthrow of the government by the Séléka rebel
group. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos reported
that CAR faces “a complex emergency characterised by violence, acute
needs and grave protection issues.” According to Amos, all 4.6 million
CAR citizens have been affected and 1.6 million people are in dire need
of food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter. Amos’s
words were echoed by EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs,
Kristalina Georgieva when she exposed the gravity of the situation of
CAR to the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
and called for greater international attention to what she described as
a “forgotten crisis” and a country at risk of disintegration, in a
region characterised by high levels of instability.
Is the international community giving up on CAR? Other countries have
recovered from conflict, insecurity, and serious humanitarian crisis. A
decade ago, few people would have guessed that Sierra Leone and Liberia
would become – as they are today – peaceful countries with a hopeful
future. Even fewer would have predicted that Somalia would establish a
government. Many would have categorised these countries as “intractable
cases” – and they would have been wrong. Why, then, ignore CAR today,
and wait for the next big and costly disaster to happen?
CAR has good agricultural land, extensive forests and natural
resources, hydropower potential and a young population. What it doesn’t
have are accountable, inclusive institutions that perform their core
functions effectively and respond to citizens’ expectations. No
humanitarian aid, development assistance or foreign direct investment
can substitute for the absence of political settlement and functioning
institutions. Only an inclusive political process can lead to a
political settlement agreed by all parties. Only an inclusive political
settlement can lead to peace.
The good news is that CAR is not alone. As a member of the g7+ forum
of fragile countries and of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding
and Statebuilding, CAR can draw on the experiences and support of a
range of countries that have embarked on successful peace and state
building processes and of development partners. It can also take
advantage of international agreements, like the New Deal for Engagement
in Fragile States, a framework that guides national and international
actors’ cooperation in situations of conflict and fragility, which was
endorsed by over 40 countries and organisations in 2011.
What should development partners do? According Ms Georgieva from the
EU, Mr Chataigner from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and DAC
Chair Mr Solheim, development partners must act together now and for the
foreseeable future to support a peaceful transition in CAR.
First, the UN Security Council and the international community must
continue focusing political attention on the situation of CAR and the
broader region. Support to CAR, including peacekeeping capacity, must
be increased if any improvement is to be seen. Regional partners must be
brought into a coalition for change in the region.
Second, development partners should join up efforts and find ways to apply the principles of aid effectiveness
and of the New Deal in CAR in support of a country-owned and country
led-transition. This means, stepping up coordinated support for the New
Deal peace and state building goals of an inclusive political dialogue,
security and justice, and economic revitalisation and services. This
work can start now, and should be aligned to the current plans for
political transition in CAR.
Third, humanitarian needs of the population must be met and humanitarian space must be protected.
The risks of engaging in CAR are great, but the risk of not engaging even greater.
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