SECURITY COUNCIL, REVIEWING REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL, DEBATES STRENGTHENING UN OFFICE
NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- Bold efforts were needed to attack the roots of the problem in the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General's Representative in that country, General Lamine Cissé, told the Security Council this afternoon as he briefed them on the situation there.
Reviewing the report of the Secretary-General which outlined proposals for strengthening the mandate of the United Nations Peace-building Office in Bangui, Central African Republic (BONUCA), he said that poverty had given rise to instability in the country. A sound economy was essential to peace-building, but the attempted coup of 28 May had worsened the situation to the point where the economy today was completely devastated. If the Council decided to strengthen the mandate of BONUCA, it would necessitate an increase in resources for the Office.
The representative of the World Bank said that in the months ahead, the Bank hoped to contribute to solving the country's problems. It would provide supplementary support for the national budget, linked to reforms already under way and approval of a post-conflict grant to provide analytical support for the preparation of a solid poverty-reduction strategy.
Council President Jean David Lavitte, speaking in his capacity as Permanent Representative of France, proposed that General Cissé be given the title of Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The Council could then give him further authority in his dealings with the Government.
Other speakers expressed the view that the international community must maintain its focus on the country and establish a global strategy to address the numerous interconnected regional problems. The BONUCA had a central role to play.
Concern over the situation of refugees in the Central African Republic and the surrounding region and the need for political dialogue was also voiced. While several speakers supported the proposal for strengthening BONUCA, the representative of the United States stated that a more practical assessment of the situation could be made closer to the time of the expiration of the current mandate.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Mali, Ukraine, Tunisia, China, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Singapore, Ireland, Norway, Mauritius, Jamaica, Colombia, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union) and Egypt.
The meeting, which began at 4:50 p.m., was adjourned at 7 p.m.
As the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General in which he proposes that the mandate of the United Nations Peace-Building Support Office in the Bangui, Central African Republic (BONUCA) be extended for an additional year (document SC/2001/886). The current mandate will expire on 31 September. The Secretary-General also proposes that the role of the Office be strengthened to enhance its effectiveness and the visibility of its activities by increasing its resources and capabilities, strengthening its administrative capacities and making available to the Office a level of resources commensurate with its revised mandate.
In reviewing the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Secretary-General says that the period since the failed coup d'état attempt of 28 May has been marked by sharp political tensions, economic decline, simmering social tensions and a troubling lack of security. Moreover, any solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) must take into account the situation in the CAR. The CAR's stability is threatened by the proliferation of weapons in the subregion and in areas under the control of the Front de Libération du Congo. The refugee problem continues. While large numbers of refugees from Chad, Congo, Rwanda and Sudan have long been present in the CAR, there are now refugees from the CAR in the Republic of the Congo and many more in the DRC. The problem of security in the CAR should be dealt with in conjunction with the restoration of peace in the DRC and the general stability of the subregion.
The Secretary-General proposes that at the political level, BONUCA's mandate be strengthened to monitor the political situation in the country and support initiatives and efforts aimed at strengthening national unity and promoting national reconciliation. It should support the implementation of the 1998 National Reconciliation Pact and the Monitoring and Arbitration Committee. The Office should also work with the Government, political parties and civil society towards the strengthening of democratic institutions and to take steps to advance the democratic process in the CAR. Further, BONUCA should be enhanced so that it can contribute to the political and social dialogue and use its good offices to strengthen national capacities in the prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes.
In the area of security, the report states, the mandate should be strengthened with regard to monitoring the military and security situation in the country and supporting any initiative to promote the restructuring of the defence and security forces and to support the national development and redeployment plan. With the assistance of other agencies of the United Nations system, the Office should promote an effective arms collection programme and implement, for the benefit of the armed forces, a programme of education for a culture of peace and respect for the institutions of the Republic. The Office should also be strengthened to allow it to contribute more effectively to the mobilization of external resources needed for restructuring and redeployment.
In the area of civilian police, the Office should monitor the public security situation in the country; support the Government’s efforts to train national police and gendarmerie; and provide technical assistance to police and gendarmerie authorities.
With regard to human rights, the Secretary-General proposes that the Office be strengthened so that it can monitor the human rights situation through observation, investigation and judicial assistance to victims. It should be able to contribute to national capacity-building in the area of respect for and promotion of human rights through education and training programmes, and to support the activities of United Nations agencies and other partners aimed at strengthening the judicial system and the rule of law.
In the area of economic recovery, the Secretary-General proposes that the Office provide political support for the regional coordinator and United Nations agencies to promote national reconstruction, combat poverty and promote good governance. It should also contribute to the international mobilization of political support and the resources for social and economic programmes agreed upon with the Bretton Woods institutions.
The Secretary-General also calls on the international community to assist the country's recovery. He says that the structural poverty that exists in the CAR imposes a duty of solidarity on development partners and the international community. The Secretary-General recommends that the development partners second high-level experts (administrators, economists, financial specialists, accountants) to the Government to help restructure services, improve their performance, increase the revenues of the State and ensure a more effective allocation. There should be immediate institutional support for computerizing the various departments of the Ministry of Finance. Because of the weakness of its administrative and technical institutions, the State has been unable to access the credits made available by donors. The Government is therefore requesting that those credits be carried over. It is prepared to welcome all foreign investors and has adopted a new investment code.
The report goes on to say that there is such a proliferation of light weapons in the country that incidents of armed robbery in the capital and attacks on the highways in the interior are more frequent. It is absolutely essential to assist in the collection of arms and the redeployment plan. The Secretary-General invites the different partners to assist in the disarmament by providing financial assistance to compensate owners of illegal weapons, provision of experts in disarmament and assistance for the redeployment plan. Donors might also wish to assist the Central African authorities to rehabilitate existing military facilities and build new barracks; redeploy units to the interior of the country; and recruit, train and equip contingents to make up for the shortage of military personnel.
General LAMINE CISSÉ, the Secretary-General's Representative in the Central African Republic, reviewed the Secretary-General's report on the country, which describes the political, social, economic and security situation. He noted the easing of tension which followed the attempted coup, but stated that it would only be completed when the instigators of the coup were brought to trial. The authorities had tried to establish an atmosphere of calm. A dialogue between the Government and trade unions had been resumed. He noted that most Central Africans who had taken refuge in the French and American Embassies following the coup had been able to leave and return to their residences.
Regarding assistance for economic recovery, he said the report highlighted the poverty of the CAR, which had been worsened by disruptions in the last several years. The Secretary-General had encouraged the Bretton Woods institutions to be particularly generous in preparing programmes with the Government. Security systems had to be strengthened and infrastructure and utilities had to be repaired. The Secretary-General had called on those States which had made commitments to live up to those commitments. He also recommended the strengthening of respect for human rights.
Reviewing the mandate of a strengthened Office, he said it was being proposed that BONUCA encourage the establishment of an effective disarmament programme. It also called for support to civilian police. There was need for judicial assistance to the victims of human rights violations and strengthening of the judicial system and the rule of law. He stressed that the revised mandate would involve an increase of resources for BONUCA. There would be a strengthened human rights component. The establishment of an early warning system would be crucial.
He said that poverty gave rise to instability in the CAR. The attempted coup of 28 May had worsened the situation to the point where the economy was today completely devastated. The Council might encourage bilateral and multilateral partners to be active at the donors’ conference. Conflict without and within had affected development but it had not stalled it completely. In his three visits to the country this year, including after the coup, he had been encouraged by the attitude of the Prime Minister and his colleagues, who had kept their sights on medium-and long-range issues. He noted the continued focus on the fight against HIV/AIDS and said he had found an impatience to move forward rather than a sense of indignation. A sound economy was essential for peace-building. The entire international community must continue to work to help the country, but outsiders could only do so much. Political events had worsened but not fundamentally altered the challenge. Bold efforts were needed to attack the roots of the problem once and for all.
ROBERT CALDERISI, World Bank Country Director, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, said that in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank had been trying to help the Government of the Central African Republic improve its economic management and lay the basis for serious efforts to better the lives of the people. Conflict within and outside the country had complicated those efforts, but had not stalled them altogether.
In his three visits to the country in the last year, including one just two weeks after the attempted coup, he had been impressed by the courage and determination of the country’s senior decision makers, he continued. Despite the difficulties, the Prime Minister and his colleagues had kept their sights on medium- and long-term issues, which would be important for strengthening growth and reducing poverty. There were similar focus and openness to new ideas in the broader community, which included business people, trade unionists, young people and women’s groups.
He went on to say that in the months ahead, the World Bank hoped to contribute to solving the country’s problems by providing supplementary support for the national budget, linked to reforms already under way and approval of a post-conflict grant to fund emergency needs arising from the May events. The Bank was also going to provide analytical support for the preparation of a solid poverty reduction strategy, drawing on resources provided under the $8 million Policy Support Project approved last year. Assistance would also be provided for an early implementation of the HIV/AIDS project, under which half of the resources would go directly to local communities.
In the next six months, three points remained crucial, he said. A sound economy was essential for underpinning peace-building efforts. The entire United Nations community must continue to work together to help the country. Also needed would be bold efforts by the Government to improve public management and strengthen governance, which would create new opportunities for the people of the Central African Republic and attack the roots of conflict once and for all.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said it was most important to focus on the need to design a coherent peace-building programme to contribute to recovery in the Central African Republic. Crucial questions that should be addressed included payment of foreign obligations and restructuring of the armed forces. The full and immediate attention of the international community was necessary to ensure a comprehensive recovery. Indeed, global actors should exercise continued solidarity, particularly through meetings such as the upcoming Paris conference, scheduled for 24 September.
He shared the view that strengthening the mission would contribute to achieving political dialogue and the furtherance of national reconciliation efforts. Strengthening the United Nations Peace-Building Office in Central Africa would also make it possible for Central Africans to strengthen their identities. The people of the country should have a role in restructuring defence and security forces and the elaboration of a national programme for development and collection of light weapons. Such strengthening or enhancement would also make it possible for the country to overcome the negative effects of last May's coup attempt. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the mandate of the mission be extended.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) shared the opinion of other speakers that the Central African Republic had been gravely affected by the attempted coup last May. The absence of political dialogue, general instability and refugee problems were all characteristic of the resulting situation and indeed raised serious concerns. The rapid spread of HIV added to those concerns. An immediate, concerted response aimed at finding immediate solutions was necessary. The Central African Republic provided a test case for the United Nations system and the international community, with regard to the implementation of comprehensive peace-building strategies. It also presented a challenge to broad efforts to reduce tensions and to ensure economic and social security and the protection and promotion of human rights. He added that the collection of weapons remained high on the peace-building agenda.
He went on to say that the Council should also play close attention to the subregional nature of the situation. In that regard, he commended the Secretary-General’s recommendation of continued close coordination between representatives in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also commended the reconstruction plan detailed in the report. At the same time, he noted that it would be useful if recommendations concerning development initiatives could be brought to the attention of other relevant bodies of the United Nations family. He believed that strengthening the activities of the mission, and cooperation and interaction with other United Nations agencies, development partners and financial institutions would enhance peace-building initiatives. The international community should remain effectively engaged in the country if peace in the region was to be achieved. The real plans discussed today should be followed by real action.
MOKHTAR CHAOUACHI (Tunisia) said the situation in the CAR remained fragile. The coup had confirmed the fears of the international community and made the situation worse. Emergency assistance was necessary to help the legitimate authority meet its needs and calm tensions. It was important for the World Bank to resume its disbursements and for the donor countries to honour their commitment. He stressed the importance of support for local elections. International solidarity was important, but it must be in the context of a contribution to CAR resolve. The risk of destabilization was ever present. Programmes for the collection and confiscation of illegal weapons must be strengthened, as the security of the country depended them.
He welcomed the efforts of BONUCA and said its presence and actions were of great assistance to the Government and people of the CAR. He supported the strengthening of the Office’s mandate.
CAMERON R. HUME (United States) said his Government had condemned May’s coup attempt but it had equally condemned human rights abuses. The elections should be held under transparent conditions in the presence of international observers. The Government must demonstrate through its actions that the Central African refugees would not be harmed if they returned home. If the proposals set forth in the report could be accomplished within existing resources, he would encourage early action. With regard to renewing and extending the mandate, he said he would be able to look at it in a more practical way as the mandate’s expiration drew nearer. Presently, he had yet to see the kind of serious commitment from the Government that would move progress forward.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) expressed concern over the stalemate in political dialogue. The international community should assist in tackling the problem of political stabilization. He was encouraged that BONUCA realized the importance of political dialogue. He called on the Bretton Woods institutions and the international community to provide emergency assistance to the CAR. The adoption of new investment laws was an important step in creating an acceptable environment for investors.
Efforts to construct a legal armed force and disarm those with illegal weapons must be accelerated. In light of the limited capacity of the Government, he hoped the relevant departments would provide funds and exports to assist it. He hoped the Government would make efforts to improve its relations with its neighbours. He hoped that BONUCA would pay due attention to priorities and would coordinate efforts with the CAR.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that he would associate his intervention with that of the representative of Belgium, which would be made later on behalf of the European Union. The CAR was a paradigm of the sort of situation that required comprehensive post-conflict-peace building efforts, as well as the coordinated efforts not just of United Nations political bodies but other relevant organizations and the entire United Nations system. The international community should usefully undertake projects that promoted stability in the country. It should support human rights and the rule of law, and should encourage efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of last May’s coup attempt. Global actors should also encourage the return of refugees and the promotion of human rights training for police and military, as well as the restructuring of the armed forces. He also felt that it might be better to facilitate the reintegration of those who had fled following the coup than to try to restructure armed forces through recruitment.
ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said his delegation was concerned over the worsening security situation in the CAR following the attempted coup. There was further concern over the country’s resultant economic difficulties, as well as the situation in the DRC. The situation following the coup should be addressed as soon as possible. He welcomed the work being done by the peace-building support office, particularly in promoting national reconciliation and attracting international support for the recovery of the country. He called on representatives in the country to investigate the circumstance of the attempted coup. Indeed, all must work to ensure that issue did not lead to a deepening of inter-ethnic tensions. It was also important to ensure that those who had fled during the conflict must be allowed to return home.
He was convinced that the absence of dialogue in such situations had dangerous implications for the recovery of the country. He appealed to the authorities to demonstrate political will and farsightedness in the spirit of promoting national reconciliation. His delegation agreed with the general thrust of the report to encourage political dialogue aimed at such reconciliation. He also believed that a Council decision must come after submission to the Council of the budget implications of restructuring the peace-building office in the country.
RUHUL AMIN (Bangladesh) said the Council should take steps to secure the apprehension of the coup instigators. The Council would have to find ways and means to address the threat of the proliferation of arms in the subregion. The situation was one of economic decline and troubling lack of security. The socio-economic aspects were not strictly within the Council’s competence. He noted the intention of the World Bank to provide $8 million for poverty eradication, but he was disturbed to find that the Bank had suspended disbursements. He wanted to know if there was any scope for salvaging the situation.
He said there was need for greater coordination between the Council and other agencies. The needs of the CAR were not enormous and not too high for the international community to offer assistance -- but assistance would depend on the demonstration of intent by the Government. He supported the strengthening of BONUCA.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said any attempt to strengthen BONUCA should be commensurate with its ability to achieve results. The Council must also focus on the root causes of the problem. He urged the international community to include training in the form of management expertise. The Council needed to consider the consequences of the existence of long-term refugees in the Central African Republic. There was a refugee problem in the region as a whole, and she urged the Council to ensure that efforts to address the problem be give high priority.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said that the interest of the international community in assessing the CAR was not only moral, but also geostrategic, for the country lay in the heart of an unstable region where conflicts readily spilled over borders, and the consequences of conflict in one country could have a profound impact on the stability of others. That was clearly illustrated by the flow of refugees in the region and the proliferation of light weapons in the country. He concurred with the Secretary-General that the situation in the CAR should be dealt with in the context of a framework for the wider region, which would include the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
While the international community had a duty of solidarity towards the CAR, the political leaders of the country had, for their own part, an equal responsibility to work together to promote dialogue and a culture of tolerance, addressing the root causes of the crisis, in particular weak governance. It must also re-establish political dialogue. His delegation supported the efforts of BONUCA in promoting such a dialogue and national reconciliation.
The country’s economy was clearly in a very fragile state, he continued, and that had been exacerbated by the recent coup attempt. Non-payment of civil servants’ salaries earlier in the year had caused serious social tension, and he was concerned that "a replay" of the problem would occur. He reiterated the call made in the presidential statement of 17 July that the Bretton Woods institutions take into account the specific nature of the situation in the CAR in order to conclude programmes with the country’s authorities at an early date. The European Union was in negotiations with them on a range of programmes for economic assistance.
In conclusion, he expressed interest in the process to make the CAR eligible for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative and said that he was pleased that there had been a gradual improvement in the human rights situation in the country.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) strongly condemned the attempted coup that took place in May and deplored the deepening of political tensions since then. Thus, he shared the recommendations in the report aimed at strengthening the BONUCA mandate in bringing about political dialogue and national reconciliation. Believing that the promotion and protection of human rights were among the most important elements in BONUCA's mandate, he supported the changes to the mandate proposed in the Secretary-General's report.
He said that in connection with the special donor meeting held in New York in May 2000, his Government had contributed $300,000 to the special programme on collection of arms, demobilization and reintegration. He urged all other donors to follow up on their commitments. The negative economic developments and social unrest increased the possibility of instability and conflict and threatened reconstruction efforts. Those negative trends must be reversed. If peace-building and reconstruction efforts were to succeed, the international community must support them. Finally, he supported extending BONUCA's mandate until 31 December 2002.
JASHID KOONJUL (Mauritius) said it had been eight months since the Council last discussed the CAR, and it was most regrettable that there was little of a positive nature to report. He condemned the recent coup attempts in the country and urged that all efforts be extended to bring the perpetrators to justice. The grim economic situation was one of the root causes of the country’s problems which -- accompanied by efforts to pay military salaries -- contributed to instability and a serious "brain drain". He appealed to all States that had made pledges at recent donor conferences to honour those pledges. The continued participation of the Bretton Woods institutions in efforts aimed at the economic stabilization of the country was crucial. He hoped that the upcoming meeting on 24 September would contribute to those efforts. He urged the Government to place equal emphasis on education and training. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation for high-level finance administrators from within the Government to provide as much assistance as possible.
He concurred with other speakers that following the attempted coup there was an increase in the potential risk of an illicit proliferation of small arms. There was also a need to address the restructuring of defence and military forces. It was vital that the Government be engaged in confidence-building measures that contributed to stability in the country and throughout the region. His delegation supported recommendations for strengthening the human and financial resources of the mission as well as the general promotion of human rights. While he was aware of the financial implications, he was also aware that hesitation on the part of the Council might add to the country’s problems.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said the Secretary-General’s report had been sobering. The Council could not allow the gains made in the recent past to be eroded. Jamaica supported a fully integrated peace-building programme that involved the United Nations family as well as relevant international organizations and financial institutions. All efforts should focus on the identification of sustained programmes that fostered economic prosperity and social development. The report outlined formidable challenges ahead for the Government, particularly in light of the attempted coup last May. It was also regrettable that the response of the international community had so far not been commensurate with the needs of the people of the country.
He said that his delegation had always cautioned against the negative effects of structural adjustment programmes, based on old models that did not take into account current post-conflict situations. The specific cases of countries should be taken into account. Regional stability should also be considered important, particularly in light of the number of refugees in the country. His delegation supported consideration of the proposals contained in the Secretary-General’s report.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the Secretary-General’s report had indeed revealed the dimension of the problems in the CAR and what was needed to address them. The report highlighted the fact that those needs related to the very functioning of the State, and efforts to support the well-being of its inhabitants and to foster political understanding were urgently needed. The report also posed an important question as to whether the international community would support peace-building efforts in certain difficult post-conflict situations. The global community must help promote national reconciliation in the country, as well as channel of the efforts of international donors. He hoped the report the Secretariat presented at the end of the year would reflect such important regional contributions as the efforts of the donor community. He also hoped that the United Nations would continue to support the protection of refugees in the country.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said it was clear that the Bretton Woods institutions should continue their involvement in the CAR. At the same time, all efforts must follow a global approach, drawing active participation from relevant actors throughout the international community. Consideration of the regional dimension of the crisis was most important, particularly as regarded refugees and the closing of the Bangui River, which had stopped the flow of goods and materials into the country. He reiterated that in spite of recent disappointments, it was absolutely necessary that the Bretton Woods institutions remained committed to the situation in the CAR.
He said that Central African authorities should commit themselves to efforts at national reconciliation and economic recovery, or nothing could be achieved. He encouraged those authorities to give strong political signals in that regard to reassure the population and encourage the return of refugees. The continued restructuring of the armed forces was also necessary. Based on lessons learned in the past, he felt it was appropriate to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of General Cissé by giving him the title of Special Representative of the Secretary-General. If the Council were to make that recommendation, it could, among other things, give him further authority in his dealings with the Government. He went on to say that broad agreement had emerged to take note of the recommendations in the report and discuss the possible contents of a presidential statement based on today’s debate.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, welcomed the attention paid by the Security Council to the current situation in the CAR. The international community must maintain its focus on the country and establish a global strategy to address the numerous interconnected regional problems. It must also continue to assist the country.
The United Nations could not fail in consolidating the peace. Its peace-building support office had a central role to play, as had a number of players, foremost among whom were the President and the Government of the CAR. The European Union attached particular importance to the achievement of genuine national reconciliation, and supported BONUCA's efforts to intensify political dialogue. The Central African Republic Government must take measures to end all acts of violence inspired by ethnic violence.
He said the European Union was prepared to continue to provide assistance to the CAR. It had already provided 1 million euros to cover food and health requirements of about 80,000 displaced citizens of Bangui for six months, soon after the May crisis. That was to help them return and resettle in their areas of origin. The European Union also provided 11.5 million euros for budgetary support.
It was currently discussing with the Central African authorities and in close coordination with the international financial institutions the arrangements for a second payment. That assistance would be dependant on compliance with undertakings by the Government to implement macro-economic reforms, particularly the sound management of public finance, as agreed by the Government with the Bretton Woods institutions.
In the medium term, the European Union was discussing with the Government a support strategy to include continued assistance for economic reform in social sectors such as health and education. It called on the Government to submit detailed and realistic projects to its development aid partners.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the process of restructuring the armed forces and the collection of the small arms that were circulating in the country must become a special priority area in the efforts of the international community in the immediate term. The CAR would not be able to achieve political, economic and social recovery without being able to eliminate the security problems that it faced. Governments and institutions should respond to the recommendations of the Secretary-General and contribute generously in financing the programmes prepared by the Government for that purpose. They should also provide the requisite military and technical expertise that guaranteed their successful implementation.
He added that the international community must also focus its attention on addressing the humanitarian crisis facing the CAR, evidenced by the displacement of large numbers of civilians inside the country and across its borders -- in addition to hosting even larger numbers of refugees from outside its borders. Governments and institutions must accept that the Government of the CAR had neither the capacity nor the resources to provide for the needs of those refugees, and that the entire international community had a special responsibility towards them.
The international community was still hesitant in mobilizing the financial resources and other forms of assistance that the country required to address the enormous challenges which were increasing daily, he added. The CAR would never be able to emerge from the vicious cycle it suffered from in the absence of sufficient external financial inflows. Without such financial assistance, the implementation of large-scale development programmes on its territory and the alleviation of the enormous debt burden (which paralysed its ability to meet the daily requirements of its people) would be impossible.
Responding to Council Member’s statements, General CISSÉ said that a human rights office was important in the CAR’s post-conflict period, particularly in light of the recent coup attempt. Such an office would allow people to put forward their grievances or denounce errors that had been committed. Until the budgetary implications of strengthening BONUCA could be submitted, it would be important to keep in mind that three additional specialists should be provided to expand the Office’s ability to provide legal assistance. That would also allow a certain degree of decentralization, so that offices could be set up in the provinces and human rights issues in the country’s interior could be more closely monitored.
Addressing comments on the coup attempt, he emphasized that the Office wanted a transparent assessment of the event. The President of the country had entered into certain commitments, and had asked that exclusively legal treatment be meted out to those involved in the attempt. He added that political dialogue no longer existed between the sides. When he had arrived, however, his consultations had shown that all sides favoured the resumption of such dialogue. Some seemed to be awaiting the conclusions of an investigative committee on the issue, and once its findings were announced, he was hopeful that political dialogue would resume. As for social dialogue, particularly regarding trade unions, his office had brought together various representatives and some progress was expected.
He said that a regional approach had been frequently mentioned as an important way to deal with the situation in the CAR. Such an approach would facilitate the inclusion of representatives from the DRC in efforts to address critical issues in the CAR. He added that resources already available to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would make it possible to collect weapons. A committee had recently been set up in that regard, and in the coming days it might be seen how the population could be made more aware of arms-collection activities. Disarming would commence as soon as possible. He also said that appeals had been made by the Government to ensure the return of refugees. In the CAR there were 48,000 refugees, including some 10,000 in urban areas.
In response to questions, the World Bank’s Mr. CALDERISI said the Bank had taken steps to release budget support funds in September that would help the CAR’s Government meet civil service salaries in the coming year. In the future, it could consider making exceptions for specific humanitarian projects. Still, good order in the payments needed to be ensured, so that funds could be managed properly and the international community’s confidence could be maintained. While he agreed that limits to administrative capacity hindered progress in the CAR, that was not the principal obstacle. Indeed he thought that the CAR and many African countries had much more extensive capacity than met the eye.
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