No arms supplies in the Central African Republic for another year

The lifting of this embargo is a question of sovereignty.

The Central African Republic has experienced over a decade of conflict [AFP]

On 29 July 2021, the Security Council renewed the arms embargo by one year and created a derogation for 60-millimeter mortars.

By adopting resolution 2588 (2021) by 14 votes in favour and one abstention (China), the Security Council decided to extend the arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR) for one year, while creating a new exemption for mortars of a certain caliber.

It also renews the mandate of the Expert Group until 31 August 2022.

The Council has already made nine derogations in general.

Now the resolution includes for the first time the deliveries of 60 mm mortars and ammunition specially designed for these weapons.

The Russian Federation, for its part, hoped that in a year the Security Council would have "every reason" to lift it.

On the other hand, China reported a "disconnect" between improving the security situation in CAR and maintaining the arms embargo, which it said had become an obstacle to the Government's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

The lifting of this embargo is a question of sovereignty and corresponds to the wishes of the CAR and the countries of the region insisted the delegation.

According to Joseph Bindoumi, president of the Central African League for Human Rights and former Minister of Defense, the extension of the arms embargo imposed on his country by the UN Security Council is a largely exaggerated sanction.

"I think that this ban on the extension of arms exports to the Central African Republic imposed on us is an exaggerated sanction," Bindoumi said in a press interview.

At the same time, the text of the UN resolution states, that, until 31 July 2021, all Member States shall continue to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Central African Republic, with an exception for supplies intended exclusively in support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and European Union training missions deployed in the Central African Republic, French forces and forces of other Member States providing training or assistance upon prior notification.

It is important to stress that the weapons acquired via this mechanism must be intended for the contingent of peacebuilding missions, not the national army of the Republic.

As for the Republic's other partners, such as Russia and China, they must notify the Security Council at least 20 days before the delivery of any equipment authorized by the resolution.

Presumably, the MINUSCA and the European bodies are better qualified to prevent the weapons from leaking into the black market, as originally the embargo was imposed in order to bring down the number of illicit weaponry circulating the country.

As it has been already noted by the CAR partners, like China and Russia, the government has shown that it is perfectly capable of controlling the arms within the country.

Moreover, several cases of UN arms leakage to the armed groups were documented during the latest conflict that erupted in the Republic in December 2020.

The decision of the Security Council is widely denounced by Central African people, who took to the streets to rally for the total lift of the embargo.

The government is nevertheless determined to keep up the work to achieve the eventual lift of the embargo.

Source: Deborah Bako

Central Africa Republic

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