READ – U.S. explanation of vote following adoption of resolution renewing mandate of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic known as MINUSCA

Ambassador Richard Mills Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations New York, New York, November 12, 2021

Thank you, Mr. President. And let me begin by thanking France for its work as penholder. The United States voted in favor of today’s resolution because it reinforces this Council’s support for MINUSCA’s critical work. It affirms the centrality of the 2019 Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation, recognizes the important contributions of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to CAR’s peace process, and it endorses President Touadera’s October 15 unilateral ceasefire. This mandate reinforces the importance of respect for the Status of Forces Agreement between the Central African Republic and MINUSCA, and it supports the crucial work of the government’s Special Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses and violations.

However, Mr. President, we must clarify the U.S. position regarding important issues on which this resolution is silent. I want to be clear: Individuals supported by the Russian Federation, and invited into the country by CAR’s government, stand accused of committing egregious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those involving sexual violence, summary executions, torture, and armed robbery. Numerous independent reports by the UN, the sanction committee’s panel of experts, investigative journalists, and CAR’s government itself have concluded that Russian-supported actors committed crimes during combat operations.

To that effect, we would like to call attention to the use of the phrase “all parties to the conflict” in the resolution, which, in our view, includes these Russian contractors. They must respect international humanitarian law, and it is imperative that they respect the human rights of all Central Africans. We call on both the Central African Republic and Russian governments to fully investigate abuses by Russian-supported actors and Central African soldiers and to hold those responsible accountable.

Mr. President, the United States was also disappointed this resolution remains silent on the November 1 attack on a bus of unarmed, recently arrived Egyptian peacekeepers by members of the Presidential Guard. We urge the CAR authorities to carry out a transparent and credible investigation, to hold those responsible accountable, and to counter disinformation regarding this incident. We emphasize that this incident highlights the urgent need to build trust and to improve operational and tactical coordination. Disinformation must stop.

We must also clarify the U.S. position regarding humanitarian access. While we recognize that in certain circumstances states may have obligations related to humanitarian aid, there is no universal and unlimited international legal obligation for States or other parties to an armed conflict to allow and facilitate “safe, rapid, and unhindered” humanitarian access. Therefore, the United States disagrees with the use of the phrase “in accordance with relevant provisions of international law” contained in paragraph 52 of this resolution, where its placement suggests that safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access is required by international law without exception. We note that legally accurate humanitarian access clauses appear in our resolutions for AMISOM, UNMISS, UNISFA, MINUSMA, and UNSOM, among other resolutions. We urge members to draw on these examples going forward. To be clear, the United States continues to strongly support humanitarian access in conflict areas, and we have backed language in numerous Council resolutions that demands parties to a conflict provide safe, rapid, and unhindered access to humanitarian aid.

Mr. President, allow me to conclude by underscoring that we strongly support this resolution. With this renewal, the Council has ensured MINUSCA’s continued support for the Central African Republic through the protection of civilians, the strengthening of local institutions, and the promotion of peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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