Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Mr. President. I am delivering this Explanation of Vote on behalf of the United States, Germany, Estonia, and Belgium. We join the rest of the Council in a unanimous vote in favor of today’s resolution, which renews the sanctions regime in the Central African Republic, as well as the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
Our governments hope the extension of the sanctions regime, and especially the territorial arms embargo, will keep pressure on the armed groups that undermine CAR’s peace and security by threatening its elected government and its people. It is an important element to accompany the CAR government on its way towards stability and peace.
We welcome the CAR’s continued efforts to make further progress on key benchmarks pertaining to Security Sector Reform, programs for the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reinsertion, and Repatriation of former fighters, and the management of weapons and ammunition. We strongly encourage the CAR government to intensify such efforts, also in close coordination and cooperation with MINUSCA and other international partners.
Without better management and tracking of weapons brought into the country, Mr. President, we are concerned that today’s change significantly increases the risk of the proliferation of rocket-propelled grenades both within the Central African Republic and within the region. Rocket-propelled grenades are a common weapons system that can be easily stolen and smuggled if not properly stored. The widespread availability of small arms increases the lethality of conflicts in the region, and we remain committed to combatting this scourge, including through the AU’s Silencing the Guns Initiative. We urge the CAR government to take responsibility for ensuring effective control of all the arms it receives, acting to prevent any risk of proliferation.
Despite our concerns, we voted in favor of the resolution in response to the requests from the CAR government. Our governments want to see consensus and concerted action on this file, given the importance of stability in the lead-up to elections later this year. We have been, and will continue to be, collaborative partners with the Government of CAR. We strongly oppose any measure or action that would weaken the CAR government, that would provide support to armed groups, or that would misrepresent the responsible actions of this Council.
That is why many of our governments, either bilaterally or multilaterally, including through the EUTM, have provided technical support to the CAR government to help it improve its storage, management, and tracking of weapons by both military and internal security forces, including any new weapons that will be brought in as a result of today’s easing. We strongly support the return of the mandate cycle to 12 months and are hopeful that this will give the government more time to achieve necessary progress on the benchmarks, which we strongly encourage.
In closing, Mr. President, the unanimous vote to adopt today’s resolution is indeed a positive step for the Council. Our governments wish to thank the Permanent Mission of France for its sustained efforts to reach consensus. But we would also urge all Council Members – especially those providing bilateral security assistance – to work cooperatively with the friends of CAR to support the strengthening of state institutions in a transparent and coordinated way and to ensure the December 2020 elections are free, fair, peaceful, transparent and inclusive. The CAR needs unambiguous and coordinated support at this sensitive time. To do otherwise could have deadly consequences for Central Africans, for UN blue helmets, and for the entire region.
Thank you, Mr. President.