The Security Council has extended its arms embargo for the Central Africa Republic for one year; but it has taken a step toward satisfying the CAR government’s long-standing request for the removal of sanctions throughout its territory.
On July 27, the Security Council adopted a resolution that keeps in place an arms embargo on mercenaries and other armed groups, while ending restrictions on arms for the government. The resolution was adopted 13 in favor and none against, with Russia and the PRC abstaining.
Ambassador Robert Wood, U.S. Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs said, “The United States was pleased to vote in favor of the extension of the CAR Panel of Experts’ mandate and the renewal of elements of the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze.”
“We voted in favor because the measures in this resolution are crucial to promoting peace and stability in the Central African Republic and broader region. Most importantly, this resolution will help keep dangerous weapons and resources from reaching armed groups,” he said.
For decades CAR has been torn by political instability, strife, and violence. Armed groups fighting against each other and government security forces have been guilty of heinous crimes. A peace deal was signed between the CAR government and 14 armed groups in 2019, but the violence has continued.
Ambassador Wood said the United States acknowledges CAR’s call to fully lift the arms embargo but remains concerned by the security situation. He noted that “nothing in this or in previous sanctions regimes has kept Central African security forces from receiving any weapons or training they requested.”
“The United States is committed to lifting sanctions when conditions permit, but that is not yet the case in the Central African Republic,” he said.
Ambassador Wood said that the CAR government has made progress in achieving key benchmarks on security sector reform, but said further efforts are needed to address cross-border arms and natural resources smuggling. In particular, he cited reports of MANPADS, surface-to-air portable missiles, being transported through CAR into Sudan by the Russia-backed Wagner group.
“Under the terms of today’s resolution,” said Ambassador Wood, “Russia remains obligated to notify the [CAR Sanctions] Committee of all transfers of weapons and resources to its Wagner mercenaries in the Central African Republic. Any failure to do wo will violate the terms of the sanctions regime.”