The Central African Republic is emerging from a long history of slave raiding and trading, French concessionary colonialism, and authoritarian political rule. In December 2012, tensions escalated into civil war characterised by sexual and gender-based violence and near-gen- ocidal fighting. The United Nations Security Council authorised the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to deploy in September 2014, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The Mission has the most complex of all current peacekeeping mandates. Of the three primary tasks in MINUSCA’s original mandate: (1) protecting civilians, (2) overseeing a political transition, and (3) extending state authority, the operation has fulfilled the second task, and is effectively working toward achieving the first and third. The Mission has helped to avert wide-scale killings and possible genocide, mitigate sexual violence, monitor human rights, protect vital humanitarian aid delivery, enable the development of female participation and leadership, build state capacity (especially in policing and justice), and enable democratic elections.
In a creative, “bottom-up” approach to peace, the 15,000 members of MINUSCA have helped to establish dozens of local peace and reconciliation committees. Regional powers and MINUSCA have complemented this approach with a “top-down,” high-level, peace process that resulted in the landmark February 2019 Peace Accord. Several groups, however, con- tinue to spoil the peace. Armed groups control 75-80% of this lush, resource-rich, and land-locked country. The political economy of the conflict tends toward strengthening armed groups and spoilers. MINUSCA remains unpopular among many Central Africans. Dis- and misinformation about the upcoming 2020-21 elections and COVID-19 continue to under-mine progress. MINUSCA is helping to stabilise – providing a vital service to the country, region, and world – but it will be difficult to fully implement its mandate and depart a peaceful and prosperous Central Africa anytime soon.