Peace by Pieces? Local Mediation and Sustainable Peace in the Central African Republic

People hold a sign that reads “No to Hostilities, We Want Dialogue” prior to a visit by UN Secretary General António Guterres to their neighborhood in Bangui, Central African Republic, October 25, 2017. (Joel Kouam/AP)

The Central African Republic (CAR) has earned an undesirable reputation as one of the most troubled spots on earth. Many international and regional mediation efforts have attempted to resolve the conflict in CAR. Less discussed, however, are a multiplicity of local mediation efforts aiming to bring about tangible immediate change.

This report focuses on these local efforts, looking at who is involved, the nature of the deals, and their prospects. It also asks whether these constitute new approaches to conflict resolution and discusses the links (or lack thereof) between the various mediation tracks in CAR. Lastly, it addresses the role that the UN, particularly the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA), ought to play in supporting or conducting these efforts. Based on this assessment, it offers several recommendations to the UN mission, the UN Secretariat, and the Security Council:

  • Explicitly make mediation support a priority: The Security Council should mandate MINUSCA to direct all the necessary resources to support local and national mediation initiatives.
  • Develop a missionwide mediation support strategy: MINUSCA should adopt a whole-of-mission approach that explicitly connects support for local and national mediation initiatives.
  • Better leverage existing MINUSCA assets: UN leadership should leverage MINUSCA’s countrywide presence, military, and logistical capabilities in support of local mediation.
  • Build up appropriate human resources and skills: MINUSCA should be provided enhanced mediation expertise, mediation training for relevant staff, and increased resources for analysis.
  • Urge the government of CAR to take the lead in mediation and reconciliation efforts: The Security Council should encourage the government of CAR to shoulder its responsibilities.
  • Compel armed groups to shoulder responsibility: The Security Council should effectively implement sanctions and possibly impose new ones against armed group leaders responsible for fomenting violence.