ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL OPENS SPECIAL SESSION ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Message of the United Nations Secretary-General Warns Central African Republic is in Freefall, and this Crisis of Epic Proportions Requires Immediate Action
20 January 2014

The Human Rights Council this morning opened a special session on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.

Today’s special session was called for by 38 Member States of the Council and 65 Observer States, said Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the President of the Human Rights Council, in opening remarks.

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, in a message read out by Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Central African Republic was in freefall, a crisis of epic proportions which required immediate and concerted action.  Unspeakable and widespread human rights violations had been documented and appalling abuses had divided Christian and Muslim communities.  Member States were urged to demonstrate their solidarity and act together – and act now – and support the life-or-death effort. 

Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the fact that the tragedy in the Central African Republic was allowed to go unaddressed for too long could not be ignored.  Today’s Special Session was an important step towards ensuring that the Central African Republic did not remain a “forgotten crisis” and that a meaningful response was mobilized by all actors. 

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke about the findings of the human rights monitoring mission she had deployed to the Central African Republic in December 2013 with the aim of gathering reliable information.  The team had documented large scale human rights violations including cases of sexual violence and the use of child soldiers.  Nearly half of the country‘s population was in need of humanitarian assistance and 935,000 people were estimated to be internally displaced.  The High Commissioner urged the international community to increase its support to the Central African Republic for prompt restoration of security, the promotion of the rule of law, and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

The Council was also addressed by Chaloka Beyani, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, who reiterated the Committee’s grave concern at the egregious and large-scale human rights violations and abuses committed by ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka.  

Speaking as a representative of the concerned country, Leopold Ismael Samba, Permanent Representative of the Central African Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Central African Republic welcomed the concern shown by the international community.  There was certainly a risk of genocide – and that risk would spiral if nothing was done.  The population was paradoxically destroying itself from within because it was being manipulated by inter-confessional considerations.  More than ever the Central African Republic needed a comprehensive infrastructure, and even a Marshall Plan to avoid the gangrene spreading to other countries in the region. 

In the general debate speakers called for the urgent appointment of an Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, and some speakers said an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the human rights violations should be established.  One speaker called it another “mega-humanitarian crisis” such as the one in Syria.  Speakers voiced grave concern over the dire humanitarian situation and displacement of almost one million people, and said aid organizations must be given safe and rapid access.  Speakers described atrocities such as rape, murder and looting taking place with impunity throughout the country, as well as torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, the burning of homes and villages, widespread public executions and the use of child soldiers.   The risk that the conflict spill-over to neighbouring countries, and the need to ensure that the conflict was not manipulated by those who wanted to exploit religious differences, were highlighted.  Speakers stressed that the conflict in the Central African Republic needed to be brought to an end before it degenerated into genocide and perpetrators of gross human rights abuses must be brought to justice. 

Speaking during this morning’s debate were representatives of Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union, Republic of Congo, speaking on behalf of the Francophone Group, Mexico, Argentina, France, Russia, Peru, Czech Republic, Chile, United Kingdom, China, Cuba, Algeria, Ireland, Indonesia, Germany, Gabon, Montenegro, United States, Japan, Italy, Morocco, Romania, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Sierra Leone, Maldives, South Africa, Viet Nam, Venezuela, Congo, Costa Rica, Brazil, African Union, Turkey, Egypt, Togo, Tunisia, Lithuania, Spain and Belgium.

The Council will next meet this afternoon at 3 p.m. to continue the special session, hear more statements from States and representatives of non-governmental organizations, and consider and vote on the proposed draft resolution before closing the special session.  This is the twentieth special session of the Human Rights Council.

Documentation relating to the Special Session is available on the Human Rights Council webpage.


Keynote Statements

BAUDELAIRE NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council, in opening remarks, said that today’s special session of the Human Rights Council had been called by 38 Member States of the Council and 65 Observer States.  The Member States were Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Peru, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.   The Observer States were Albania, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cape Verde, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Latvia, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, New Zealand, Niger, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

MICHAEL MØLLER, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva,  said today’s Special Session was an important opportunity to confirm the Human Rights Council’s commitment to supporting the people of the Central African Republic, and helping them towards sustainable peace and development, with full respect for human rights.  Developments over the weekend, including reports of sectarian clashes, had only added further urgency to the debate today. 

The Acting Director-General then read out a message from BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General in which he thanked the African Group for taking the initiative to call a special session on the Central African Republic – a crisis of epic proportions which required immediate and concerted action.  The Central African Republic was in freefall.  Public service institutions had collapsed.  Security forces had disintegrated.  Fear had enveloped the country.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other United Nations entities had documented unspeakable and widespread human rights violations.  Those appalling abuses had divided Christian and Muslim communities that for decades had co-existed peacefully as neighbours and friends.

The deteriorating security situation had forced one-fifth of the population to flee their homes, and more than half the population now needed humanitarian assistance.  The United Nations had scaled up its emergency response, but the humanitarian appeal remained woefully underfunded.  The Secretary-General urged Member States to demonstrate their solidarity and support the life-or-death effort.  The Secretary-General called for an immediate end to the cycle of violence and retaliation before the divide between the communities took deep root and sectarian violence escalated into further mass atrocities.  Religious tensions had not been part of the Central African Republic’s past and they must not become part of its future, the Secretary-General said.

The Secretary-General also urged all to prioritize national reconciliation and lasting peace, and support the transitional authorities in that challenging task.  There would be no reconciliation without accountability, he continued, saying that in accordance with Security Council resolution 2127, the United Nations was establishing an International Commission of Inquiry to document abuses and human rights violations.  The Secretary-General urged the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the General Assembly, other United Nations bodies, the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States, along with national authorities, to combine their efforts to resolve the crisis and avoid further human suffering.   They must act together – and act now – to pull the Central African Republic back from the brink of further atrocities.

The Acting Director-General said that the United Nations family in Geneva was following developments in the Central African Republic closely and was working with colleagues and partners to address the security, political, humanitarian and human rights dimensions of the crisis.  He also spoke about today’s high-level meeting hosted by the European Union on the crisis, in which the United Nations was participating, represented by Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, to identify priorities for a sustained and effective humanitarian engagement.  He said they could not escape the fact that the tragedy in the Central African Republic was allowed to go unaddressed for too long.  Today’s Special Session was an important step towards ensuring that the Central African Republic did not remain a “forgotten crisis” and that a meaningful response was mobilized by all actors.  There would simply be no end to the current cycle of violence and inter-communal strife without respect for the rights of all. 

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that in her interim report to the Human Rights Council on the situation in the Central African Republic she had highlighted the perpetration by the Seleka of summary executions and attacks on civilians, torture and ill-treatment, sexual violence and widespread looting of public and private property between December 2012 and July 2013.  The official disbandment of the Seleka in August 2013 had not led to a reduction of violations, mostly perpetrated against the Christian civilians.  In response to the continuing violations targeting Christian civilians, traditional community-based self-defence groups evolved into a more organised Christian militia, the “anti-Balaka”, and launched attacks against ex-Seleka and Muslim civilians suspected of supporting the latter.  Such attacks had escalated dramatically on 5 and 6 December 2013 in Bangui and other localities in the country.

The High Commissioner said that she had deployed a mission to the Central African Republic from 12 to 24 December, with the view of gathering reliable information.  The team of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had conducted 183 interviews with victims, witnesses and other relevant actors.  The team had also met and liaised with a number of national and United Nations high officials.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monitoring mission had documented large scale human rights violations perpetrated in Bangui and other localities by the ex-Seleka and the anti-Balaka, and by Muslim and Christian civilians.  The mission concurred with estimates that in Bangui alone at least 1,000 people were killed during the 5 and 6 December violence.  Ms. Pillay explained that the initial 5 December attacks in Bangui had prompted a rapidly escalating cycle of sectarian human rights violations and reprisals by ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka, which had spread across the capital and other parts of the country.  Cases of sexual violence and other abuses, including rape and sexual slavery, by both sides, but mostly by ex-Seleka, had also been documented.  Reports of the recruitment and use of children by both the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka were perturbing.

The High Commissioner said that the deployment of the French mission Sangaris, the increase in the number of Multinational Force of Central Africa /International Support Mission to the Central African Republic troops, and the subsequent cantonment of ex-Seleka had to some extent deterred further large scale attacks by ex-Seleka against anti-Balaka and Christian civilians.

The humanitarian situation continued to be a major concern.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that, as of 7 January, there had been 935,000 internally displaced persons, half of them in Bangui.  The delivery of humanitarian assistance outside Bangui and in the bush was severely hampered by the volatile security situation.  Nearly half of the country‘s population was in need of humanitarian assistance.

Ms. Pillay welcomed the establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry by the Security Council, which would send a strong message to perpetrators of violations and abuses that the international community was committed to holding them accountable.  Additional human rights officers would be deployed to the Central African Republic in the coming weeks.  The High Commissioner also welcomed the repeated calls by the country’s two most senior religious leaders for tolerance and respect within their communities. 

The High Commissioner urged the international community to increase its support to the Central African Republic for prompt restoration of security and State authority throughout the country, the promotion of the rule of law, and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

CHALOKA BEYANI, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, delivering a statement on behalf of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, reiterated the Committee’s grave concern at the egregious human rights violations and abuses committed by ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka.  Large-scale human rights violations and abuses had been reported, including summary executions, disappearances, widespread looting and sexual and gender-based violence.  The Special Procedures reiterated their serious concern at the high number of internally displaced persons and refugees who continued to be attacked and were the target of human rights violations and abuses.  The roots of the recent crises had shaken the economically marginalised country, where in 2008, 62 per cent of the population had already lived below the poverty line.  The rule of law was non-existent and impunity was widespread.  The role of Special Procedures mechanisms in early warning could not be overemphasized.  The creation of a country mandate by the Human Rights Council and the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Security Council were positive steps taken by the international community, in cooperation with the interim Government of the Central African Republic.  The Special Procedures remained ready to support the Independent Expert in the implementation of his mandate.


Statement by the Concerned Country

LEOPOLD ISMAEL SAMBA Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, said the Central African Republic welcomed the concern shown by the international community.  The meetings in Addis Ababa and in Brussels today were clear signs of that concern.  At the outset, he apologized that the Central African Republic was not able to send a Government delegation today.  The ongoing security and humanitarian situation in the field required the urgent appointment of an Independent Expert, as well as mobilization by the international community to re-establish the rule of law in the Central African Republic.  There was certainly a risk of genocide – and that risk would spiral if nothing was done.  The population was paradoxically destroying itself from within because it was being manipulated by inter-confessional considerations.  More than ever the Central African Republic needed a comprehensive infrastructure, and even a Marshall Plan to avoid the gangrene spreading to other countries in the region.  Today’s Presidential Election would take place but was not an end in itself. 

Statements

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the situation in the Central African Republic required an urgent intervention by the international community.  The African Group was deeply concerned over the breakdown of public order and the senseless violence, which had taken a heavy toll on the civilian population.  The African Group deplored any unsubstantiated allegations made against the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, whose effective operation was very critical in stabilizing the country and in the restoration of constitutional order.

Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that it was very concerned by the breaches of international law committed by all parties to the conflict, especially by large-scale executions of Christian and Muslim civilians on 5 and 6 December 2013.  The European Union welcomed the reinforcement of the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, but stressed that the primary responsibility for the protection of civilian population lay with the transitional Government.

Republic of Congo, speaking on behalf of the Francophone Group, called on the international community to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for their crimes.  The Francophone Group would intensify its efforts in the Central African Republic with the view of finding a durable solution, and asked that the Human Rights Council appoint an Independent Expert without delay.

Mexico said it was particularly concerned by violations of international humanitarian law, as well as of human rights in the Central African Republic.  Mexico deplored the sexual violence against women and girls as well as the recruitment and use of child soldiers.  The displacement of almost one million people was equally a cause for concern.  There was an urgent need to appoint an Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic. 

Argentina said the worsening political, humanitarian and security situations was reflected in the High Commissioner’s report and Argentina supported the appointment of an Independent Expert to study the human rights situation in the country and make the necessary recommendations.  Argentina also encouraged inter-community dialogue in the Central African Republic.  Impunity must be combated.  Urgent, rapid and safe access must be given to humanitarian operations. 

France said the facts described in the High Commissioner’s report were terrible: rape, murder, pillage and looting with impunity throughout the country, as well as torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance and widespread public executions.  The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated over 300,000 child soldiers had been mobilized.  Inter-community and inter-faith violence led to fears that the situation may become uncontrollable.  France supported the International Commission of Inquiry, in addition to the appointment of an Independent Expert. 

Russian Federation said that there were now more than one million internally displaced persons, and almost all economic activity in the Central African Republic had ceased.  The critical humanitarian situation was of particular concern.  The Russian Federation hoped that the transitional Government would soon select a new Head of Government, who would in turn ensure the conduct of democratic presidential and parliamentary elections.

Peru said that the Central African Republic’s ability to stop the violence and provide protection to the civilian population was questionable.  In that context, it was fundamental that the international community ensure the rapid stabilization of the humanitarian situation, with the aim of re-establishing the rule of law and creating conditions for free elections.  The establishment of the Commission of Inquiry represented an  important step in that direction. 

Czech Republic emphasized that the protection of civilians remained a priority concern.  The lack of accountability for serious human rights abuses had unfortunately contributed to renewed cycles of violence, making women and children particularly vulnerable.  Humanitarian access to civilians throughout the country had to be facilitated and security ensured.  The Czech Republic called on all parties in the Central African Republic to cooperate fully with the Independent Expert.

Chile said despite the efforts towards reconciliation, the situation in the Central African Republic was still very volatile and dangerous.  Chile emphatically condemned the widespread human rights violations, particularly acts against women, girls and boys.  The international community also had a level of responsibility to help bring about peace.  Chile said the protection of children and efforts to further dialogue between local religious leaders were needed, as well as the appointment of an Independent Expert.

United Kingdom called upon all parties to refrain from any act of violence against civilians, particularly women and girls, to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access and to guarantee full respect for human rights.  It said the conflict must not be manipulated by those who want to exploit religious differences.  The United Kingdom supported the appointment of a new Independent Expert, and echoed calls for the international community to contribute to the humanitarian appeal; the United Kingdom had already provided $ 20 million and hoped other States would support the appeal.

China said it was deeply concerned about the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic and condemned all acts of violence in that country.  China hoped that the political groups in the country would proceed from the fundamental interests of the people of the Central African Republic to improve the situation, ensure stability and encourage cooperation between the different ethnic groups.  China was willing to provide help to the Central African Republic so as to achieve peace, security and development.

Cuba said that it had closely followed the events unfolding in the Central African Republic, the root causes of which could be found in the colonial past, structural poverty, and the unfair international order.  The opinion of the African Group and the country concerned had to be taken into consideration for any proposed solution.  Cuba believed that violations of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Central African Republic should not be allowed under any circumstances.

Algeria said that the mass violations of human rights and the overall breakdown of public order were of serious concern.  Algeria called on all parties to stop the violence as soon as possible, and applauded the efforts of the African Union to address the situation.  Algeria also supported the call for the appointment of an Independent Expert to help prevent violations of human rights in the field and bring an end to violence.

Ireland was deeply alarmed by the report of the team of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The targeting of children was totally unacceptable and demanded a swift response.  Ireland commended the leadership role of the African Union, supported by France.  It was imperative that accountability constituted part of the international response. 

Indonesia said the situation in the Central African Republic should be comprehensively addressed as a matter of priority.  It deserved the utmost attention of the international community in order to avoid further casualties and potential spill-over to neighbouring countries.  Indonesia hoped that the outcome of the special session would not only serve as a demonstration of the Council’s commitment but also be beneficial to the people and the country.  It supported continued efforts by the African Union and the Economic Community for Central African States to bring peace to the country. 

Germany said that after Syria, this was another “mega-humanitarian crisis”.  Germany was particularly alarmed by reports of extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, mutilations, widespread looting, sexual abuse, burning of homes and villages, and use of child soldiers.  The Council must send the message that it would not tolerate impunity.  Once again moderate voices of different religious and faith leaders were lacking – as seen in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and in the atrocities committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria today. 

Gabon said for almost two decades the population of the Central African Republic had seen a succession of crises that had de-structured the State and led to rising human rights violations.  Gabon was concerned about the deteriorating situation exacerbated by inter-community and inter-confessional violence as well as the mass displacement of populations.  Gabon appealed to the international community to respond urgently to the financial and humanitarian needs of the Central African Republic.  Gabon called upon the Council to adopt the draft resolution submitted by the African Group by consensus. 

Montenegro expressed grave concern about the serious human rights violations being perpetrated in the Central African Republic.  Montenegro noted that the preliminary findings by the monitoring mission stated that nearly half of the country’s population was now in need of humanitarian assistance.  Montenegro believed that the international community had to act immediately to address the array of serious violations committed against civilians.

United States said that it was co-sponsoring the draft resolution which would be voted on later in the day.  The reports of heinous acts of violence committed against women and children were especially troubling.  The United States supported the activities of the African-led mission and French troops as the most immediate solution.  The United States also supported the efforts of the transitional National Council, which would need to work with the Independent Expert and the Commission of Inquiry.  Those responsible for grave human rights violations had to be held accountable.

Japan stated that the escalation of the conflict in the Central African Republic had caused many civilian deaths and a rapid increase in the numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees.  The dreadful cycle of violence and retaliation had to stop immediately, and the restoration of public order was vital to prevent further loss of human rights and human rights violations.  Japan demanded the early appointment of the Independent Expert.

Italy strongly condemned the heinous crimes committed in the Central African Republic and the intolerable suffering of the civilians, and said the violations may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute, to which the Central African Republic was a State party.   Italy was seriously concerned about the ongoing exploitation of religious divides and supported efforts to promote inter-communal and inter-confessional dialogue.  Italy had provided $ 500,000 to improve food security and had allocated $ 2 million for child protection.  Italy urged the appointment of an Independent Expert. 

Morocco said the widespread human rights violations included deliberate attacks against civilians and the forces of the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic.  Those abuses were often reprisals targeting victims simply because of their ethnic origin or religion.  The international community must do all it could to ensure radical and terrorist groups which were thriving in the Sahel regions did not exploit the political void in the Central African Republic.  Morocco praised the work of the United Nations agencies in the crisis, particularly the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 

Romania praised the delegation of the Central African Republic, and the African Group, for requesting the special session on the Central African Republic.  It said the worsening of the conflict, the proven existence of massive human rights violations and the threat of it further spiralling into inter-confessional violence was a huge concern.  Romania hoped that the Independent Expert would be appointed, would start his or her work soon, and would be able to submit a first report to the March session of the Human Rights Council.

Austria shared the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and was worried about all the human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.  Austria had recently decided to make a financial contribution to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic.  It was vital that there was no impunity for those responsible for serious violations of human rights.  Austria believed that it was important to ensure consistency between the Independent Expert and the existing missions in the Central African Republic.

United Arab Emirates stated that the crisis had led to the flight of one fifth of the population of the Central African Republic.  The United Arab Emirates supported all international and regional  efforts to restore peace, security and reconciliation among the warring parties in the Central African Republic.

Estonia condemned all the violence committed by parties to the conflict, including extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence and recruitment of children in armed groups.  All parties to the conflict had to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.  It was crucial that all perpetrators were brought to justice, and Estonia welcomed the appointment of the Independent Expert.  Estonia also encouraged the transitional authorities to ensure women’s full and equal participation in the process.

Sierra Leone said the conflict in the Central African Republic needed to be brought to an end before it degenerated into genocide.  Perpetrators of gross human rights abuses must be brought to justice.  Sierra Leone stressed the need to address widespread poverty in the Central African Republic, citing the adage “a hungry man is an angry man”.  As the conflict had degenerated into a religious one, any long-term solution must include mechanisms for inter-religious dialogue. 

Maldives called for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka in the Central African Republic.  It also spoke about concerning allegations of external involvement in the conflict that could further escalate an already volatile situation.  Women and children were particularly vulnerable in conflict situations, said the Maldives, condemning acts of sexual violence such as rape and sexual slavery and demanding full implementation of  Security Council resolution 1325.  Maldives called for the urgent deployment of the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights. 

South Africa said the people of the Central African Republic had for two decades endured grave and almost unrelenting violations of their human rights, with the failure of a series of peace agreements and near-total breakdown of the rule of law.  South Africa welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2127 authorizing the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic aimed at protecting civilians and restoring State authority over the whole territory, as well as creating conditions conducive to humanitarian assistance. 

Viet Nam condemned the acts of human rights violations in the Central African Republic, especially acts against vulnerable groups, such as women and children.  Human rights could only be fully and sustainably protected and promoted when peace and security were restored.  Viet Nam appreciated the assistance provided by the African Union and countries present on the ground.  External support, with the host country’s prerequisite consent, was significant in bringing about peace and security. 

Venezuela believed that the serious humanitarian situation required the solidarity of peoples from across the world, with the view of finding a rapid solution to the crisis in the Central African Republic.  Venezuela commended all initiatives supporting peace and restoring security in the Central African Republic, and recognized the important role of the African Union.  In this process, the integrity and sovereignty of the country in question had to be respected.

Congo said that there had been six sessions of the Economic Community for Central African States over the previous year, which had demonstrated the ongoing interest of African countries in the situation in the Central African Republic.  The Government of Congo was actively providing different kinds of assistance to the Central African Republic.  Congo condemned all kinds of incitement to hatred and all breaches of international humanitarian law.  All perpetrators should be held accountable and brought to trial. 

Costa Rica said that, unfortunately, the current situation could have been seen coming. Since 2004 onwards, the Central African Republic had been embroiled in a humanitarian crisis, which had in a way been forgotten and neglected by most.  Today, the Central African Republic required decisive and urgent actions by the Human Rights Council and the international community at large.  Costa Rica asked why the international community did not recognize the right to peace, and said that proactive efforts should be made to  prohibit war and armed conflict worldwide.

Brazil expressed its deep concern with the situation in the Central African Republic and hoped the session could contribute to the identification of strategies that could alleviate the suffering of so many in the Central African Republic.  The recognition that development, peace and security, and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing was essential to address the root causes of instability.  The sooner issues such as social exclusion, discrimination, injustice, underdevelopment and food insecurity were addressed, the sooner an end to the violence could be allowed. 

African Union said that the holding of today’s session pointed incontestably to the strong wish of the African Union, which represented 60 African States, to reverse the situation in the Central African Republic which was a risk to the entire region.  The African Union hoped that the future interim authorities of the country, since today’s session happily coincided with their election in Bangui, would have all the resources they needed to end the odious crimes committed and restore peace and security in the Central African Republic. 

Turkey was deeply concerned by the serious deterioration in the friendly country of the Central African Republic and called on any action that might intensify ethnic and religious tensions to be avoided.  The establishment of a new government must create the conditions for domestic reconciliation.  The mandate of the Independent Expert, expected to be established at the end of the session would be important in determining the means of technical assistance.

Egypt reaffirmed its solidarity with the people of the Central African Republic in these dire times.  Egypt fully supported the restoration of stability and the achievement of prosperity for the people of the Central African Republic, and was deeply concerned about the escalating situation in different parts of the country.  Egypt stressed its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Central African Republic.  The international community should spare no efforts to ensure the prompt return to normalcy and the rule of law.

Togo invited national authorities to ensure that all perpetrators of human rights violations were brought to justice.  Togo exhorted the transitional authorities to work together with the international forces deployed in the field, and asked all stakeholders to create the necessary conditions for the provision of the necessary humanitarian aid.  Efforts had to be made to ensure that the Central African Republic did not turn into a sanctuary for terrorists.

Tunisia expressed solidarity with the people of the Central African Republic.  Condemning firmly all violence from all sides, especially against innocent civilians, Tunisia appealed to all parties to the conflict to immediately stop such acts.  Tunisia strongly encouraged dialogue for a peaceful negotiated solution which would preserve lives and take the country out of the fratricidal war.

Lithuania said all parties to the conflict must put an immediate end to the violence against civilians, the killings and the looting.  The most vulnerable groups – women and children – must be protected.  Sexual violence, recruitment and use of children in armed forces and their killing and abduction must end.  All perpetrators of human rights violations must be held accountable and those responsible must be brought to justice.  Lithuania stressed the need to involve women in conflict resolution and any peace process.

Spain said this moment of consensus must be seized.  Greater commitment was needed given the rapid deterioration of the situation in the Central African Republic.  The  burning of churches and mosques and private homes was a deep concern.  Spain condemned sexual slavery and other violations by groups carried out with total impunity.  Spain was also concerned about the inter-religious and inter-ethnic nature of the conflict.  It was vital that the Independent Expert took office immediately and was facilitated in his or her work by the national authorities.

Belgium was particularly alarmed by the violations against women and children.  Acts of sexual violence against women and girls were being committed by armed groups with impunity, and children were not being spared – they suffered the same violations as adults.  For Belgium, such flagrant mass violations of human rights and international law should not remain unpunished – perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.   



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/002E