Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) has suffered from a cycle of violent coups since gaining independence in 1960. In 2016, the country’s first peaceful, democratic election raised hopes that CAR was beginning to stabilize, but more recently, violence between armed groups has escalated. U.S. Institute of Peace programs in CAR seek to establish effective two-way communication between government officials and communities on local security concerns. USIP’s Initiative to Measure Peace and Conflict Outcomes works with U.S. government-funded programs in CAR to broaden their ability to share information and boost overall effectiveness. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on the Current Situation in Central African Republic.

Evolving Conflict Dynamics in the Central African Republic

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:00
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:00
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Updates from the Field

Despite holding its first peaceful, democratic elections earlier this year, the Central African Republic remains vulnerable to a resurgence of the conflict that began in 2012. An estimated 2.3 million people require humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, and a stalled disarmament process allows armed groups to continue operating with impunity in many parts of the country. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a discussion with experts from the field on the crucial next steps needed to achieve disarmament, end the violence and begin reconstruction and reconciliation.

Following the inauguration of President Faustin Archange Touadéra in March of 2016, his government set disarmament of armed groups as its main priority. He has sought to actively engage the armed groups on the design of a process for disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating these forces, but most of these factions remain unsatisfied with the proposed path and refuse to disarm. Instead, they continue to control large swaths of the country, including important transport routes.

Experts: 
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African Politics, African Peace

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 14:00
Mon, 09/12/2016 - 15:30
Subtitle: 
The African Union, Peacekeeping and the Politics of Peace

More than 100,000 peacekeepers deployed in Africa make up three-quarters of such United Nations troops worldwide, and they illustrate the frequent response of the African Union to defuse violent conflict with military forces. But the AU has another strength: political power. On September 12, researchers Alex de Waal and Mulugeta Gebrehiwot of the World Peace Foundation offered recommendations from their new report on how the AU can harness its unique advantage to advance peace and security.

Their new report for the AU argued that the Union must move away from its reactive approach to violent conflict and draw on its inherent political strengths. Their extensive research included case studies of the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Somalia and South Sudan.

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Renewed Violence in the Central African Republic: The Roots of a Political Crisis

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:30
Mon, 11/30/2015 - 14:00

When a fresh wave of violence broke out in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui at the end of September, the transitional government and the international community struggled to respond. Dozens died, hundreds were injured, and thousands fled their homes. Amid this increase in violence, CAR faces the daunting task of holding a constitutional referendum and general elections in the next two months. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the Great Lakes Policy Forum brought together the editors of Making Sense of the Central African Republic and several contributing authors on November 30 for a panel discussion on the roots of the recent crisis and the potential for peaceful, democratic change.

Read the event coverage, Risk to Central African Republic Lies in Avoiding Mistakes of the Past, Experts Say.

Leaders and citizens of the Central African Republic, with the support of the international community, are currently focusing resources and energy on laying the groundwork for a peaceful constitutional referendum and elections in the coming months. But sustained peace in in the country will require longer-term efforts as well, because the recent crisis is rooted in decades of poor governance and persistent insecurity.

Experts: 
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Peacebuilding in Central African Republic: The Views of Top Religious Leaders

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 14:00
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:30

Please join us for a discussion with the highest-ranking Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant leaders in CAR, Imam Omar Kabine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou, as they discuss their efforts to foster dialogue and social cohesion across religious dividing lines, and lay out a strategic vision for the future of the country through their Interfaith Peace Platform.

Read the event coverage, Central African Republic: Religious Leaders Call for Dialogue Backed by Grassroots.

Experts: 

In the Central African Republic, the situation remains precarious as ethno-religious violence continues despite the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. In this context, religious leaders committed to peacebuilding provide a particularly important perspective.

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Q&A: Central African Republic Waiting for Peace

Nine months after the Central African Republic (CAR) held free, peaceful and democratic elections for president and parliament, the country continues to struggle for stability and progress. Half of the country remains in need of humanitarian aid, and an increase in violent incidents since September threatens to destabilize any progress made to date. At the end of November, clashes between factions of the ex-Séléka, a formerly united alliance of primarily Muslim armed groups, left 85 dead, 76 injured and 11,000 newly displaced. The targeting of a specific ethnic group in the fighting, the Muslim Fulani/Peuhl community, raises concerns of a descent into ethnic cleansing such as occurred in early 2014. U.S. Institute of Peace experts Fiona Mangan and Igor Acko discuss the current status of armed groups, the barriers to disarmament, and continued international engagement in CAR.

Mangan recently returned from nine months in CAR, where she served as USIP’s country representative. Acko, a sociologist and analyst, coordinates the institute’s programming and research in CAR in an effort to curb the violence that has long plagued the country.

USIP Staff
Tue, 12/06/2016 - 09:58
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The Current Situation in the Central African Republic

The first peaceful and democratic election in the Central African Republic (CAR) in February 2016 opened the way for accelerating efforts to stabilize a country beset by violence since gaining independence from France in 1960. A source of diamonds, gold, oil and uranium, CAR has been riven by regional power struggles among armed groups and across borders. A United Nations peacekeeping mission has more than 11,000 personnel in the country, and U.S. military forces are advising on the pursuit of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army militant group.

During CAR’s most recent crisis in late 2012 and early 2013, rebel groups—angered by the government’s neglect of the country’s North and the failure to implement a peace plan from a previous civil war—formed the Séléka, or “Alliance,” and seized power. The predominantly Muslim Séléka carried out attacks on civilians, spurring retaliatory assaults by primarily Christian and Animist self-defense groups known as the Anti-Balaka, or “Anti-Machete.”

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 15:09
Partners (HTML): 

In Central African Republic, a Door Opens to Citizen Voices

On a cool Friday morning in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the conference room is silent for the first time in days. Expert presentations on disarmament and security sector reform, followed by lively debates, had filled the room since Wednesday afternoon. Now, only the air conditioning hums as a diverse group of mid- and-senior level officials and civic leaders—gathered by the U.S. Institute of Peace—pore over findings from citizen consultations held in communities around the country. They are men and women, Muslims and Christians. Their positions in ministries and civil society groups in the capital, Bangui, make them part of the political elite, a class that has historically governed the country without input from its constituents. Now, after decades of violence and instability, that’s beginning to change.

Located in the heart of Africa, the Central African Republic (CAR) is a former French colony that has suffered from persistent insecurity since gaining independence in 1960. This is due in part to the fact that its system of governance was never designed to govern: Based on the old colonial structure, it was geared primarily to serve international interests and local elites seeking to exploit CAR’s diamonds, gold, oil and uranium. The powerful profited while the rest of the population suffered from extreme poverty and sporadic outbreaks of violence. For decades, this was the status quo.

Rachel Sullivan
Fri, 09/23/2016 - 14:40
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Beyond Elections in the Central African Republic

The elections represent “a victory for the entire population,” Samba-Panza said in the interview during a visit to USIP to discuss her experience in office and the issues that will confront the administration of newly elected President Faustin Archange Touadera, a former prime minister. The Central African Republic has experienced violent conflict for almost 20 years.

Risk to Central African Republic Lies in Avoiding Mistakes of the Past, Experts Say

The future of the Central African Republic rests in part on whether the international community can avoid mistakes of the past by supporting its development for the long haul and building institutions and infrastructure rather than abandoning the country after elections later this month, a group of experts said at an event organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Gopal Ratnam

After more than two decades of international intervention in the Central African Republic, “we seem to keep repeating old formulas that haven’t seemed to work,” said Tatiana Carayannis, deputy director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council and the co-editor of a volume of essays, Making Sense of the Central African Republic.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:48
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U.N. Peacekeeping in the Sahel: Overcoming New Challenges

New U.N. operations in the Sahel present unprecedented challenges for U.N. peacekeeping. They involve the United Nations directly in the struggle against transnational Islamist terrorism, weapons proliferation, and illicit trafficking by international organized crime. The United Nations must operate in countries with harsh terrain, vast expanses, poor communications, and porous borders. In response, the Security Council adopted more robust mandates based on the peace enforcement provisions of the U.N. Charter. In Mali, the United Nations joined the African Union, the European Union, and France, whose forces conduct combat operations, while the United Nations used helicopter gunships and armed police units to protect civilians. In the Central African Republic, U.N. Police are authorized to control violence and arrest offenders. For the United States, there is new interest in U.N. peacekeeping and its importance to U.S. national security interests.

Summary

  • In the Middle East and North Africa, the international community is confronted by a region in turmoil from conflicts driven by religious extremism, weapons proliferation, and organized crime. The implications of this development for U.N. efforts to reestablish sustainable security through peacekeeping have been profound. The response to this challenge has been a new generation of U.N. operations authorized under the peace enforcement provisions of the U.N. Charter.
Robert M. Perito
Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:20

Articles & Analysis

Nine months after the Central African Republic (CAR) held free, peaceful and democratic elections for president and parliament, the country continues to struggle for stability and progress. Half...

By:
USIP Staff

On a cool Friday morning in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, the conference room is silent for the first time in days. Expert presentations on disarmament and security sector...

By:
Rachel Sullivan

After successfully holding national elections on Feb. 14, the Central African Republic is poised for a new stage of its political transition and the rebuilding of the country following years of...

By:
Rachel Sullivan

Videos & Webcasts

After successfully holding national elections on Feb. 14, the Central African Republic is poised for a new stage of its political transition and the rebuilding of the country following years of...

Despite holding its first peaceful, democratic elections earlier this year, the Central African Republic remains vulnerable to a resurgence of the conflict that began in 2012. An estimated 2.3...

More than 100,000 peacekeepers deployed in Africa make up three-quarters of such United Nations troops worldwide, and they illustrate the frequent response of the African Union to defuse violent...

Learn More

Publications

By:
USIP Staff
The first peaceful and democratic election in the Central African Republic (CAR) in February 2016 opened the way for accelerating efforts to stabilize a country beset by violence since gaining...
By:
Robert M. Perito
New U.N. operations in the Sahel present unprecedented challenges for U.N. peacekeeping. They involve the United Nations directly in the struggle against transnational Islamist terrorism, weapons...