9388th Meeting (PM)

Security Council Extends Arms Embargo on Central African Republic, Mandate of Expert Panel, Adopting Resolution 2693 (2023) by 13 Votes in Favour, 2 Abstentions

The Security Council today extended its arms embargo against the Central African Republic for one year until 31 July 2024 yet lifted certain notification requirements that applied to the transfer and sales of arms to the country’s security forces, including State civilian law enforcement institutions. 

With the adoption of resolution 2693(2023), the Council — by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Russian Federation) — also renewed for 13 months — until 31 August 2024 — the mandate of the Panel of Experts tasked with assisting its Sanctions Committee.

The Council decided that the arms embargo measures established through resolution 2127 (2013) and the notification requirements laid out in paragraph 1 of resolution 2648 (2022) shall no longer apply to the supply, sale or transfer of arms and related materiel, as well as the assistance, advice and training for the country’s security forces.  In addition, all other provisions set out in that first paragraph shall apply until 31 July 2024.  That means a supplying Member State or organization is primarily responsible for notifying the Sanctions Committee in advance of the delivery of supplies or provision of assistance. 

The Council also decided to renew until 31 July 2024 the measures and provisions set out in paragraph 4 of resolution 2488 (2019), except for the supply, sale or transfer of arms and related materiel, and the provision of assistance, advice and training to the Central African Republic security forces, in paragraph 5 of resolution 2488 (2019) and in paragraph 2 of resolution 2399 (2018).  It recalls paragraph 9 of resolution 2488 (2019).

Strongly condemning attacks committed by armed groups of the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement, the Council asked the Panel of Experts to consider proposing or updating further statements of cases for possible designation pursuant to paragraphs 20 to 21 of resolution 2399 (2018).  Further, the Council asked the Panel for a midterm report no later than 31 January 2024 and a final report no later than 15 June 2024, as well as appropriate updates.

Speaking after the vote, Dmitry A. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation) said his country abstained as the Council must respond to the Central African Republic Government’s request to lift the arms embargo, a move broadly supported by the country’s people.  The sanctions hinder efforts by the Central African Armed Forces to combat illegal armed groups and have not added any value to prevent the entry of arms into the country.  The sanctions regime should be approached in a sober, rational way and include modalities to meet the needs of the Central African Republic while curbing arms smuggling, he said.  Moreover, the Council should review its stance on the Central African Republic, correct elements of the sanctions regime that are no longer needed and remove any form of sanctions that impinge on the efforts of a sovereign State to maintain its security.

Robert A. Wood (United States) said he voted in favour of the resolution because its measures are crucial to promoting peace and stability in the Central African Republic and the Central African region and will help to keep dangerous weapons and resources from reaching armed groups.  Acknowledging the Central African Republic’s call to lift the arms embargo, he said nothing in the current or previous sanctions regimes has prevented that country’s 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.  He further expressed regret that the Council did not include an annex of weapons that would require notification to the Sanctions Committee.  Reporting that man pads have been transported through the Central African Republic to Sudan by the Wagner Group, he expressed concern over the threat these weapons could pose to the safety and security of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) peacekeepers.

Nana Akua Barnor (Ghana) said that, despite her Government’s aspirations to the full lifting of an arms embargo throughout the entire territory of the Central African Republic, her delegation voted in favour of the resolution, as it represents a significant step towards satisfying that country’s long-standing request for complete removal of sanctions throughout its territory.  The text is an encouraging response to ensure that the country’s authorities are better equipped to fight armed violence and destabilizing activities by armed groups.  Sanctions on the Governments of sovereign countries should not exist in perpetuity, especially when the Government in question has continually demonstrated its commitment to meet the conditions for the lifting of sanctions in the face of considerable constraints, she asserted.  Further, she encouraged the Central African Republic to continue developing its capacity for enhanced weapons and ammunition management practices to prevent arms from slipping into the hands of unauthorized armed groups.

Zhang Jun (China), while positively viewing the work of all parties and of France as the resolution’s penholder, said the text has failed to fully meet the aspirations of the Central African Republic, and regional countries, for a complete lifting of all sanctions.  For this reason, China had to abstain.  The 10-year long Council-mandated embargo no longer meets the country’s needs and hinders its ability to maintain its security.  The Government has asked for a complete lifting of the arms embargo to help increase its security capacity, he said, stressing China’s belief that the Council should consider lifting unnecessary sanctions throughout Africa in a timely manner.

Sérgio França Danese (Brazil) said that his delegation voted in favor of the resolution.  Its gradual approach to lifting the sanctions strikes a good balance and respects differing views presented during negotiations.  Noting progress made in adopting benchmarks, he encouraged the Central African Republic to continue its effort to improve and stabilize the country’s security situation.

James Kariuki (United Kingdom), Council’s President for July, speaking in his national capacity, said that, while he voted in favour of the resolution, he sees merit in the notification requirement as an important tool for monitoring the flow of weapons to armed groups operating in the Central African Republic.  He expressed concern over the worsening political, humanitarian and security situations in that country, including atrocities committed by the Wagner Group.  Progress on the peace agreement will remain an important factor in future conversations on arms control and on a promoting peaceful resolution to the long-term violence. Underscoring that notification processes do not inhibit Governments from building security capabilities, he took note of the Government’s request and the calls from the region in that regard.

Sylvie Baïpo Temon, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, said today, the Security Council gave its verdict:  Member States decided to maintain, or, more specifically, roll over the text on the arms embargo against her country, while also mentioning that the resolution does not apply to Government forces.  She criticized the “confused and vague” language of the text, noting that it tries to explain that the embargo against Government forces has been lifted; at the same time, it attempts to justify the maintenance of a resolution establishing the embargo, rolling over this text so it remains applicable to armed groups.  The Council said that there is no longer an embargo against Government forces that now have access to equip themselves without notifying the Council.  However, she underscored, the text has been extended, qualifying the Central African Republic as an armed group. 

“This is an arbitrary decision that the people of the Central African Republic cannot accept,” she stressed, adding that the resolution ignores the reality in her country.  The Central African Republic is not among armed groups, she asserted, noting that the text should have been called “embargo on the armed groups operating in the Central African Republic” rather than “embargo on the Central African Republic”.  She cited as “unacceptable and intolerable” and “a matter of dignity” to equate a sovereign State with armed groups.  The maintenance of the arms embargo is not something that satisfied her country.  The text adopted today reflects double standards. “The Central African Republic calls for help at a moment of distress and emergency and would like humanity to not simply be a subject of words but actions,” she said.

For information media. Not an official record.