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Responsibility to Protect: Central African Republic and EU

, by Kadir Ozen

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By the end of WW2 the ethnic and religious conflict become more prominent question in the front of international community. The conflict has transformed from inter-state into intra-state, making in this regard ethnic and religious conflict became major problem for the instability of the states.


  • Student from Tsinghua University, Beijing receiving MA degree in political science

By the end of WW2 the ethnic and religious conflict become more prominent question in the front of international community. The conflict has transformed from inter-state into intra-state, making in this regard ethnic and religious conflict became major problem for the instability of the states. The atrocities in Rwanda and Srebrenica brought about the realization of failure of international community to respond to those kinds of atrocities and genocides so the idea of “Responsibility to Protect”, which is namely the responsibility of states to protect their population from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing; the responsibility of international community to assist states in fulfilling their obligations; the commitment to take timely and decisive action, was born out following those failures.

Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa had witnessed the re-emergence of armed conflict, and ethnic and religious based conflicts, which raised the concern about the human rights abuses in those countries. Central African Republic is one of the countries in where the human rights violations and ethno-religious conflict have attracted the attention of the international community. What has been happening in Central African Republic should be considered in view of the incapability and weakness of the central government. CAR is known as an underdeveloped country, besides the country has been unstable since her independence, in 1960. CAR, subsequently, obtained its independence encountered by coup, and fight between different groups to control the state.

The latest crisis, which has started in 2012, has sparked the ethno-religious dynamics in the country. Seleka, who is the almost Muslim Rebel group, had launched attack against the government and overthrew it on March 2013. Seleka has been conducted widespread rape, recruitment of kids, violence, which brought about calling urgent attention by the UN. The Rebel leader, who is Michel Djotodia, became the president till his resignation on January 2014. Djotodia declared the dissolution of Seleka, which was unwelcomed by the group though thence they have continued to their assault across the country. Meanwhile Anti-Balaka was established by Christian groups to engage in arm resistance against the attacks of Seleka moreover the Anti-Balaka committed violence against the Muslim civilians in result most of the Muslims had to flee to neighboring countries like Chad, Cameron, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo. This escalating ethno-religious based violence has affected the stability of other countries with addition of the refugee crisis in neighboring countries. However by the representative of the both Muslim Seleka and Anti-balaka groups signed a ceasefire in July to end violence that took more than a year and left thousands dead in the country.

The interim President Catherine Samba-Panza’s willingness to bring peace and unity to the country was welcomed by the West. Paul Simon Handy, who is the deputy director at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa, pointed out how she is important image to unite both the country and the political elite*. Even though she is willing to re-strengthen the state authority, lack of funds constraint her ability to overcome problems across the country. The interim President has a long way to restore the order in the country. There is no rule of law in the country so whoever commits crimes were not get arrested or the court has no ability to carry out the investigation because of that the interim President Catherine Samba-Panza asked International Criminal Court (ICC) to carry out investigation.

In order to apply Responsibility to Protect in CAR, these questions can be asked what is the role of EU in preventing conflict and restoring the order? What can EU offer for CAR? R2P was criticized by some countries due to using its for the interest of great powers. The country is the former colony of France, which affects the interest of France in this regard France believes that international community has right to assist country by taking decisive action which will restore the peace, ensure stability and protect the citizen from any violence. In this regard, France has already deployed its forces on the ground. In addition to French forces, African Union and EU forces have been deployed to protect civilians, and restore the security.

That’s sure that the peacekeeping operations will not fully bring end to the violence in the country. People, who were neighbor to each other, started to kill each other because of religious differences. In this regard, European Union with African Union can bring both sides to the table. The reconciliation within the society can be achieved by the community and religious leader, who will promote compassion, peaceful co-existence and tolerance. The important thing is to restore security and to strengthen the judicial system, which will dissuade people to commit a crime. Therefore EU can play important role in state building through working and encouraging government. On the other hand, the other question is that most of the people who participate those affiliated groups are non-educated young people and unemployment, which can be solved in the long run through education and creating more job opportunities to their citizen.

To bring peace and stability to CAR can strengthen the relations of EU with not only CAR but also other African countries. Deepening of relations between two continents has started by the first summit between EU and Africa in Cairo in 2000, subsequently Lisbon summit was held in Lisbon in 2007. This demonstrates how EU turned its faces to Africa again to counterbalance the growing impacts of China in Africa. Due to suspicious of French role as gendarme in Africa, France should not be solely power who tries to bring peace, and stability. That’s why CAR can offer a good chance to the EU to bring peace, stability and good governance, which may contribute to widen EU’s soft power into other parts of Africa.

* information was taken from the website of “ Deutsche Welle “ : http://www.dw.de/from-mayor-to-interim-president-of-car-a-portrait-of-catherine-samba-panza/a-17376200

picture @Telegraph.co.uk

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