A Glimmer of Hope in the Central African Republic

On Thursday December 5th, the UN Security Council announced its unanimous approval to deploy African and French troops to the war-stricken Central African Republic. This came after the French sponsored a UN resolution that mandates the use of force for one year in order to protect civilians and restore security and order. Violence has raged in the country ever since a coalition of rebels ousted President Francoise Bozize in March, which has been the most recent coup since the country gained independence from France in 1960. The violence exacerbated as Christian vigilante groups formed to battle Seleka, the predominantly Muslim group that ousted the President. The unification of these militia groups along sectarian lines has worsened their extremism. Moreover, they have taken advantage of the country’s current state of lawlessness and stoked animosities, according to Samantha Power, the current US Ambassador to the UN.

Hopefully the presence of troops will be effective in creating some semblance of peace, which the country is in dire need of. Its situation is precarious: the country has been in a perpetual state of instability for over 50 years, warlords are terrorizing the countryside, the government is incredibly ineffectual, and the collapse of state institutions has forced 400,000 people to flee their homes and has left 1 million dependant on aid. Some are even surmising that the CAR’s current situation could spiral out of control into one reminiscent of Rwanda.

Diplomacy has proven ineffective in remedying the problem; a peace process was hosted in Gabon in January but many militia leaders abandoned it, choosing to combine their forces to launch a military campaign. With any luck, the deployment of on-the-ground troops will act as a successful means of pressuring the militias to end their violent activity.

About Dahlia James

Dahlia James is a Research Analyst at the NATO Association of Canada, where she writes articles on current events, as well as women in security, Canada’s involvement in NATO, and NATO’s multilateral connections. She has completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto, where she studied Political Science, History, and American Studies. For the entirety of the 2011-2012 academic year, she studied abroad at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where her studies were focused on Israeli foreign policy and Middle Eastern studies. Her recent experience includes acting as the Co-Editor in Chief of the Undergraduate Journal of American Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, and interning in the research and editorial department at the Jerusalem Centre of Public Affairs. Her interests lie in American foreign policy, Canadian-American bilateral affairs, and both Israeli and Middle Eastern politics.