Allow me to thank SRSG Ndiaye and the briefers for their insightful remarks. I am also pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Baipo-Temon here today.
Minister, I look forward to working with your government in bringing peace to the Central African Republic.
When President Touadéra announced a unilateral ceasefire in October, we all hoped this would lead to more security and much needed progress in the political process.
Unfortunately, fighting continued and a genuine, inclusive dialogue has still not started. The rebels are certainly to blame, but the government’s choice of partners also affects the prospects of sustainable peace in the CAR.
Norway commends the region, in particular Angola and Rwanda, for its continued engagement which seems to have led to renewed impetus and a date for the long-awaited Republican Dialogue. We encourage all actors and especially the government to finally make it happen.
Only dialogue addressing the grievances of all segments of society – including with full, equal and meaningful participation of women - can lead to sustainable peace.
We also underscore that the protection of civilians, including children, is critical to avoiding new cycles of violence.
Reports about continued high levels of gross violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law are frustratingly familiar.
Norway is particularly appalled by the reported high number of gender-based and conflict-related sexual violence, reported grave violations against children, and the targeting of religious minorities. We also condemn in the strongest terms the targeting of humanitarian workers.
The main perpetrators continue to be the armed groups of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).
But reports show that also the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) and their partners - the Russian Wagner Group - continue to commit numerous violations and abuses of human rights and violations of IHL.
Incidents like the ones in and around Bria are particularly shocking, because FACA and their partners should be held to a higher standard than armed groups. We call on the CAR authorities to investigate all incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.
We are also worried by reported new trends such as the recruitment of ex-combatants as proxies against armed groups; the dangerous and unacceptable jamming of navigation signals of MINUSCA air assets; and the use of explosive devices.
We welcome the improvement of the government’s implementation of the status-of-forces agreement. A good working relation between the CAR authorities and MINUSCA is essential.
That being said: Norway is very worried about multiple reports about obstruction and denial of access of MINUSCA by FACA and the Wagner Group.
MINUSCA must be allowed to do its work, including the investigation of incidents of alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of IHL.
Finally, Norway would like to express its concern about the continued absence of a Panel of Experts for CAR.
After a hold of more than six months, one member state has rejected the nominated experts. We urge the Secretariat to swiftly propose new names and hope that the Panel can resume its work as soon as possible.
Allow me to conclude with a special thanks to SRSG Ndiaye for his hard work and commitment to CAR. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
I thank you.