The Honorable Antony Blinken Secretary of State
US Department of State 2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20230
February 2, 2021
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As a collection of humanitarian, faith-based, human rights, diaspora and peacebuilding groups committed to supporting the people of the Central African Republic (CAR), we congratulate you on your recent Senate confirmation and thank you for your focus on reseeding democracy and standing up for human rights in Africa and around the world.
We are writing to ask for your support at an urgent moment. Central Africans are reeling from a new wave of violence and insecurity that has deepened the humanitarian crisis, marred the recent electoral process and threatens to undermine hard-won gains by the Central African people. In the past month alone, 200,000 IDPs and refugees have been newly displaced, bringing the total displaced to 1.4 million. At the start of the CAR crisis, the Obama Administration led America to play a decisive role in preventing atrocities, investing in local peace efforts, in providing lifesaving humanitarian aid, and in ultimately supporting a democratic transition.
We ask that the State Department and the Interagency act in this moment to articulate both near and medium-term measures to restore these gains and to support peace, democratic governance, and relief and recovery efforts in the country. Specifically, we ask that you prioritize:
We ask that you urgently consider UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Mankeur Ndiaye’s appeal to the Security Council on January 21 for more resources to protect civilians, including “a substantial increase of uniformed troops in the mission,” as well as engage in a discussion with the Government of the CAR (GoCAR) and international partners on other mechanisms to strengthen the protection of civilians. The Council should also continue to review the performance of MINUSCA in protecting civilians, including by implementing more robust early warning and response mechanisms.
As violence spikes and atrocity risks grow, we ask that you urgently invest in rapid-response efforts to prevent further escalation by supporting efforts by local authorities, religious leaders, women, media and youth to prevent atrocities, reduce hate speech, and prevent mobilization. We ask that you complement rapid-response support with dedicated five-year funding to these local efforts to ensure that they can be sustained to through the eventual return, reintegration and reconciliation efforts.
We ask that during this second and final term of President Touadera, you invest in strengthening the structures of democracy in the country to secure a consolidation of democratic institutions and norms. We ask that you support human rights accountability, anti-corruption, and building a democratic political culture, including through: technical assistance to appropriate GoCAR institutions; establishing new programs to support civil society, media, and human rights efforts; continue direct support to transitional justice, including the Special Criminal Court; and prioritize democratic governance and anti-corruption via the International Financial Institutions and with all other stakeholders.
CAR requires urgent humanitarian assistance as well as a strategic commitment to ending chronic needs. We ask that the US—in conjunction with other donors and the International Financial Institutions— should directly support programs that transition from humanitarian relief to sustainable recovery.
Additionally, we ask that you consider non-traditional approaches secure a peace dividend by encouraging trade and investment, including engagement with the US private sector, the diaspora, as well as the USDFC, USAID, USDA and others on opportunities to support private-sector-led recovery.
We urge you to show leadership in working with the AU, ECCAS, UN, EU, neighboring countries, other countries militarily engaged, and other international actors to end the transnational dynamics driving the conflict; reduce cross-border flows of illicit weapons and resources; and instead, prioritize coordinated interventions that support peace and justice for all Central Africans.
We encourage you to capitalize upon this moment to join and support these initiatives that can work towards addressing immediate needs while resolving the underlying causes of the conflict. We thank you for your support to the civilians of the CAR in helping to advance long-term positive peace and security and would welcome the opportunity to discuss further.
With copy to:
Amb. Lucy Tamlyn, US Embassy Bangui Amb. Richard Mills, US Mission to the UN Gloria Steele, US Agency for International Development
Amb. Robert Godec, US Department of State Dana Brooks, National Security Council Linda Etim, National Security Council
Amb. Samantha Power, USAID Administrator- Designate
Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador- Designate to the UN
Senator Robert Menendez, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator James Risch, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Congressman Gregory Meeks, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Congressman Michael McCaul, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5203
New York, NY 10016-4309, USA