The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) is a puzzling mission. MINUSCA had starkly positive effects for its first two years of operation, but violence against civilians resumed in late 2016, and rebel groups have come to control some 80 percent of the country’s territory. The February 2019 peace accord between the government and 14 armed groups provides reason for hope, but several conditions—having little to do with MINUSCA itself—may prevent progress, notably, the absence of clear consequences for leaders and groups who defect from the peace, illicit trafficking, and the growing rivalry between the permanent members (P-5) of the UN Security Council.
From June–August 2019, a team of the Effectiveness in Peace Operations Network (EPON) studied the mission to assess its effectiveness. The team visited offices of the UN, African Union (AU), European Union, foreign embassies, Central African Republic (CAR) government, non-governmental organizations, and a variety of others mainly in Bangui, but also in Bambari, Birao, Bria, Kaga Bandoro, Paoa, and New York. The team conducted nearly 200 interviews with people in and around the UN system, and held five focus groups with Central African citizens.
EPON studies contain three basic parts: a context analysis, an identification of mission effects, and an assessment of six explanatory factors. This brief summary of the team’s conclusions proceeds in line with this three-part structure. Read more