Former IJR Executive Director Dr Fanie Du Toit addresses trainees at a January 2020 workshop in Bangui,Central African Republic. Part of IJR and In Transformation Initiative’s (ITI) collaborative efforts to strengthen the capacity of the country’s Local Peace and Reconciliation Committee Network.

Since independence, the Central African Republic has been plagued by politico-military crises that have weakened state institutions, undermined basic social and economic structures, and generated increasing tension between the country’s ethnic and

religious communities. Between 2007 and February 2019, 13 different peace agreements were signed in relation to conflict in CAR: all were unable to bring about a lasting peace.

On 07 February 2019, the African Union (AU)-sponsored ‘Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic’ was signed by government and 14 armed groups. While some armed groups have violated the terms of the agreement, and violence does persist in certain regions, there has been an overall decline in major conflict incidents over the last year.

However, in order to capitalize on the modest improvements to security ushered in by the 07 February peace deal, as well as to prepare for upcoming potential challenges to peace and security posed by the 2020 general elections, more effort must be given to establishing and supporting a  sustainable peace architecture which links locally-led peace initiatives to national programs and strategies.

Most, if not all, peace agreements signed in the CAR over the last decade were forged between political elites and rebel leaders. They  primarily focus on short-term objectives through a mix of demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) and limited power sharing. As Azou-Passonda et al (2019) argue in a study of all peace agreements signed in the CAR since 2007, they repeatedly fail because they are dominated by elites, favour DDR as their main mechanism for conflict resolution, and do not address local drivers of conflict and sense of exclusion experienced at the community level.

Conversely, local mediation efforts in the CAR, while not garnering attention and receiving less financial and international support have provided tangible successes – from local nonaggression pacts between armed groups to deals regarding access to specific areas and to community violence reduction agreements. Unlike national peace agreements, local mediation efforts:

  1. i) Reflect the particularities of the local context;
    ii) Are inclusionary rather than exclusionary;
    iii)        Can generate innovative and context-specific solutions;
    iv)        And are locally-led rather than imposed from above or from outside the country.

For these reasons, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in collaboration with the In Transformation Initiative (ITI) have been working with the CAR’s Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation to provide training and support to the country’s network of Local Peace and Reconciliation Committees (LPRCs).  Between 14-15 January 2020, IJR and ITI convened a training workshop for participants of 12 such committees from across Bangui and its surrounds. This is the first activity in a project to support the Government’s strategic objective of providing CAR, by the year 2021, with a sustainable peace architecture that is inclusive and representative of citizens at the local, regional and national levels, capable of preventing and managing conflict, easing inter and intra-community tensions and able to contribute to consolidating peace and promoting national reconciliation and social cohesion.

Azou-Passonda, M. , Hong, W. , Mobogaina, Z. , Kossingou, G. and Baoro, S. (2019) The Failure of Peace Processes: The Specific Case of the Central African Republic. Open Journal of Political Science, 9, 472-489. doi: 10.4236/ojps.2019.93026