By Kevin Heath
The United Nations (UN) Security Council met and voted today on the escalating political crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). They voted unanimously to support all efforts to bring the violence to an end. One proposal of this is to consider boosting the Africa Union peacekeeping forces in the country and also to make it into a UN peacekeeping force.
The Security Council has asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit detailed proposals on how to support the African Union mission in 30 days. Those proposals could include the elevation of the force to a UN backed and mandated peacekeeper force.
What is of particular interest is that the resolution that was passed today makes a direct reference to the impact that the Seleka rebels are having on the natural resources of the country and in particular the poaching of wildlife which is fuelling the crisis.
The full details will need to be examined when Ban Ki-moon submits his report but the implication is that wildlife poaching could be included within any mandate if the AU force is bought under the UN mandate.
With much of the funding for the rebel forces coming from forest elephants then cutting off the source of finance by combatting the poaching (on both sides of the conflict) will be a major boost to stopping the devastation that is happening to Africa’s forest elephants.
The last UN peacekeeper deployment in Mali had the ability to take proactive action in order to protect cultural World Heritage Sites. At the UNESCO meeting earlier this year the UNESCO committee stated that they saw no reason why a UN mandate to protect wildlife should not be part of future peackeeping orders as the precedent had been set.
With a direct reference to ending the poaching and trafficking in today’s UN resolution it could be just weeks away before there is concrete international military action against poachers.