I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Valentine Rugwabiza, and the Chair of the Central African Republic Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Omar Hilale, not only for their briefings but also for their precious work. I welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Central Africans Abroad of the Central African Republic (CAR).
Switzerland is pleased to read in the latest Report of the Secretary-General that the security situation in CAR has seen a slight improvement. After decades of conflict, any sign of peace is encouraging. At the same time, violence continues to weigh heavily on the Central African people. Civilians must be protected. It is their right. And it is the duty of each party to guarantee this protection.
I would like to emphasize three points:
First, Switzerland supports the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation (APPR) and its road map. The recent dissolution of four armed groups is a welcome step. We encourage the government to maintain a sincere dialogue with the armed groups; and neighboring countries to consolidate the security gains made. For peace to take hold, combatants must lay down their arms and return to civilian life in a sustainable manner. For peace to take hold, civil society, especially women, must be at the forefront in accompanying follow up of the APPR. We encourage MINUSCA to continue its efforts in this regard, particularly in terms of providing good offices. We remind the Central African government that its full support for the Mission remains essential to its success.
Second, the improvement in the security situation in some areas is offset by the intensification of violence in the West and North of the country. The dry season has arrived. Armed groups are once again more mobile and intensifying their activities, including the illicit exploitation of natural resources. Climate change is contributing to the modification of transhumance corridors and thus fueling conflicts between farmers and herders. As is often the case, it is the civilian population that pays the highest price. Armed groups continue to violate the physical and moral integrity of civilians and to recruit and use children. Switzerland condemns human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law. We call on all parties, including government forces, the Wagner group and armed groups, to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law.
Third, Switzerland is encouraged by the government's efforts to combat impunity, which is a necessary foundation for peace and the rule of law. We welcome the work of the Special Criminal Court, which has just rendered its first verdict for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The operationalization of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission also marks progress in dealing with the past. However, Switzerland is concerned about the spread of hate speech and the numerous arbitrary arrests and detentions by the defense and security forces. We encourage the Central African government to protect civic space and ensure inclusive democratic processes, including with the opposition. Respect for the independence of democratic institutions is fundamental to building trust between the people and the government.
Last year, Switzerland strengthened its engagement in the Central African Republic by opening an office in Bangui. This allows us to work more closely with the communities and with the Central African authorities. This is essential, because sustainable peace and development are built on the ground and by the people.
This principle will guide Switzerland during its seat on the Security Council. Together with all members, we will continue our efforts to advance lasting peace for all Central Africans.