In 1960 the Central African Republic gained independence from France and for years the situation in the country remained relatively stable. Instability increased however following a movement of armed actors across the Chadian border and a failed coup attempt in 1982. Since then, the country has experienced several coups d’état, including a mutiny of the armed forces that led to the looting of the state’s arms depot in Bangui in 1996.1 Between 2004 and 2013, there were two civil wars in the country that resulted in proliferation of illegal weapons and ammunition among civilians and various armed groups undermining security and increasing the risks of accidents and violence.2 A civil conflict in the north-eastern Central African Republic escalated into a country-wide crisis and led to a critical breakdown of the security and stockpile management systems.3
In response to this situation, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) undertakes a weapons and ammunition safety management programme in the Central African Republic, providing support towards the development of operational capacities of the country’s defence and security forces. The national plan on fighting against the proliferation of SALW is currently under implementation, which is also supported by UNMAS.4 In order to improve security in the Central African Republic, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) has conducted training of personnel on stockpile management issues5.
The Central African Republic has recently demonstrated its commitment to international norms on arms control and to reinforcing its weapons and ammunition management framework. A national weapons and ammunition management baseline assessment was implemented in 2017 in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), UNMAS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The new national arms and ammunition legislation was developed with the support of international partners including MINUSCA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and adopted in 2020.6
1 Rojas Aravena, Francisco (2000): Chile Arms Procurement Decision Making. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/files/books/SIPRI00Singh/SIPRI00Singh02.pdf
2 Karp, Aaron (2009): Surplus Arms in South America. Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. https://www.smallarmssurvey.org/sites/default/files/resources/SAS-WP7-Surplus-Arms-in-South-America.pdf
3 Gacs, David, Rachel Glickhouse, Chase Harrison and Carin Zissis (2021, August 26): Explainer: Gun Laws in Latin America’s Largest Economies. AS COA News. https://www.as-coa.org/articles/explainer-gun-laws-latin-americas-largest-economies
4 Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (2021): Global Organized Crime Index. Chile. https://ocindex.net/country/chile
5 Alpers, Philip, Amélie Rossetti and Leonardo Goi (2022): Chile – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. GunPolicy.org. https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/chile
6 GICHD (2022): Ammunition Management Activity Platform. https://global.imsma.org/dashboards
Launch the country dashboard
Since the beginning of data collection in 1979 by the Small Arms Survey, no accidental explosions at ammunition storage areas were recorded in the Central African Republic.
Source: UEMS Database (December 2021), Small Arms Survey. Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS). https://smallarmssurvey.org/database/unplanned-explosions-munitions-sites-uems.
Cases of diversion
Several cases of diversion have been reported since 2013 in the Central African Republic (Table 1).
Table 1: Cases of diversion of arms, ammunition, and explosives in CAR since 2013
Throughout the country
The Séléka coalition seized significant amounts of arms and ammunition from government forces and stockpiles, which led to the seizure of power.
2013 - 2014
Bangui, Bambari, and throughout the country
Widespread dissemination through all the groups and civilians of arms and ammunition formerly held in the state’s stocks.
Source: Conflict Armament Research (2015). Non-state Armed Groups in the Central African Republic. https://www.conflictarm.com/reports/non-state-armed-groups-in-the-central-african-republic/
Since 2014, 247,116 explosive items encompassing 194 tons of commercial explosives and more than 2.4 million items of ammunition have been destroyed with the support of UNMAS. Besides, the latter carried out the destruction of 3,067 non-functional or obsolete weapons collected by MINUSCA under the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Resettlement (DDRR) National Programme.
Source: Central African Republic. UNMAS. September, 2022. https://www.unmas.org/en/programmes/centralafricanrepublic
To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following need has been identified for the Central African Republic:
• Capacity development for the destruction of surplus stockpiles, in particular – development and provision of cutting machines.
Source: PoA Report 2022, Central African Republic. https://unoda-poa.s3.amazonaws.com/reports/CAF-French-1251-SUBMITTED.pdf