Expected Council Action
The Council continues to expect the Secretary-General’s recommendations on “how best to support efforts by states in the region to put an end to the activities of illegal armed groups.” The recommendations, requested by resolution 1653, have been the subject of delays and buck-passing within the Secretariat. But the Council seems determined that it does want a written report on the issue, including a possible role for UN missions in the region, particularly against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
A Council visiting mission to Sudan in early June may also have exchanges of views on the LRA issue and be briefed on a reported recent meeting in southern Sudan between Sudanese officials and LRA leader Joseph Kony.
Uganda and the LRA are also expected to arise in briefings in late May and again in late June by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland. Further discussion on related developments in northern Uganda is likely, including on the implications of the establishment of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), which the Council may want to welcome. A carefully balanced presidential statement on this seems a likely outcome.
Discussions on various initiatives, such as a Special Envoy or the establishment of a Panel of Experts, are possible. Formal action mandating the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) to take action against the LRA is unlikely in the near future.
Options available for Council members include:
presidential or press statements to mark important steps;
the appointment of a Special Envoy, Special Adviser or Personal Representative of the Secretary-General; or
a Panel of Experts on the LRA.
Taking up northern Uganda formally as a separate item on the Council’s agenda is unlikely but may remain as a fallback option, especially if progress with the JMC is not substantive.
The option of a formal decision to mandate UNMIS and MONUC to play a role seems unlikely in June.
The key issue that will be before the Council continues to be how to respond to the situation in northern Uganda, including the LRA, and its regional implications. Related to this is the mandate that could be given to an envoy, adviser, representative or panel of experts. Uganda has indicated a preference for an envoy to the region rather than a country-specific envoy, and is reluctant about the idea for a panel of experts.
For some members, a key issue is whether the Ugandan JMC initiative will address the root causes of the formation of the LRA, specifically the marginalisation of northerners politically and economically. Some members are concerned that, unless those causes are significantly addressed, progress on the regional security side will not be satisfactory.
A further issue is whether and when to mandate UNMIS and MONUC to engage the LRA, or to assist with executing arrest warrants for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Secretariat considers that UNMIS does not have the necessary capabilities to carry out operations against the LRA, and that MONUC’s first priority should be to provide security and assist with the Congolese elections.
The Council received a briefing from the Ugandan ministers of foreign affairs and defence on 19 April, and another briefing from Under-Secretary-General Egeland on 20 April. Council members also received a briefing from the Secretariat on the LRA on 26 April. A further meeting took place at the UK Mission on 27 April.
Uganda then indicated that it is currently working on a peace, recovery and development strategy of which the Emergency Plan and the JMC (formally launched on 4 May) would be part. The Plan has faced some criticism for lack of clarity on how returns and recovery will be promoted and on how the political marginalisation of the north will be addressed.
On the LRA, the Ugandan government proposed a number of measures including the development of a joint operational plan and a regional mechanism involving MONUC, UNMIS, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the authorisation of an international enforcement operation against the LRA. Uganda once again insisted that UNMIS and MONUC should be explicitly mandated to fight the LRA and execute ICC arrest warrants.
Some Council members indicated after the briefing that, despite welcoming the initiative, a political solution must be found for northern Uganda, and that Uganda could not continue to threaten to intervene in the DRC.
Kampala has expressed concern with the possibility of the LRA beginning to regroup again in the DRC. Most recently, together with Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, Uganda made a formal request that the AU submit names to the Council for sanctions under resolution 1649.
Fresh complaints of Ugandan incursions in the DRC in late April, which Kampala denied, were considered “credible” by MONUC and led to a communication from Kinshasa to the Council.
The Secretariat’s briefing on the LRA on 26 April highlighted the crucial importance of the issue of root causes and stressed Kampala’s primary responsibility for ensuring that those are addressed. Besides reiterating the constraints in UNMIS and MONUC capabilities, the briefing also stressed that a solution would entail the arrest of LRA leaders and the establishment of a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. Key points would also be information sharing and better regional coordination.
On 13 May, after a meeting with Sudanese officials, Uganda announced a two-month ultimatum for the LRA to surrender, citing readiness to guarantee the safety of LRA leader Joseph Kony. This initiative may or may not hint at wider political negotiations, its implications are unclear, particularly for ICC arrest warrants. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo stressed that Sudan, the DRC and Uganda have international obligations to give effect to ICC arrest warrants.
On 25 May there were media reports of a meeting in Sudan between Sudanese officials and Joseph Kony, at which the LRA leader said he was “ready for peace”. Observers note with scepticism whether either side is fully committed to this.
Council members remain divided on the issue of including northern Uganda formally in the Council’s agenda but there seems to be an acceptance for ongoing discussion at the informal level. Within the Core Group (comprising the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Norway) and the Council at large, there is sympathy with the Ugandan JMC efforts, but also concern that the plan may prove insufficient for solving the conflict and its root causes. Some members seem to favour the appointment of a Special Envoy or even a Panel of Experts.
There is wide concern, however, with accommodating Ugandan positions as far as possible, provided existing agenda items can be utilised as necessary for some Council response to important developments.
Others-especially China-have indicated unqualified support for Kampala’s position.
For some African members, if the Council is to express itself on the situation, it would be important to do so in a way that is sensitive to Ugandan concerns about its sovereignty, such as by designing the mandate of a Special Envoy in a way that does not arouse these sensitivities. The LRA issue is also perceived to be an important topic in which the contribution of regional mechanisms, such as the Tripartite Commission and the Great Lakes Summit, can play an important role.
On the role of the UN with regard to the LRA, there has been a general lack of clarity as to how the Council should respond. Most Council members are sensitive about overstretching MONUC and UNMIS in the next few months, particularly with the upcoming Congolese elections and the transition to a UN operation in Darfur.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions
|Selected Meeting Records
For the Historical Background, please refer to our April 2006 Update Report.
Human Rights Watch, “In Hope and Fear: Uganda’s Presidential and Parliamentary Polls” (February 2006) and “Uprooted and Forgotten: Impunity and Human Rights Abuses in Northern Uganda” (September 2005)