Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
Council members’ attention will be focused on the general elections, scheduled for 30 July. In the lead up, depending on developments on the ground, members may want to adopt a statement reinforcing the election process.
Before the end of the month, the Council is expected to renew the targeted sanctions and the arms embargo under resolutions 1616 and 1649. Members are also expected to receive the final report of the Group of Experts under resolution 1654 by 10 July and to renew the Group’s mandate by 31 July.
Consideration of a list of individual violators under resolution 1649 by the Sanctions Committee is possible.
A post-election strategy for the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) will also be on the minds of Council members. But discussions on this, as well as on the Secretary-General’s report on MONUC’s role vis-à-vis the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), are likely to be postponed until after the elections.
renewing the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts;
extending the sanctions regime as recommended by the Group of Experts to establish a traceability system for precious minerals, but this option is unlikely at the moment;
requesting further details on the traceability system from the Group; and
adopting a list of individual violators under resolution 1649, bearing in mind the requests in this regard from neighbouring states and the Congolese government.
The key issue before the Council is how best to ensure that the Congolese elections are successfully concluded and the transition period finalised, particularly given the potential for election-motivated violence. With this in mind, the Council will be cautious about any steps that might destabilise the situation.
An emerging issue is the conduct and discipline of Congolese forces, in view of recent reports of serious and persistent abuses against civilians and some unconfirmed reports of inappropriate use of force by MONUC.
The issues of MONUC’s post-election mandate and size, security sector reform and the disarmament of foreign armed groups loom large as issues to be considered after the elections.
A Council mission visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 10-12 June. On 16 June, the mission’s head, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, briefed the Council. He expressed a positive view on the prospects for orderly and fair elections. But the briefing also highlighted the challenges in the security situation, particularly given the potential for post-election violence from groups dissatisfied with the results. And the recent abduction of Nepalese MONUC peacekeepers underlines the challenges ahead.
Ahead of likely future Council negotiations on MONUC’s post-election strategy, the Ambassador highlighted that the elections “are not an end in themselves; they are a phase.” And the briefing also stressed some key post-election tasks such as concluding security sector reform efforts, solving the problem of armed groups in the east, and managing the administration of resources.
Observers note the increase in hate speech and the manipulation of nationalist feelings against “foreigners,” particularly Europeans and Rwandophones. Other concerns include a boycott by the main opposition party, the Union pour la démocratie et progrès social (UDPS). The party has recently organised demonstrations calling for negotiations on its inclusion in the polls.
In addition to MONUC, security in the electoral period in the DRC will be assisted by forces borrowed from the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) and by a Council-authorised European Union standby force (EUFOR DRCongo). EUFOR’s advance component is expected to be deployed by 15 July.
Regarding the sanctions regime, there is support in the Council for new individual sanctions against commanders of irregular armed groups in the DRC. This is seen as a response to a request from the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi under the Tripartite Plus One Joint Commission. Discussions are ongoing, and members are still working on their possible lists for submission to the sanctions committee.
But there is a sense that further action on armed groups, particularly in response to the issues raised in the report of the Secretary-General under resolution 1649, should be postponed until after the elections. Members now seem to be primarily focused on the challenges surrounding the elections.
Some members appear to be interested in discussing the recommendations of the Group of Experts. However, others seem to feel that this issue should also be postponed so as not to divert efforts away from the elections.
But the potential for division in the Council regarding MONUC’s situation after the elections is already on the minds of members. Some have made clear that the UN should be present in the DRC for the long run, and that premature withdrawals would be unacceptable. This view seems to have gained momentum since the deterioration of the security situation in Timor-Leste.
But inevitably, the traditional concerns of some members, the United States in particular, about the overall costs of peacekeeping are expected to come to the fore at some point.
The Tripartite Commission has made several requests for MONUC and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to forcibly disarm armed groups in the DRC.
In his report on foreign armed groups in the DRC, the Secretary-General indicated that dealing with such groups is primarily a responsibility of governments. The Secretariat has also indicated that MONUC’s first priority is the Congolese elections, and thus forcibly disarming those armed groups in response to regional requests would not be possible at this time. It also indicated that UNMIS does not have enough capability to combat LRA forces, against which the preferred course of action would be to improve information-sharing (with MONUC and UNMIS support) and regional coordination.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
For the historical background, please refer to our April 2006 Forecast Report.
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission|
|William Lacy Swing (US)|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $1,153.89 million million [or “$1.154 billion”] (gross)|
|30 November 1999 to present|