April 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 March 2007
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) by 15 April. It is unclear whether downsizing will be mandated. A further technical rollover is an option.

Progress is possible with targeted sanctions under resolutions 1649 and 1596. Members expect the second Group of Experts’ mid-term report by 20 April. The Sanctions Committee may also meet with the Group and the Secretariat to discuss conclusions of their reports on economic sanctions.

Key Recent Developments
The situation in the DRC remains fragile. Violent incidents were reported in February and March. Recruitment of child soldiers and widespread human rights violations by militia and Congolese security forces continue.

Supporters of President Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba clashed in western DRC in early February, leaving 77 dead, and again in late March in Kinshasa. In eastern DRC, fighting between Congolese armed forces and the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) flared, leading to the displacement of 10,000 persons.

The March report of the Secretary-General on MONUC contained recommendations on MONUC’s post-transition mandate:

  • contributing to security sector reform (SSR);
  • building a stable environment and protecting civilians;
  • consolidating democracy;
  • safeguarding human rights; and
  • providing support for the upcoming local elections.

Cautioning against immediate drawdown in view of the fragile security situation and upcoming elections, the report recommended a strength of 17,030 troops, 760 observers, 391 police advisers and 750 formed police until 31 December 2007. Drawdown benchmarks would be recommended in November 2007.

The report of the Group of Experts to the Sanctions Committee in late November 2006 indicates that there is a “clear geographical correlation” between militia activity and the exploitation of natural resources in eastern DRC. The report also underlined challenges from the lack of security and transparency, and widespread extortion from government officials.

The Group recommended:

  • imposing reporting obligations on Kinshasa regarding natural resources;
  • appointing a steering committee to oversee the formation of a control system, including a certification scheme; and
  • establishing a new targeted sanctions regime on the basis of violations of relevant Congolese law.

The Secretariat’s 9 February report on the effects of economic sanctions, however, concluded that targeted measures specifically for the DRC would have only marginal effect given the weak regulatory environment, the possible lack of enforcement and the availability of other agents to fill the vacuum. It cautioned against sanctions given that the government has only recently been elected and that there could be negative effects for local miners.

Instead, the report recommended public and private efforts to:

  • promote SSR and good governance;
  • ensure transparent and law-abiding business practices;
  • spearhead the formation of a cross-border commission; and
  • protect local miners.

Options
Options include:

  • approving the Secretary-General’s recommendations on force strength;
  • authorising more substantial downsizing to commence immediately;
  • endorsing a consolidation period of two to three years-on the model of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)-then phasing down according to progress with future benchmarks on security, governance and the consolidation of state authority;
  • revising MONUC’s mandate along the lines proposed by the Secretary-General in his MONUC report;
  • including assistance with natural resources management and good governance in the new MONUC mandate (commodity sanctions are unlikely, and there is some scepticism on the feasibility of the recommendations from the Group of Experts);
  • expressing support for regional cross-border cooperation on the illicit movement of combatants and resources as well as the return of foreign militia within the framework of the Great Lakes Conference; and
  • including additional names in the targeted sanctions lists. At press time, it seems that France, the UK and the US may propose a new list under resolutions 1649 and 1596.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how best to assist the Congolese government consolidate state authority, reform the security sector and improve governance.

A related issue therefore is the size and future mandate of MONUC. This will likely involve agreeing on a framework for MONUC’s future exit strategy while avoiding hasty cutbacks that could undermine the mission’s success.

A related key issue is whether and when to start downsizing MONUC, especially the supplemental contingents authorised in resolutions 1621, 1635 and 1736. Much will depend on assessments of the security situation in the DRC, bearing in mind that the electoral process will not be finalised until local elections later in the year, but members will be mindful of current global demands on peacekeeping resources.

Another concern is foreign combatants, especially whether to impose targeted sanctions under resolution 1649 and how best to continue to encourage countries in the region to cooperate.

A final issue is how best to proceed in light of the recommendations of the Group of Experts and the Secretary-General’s report on sanctions.

Council Dynamics
There is unity among Council members to continue MONUC as a robust operation. Most, especially African members, seem wary of cutbacks and would support maintaining MONUC’s size.

Other members, while sympathetic to the challenges confronting the DRC, would be mindful of the need to contain costs. It is unclear whether the US will push for immediate downsizing (particularly regarding the additional contingents) or accept current levels in the short run.

Most will want to be clear about the exit strategy before renewing MONUC and will look for a framework in that regard.

Discussions on the sanctions reports indicate that most Council members appear sympathetic to the view that there is a powerful link between natural resources and militia activity. However, there seems to be general scepticism about the appropriateness of commodity sanctions and the feasibility of the Group of Experts’ recommendations.

Most members seem more sympathetic to the Secretary-General’s observations and that the solution lies with the Congolese government and with international assistance. But there is also underlying concern with the possibility that the Secretary-General’s report may be used to discredit sanctions in general as a policy instrument.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1742 (15 February 2007) renewed MONUC until 15 April.
  • S/RES/1736 (22 December 2006) re-hatted ONUB troops as MONUC.
  • S/RES/1711 (29 September 2006) extended MONUC until 15 February.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006), 1649 (21 December 2005) and 1596 (3 May 2005) strengthened sanctions.
  • S/RES/1635 (28 October 2005) and 1621 (6 September 2006) authorised temporary increases in MONUC’s strength for the elections.
  • S/RES/1565 (1 October 2004) revised MONUC’s mandate set forth in S/RES/1493 (28 July 2003) and 1291(24 February 2000).
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2007/156 (22 March 2007) was the latest MONUC report.
  • S/2007/68 (8 February 2007) was the report on economic sanctions.
  • S/2006/310 (22 May 2006) was a report on foreign armed groups in the DRC.
Other Relevant Documents
  • SC/8949 (7 February 2007) was the press statement expressing concern with the violence in western DRC.
  • S/2007/40 (25 January 2007) was the latest Group of Experts report.

For full historical background, please refer to our April and September 2006 as well as February 2007 Forecasts.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
William Lacy Swing (US)
Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
  • Authorised strength: about 18,000 military and 1,316 police
  • Strength as of 28 February 2007: 17,342 military and 1,048 police
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uruguay
  • Cost: 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 US$ 1.138 billion
Duration
30 November 1999 to present, mandate expires on 15 April 2007

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast