February 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 January 2008
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as the mandate of the Group of Experts, which expire on 15 February.

Recent Developments
Violence eased in the eastern DRC provinces at the time of a peace conference in Goma, capital of North Kivu, from 6 to 22 January. The conference was supported by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC).

On 23 January, a peace agreement was signed between the DRC government and armed rebel groups (including Nkunda’s forces and the Mai Mai). The pact reportedly included provisions for:

  • an immediate ceasefire;
  • a phased withdrawal of all rebel forces (more than twenty such movements) from North Kivu and MONUC moving to former rebel positions to establish a buffer zone;
  • resettlement of thousands of villagers;
  • granting of amnesty in regard to insurrection against the government to all rebels, but no exemptions for human rights violations; and
  • establishing a technical commission, comprising Congolese officials and experts from the US, EU and AU (the sponsors of the peace talks) to oversee the integration of the rebels into the national army and the enforcement of a permanent ceasefire.

The agreement was silent on the status of General Nkunda. He had been accused of serious crimes by the DRC government and it remains to be seen how this aspect will play out. Another uncertainty is the impact on the Hutu rebel movements—Democratic Front for the Liberation Rwanda (FDLR) and the Interahamwe militia (forces that Nkunda claims to be protecting ethnic Tutsis from). It appears that a combination of the Goma agreement along with the agreement reached between the DRC and Rwanda on 9 November, where Kinshasa resolved to forcibly disarm and hand over to Kigali members of Hutu militia groups operating in eastern DRC suspected of responsibility for the 1994 Rwanda genocide, is expected to address this contentious issue.

At press time, the Council was discussing a statement welcoming the agreement, urging the implementation of its provisions and calling on the international community, in particular the neighbours, to support the new dynamic launched by the Goma conference.

On 14 December, the President of the Security Council referred to the DRC Sanctions Committee the “grave concerns” of the Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict regarding “repeated violations” of resolution 1612 by named persons in DRC.

On 21 December, the Council renewed MONUC’s mandate until 31 December 2008. The resolution expressed its intention to authorise MONUC by end of January to assist national authorities with local elections this year. At press time the Council was discussing a draft resolution authorising MONUC’s assistance to the elections.

In December, the Group of Experts submitted a brief confidential interim report on its activities to the Sanctions Committee. A full report was submitted to the Committee in late January.
 

Key Issues
The major sanctions issue is the length of the renewal period for the arms embargo, the government’s request for exemptions, travel ban and assets freeze and the mandate of the Group of Experts. An important issue (given that February will also be a month with specific focus on children in armed conflict) is a follow up to resolution 1698 on sanctions against those involved in recruiting or using children in the conflict, especially in light of recent reported violations in eastern DRC.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • renewing the current sanctions and mandate of the Group of Experts for another six months;
  • renewal of the sanctions and/or mandate of the Group of Experts for a more extended period (e.g. one year);
  • removing arms related restrictions on the DRC government; and
  • following up in the DRC Sanctions Committee the grave concerns expressed to the Committee by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and taking action with respect to the named persons.

Council Dynamics
Members appear comfortable with the renewal of the mandate of the Group of Experts and the sanctions regime, especially the travel ban and assets freeze. However, the length of the extension remains an open question because of the need to balance sanctions enforcement with the situation on the ground, including the government’s preference that the notification requirement on its arms acquisitions be removed. The US and China support early removal of arms restrictions on the DRC government, while other Council members generally have preferred a more cautious approach.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1794 (21 December 2007) renewed the mandate of MONUC until 31 December 2008.
  • S/RES/1771 (10 August 2007) renewed the sanctions regime, with some modifications to the arms embargo, and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 15 February 2008.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006), 1649 (21 December 2005) and 1596 (18 April 2005) strengthened sanctions.
  • S/Res/1533 (12 March 2004) established the Sanctions Committee and the Group of Experts.

Latest Presidential Statement

Selected Press Statement

  • SC/9113 (12 September 2007) expressed concern about violent clashes in eastern DRC.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2007/671 (14 November 2007) recommended MONUC’s renewal at current levels for one year.

Selected Secretary-General’s Letter

  • S/2007/586 (2 October 2007) was the Secretary-General’s letter informing the Council of his appointment of the latest Group of Experts.

Selected Letters from the DRC to the Council

  • S/2007/550 (18 September 2007) was a letter urging the Council to ask MONUC to help end impunity in eastern DRC.

Selected Sanctions Committee Document

  • S/AC.51/2008/4 (14 January 2008) is the letter of the President of the Security Council to the Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee.

Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee

Ambassador R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa (Indonesia)

Group of Experts

  • Abdoulaye Cissoko (Mali, aviation expert)
  • Caty Clément (Belgium, regional expert)
  • Amadou Hamidou (Niger, customs expert)
  • Ramón Miranda Ramos (Spain, arms expert and coordinator of the Group)
  • Gregory Salter (UK, finance expert)

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Alan Doss (UK)

MONUC Force Commander

Lieutenant-General Babacar Gaye (Senegal)

Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

  • Strength as of 30 November 2007: 17,396 military and 1,011 police
  • Main troop contributors: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uruguay
  • Approved budget (1 July 2007-30 June 2008): $1,166.72 million

Duration

30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2008

Full forecast