March 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2008
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the sanctions regime on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as the mandate of the Group of Experts, which both expire on 31 March. The Council is also expected to receive the next regular report of the Secretary-General on the UN Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in late March. MONUC’s mandate expires on 31 December.

Recent Developments
On 15 February, the Council adopted a resolution rolling over the DRC sanctions regime (arms embargo, aviation restrictions, assets freeze and travel ban) and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 31 March.

On 6 February, the Congolese authorities arrested and transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a former militia leader charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the north-eastern province of Ituri. Ngudjolo is the third ICC detainee from the DRC, following the arrests of Germain Katanga and Thomas Lubanga. The ICC Registrar thanked the DRC for having arrested Ngudjolo immediately after the tribunal issued a warrant.

On 23 January, the Group of Experts on the DRC submitted its latest report to the DRC Sanctions Committee, based on six weeks of investigations in the region. Among other issues, the report called for MONUC to strengthen its monitoring capacity in an effort to control arms flowing into the country and for the Kinshasa government to notify the UN of all incoming military shipments. However, Congolese authorities told the experts that they had no obligation to disclose such information. The Group also recommended that the Council ask the government and its international partners to restart “an effective” disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process for members of illegal armed groups.

On 22 February, the Congolese-Tutsi leader of the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), renegade General Laurent Nkunda, suspended the CNDP’s participation in the peace commission set up following the 23 January peace agreement reached between the DRC government and rebels operating in eastern DRC. Nkunda announced this in protest against UN allegations of the killing of at least thirty Hutu civilians by his insurgent forces last month, and has denied the allegations while calling for the allegations to be “verified by a mixed investigation” composed of the government, the UN and his forces. A CNDP spokesperson has stated that its recent action should not be taken to mean the Nkunda’s forces had withdrawn from the ceasefire agreement. This recent development occurred against a backdrop of challenges to the peace agreement posed by reported incidents of renewed fighting in eastern DRC. At press time, Nkunda’s forces had not resumed participation in the commission.

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Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how to streamline the sanctions regime, particularly its provisions concerning the notification process for arms transfers by the DRC government and its arms suppliers. This would send a signal of the Council’s support for the positive gains made in the country, while retaining a cautious approach in addressing the whole issue of sanctions. A related issue is the length of the renewal period for the sanctions as well as the mandate of the Group of Experts. Following up on resolution 1698, which extended sanctions to those responsible for abusing and recruiting children in armed conflict, is another issue, but it is unlikely to be taken up at the present time.

Options
Options before the Council include:

  • extension of the sanctions regime with modifications and extension of the mandate of the Group of Experts;
  • extension of the sanctions regime without any modifications (unlikely);
  • deferring consideration to April of the Secretary-General’s report that is due in March (likely);
  • consideration of the upcoming Secretary-General’s report and, possibly, issuing a Council statement; and
  • following up in the DRC Sanctions Committee on the grave concerns on the abuse of children voiced by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and imposing penalties on those deemed responsible. (This seems unlikely at this stage but may well be taken up after the “streamlining exercise” of the sanctions regime).

Council Dynamics
There appears to be a general consensus among Council members about keeping the framework of the sanctions regime in place while streamlining specific aspects in response to realities on the ground. The need to allow sufficient time to redesign the sanctions regime was the reason for the six-week rollover of both the sanctions and the Panel of Experts’ mandate. The focus seems to be on streamlining the arms embargo, such as attempting to simplify the notification process for the DRC government and its arms suppliers.

Both China and the US, which have supported the DRC government’s push for exemption from the arms embargo, appear for now to be comfortable with the present approach of the Council to this issue.

France is the lead country on DRC-related issues in the Council.

Underlying Problems
Weak state institutions, the illicit flow of arms, the continued presence of illegal armed groups and formidable socio-economic challenges continue to impede efforts at peacebuilding.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1799 (15 February 2008) renewed the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts until 31 March 2008.
  • S/RES/1794 (21 December 2007) renewed the mandate of MONUC until 31 December 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

  • S/PRST/2007/44 (21 November 2007) commended the DRC and Rwanda on their 9 November agreement (S/2007/649, annex) and urged full implementation.

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/2008/43 (11 February 2008) was the letter from the Chair of the DRC Sanctions Committee to the President of the Security Council conveying the latest report of the Group of Experts on the DRC.

 

Other Relevant Documents

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

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