July 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 June 2008
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council will consider the structure and activities of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) based on the conclusions of the Council mission to the DRC on 7-8 June and the Secretary-General’s quarterly report. The mandate does not expire until 31 December. A Council presidential statement is therefore possible at this stage. Apart from changes in its structure, MONUC may expand its training program for Congolese forces and provide support for new peace initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Recent Developments
The Secretary-General’s report, expected in late June, may recommend a reconfiguration of troops in the east of the country, based on an assessment mission headed by the retired Canadian general and former UN military adviser, Maurice Baril. This may include moving the eastern focus of MONUC to Goma. Expanding training for the Congolese military is also a possibility.

On 19 June, MONUC reported relative calm in the west and several ceasefire violations in the east, where the conscription of children into armed groups continued. In North Kivu, clashes continued between the government army and the FDLR Rwandan Hutu militia.

Following renewed allegations of sexual abuse and smuggling by MONUC peacekeepers, the mission intends to appoint an independent panel to review its response. MONUC is currently investigating new allegations of sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers in North Kivu province. Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch accused peacekeeping officials and the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of covering up the results of its probe into peacekeepers’ bartering of weapons for gold with militias in eastern Congo in 2005.

MONUC reported on 17 June on abuses against civilians by DRC government troops, national police and militia. The report, which covered human rights assessments for April, said armed forces and police were among the main perpetrators. The report also said the government prosecuted five men for raping minors and sentenced them to jail from five years to 15 years.

On 13 June, MONUC released a report accusing the Congolese national police of killing prisoners, destroying 200 buildings and looting homes in a violent crackdown on a separatist sect in late February in which at least 100 people died. The investigation, led by the UN Office for Human Rights, was dismissed by a government spokesman as one-sided. In western Bas-Congo province, the police and a rapid intervention force were battling the ethnic-based political and religious movement, Bundu dia Kongo, accused of sedition and violent protests in an attempt to recreate a pre-colonial kingdom.

On 11 June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) suspended its first scheduled trial. The accused, Thomas Lubanga, a militia leader charged with conscripting child soldiers in eastern Congo, had been imprisoned by the ICC for two years. The judges said the prosecution had withheld “significant” exculpatory evidence from the defence. Lubanga could be released or tried at a later date. On May 24, Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice-president and leader of the country’s main opposition party, the Mouvement du Libération du Congo (MLC), was arrested by Belgian authorities near Brussels on the basis of an ICC warrant. He is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by troops under his command in Bangui in the neighbouring Central African Republic. Bemba is the fifth Congolese suspect charged by the ICC. Four suspects are in custody while one, Bosco Ntaganda, is still at large.

Key Issues
The Council has to balance the need to enhance MONUC’s capabilities while preparing for a future drawdown, according to a nine-page report by France’s ambassador, Jean-Maurice Ripert, issued after the Council’s mission to the DRC on 7-8 June.

The Council mission had questions about how quickly militia would disarm, and whether the government would restructure its military and bring to justice human rights violators among its military and police. It also recommended that financial support be given to the Goma peace process.

Options
One option is for the Council to approve a reconfiguration of MONUC following the Secretary-General’s report. However, none of the likely recommendations seem to require a formal change to the mandate or additional personnel. Another option is to issue a statement on the report, incorporating also some of the observations and recommendations of its visit to the DRC in June.

Council Dynamics
Council members are agreed on the need to continue MONUC as a robust operation and to institute cutbacks only gradually. The US is mindful of containing costs and is wary of adding additional duties to MONUC’s already extensive mandate. France is the lead country on the DRC.

Underlying Problems
While the risk of large-scale violence is contained in eastern Congo, largely because of the presence of MONUC and the progressive dismantling of many armed groups, this part of the country (especially Ituri province) is marked by unequal access to land and an unequal sharing of revenues from natural resources. Land-related tensions threaten to fuel new confrontations, especially in the light of confused property laws. The absence of accountable institutions and a professional military that would protect rather than abuse civilians remain key problems. “[A] state of almost total impunity for serious offences continues to prevail,” the Secretary-General wrote in his April report.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1807 (31 March 2008) lifted the arms embargo for government forces and strengthened measures related to aviation and customs.
  • S/RES/1804 (13 March 2008) demanded all members of Rwandan armed groups operating in eastern DRC lay down their arms, called upon DRC and Rwanda to implement commitments under the Nairobi communiqué, and asked states to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
  • 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/2008/2 (30 January 2008) commended the government and other parties for organizing the Goma conference on a ceasefire and disarmament of armed groups.

MONUC Report

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/218 (2 April 2008) was the 25th report on the DRC and, inter alia, warned that redeployment of MONUC to the east would risk creating security vacuums and increased tensions in other parts of the country.

Selected Sanctions Committee Document

  • S/2008/43 (11 February 2008) was the latest report of the Group of Experts for the DRC.
Other
  • S/2008/460 (15 July 2008) was the report of the Security Council mission to Africa.

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 April is 16,669 troops, 714 military observers, 1,093 police and 938 international civilian personnel.
  • Approved budget (1 July 2007-30 June 2008): $1,115.65 million

Duration

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

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