November 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2008
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The dramatic developments in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suggest that the Council will continue to watch the situation closely. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Council will agree to include the issue in the Council’s November programme of work. (Further discussions seem to be warranted especially in view of the regional implications and the grave risks for civilians in the light of the history of genocide in the region and the regional/ethnic roots of the problem.) It also remains to be seen how DRC issues will be featured by members in their statements in the thematic debate on protection of civilians in November.

The DRC Sanctions Committee expects to receive the final report of the Group of Experts monitoring the sanctions regime in late November. (The report had been originally expected on 15 November, in line with resolution 1807 of 31 March.)

Key Recent Developments
Initial armed clashes in the eastern DRC have escalated into all-out war. Several towns and camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) were overrun and the provincial capital of Goma was under imminent threat with the armed forces of the DRC (Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, or FARDC) fleeing the city in disarray. At press time, rebel general Laurent Nkunda who heads the National Congress for the Defence of the People (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, or CNDP) declared a unilateral ceasefire. There are reports of direct involvement in the fighting by UN peacekeepers.

Tensions between the DRC and Rwanda have grown since early October and seem to have escalated into direct exchanges and fire across the border. The DRC government alleges that Rwandan government forces have lent their support to the CNDP. The Rwandan government alleges government support of “forces of genocide” comprising the former Armed Forces of Rwanda (ex-FAR) and the extremist militia Hutu forces (Interahamwe) and the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda, or the FDLR). (The ex-FAR was the army of the ethnic Hutu-dominated Rwandan regime during the genocide in 1994. The Interahamwe was the civilian militia force that carried out much of the killing during the genocide.) In 2000 the FDLR was formed as a successor to the Hutu exiles’ driven Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) which was made up of ex-FAR and Interahamwe members.

Nkunda’s CNDP was formed in 2004 originally to protect Congolese Tutsis residing in eastern DRC from attacks by ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR, although Nkunda has in recent times called for a national insurrection against the incumbent Congolese government. (For recent background details on these issues please see our 14 October Update Report.) In a letter to the president of the Council on 14 October, the Rwandan ambassador to the UN conveyed his government’s allegations of collaboration between the FARDC and the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and the FDLR. On 15 October the ambassador requested the Council to condemn the alleged collaboration between the Armed Forces of the DRC and the ex-FAR Interahamwe/FDLR, sanction five FARDC commanders “directly involved in the most recent collaboration with the forces of genocide”, and suspend the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) support to the FARDC “until there is a verified end to the FARDC/FDLR co-location and collaboration.”

On 21 October the Council adopted a presidential statement which:

  • expressed concern about the resurgence of violence in the eastern parts of the DRC and its humanitarian consequences;
  • welcomed the intention of MONUC to reconfigure its forces to optimise their deployment within the current troop ceiling and mandate;
  • noted (but did not approve) the reinforcements requested in early October by Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUC, Alan Doss;
  • requested a comprehensive analysis of the situation from the Secretary-General and recommendations for the renewal of MONUC’s mandate in the next report for the Council’s consideration;
  • condemned recent calls by Nkunda for a national insurrection;
  • urged the Congolese government to take effective steps to ensure that there is no cooperation between elements of the FARDC and the FDLR.
  • called on the governments in the region to cease all support to the armed groups in the eastern DRC;
  • encouraged the Secretary-General to step up his efforts to facilitate dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda;
  • urged the governments of the DRC and Rwanda to engage in efforts to settle their differences; and
  • condemned the recent attacks by the LRA and made reference to the International Criminal Court’s indictments against the LRA leadership.

Over the weekend of 25 October Nkunda’s forces captured a major Congolese army base at Rumangabo and the headquarters of Virunga National Park. On 26 October the UN accused Nkunda’s soldiers of firing rockets at two UN vehicles, injuring several peacekeepers. The accusation was denied by a spokesman for Nkunda.

On 27 and 28 October Congolese protesters attacked the UN’s headquarters in Goma over what they saw as insufficient protection for them and support to Congolese government forces against the offensive by Nkunda’s forces. Thousands of refugees displaced by the fighting have reportedly moved into Goma. UN peacekeepers were reported to have deployed to battle the rebels, using UN helicopter gunships and ground forces against the rebels in Rumangabo. The rationale for this action may have been to protect IDPs in the area—but that remains unclear. Nkunda’s army seems to have forced the national army to withdraw from Kimbumba and was reported to be advancing on Goma.

On 27 October Lieutenant General Vicente Diaz de Villegas y Herrería of Spain indicated that he would relinquish his post citing personal reasons (he had been appointed as force commander for MONUC seven weeks before). Brigadier General Ishmeel Ben Quartey of Ghana was named to serve as Acting Force Commander until a successor to Diaz was appointed.

On 28 October the Security Council was briefed in private consultations by the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy on the security situation in the eastern provinces of the DRC. He reportedly informed the Council that the situation on the ground was very critical, with Nkunda’s forces having advanced within a few kilometres of Goma. Le Roy emphasised the request that had been made in early October by Doss for reinforcements for MONUC. He suggested that a political solution involving all the parties was critical. Apparently there was some discussion of the Secretary-General appointing a special envoy to directly engage the DRC and Rwanda. Le Roy also discussed possible options for a multinational force being deployed to assist in securing Goma.

Speaking to the media on 28 October, the president of the Council indicated that during the meeting Council members:

  • expressed grave concern at the resurgence of violence in eastern DRC and strongly condemned the “offensive operations”;
  • urged all parties to immediately observe a ceasefire and to implement the disengagement plan;
  • expressed deep concern over the humanitarian consequences of the recent fighting and its negative implications for regional peace and stability;
  • reiterated the need for all parties to the Goma and Nairobi agreements to implement them effectively; and
  • expressed support for the peacemaking efforts of the Secretary-General and MONUC in the DRC, and called on the relevant parties to cooperate with MONUC to achieve peace and stability in the country and the Great Lakes region.

On 29 October 2008, Council adopted a presidential statement which:

  • condemned the CNDP offensive in the eastern DRC and demanded that it bring its operations to an end. The Council welcomed the announcement by Laurent Nkunda of an immediate ceasefire and anticipated that he would ensure its effective and durable implementation, and the CNDP’s reengagement in the Goma process;
  • expressed its grave concern about the dramatic humanitarian consequences of the fighting and urged all parties to respect fully their obligations under international law to protect civilians;
  • urged all the signatories to the Goma and Nairobi processes to implement their commitments effectively and in good faith and called on the DRC and Rwandan authorities to take concrete steps to defuse tensions and to restore stability in the region;
  • supported the efforts of the Secretary General to facilitate dialogue between the leaders of the DRC and Rwanda and encouraged him to send a special envoy tasked with this mission as soon as possible;
  • urged the Government of the DRC to take effective steps to ensure that there is no cooperation between elements of the FARDC and the FDLR and called upon the Governments of the region to cease all support to the armed groups in the eastern region of the DRC;
  • expressed its concern at the reports of heavy weapons fire across the DRC-Rwanda border and reiterates its determination to continue to monitor closely the implementation of the arms embargo and other measures as set out in its resolution 1807;
  • expressed its full support for MONUC and condemned all attacks launched against MONUC and called on MONUC to continue to implement fully its mandate, in all its aspects, especailly “by robust actions to protect civilians at risk and to deter any attempt to threaten the political process by any armed group”; and
  • noted the request by the UN Secretariat for reinforcement of the MONUC and indicated that Council would “study expeditiously that request in view of the developments of the situation on the ground.”

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is the dangerous situation in the DRC, with its worrying humanitarian implications, and the related issues for the Great Lakes region as a whole. Related issues include urgent protection of civilians requirements and the concerns and role of Rwanda.

The underlying problem is that, despite the agreements which have led to relative stability in western DRC, in the east the Tutsi minority still feels extremely insecure due to lack of accommodations of their concerns by Kinshasa and the presence in the region of the illegal Hutu elements from Rwanda who had perpetrated the genocide against their Tutsi cousins in that country. This situation has fueled the Nkunda rebellion. Equally serious is the problem of relocating Hutu back to Rwanda because of the unwillingness there to make some political accommodations.

Options
Options for the Council members include:

  • agree to include either DRC or the Great Lakes as an item in the programme of work as a signal of its seriousness on the issue and determination to take further action;
  • use their interventions in the November debate on protection of civilians to highlight the problem in eastern DRC;
  • initiate discussions immediately on the request made by Doss for reinforcements for MONUC and on elements for a draft resolution authorising a multinational force, should that become a more feasible immediate option;
  • develop an initiative to produce a comprehensive political solution to the regional tension involving not only the good offices of the Secretary-General but also more active leadership from the Council and close cooperation with the AU (this might include pressing Kinshasa to accept the need for a formal ceasefire and a negotiated solution with Nkunda followed by a real solution to the ex-FAR/FDLR problem—thereby removing justifications cited by Nkunda and the Rwandan government for their positions). Pressure on Kigali to use its influence with Nkunda to get a reasonable ceasefire is also critical along with pressure for some reforms to improve the comfort level of moderate Hutu;
  • in view of the situation confronting civilians and the history of genocide in the area to encourage the Secretary-General to use his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide as a part of any high-level team sent to the region; and
  • in their capacities as members of the Sanctions Committee to explore possible measures against individuals responsible for attacks on civilians and creating lists of individuals to be targeted with sanctions for recruiting and using child soldiers, and targeting women or children for violence, including sexual crimes, in line with its resolutions 1698 of July 2006 and 1807 of March 2008 respectively.

Council Dynamics
Council members’ caution in early October about Doss’ request for temporary additional troops for MONUC is now coming back to haunt them. It seems that only France was really sympathetic to Doss’ request.

The willingness to discount the Special Representative’s warnings seems to have been related to the general hesitancy among Council members about the feasibility of obtaining requisite funding and additional troops to meet such requests. The escalation of the conflict in eastern DRC and the mounting tension between Kinshasa and Kigali now seems likely to make some sort of intervention inevitable and probably at much greater financial cost than would have been the case.

Council members also refrained in their 21 October presidential statement from directly addressing the underlying political issues. They seemed to prefer to address the problem indirectly.

The DRC Sanctions Committee members (comprising all 15 Council members) seem to accept the request from the Group of Experts for a delay in its next report, especially since this could result in receiving a much more comprehensive document and also because the request was dictated by practical (and not political) considerations. Agreement to the delay is also, reportedly, due in part to an understanding that the Group of Experts’ report would be submitted before intensive consideration begins on the review of the DRC sanctions regime in December, as stipulated in resolution 1807.

Underlying Problems
The continued presence of illegal armed groups, especially those originating in Rwanda and responsible for 1994 genocide remain a key problem which exacerbates the insecurity felt by the Tutsi community which is protected by Nkunda forces. Weak state institutions, the illicit flow of arms and formidable socioeconomic challenges also continue to impede efforts at peacebuilding in the DRC.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1820 (19 June 2008) on women, peace and security indicated the Council’s intention to consider the “appropriateness of targeted and graduated measures” against parties who committed acts of violence towards women and girls in situations of conflict.
  • S/RES/1807 (31 March 2008) lifted the arms embargo for government forces, strengthened measures related to aviation and customs, renewed until 31 December 2008 the sanctions regime on the DRC and extended the mandate of the Group of Experts for the same period.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006), 1649 (21 December 2005) and 1596 (18 April 2005) strengthened sanctions, including, in resolution 1698, provisions against actors recruiting and using children in armed conflict in the DRC.
  • S/RES/1533 (12 March 2004) established the Sanctions Committee and the Group of Experts.

Latest Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/40 (29 October 2008) condemned the rebel CNDP offensive in the eastern region of the DRC and demanded that it ends its operations, welcomed the announcement by Nkunda of an immediate ceasefire, noted the request for reinforcement of the MONUC made by the UN Secretariat and indicated that it would “study expeditiously that request in view of the developments of the situation on the ground.”

  • S/PRST/2008/38 (21 October 2008) expressed concern about the resurgence of violence in the eastern parts of the DRC, requested a comprehensive analysis of the situation from the Secretary-General and recommendations for the renewal of MONUC’s mandate in the next report for the Council’s consideration.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/433 (3 July 2008) was the latest (twenty-sixth) report on the DRC.

Selected Sanctions Committee Document

  • S/2008/43 (11 February 2008) was the latest report of the Group of Experts for the DRC.

Other

  • S/2008/652 (15 October 2008) was a letter from the Rwandan ambassador to the UN to the president of the Council conveying the Rwanda government’s request to the Council to condemn the collaboration between the Armed Forces of the DRC and the Ex-FAR Interahamwe/FDLR, sanction implicated FARDC commanders and suspend MONUC support to the FARDC.
  • S/2008/649 (14 October 2008) was a letter from the Rwandan ambassador to the UN to the president of the Council conveying the Rwanda governments’ allegations of collaboration between the Armed Forces of the DRC and the Ex-FAR Interahamwe/FDLR.
  • S/2008/526 (6 August 2008) was the letter from the Secretary-General informing the president of the Council about his appointment of two people to replace the arms and aviation experts of the Group of Experts on the DRC for the remainder of the Group’s current mandate.
  • S/2008/312 (9 May 2008) was the letter from the Secretary-General informing the president of the Council about his appointment of six persons to serve on the Group of Experts.
  • SC/9312 (28 April 2008) was the press release on the DRC Sanctions Committee delisting of Kisoni Kambale from its consolidated list on assets freezes and travel bans.
  • S/AC.51/2008/4 (14 January 2008) was the letter from the president of the Council to the Chair of the DRC Sanctions Committee following up on the recommendations of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee

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

Group of Experts

  • Sergio Finardi (Italy, aviation expert)
  • Jason Stearns (USA, regional expert and Coordinator of the Group)
  • Mouctar Kokouma Diallo (Guinea, customs expert)
  • Peter Danssaert (Belgium, arms expert)
  • Dinesh Mahtani (UK, finance expert)

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Alan Doss (UK)

MONUC Acting Force Commander

Brigadier General Ishmeel Ben Quartey (Ghana)

Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

  • Strength as of 30 August: 16,668 troops, 670 military observers, 1,051 police, 937 international civilian personnel and 2,120 local civilian staff.
  • Approved budget (1 July 2008-30 June 2009): $1,242.73 million

Duration

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

Full forecast