January 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 December 2008
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
At the time of writing there was no scheduled action on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for January, but the Council will likely monitor developments closely.

Recent Developments
On 1 December, at a special session on the human rights situation in eastern DRC, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution expressing concern at the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in North Kivu. It called on all parties to comply fully with obligations under international law to ensure the protection of civilians, and condemned the violence and human rights violations taking place. It also stressed the need to strengthen the protection mandate of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC).

The Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, issued a statement after his mission to the Great Lakes Region from 23 November to 4 December expressing concern about massive international human rights and humanitarian law violations being committed in the DRC on the basis of ethnicity and national origin.

On 22 December the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1856 renewing MONUC’s mandate until 31 December 2009 and extending authorisation of an increase in troop levels. It clarified the mandate, in particular stressing protection of civilians as the most important priority. The Council also adopted resolution 1857 renewing the DRC sanctions regime and extending the mandate of the Group of Experts until 30 November 2009. Sanctions were expanded to target individuals impeding humanitarian assistance or supporting armed groups operating in eastern DRC through illicit trade of natural resources.

At the end of December the situation in eastern DRC was relatively calm, but remained precarious in zones controlled by the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP, or Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple). MONUC continued to reinforce its presence in the area and confirmed having more than 90 percent of its forces there. However, according to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, it would still take several months for the additional troops authorised by the Council to arrive. The Secretary-General reiterated his call for an EU “bridging force” to temporarily support MONUC. To date, while discussions continue, the Europeans have been unable to reach agreement on such a force.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, continued mediation efforts. Direct talks facilitated by Obasanjo and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, representing the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes, were convened in Nairobi in early December between representatives of the DRC government and CNDP. These talks focused on establishing a framework for future negotiations on substantive issues to stop the conflict in eastern DRC. However, neither Congolese President Joseph Kabila nor CNDP leader Laurent Nkunda were present. Other rebel groups were invited, but did not attend.

The talks were suspended after four days, then resumed on 17 December, but were suspended again on 21 December after having failed to produce any agreement. Obasanjo blamed lack of progress on the rebels as they did not seem to have decision-making power to negotiate and had insisted on discussing the situation in the whole country rather than in the east. At the last meeting of the talks CNDP refused to sign a joint declaration on cessation of hostilities that was accepted by the Congolese government representatives. The rebels reportedly also declined to recommit to the November ceasefire declaration. At the time of writing the talks were scheduled to resume again on 7 January.

On 5 December the governments of Rwanda and the DRC agreed on a joint military operational plan against the Rwandan rebel group based in the DRC, the FDLR, or Forces Démocratiques de la Libération du Rwanda. The agreement was signed in Goma by the foreign ministers of the two countries who also reaffirmed commitments to restore diplomatic relations.

The Group of Experts monitoring the sanctions regime accused both Rwanda and DRC of supporting rebels fighting in eastern DRC in their latest report to the Council. They found strong evidence that the Congolese army (FARDC) collaborated with FDLR. Furthermore, the report claimed that the Rwandan government had provided support for CNDP both by facilitating supply of military equipment and helping to recruit soldiers, including children, and sending officers and troops from the Rwandan army. In a letter to the Council, Rwanda rejected all the accusations and said the report constituted an attempt at shifting blame away from DRC and the international community for failures to resolve the crisis in the east. FDLR also denied collaborating with FARDC, as alleged in the report, and called on the Council to lift sanctions against their leaders.

In a separate development, forces from the DRC, Uganda, and southern Sudan launched a joint military operation against Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern DRC on 14 December, destroying the main LRA camp in the area. A statement said it was a preemptive strike to free hostages and capture or kill LRA leaders, including those under arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court. At a closed meeting on 17 December the Council was briefed by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the LRA-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano. He reportedly urged the Council to support the operation. Subsequently the Council adopted a presidential statement 22 December welcoming “joint efforts” by the states in the region to address security threats posed by the LRA. topfull forecast

Key Issues
It remains to be seen whether MONUC’s revised mandate will resolve some of the practical issues that arose for force commanders in November. A key issue is ensuring that the mission is adequately equipped to implement the provisions. As an EU bridging force appears increasingly unlikely, an important question remains how to get additional troops on the ground quickly.

A second key issue is the need to encourage a political solution to the regional dimensions of the conflict in eastern DRC as evidenced again by the report from the Group of Experts. A related issue is whether current mediation efforts are sufficient and whether they may need increased leverage from the Council.

Illegal exploitation of natural resources is a third issue that fuels the instability. The Group of Experts on the DRC confirmed that rebel groups operating in the east are largely financed by illegal trade of minerals, and that elements of the Congolese army are also involved in this trade. In addition to authorising MONUC to take action to prevent support to rebel groups derived from illicit trade in natural resources when it revised the mission’s mandate, the Council also called for international cooperation to establish a plan for effective control over exploration of natural resources. topfull forecast

Options
Options for the Council in January include:

  • supporting the mediation in eastern DRC by deciding to send a small high-level Council mission to the region and mobilising influential global and regional players to put pressure on both Rwanda and the DRC to stop any support to rebel groups and assist in their demobilisation; and
  • formally encouraging troop contributions by UN member states, either to reinforce MONUC or to a separate short-term force and Council members acting in their national capacities to lobby for such contributions in capitals.

In the DRC Sanctions Committee, Council members could begin revising the consolidated travel ban and assets freeze list. Proposals are on the table. The Group of Experts submitted proposals to the Committee in that regard in a confidential annex to its report. The other recommendations in the report could be addressed as well. topfull forecast

Council and Wider Dynamics
The Council overcame one of its major differences on MONUC’s mandate with the agreement reached in November on the need for additional troops. Negotiations both on the mandate renewal and sanctions were therefore fairly smooth.

The Secretary-General’s request for a bridging force to support MONUC has created internal tensions in the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on 12 December that African and not EU troops should be sent to reinforce MONUC. The UK, which until 1 January was in charge of one of the two rapid-reaction European battle groups that could be deployed, argues that the first priority must be to reinforce MONUC. The UK also maintains that the battle group was never designed for DRC-type operations and that it is important to keep a single chain of command. Belgium has been the chief advocate of European intervention, offering to contribute several hundred troops, but prefers not to take the lead because of its colonial past. Given the lack of support from major EU countries to deploy one of the battle groups, the possibility of an ad hoc European force is reportedly being explored, but this would take time and there is no obvious candidate to take the lead. topfull forecast

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1857 (22 December 2008) renewed the sanctions regime for DRC and extended the mandate of the Group of Experts until 30 November.
  • S/RES/1856 (22 December 2008) renewed MONUC’s mandate until 31 December 2009.
  • S/RES/1843 (20 November 2008) authorised the temporary deployment of additional troops to reinforce MONUC’s capacity.
  • 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.

Latest Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/48 (22 December 2008) welcomed regional efforts to address the security threat posed by LRA.
  • S/PRST/2008/40 (29 October 2008) condemned the rebel CNDP offensive in the eastern region of the DRC and noted the request for reinforcement of MONUC.
  • 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/2008/728 (18 November 2008) was the fourth special report on the DRC.

Selected Sanctions Committee Document

  • S/2008/773 (12 December 2008) was the latest report of the Group of Experts for the DRC.

Other

  • S/2008/791 (15 December 2008) was the response from Rwanda to the accusations of the Group of Experts for the DRC
  • S-8/1 (1 December 2008) was the resolution adopted by the Special Session of the Human Rights Council.

Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee

Ambassador R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa (Indonesia) (outgoing as of 31 December)

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 Interim Force Commander

Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye (Senegal)

Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

  • Strength as of 31 October 2009: 16,702 troops, 723 military observers, 1,090 police, 961 international civilian personnel and 2,159 local civilian staff, 565 UN volunteers.
  • Approved budget (1 July 2008-30 June 2009): $1,242.73 million

Duration

30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2009.

Full forecast