May 2009 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
In April the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), due on 31 March. The mandate of MONUC expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
The situation, particularly in the eastern and northeastern regions, continues to be tense. The DRC government’s joint military operation with Uganda against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northeastern DRC has ended. The joint action with Rwanda against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda or FDLR) in eastern DRC has also ended. Rwandan troops withdrew at the end of February, and the Ugandan army commenced withdrawal on 16 March.

In mid March MONUC indicated that progress was continuing in the voluntary repatriation of former FDLR combatants and dependents, with more than 1,430 Rwandan rebels and their dependents having been sent home since January. This brought to a total of more than 5,700 Rwandan ex-combatants and civilians who had returned to Rwanda from northeastern DRC with UN assistance in recent months.

On 5 March former Mai Mai militia commander Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga and twenty other Mai Mai combatants were convicted by a Congolese military court of crimes including those against humanity. The court also ruled that the DRC government had civil liability for its failure to disarm the Mai Mai and awarded damages to victims. (Mutanga was the head of the Mai Mai militia that perpetrated brutal crimes in central Katanga, an area that became known as “the death triangle”.)

On 23 March the Congolese government and the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (Congrés national pour la defense du peuple or CNDP) signed a key political and security agreement in Goma. (The government and CNDP have been engaged in negotiations to end hostilities and set up a joint security programme in the Kivus for the past few months.) The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, Alan Doss, and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obansanjo, and his AU counterpart, Benjamin Mkapa, were present in Goma for the signing ceremony.

On 3 March the Council’s DRC Sanctions Committee added four individuals to its travel ban and assets freeze list: Callixte Mbarushimana, Stanislas Nzeyimana, Pacifique Ntawunguka, and Leopold Mujyambere. In an important development, the reasons for listing the last three included the abduction and sexual abuse of girls and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The Council had included child recruitment as well as violence against women and children as the basis for imposing individually targeted sanctions in resolutions 1698 of July 2006 and 1807 of March 2008, respectively. Despite MONUC’s earlier reports about these abuses continuing on a serious scale, the Sanctions Committee had not put anybody on the list for these reasons until now.

On 17 February the Council was briefed on the humanitarian situation in the DRC by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes. Subsequently, the president of the Council briefed the press on the Council’s concerns on the humanitarian situation in the eastern parts of the DRC, the priority being the protection of civilians. The Council president condemned brutal attacks by the LRA and called on governments to cooperate with MONUC planning and executing joint operations.

On 19 February the Secretary-General wrote to the Council to inform it about a revised concept of operations and rules of engagement for MONUC.

Key Issues
The key issue for Council members is whether recent developments are likely to improve security in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country.

The issue of civilian protection remains strongly in Council members’ minds in light of the violence of late 2008 and in the wake of DRC’s joint military operations with Rwanda against the FDLR and Uganda against the LRA. There are questions whether the joint military operations achieved the goals of containing the respective rebel movements. The joint operation between the DRC and Rwanda seems to have achieved its initial goal of dislodging the FDLR from its bases, but there are concerns that the departure of Rwandan troops was premature and may have created a security vacuum that will be exploited by the FDLR. The FDLR was reported to have launched new attacks against civilians and government positions in March. Efforts are reportedly underway for a joint operation between the DRC military and MONUC (Operation Kimia II) to address these attacks and this is likely to be an issue of major interest.

The joint operation with Uganda appears to have been less successful. It did not achieve its initial intention of permanently crippling the LRA, and there now seems to be a destabilised situation in the area with LRA still posing a threat. Reports of LRA attacks against civilians have continued during March. There is concern that the withdrawal of Ugandan troops will result in a further resurgence of LRA activity since the Congolese army does not appear to have adequate capacity to keep the rebels at bay.

Another issue is whether the Council will put additional political weight behind the UN’s efforts to generate additional troops with requisite logistical support to reinforce the capacity of MONUC to take rapid action to protect civilians. This is a measure that the Council authorised in November. Firm pledges have reportedly been made by Bangladesh, Egypt and Jordan to provide troops, and Belgium has offered one C-130 aircraft to MONUC. However, no additional troops have been sent to the field, and the failure to commit outstanding air assets (18 utility helicopters and an additional C-130 aircraft) threatens to undermine the intended mobility and rapid reaction capacity of the mission.

Options
Options before the Council include:

Council Dynamics
Council dynamics seem to suggest a pervasive wait and see attitude. Members appear inclined to monitor developments and shape subsequent decisions with reference to the Secretary-General’s new report.

Further action by the DRC Sanctions Committee to include new names on the sanctions list is unclear. Any decision of the Committee to impose sanctions requires the consensus of all its members. The inclusion of the recent names on the list resulted from an initiative jointly taken by Belgium, France, the UK and the US.

France is the lead country in the Council on the issue of the DRC.

Underlying Problems
The key challenges confronting the DRC continue to be weak state institutions, lack of full and effective state authority throughout its national territory, impunity, the security challenges posed by the operations of both foreign and local illegal armed groups, particularly in eastern and northeastern DRC, and their humanitarian consequences. There are also difficulties related to the repatriation of Congolese refugees from neighbouring countries like Tanzania, including housing and issues such as property or land disputes upon their return to the DRC.

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 and continued authorisation of the additional 3,085 troops for MONUC until 31 December 2009.
  • S/RES/1843 (20 November 2008) authorised the temporary deployment of an additional 3,085 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.
  • S/RES/1698 (31 July 2006), 1649 (21 December 2005) and 1596 (18 April 2005) strengthened sanctions, including provisions in resolution 1698 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 the LRA.
  • S/PRST/2008/40 (29 October 2008) condemned the offensive by the rebel CNDP 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 and requested a comprehensive analysis of the situation.

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

  • SC/9608 (3 March 2009) was the press release on the addition of four individuals to the assets freeze and travel ban list by the DRC Sanctions Committee.
  • S/2009/105 (19 February 2009) was the letter from Secretary-General informing the Council of the revised concept of operations and rules of engagement for MONUC.
  • S/PV.6083 (17 February 2009) was the briefing to the Council on the humanitarian situation in the DRC by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.
  • S/2009/52 (27 January 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General informing the president of the Council about difficulties being encountered in attempts to secure additional troops and capacities for MONUC.
  • SC/9576 (16 January 2009) was the press statement of the Security Council expressing concern about LRA activities.
  • SG/SM/12029 (30 December 2008) was the Secretary-General’s press statement on the LRA.
  • 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 Baki ─░lkin (Turkey)

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 28 February 2009: 16,589 troops, 728 military observers, 1,085 police, 956 international civilian personnel and 2,220 local civilian staff, 567 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 report