May 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2009
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of its trip to Africa, at press time scheduled from 14 to 21 May. There was no Council meeting scheduled at press time. But the DRC Sanctions Committee is expected to consider the interim report of the Group of Experts due on 15 May. (The DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the UN Organisation Mission in the DRC (MONUC) expire on 30 November and 31 December respectively.)

Key Recent Developments
On 9 April the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, Alan Doss, presented the latest report of the Secretary-General to the Council. Doss said that significant security changes in eastern DRC had resulted from the decision by the rebel Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) and other armed groups to end the conflict in eastern DRC. Improved relations between the DRC and Rwanda had also been a major contribution.

Doss noted that security challenges persisted. Other rebel groups continued to wreak havoc in the northeastern region. This stemmed from the reprisal attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and attacks in eastern DRC by the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). Another major challenge facing DRC and MONUC was integrating former rebels and militiamen into Congolese government forces.

Doss informed the Council about operations Kimia II and Rudia II, involving MONUC’s logistical and material assistance to Congolese government forces fighting the FDLR and the LRA. He also updated the Council on the efforts by the DRC Independent Electoral Commission to update the voter register required for the local elections by June. (The Secretary-General’s report had indicated that it would be difficult to delay the local elections. If they were not held in 2009, the alternative of conducting joint national and local elections in 2011 was not “operationally feasible,” the report said.)

Following the briefing by Doss, the Council issued a press statement:

  • commending the improvement of relations among the countries in the region;
  • encouraging their continued cooperation;
  • warning that operations against illegal armed groups should be planned jointly with MONUC; and
  • welcoming the announcement on 23 March of the agreement reached between the Congolese government and the CNDP.

The statement also stressed the importance of security sector reform. The Council also supported joint operations by Congolese government forces and MONUC against the FDLR, the LRA and other armed groups and welcomed progress achieved in the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration programme. It also looked forward to the organisation of transparent local elections.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, visited DRC from 14 to 21 April to assess the situation of children in the eastern conflict areas. Her visit focused on child recruitment by armed groups, sexual violence against children and impunity for violations of the rights of children. She met with DRC’s defence minister and army generals and received commitments from government forces and armed groups for the release of children and their reintegration into their communities. She reported ongoing concern that many child soldiers were being passed into the ranks of the newly integrated brigades of the government forces. Her meeting with commanders of integrated Mai Mai militias in Masisi resulted in the immediate release of four children. Since January, about 1,300 child soldiers have been demobilised from various armed groups in the province of North Kivu.

Key Issues
During its visit to the DRC, in addition to the overall issue of the implementation of MONUC’s mandate, the Council is likely to focus on ways to keep up the momentum in the rapprochement between the DRC and Rwanda. Other key issues are likely to be the preparations for the next elections, concerns about sexual violence and impunity and the issue of demobilisation, disarming and reintegration of combatants.

Another issue is whether the Council will put additional political weight behind UN efforts to generate additional capacities authorised by the Council in November 2008 to reinforce the rapid reaction capacity of MONUC to protect civilians. Doss had underlined the importance of the additional capacities during his 9 April briefing to the Council and said that none had yet arrived in the DRC.

The key focus for the DRC Sanctions Committee will be the current state of implementation of the sanctions regime. Illegal exploitation of natural resources and arms trafficking remain crucial elements fuelling the instability in DRC.

Options
Options for the Council in May include:

  • encouraging the DRC’s government to adhere to the peace process during its visit to the country in May, including through collaboration with the work of MONUC, organising local elections soon and improving mutual cooperation with neighbouring countries, particularly Rwanda and Uganda. The Council may also express concern about the protection of civilians, an end to impunity and possible Council sanctions against those deemed culpable;
  • the Sanctions Committee adding new names of individuals and entities impeding the peace process to its sanctions list, in accordance with resolution 1857 (which renewed the sanctions regime in December); and
  • issuing a statement encouraging member states to provide the additional capacities (especially additional aircraft and helicopters) required by MONUC as a matter of urgency (at press time no additional troops and capacities authorised by the Council in November were on the ground).

Council Dynamics
Council members appear to be taking a low key attitude on the DRC. France takes the lead and tries to keep up the momentum but even with the scheduled visit, there seems to be a sense of a DRC fatigue. This is most marked in the Sanctions Committee, which has been very slow in developing lists of individuals to be targeted with sanctions.

Council members seem content to monitor developments regarding the FDLR and LRA. It remains to be seen if the upcoming Council visit to the DRC will stimulate new enthusiasm.

Underlying Problems
The key challenges include weak state institutions, the illicit flow of arms, the continued presence of illegal armed groups and formidable socioeconomic challenges which greatly impede efforts of peacebuilding.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1857 (22 December 2008) renewed the sanctions regime for the DRC and extended the Group of Experts’ mandate 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.

Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2009/160 (27 March 2009) was the latest report on the DRC.

Other

  • SC/9633 (9 April 2009) was the latest Council press release on the situation in the DRC.
  • 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 the 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 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/2008/773 (10 December 2008) was the latest report of the Group of Experts for the DRC.
  • S-8/1 (1 December 2008) was the resolution on DRC 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

  • Christian B. Dietrich, USA (aviation)
  • Claudio Gramizzi, Italy (arms)
  • Dinesh Mahtani, UK (finance expert and coordinator of the Group)
  • Mouctar Kokouma Diallo, Guinea (customs expert)
  • Raymond Debelle, Belgium (regional 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 March 2009: 16,601 troops, 737 military observers, 1,093 police, 965 international civilian personnel and 2,251 local civilian staff, 578 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

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