Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
A closed oral briefing from the Secretariat at expert level for Council members and MONUC troop and police contributors is expected. Implementation of a protection strategy and the Secretariat’s emerging Integrated Strategic Framework will be the focus. This is likely to lead into discussions in coming weeks on the future configuration for MONUC. The February briefing may also include an update on military operations in eastern DRC.
Also in February, a UN Technical Assessment Mission is expected to visit the DRC. A briefing upon its return is possible.
Key Recent Developments
On 23 December 2009 the Council adopted resolution 1906 extending the deployment of the UN Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) until 31 May 2010. The short five month renewal represents a broad consensus that a major review of MONUC’s role is now essential and is also in part an effort to show sensitivity to the growing concern from Kinshasa about MONUC’s presence. President Kabila has called for a plan to withdraw MONUC troops prior to 30 June (the 50th anniversary of the DRC’s independence). The resolution prioritises MONUC’s mandate to focus specifically on the protection of civilians. It also prioritises disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of Congolese armed groups and repatriation and resettlement of foreign armed groups and highlights the need for security sector reform (SSR). The resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide recommendations by 1 April on adjustments to MONUC’s mandate to enable changes but without risking instability.
The resolution urges the DRC government to implement the “zero-tolerance policy” for human rights violations committed by elements of the DRC army. While requesting MONUC to continue to support army operations against militias in eastern DRC, the resolution also calls upon MONUC to withdraw support from army units linked to serious violations of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
On 16 December 2009 the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUC, Alan Doss, briefed the Council. Doss said Kimia II—the joint Army/MONUC operation to disrupt and disperse the Rwanda Hutu rebel Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in eastern DRC—had largely met its objectives, though not without serious and tragic humanitarian consequences. The FDLR remained a potent threat, he said. Kimia II ended on 31 December 2009.
In January the joint team of MONUC and the DRC armed forces (FARDC) began Amani Leo, a new operation to protect civilians, hold territory taken from armed groups and help restore state authority in these areas. It is also to conduct targeted operations against remaining elements of the FDLR. MONUC will support FARDC units provided operations are jointly planned with MONUC and are real protection operations conducted in accordance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
On 13 December 2009 a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the deliberate killing of 1,400 civilians between January and September 2009 by government and rebel forces in eastern DRC during Kimia II and its predecessor operation. A further 7,500 cases of sexual violence against women and girls were reported across the Kivus during the same period, nearly double that of 2008. HRW said MONUC’s support to the DRC military implicated it in these abuses and undermined the mission’s primary objective to protect civilians. The report recommended creating and deploying a civilian protection expert group to provide specific recommendations on how to improve civilian protection in eastern DRC.
On 16 December 2009 the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, said that UN peacekeepers should not cooperate with a military operation led by individuals accused of war crimes. Alston named two DRC army commanders who remain in their posts, Innocent Zimurinda and Bosco Ntaganda, who are facing serious accusations of human rights violations. (An arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is outstanding against Ntaganda.) Alston called on MONUC to make public the terms of any conditionality policy which it currently implements and to ensure adequate monitoring guarantees.
In December 2009, the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) reportedly killed 83 civilians in the Haut-Uélé district of Orientale province. A further 160 civilians including 17 children were abducted. In early January four civilians were reportedly killed near Dungu, Orientale province.
In 2009 more than 1,500 FDLR ex-combatants and more than 2,000 dependents were voluntarily repatriated. Nearly 15,000 Rwandan civilians were also repatriated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In mid-January, UNHCR reported 107,000 refugees from Equateur province since early November. A further 17,000 had crossed into the Central African Republic (CAR) following interethnic fighting in late October.
On 7 January Thomas Lubanga Dyilo’s defence began at the ICC. Lubanga faces two counts of war crimes: enlisting and conscripting child soldiers and using them in hostilities in the DRC. The trial started on 26 January 2009.
The DRC was considered as part of the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council (HRC), with an outcome adopted by the Working Group of the HRC on 7 December 2009. The DRC, represented by its Minister for Human Rights, accepted a large majority of the recommendations made by participants in the Working Group, including the need to ratify several human rights instruments and to improve the legislative basis for implementing human rights obligations. Some other recommendations were not accepted by the DRC, such as pursuing members of the security forces suspected of having committed serious human rights violations. Twenty-eight other recommendations taken under advisement by the DRC will be the subject of a future response. These include ending impunity for crimes of sexual violence, protecting human rights defenders, implementing the ICC Statute and prosecuting those accused of war crimes. The response of the DRC to these recommendations will be included in the outcome report to be adopted by the HRC at its next session (1-26 March).
An immediate key issue is assessing what is behind the sudden disenchantment with MONUC in Kinshasa and how to respond sensitively but responsibly given the ongoing acute security and stability issues.
Stability and security in eastern DRC remains a critical question. Fundamental to this is the FDLR issue, reintegrating former combatants, security sector reform and effective control over military forces. A recurrent question is how the Council can be seen as playing a more effective role on these issues.
A related issue is whether the prioritisation within resolution 1906 of MONUC’s mandate will have any effect on the security situation in eastern DRC, and whether the DRC government in the coming months will be able to demonstrate a commitment to developing sustainable security sector institutions with respect to the rule of law.
A further issue is whether the Integrated Strategic Framework will impact in practice upon the future mandate of MONUC. An important issue for the Council is what role the DRC government would like to see MONUC playing in the future. MONUC’s continuing support for FARDC, which includes elements responsible for human rights violations, seems likely to continue to be a problem both for the UN and for Kinshasa.
Looking ahead, an issue to watch is the risk of deterioration of the security and political situations in neighbouring Burundi, CAR and Sudan in the lead up to elections in 2010 and 2011.
No Council action is expected in February. However, the interaction between Secretariat officials and Council member experts will begin a drawn out process of discussion of the Integrated Strategic Framework and the options for future reconfiguration of MONUC.
Options in this regard could include:
accelerating the idea of a Council mission to the DRC—perhaps sending a small team of four to five ambassadors for an in depth series of meetings;
an Aria-style meeting focused on the broader challenges facing the DRC and the role the UN could play in addressing these;
shifting resources away from MONUC’s formed military units and putting additional capacity into civilian roles working on SSR, DDR and DDRRR;
focusing military capacity more on advising and monitoring roles so as to assist government authorities to integrate protection of civilians into the planning of operations, and on monitoring the performance of FARDC battalions; and
beginning to develop for MONUC, as a whole, activities that reflect the overlapping needs for peacebuilding type processes and outcomes as identified in paragraph nine of S/PRST/2009/24.
Council members ultimately agreed on a five-month mandate despite initial concerns from some that more time was needed to see progress in SSR initiatives and that the security situation in the east warranted 12 months.
Resolution 1906 sets out clear expectations of both MONUC and the government in relation to the protection of civilians, SSR, DDR and DDRRR. During December’s consultations on MONUC’s mandate, China expressed concern at the priority given in the draft resolution to protection of civilians, given the primary responsibility for such a task falls with the government. It was also concerned with the amount of detail provided on the conditionality of MONUC’s support to the FARDC. However, it seemed comfortable with the final language.
Resolution 1906 is silent on the question of MONUC’s support to elections. This seems to be deliberate so as to focus the mission’s mandate and respond to critics who claim MONUC’s mandate was too extensive for it to be effective.
There seems to be interest in shifting the mission towards a more integrated mission with more peacebuilding characteristics. There is skepticism by some as to whether the security situation in the east would allow immediate drawdown of MONUC’s military component.
Most members seem committed to an extensive consultative process based on the Integrated Strategic Framework.
Some members seem keen to add names to the targeted sanctions list in accordance with the Group of Experts recommendations.
France is the lead country on the DRC.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Latest Presidential Statements
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
30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 May 2010