April 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2010
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
A Council mission to the DRC is planned for 17-20 April before the Council takes decisions on the future of MONUC. The MONUC mandate expires on 31 May. (The mission will also visit Rwanda and Uganda.) The Secretary-General’s report and recommendations are due 1 April and MONUC’s head, Alan Doss, will brief the Council on 13 April. Consultations on key messages to be delivered during the mission are expected following the briefing. The Council mission comes at a particularly difficult time in terms of the future of DRC and the role of the UN. Many Council members seem determined to push back against premature downsizing of the mission.

The Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, is expected to visit the DRC at the same time as the Council.

Key Recent Developments
MONUC and the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) launched joint operations on 26 February under Operation Amani Leo to protect civilians and to eliminate the threat of the Rwanda Hutu rebel Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and other armed groups in North and South Kivu provinces. On 11 March the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) General Amuli Bahigwa reported 271 FDLR members had been killed or captured. A further 135 dependents had been passed to the MONUC disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR) programme and 189 weapons recovered.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees identified 444 protection incidents— including extortion, forced labour, arbitrary arrests and looting—in South Kivu in February, representing a 246 percent increase over January. The main perpetrators were government security forces.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels reportedly killed at least 11 civilians and eight troops during attacks in Orientale Province between 11 and 14 March. This followed a reduction in LRA violence in February, with seven attacks recorded versus 26 attacks in January. Rudia II, the FARDC-led operation against the LRA in cooperation with the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces and with logistical support from MONUC, continues.

On 5 and 18 March, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy briefed the Council in closed sessions on the outcome of his 2-3 March visit to the DRC and discussions with President Joseph Kabila about the future of MONUC. (The government had proposed MONUC’s immediate drawdown and exit by August 2011.) The Council was told that one option was to draw down MONUC forces in the west of the DRC and to focus on the east of the country where the violence is ongoing. A first batch of up to 2,000 troops could withdraw from the west by 30 June 2010. Le Roy said it was premature to contemplate withdrawal from the east. He stressed that there is a commitment between the UN and DRC which needed to be honoured. More time was needed for critical tasks to be completed in the east. He suggested that after June, MONUC troops should concentrate on North and South Kivu, Orientale and Maniema provinces. Discussions are ongoing between the government and MONUC on the withdrawal issue.

On 17 March the Director of the Africa II Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Raisedon Zenenga briefed Council experts in a closed session on the outcomes of the DPKO-led technical assessment mission to the DRC. Council members were reportedly told that DRC was proposing an initial troop withdrawal by end of June and thereafter MONUC and the government would consider the next phase of withdrawals in September 2010 and March 2011. For its part the UN wanted MONUC’s withdrawal to be benchmarked against critical tasks rather than a fixed timeline. The government and the UN had reportedly made some progress on three of these critical tasks: completion of military operations in the east; the raising of a force to replace MONUC in the east; and restoration of state authority in the east. It seems the government is not seeking MONUC’s support to train FARDC troops, looking instead to partner with bilateral donors. It also seems that the future role of the UN in security sector reform is unclear with the government reluctant for MONUC to play a coordinating role.

On 23 March an Arria-formula meeting, titled “Support to institutional capacity building in the DRC: challenges of consolidating rule of law and security sector reform,” was held at the expert level. The EU Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Roland Van de Geer, and three NGOs active in the DRC made presentations to Council members. All presenters agreed a more coordinated and collaborative plan for security sector reform involving the DRC, UN and its international partners was urgently needed. Van de Geer said the DRC was not ready for MONUC to leave by 2011 and a humanitarian disaster was likely if withdrawal occurred in this timeframe.

Human Rights Related Developments

The situation in the DRC was considered repeatedly during the Human Rights Council (HRC) March session. Four reports were submitted and on 26 March the HRC adopted a resolution on the situation of human rights in the DRC and the strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, reported on her visit to the DRC from 21 May to 3 June 2009. She recommended that the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC publicly condemn the killing of human rights defenders, as well as all other serious human rights violations against them, and increase its staffing and financial capacity to ensure the continued existence of the protection unit. On 18 March the HRC adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on the DRC. The DRC’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Luzolo Bambi Lessa, told the HRC his government had adopted 124 recommendations made during the Review. Eleven recommendations were, however, unacceptable. These involved mainly calls to cooperate with the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute soldiers of the FARDC suspected of serious human rights abuses or crimes and to establish an independent mechanism to take measures against security force members responsible for serious human rights violations. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, in her report stated that human rights improvements in the DRC have been limited and human rights violations continued to be perpetrated by the FARDC, the Congolese National Police and armed groups. In addition, the DRC government had made very little progress in implementing previous recommendations, and implementation of many of these recommendations remains beyond the capacity of the DRC government. Pillay suggested an interactive process between the government and her office to address the more than 1,000 recommendations yet to be implemented. The second joint report on the DRC by the seven thematic rapporteurs appointed by the HRC was also presented. Key concerns remain impunity and the presence of perpetrators of serious violations in the security forces. Reform efforts have been undermined by the lack of will on behalf of the government to implement the “zero tolerance” policy, the report concluded.

Key Issues
A key issue is how to respond responsibly but sensitively to Kinshasa’s call for an August 2011 MONUC withdrawal, given the acute security, human rights and stability issues. A related issue is whether to accept a withdrawal plan based on a fixed timeline or one in response to realities on the ground and MONUC’s ability to fulfil its protection of civilians role as it downsizes.

A second issue is how to manage the tension which has arisen because of domestic political sensitivities in the DRC between host country consent for the UN role in DRC, and the underlying compact which always exists between host countries and the Council.

A third issue for the Council is better understanding the role the DRC would like to see the UN playing in the future given the government’s dislike of MONUC’s proposed Integrated Strategic Framework for engagement in the DRC over the next three years.

A fourth and related issue is whether the absence of a clearly articulated peacebuilding limb for the UN presence in DRC has become part of the problem and whether there is now a need to give higher priority to a common peacebuilding strategy led by the UN to coordinate among international partners and the DRC government on big picture peacebuilding issues, including security sector reform.

Underlying Issues
There seems to be broad consensus that the DRC government will not be capable by 2011 of ensuring security in the east. The ongoing presence of the FDLR in the east and the support generated by their overseas networks remain problems.

Continuing human rights violations committed by elements of the FARDC, the culture of impunity, the maintenance of command and control structures by former rebels absorbed into the FARDC and the involvement of the FARDC in resource extraction and distribution networks continue to be impediments to effective security sector reform.

The activities of the LRA in eastern DRC remain a problem.

Options
One option is for Council members to use their visit to the DRC to underline their view that a withdrawal based on the achievement of critical tasks is essential rather than a fixed timetable. (The outcome of these discussions would then have a direct impact on the options available for reconfiguring MONUC.)

A second and additional option might be to insist that, in return for a firm commitment by DRC that withdrawal would be based on realistic criteria, some sort of immediate reduction in MONUC’s troop level could occur in June as a public response to the government’s request.

A third and linked option is to intensify MONUC’s peacekeeping mandate on operations in the east and perhaps to recast the mandate into two parts so that there is one part focusing on the UN mission delivery of integrated peacebuilding tasks in the country as a whole and a second part dealing with the military dimension but limited solely to the east of the country.

A fourth option is to reinforce this new kind of profile with a new name for the Mission (and perhaps new leadership).
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Council Dynamics
Most Council members agree that a responsible withdrawal of MONUC should be on the basis of the mandate being achieved and not based on a fixed deadline. Members seem confident a compromise can be found with the government on a more flexible timeline for withdrawal. China seems reluctant to oppose the DRC government’s position.

Some members insist that the Council has not yet agreed to any downsizing withdrawal of 2,000 troops by 30 June and would not support that option unless there is a reasonable compromise on the larger issue of long-term withdrawal.

Members do not yet have a good sense of what the government hopes the UN might be able to deliver in terms of its wider role in the country. Members are therefore waiting for the outcome of their discussions with the government in April before committing to elements of MONUC’s new configuration and mandate. Some members are also pursuing bilateral discussions with the government.

France is the lead country.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions 

  • S/RES/1906 (23 December 2009) extended the mandate of MONUC until 31 May 2010.
  • S/RES/1896 (30 November 2009) extended the DRC sanctions and the mandate of the Group of Experts to 30 November 2010.
  • S/RES/1843 (20 November 2008) authorised the temporary deployment of an additional 3,085 troops to reinforce MONUC’s capacity.

Latest Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/24 (5 August 2009) was on UN peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/2008/48 (22 December 2008) welcomed regional efforts to address the security threat posed by the LRA.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • A/HRC/13/L.23 (26 March 2010) was a resolution on the situation of human rights in the DRC and the strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services.
  • A/HRC/13/63 (8 March 2010) was the second joint report of seven UN experts on the situation in the DRC.
  • A/HRC/13/64 (28 January 2010) was the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the DRC.
  • S/2009/603 (23 November 2009) was the latest report of the Group of Experts on the DRC.
  • SC/9791 (17 November 2009) was the Council’s press statement on the LRA.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Alan Doss (UK)

MONUC Force Commander

Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye (Senegal)

Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

  • Strength as of 28 February 2010: 18,645 troops, 712 military observers, 1,216 police, 1,001 international civilian personnel, 2,690 local civilian staff and 648 UN volunteers
  • Approved budget (1 July 2009-30 June 2010): $1,350 million

Duration

30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 May 2010

Useful Additional Source

  • Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo, Human Rights Watch, 28 March 2010

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