May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
The mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC expires on 31 May. Reaching an agreement with the government on MONUC’s eventual withdrawal and its role in security sector reform are key unresolved issues.

The planned Council mission to the DRC (postponed from April to mid-May due to the volcanic cloud) will enable members to hold two days of meetings with President Joseph Kabila, Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito and other ministers, parliamentarians, UN agencies and civil society. Agreement on renewal of MONUC for a further 12 months and continuation of its protection of civilians mandate seems likely. But refocusing the mission over the medium-term may be necessary.

An interim report from the sanctions group of experts is anticipated by 21 May and a briefing to the DRC sanctions committee is also expected. Expanded committee guidelines are due 30 May.

The Council visit will be preceded by an interagency assessment mission planned for 1-10 May to assess the implementation of MONUC’s conditionality policy, as requested in paragraph 41 of resolution 1906.

Key Recent Developments
The security conditions in North and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain highly volatile. House burnings, lootings, abductions and sexual assaults persist. The remnants of the Rwandan Hutu rebel Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Forces Armées de la Republique Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) continue to be the main perpetrators of human rights abuses. Military operations continue to lead to displacement of the population.

A 4 April attack by Enyele insurgents in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province, reportedly led to the deaths of ten Congolese security force members, 21 rebels, two civilians and three MONUC officers. Inter-communal clashes involving the Enyele over the control of fishing points in Dongo has led to the internal and cross-border (to the Republic of Congo) displacement of nearly 200,000 people since late October 2009.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between December 2009 and March 2010, Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels killed 407 civilians and abducted 302, including 125 children, in Orientale province. This averages 102 killed per month, as compared to 64 killed per month from December 2007 to November 2009. MONUC estimates less than one hundred LRA members remain in the DRC, and some 300 to 350 continue to move in small groups between the DRC, Central African Republic, Sudan and possibly Chad. According to the Secretary-General, an enhanced military strategy, including greater air mobility and intelligence capabilities, and MONUC support for cross-border operations, are required to deter LRA attacks and to target the group’s command structure more effectively.

On 13 April, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUC Alan Doss briefed the Council. Doss said that in response to President Kabila’s request for the complete drawdown of MONUC by August 2011, the Secretary-General recommended an initial drawdown by 30 June 2010, followed by a review of the security situation to trigger the planning for further reductions in MONUC troop levels. These reviews would focus on progress on military operations against armed groups, deployment of security forces to assume MONUC protection tasks and establishment of state authority in areas freed of armed groups. Doss warned that endemic poverty, lack of employment for demobilised combatants, the competition for economic resources and the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees remained potential sources of tension and violence. He said MONUC should progressively shift its focus and structure towards post-conflict stabilisation and consolidation, based on an expanded partnership with the UN country team. He said the Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF), which was still under discussion with the government, was intended to serve as a road map to help the UN move in that direction. The ISF identifies four key UN strategic goals: addressing ongoing conflicts; stabilising the conflict-affected areas; consolidating peace across the DRC; and making development viable. Closed consultations followed the debate. Earlier, Doss had briefed MONUC troop and police-contributing countries in a meeting of Security Council experts on 7 April.

According to the Secretary-General’s 30 March report, much of western DRC is relatively stable, with conditions allowing post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding. In the east, however, significant challenges remain. Potential triggers of instability in the Kivus and Orientale provinces include the continuing humanitarian crisis, the continued presence of the FDLR, LRA and residual Congolese armed groups, the absence of effective government authority, the security vacuum that may be created if local authorities do not fill MONUC’s role as it draws down, the incomplete implementation of the 23 March agreements (between the government and armed groups in the Kivus which would see the conversion of movements from military to political ones in exchange for the integration of rebels into the government), the possible resurgence of intercommunal conflicts, the cross-border movement of undocumented persons and the continuing illegal exploitation of natural resources. His recommendations include:

  • extending MONUC’s mandate for a further 12 months;
  • withdrawing MONUC troops from eight of the country’s 11 provinces by 30 June 2010, involving up to 2,000 troops (the focus of international assistance in these eight provinces should be on peace consolidation, protection of human rights, reconstruction and making sustainable development viable);
  • drawing down troops in North and South Kivu and Orientale provinces in phases driven by a joint review process, the first of which is scheduled to take place in September 2010; and
  • continuing to make MONUC’s priority the protection of civilians.

His specific recommendations for MONUC include:

  • contributing in the next mandate period to the training and development of three police battalions, with 550 personnel in each;
  • providing some of the military justice institutions with vehicles, communications and other equipment;
  • developing with the Ministry of Defence a package for the training and equipping of three military police battalions; and
  • continuing to deploy additional capabilities approved under resolution 1843 (2008).

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström visited the DRC from 12-18 April and briefed the Council on 27 April. John Holmes, OCHA head, is expected to conduct a six-day visit to the DRC starting on 29 April to advocate for humanitarian action, the protection of civilians and the security of humanitarian workers.
 

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 26 March the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a text without a vote on the situation of human rights in the DRC. The HRC requested the DRC to prevent sexual violence and, within the framework of a policy of zero tolerance, to prosecute all cases of serious human rights violations in the army and the national police force. The HRC also asked the government, with the assistance of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the relevant UN Special Procedures, to develop a plan for prioritisation and implementation of recommendations made to date, particularly regarding the protection of women and children, the administration of justice and combating impunity. The High Commissioner was asked to report to the HRC in early 2011 on developments in the DRC.

 

Sanctions Developments

The Sanctions Committee circulated note verbales to all member states in late March drawing their attention to the conclusions made in the Group of Exerts final report in 2009 (S/2009/603). The Committee has rejected some recommendations including that the Committee approve training by member states to the DRC security forces and that the government be requested to remove military units from mining sites. Discussions are continuing on the language to be used in additional letters to member states specifically highlighted in the report. Three sanctions experts commenced their work in the DRC in March (the logistical and regional expert were appointed in April). Holds have been placed on listing requests pending further information on the individuals. (On 15 May 2008 Rwanda submitted a list of 19 individuals, of which four have been listed.) On 12 February Rwanda provided additional information on five of the individuals raised in the Group of Experts’ final report (S/2010/93).

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is to reach some common ground with the government on the withdrawal of MONUC based on the realities on the ground rather than a fixed timeline.

A second 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 the proposed ISF for the UN’s engagement in the DRC over the next three years and developing an agreed Council response to this.

A related issue is 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 the most important peacebuilding issues. The future role of MONUC in security sector reform (SSR) remains unclear but is a key priority for Council members. There also seems to be a concern from some as to whether the Secretary-General’s recommendations in this area are feasible, such as calling for 75 police trainers to train three police battalions over the next mandate period when this expertise is not currently available in MONUC.

A broader issue for the Council is the seemingly growing trend of the unexpected challenges of host country consent to the presence of UN missions and how to better manage operations to avoid these developments in the future.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • extending MONUC’s mandate for a further 12 months, making some adjustments to its SSR role to reflect the government’s and Secretary-General’s recommendations;
  • authorising an immediate reduction in MONUC troops and future reductions based on an agreed review process;
  • requesting MONUC to prepare a plan with international partners for a phased transition to a DRC security lead in eastern provinces, including the conditions on which the transition would be based;
  • shifting MONUC’s focus more towards post-conflict stabilisation consolidation and peacebuilding in order to respond to potential sources of tension and violence, including poverty, lack of employment for demobilised combatants, competition for land and minerals and the return of IDPs and refugees;
  • calling for a donor conference to bring greater attention to the DRC’s development needs and to promote greater coordination;
  • rolling over MONUC’s mandate for a limited period to allow time to develop a new approach to the integrated strategic framework and adjust MONUC’s mandate to more accurately reflect a role as part of a greater UN effort to support government priorities;
  • authorising MONUC to provide logistical support to Ugandan People’s Defence Force operations in the DRC against the LRA; and
  • requesting a detailed report on the review mechanism as proposed by the Secretary-General.

Council Dynamics
Most Council members still consider that a withdrawal of MONUC by August 2011 would be problematic. The Secretary-General’s recommendation for up to 2,000 troops to be withdrawn by 30 June is acceptable to most. Some members, including the US and Austria, want a more thorough assessment before commencing any drawdown. More information on the Secretary-General’s proposed review mechanism is required before it receives full Council support. There seems to be a shared view that successive withdrawal phases should be based on a realistic assessment of the situation on the ground rather than on a predetermined timetable.

Most members seem confident a compromise can be found with the government on a more flexible timeline for withdrawal. China and Nigeria seem hesitant about opposing the DRC government’s position too bluntly but, like other Council members, do want to engage in a dialogue with the government on a compromise for MONUC going forward.

Protection of civilians remains a priority for most Council members. Given the government’s reluctance for MONUC to assume a lead role in SSR, it seems unlikely there will be a repeat of the December 2009 discussion on prioritising SSR over protection of civilians. Many Council members would like to see a strong coordination role for MONUC in SSR.

Given the cross-border dimension of the LRA issue, Uganda would like to see whether UN missions in the region could do more.

Some members would like to see a distinct shift in MONUC’s priorities towards peace stabilisation and consolidation. However, given the backdrop of the current review of the peacebuilding architecture, there is uncertainty in how far the Council can go in this regard at this stage.

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.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • S/PV.6302 (27 April 2010) was a briefing to the Council by Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict, Margot Wallstrom.
  • S/2010/187 (14 April 2010) was the agreed terms of reference for the Council mission to the DRC.
  • S/PV.6297 (13 April 2010) was a briefing by the head of MONUC, Alan Doss.
  • S/2010/93 (12 February 2010) was letter from Charge d’Affaires of Permanent Mission of Rwanda conveying additional information on the FDLR, RUD-Uranana and other individuals refered to in S/2009/603.
  • 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 Sources

Full forecast