Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s report on MONUSCO is expected in October. Its head, Roger Meece is likely to brief the Council for the first time. Briefings are also anticipated from Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström following her 28 September to 6 October visit to the DRC and from the Secretariat on MONUSCO’s strategy for the protection of civilians and its implementation challenges. The final report of the Group of Experts on the DRC is due on 20 October.
The mandate of MONUSCO expires on 30 June 2011 and that of the Group of Experts on 30 November.
Key Recent Developments
On 28 May the Council decided that from 1 July 2010, MONUC would be renamed the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and would be deployed until 30 June 2011. Reaffirming that MONUSCO’s priority was protection of civilians, the resolution nonetheless responded to calls from the DRC government to draw down the UN presence in the DRC and authorised the withdrawal of up to 2,000 troops by 30 June 2010. The resolution also allowed for future reconfigurations of MONUSCO based on the situation on the ground.
The wave of rapes in North Kivu’s Walikale territory between 30 July and 2 August triggered various events in September. On 7 September, the Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Atul Khare, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, provided a detailed briefing to the Council on the rape of at least 303 people. (Please see our 3 September Update Report for more details.) Khare said the UN’s action in response to the rapes was not adequate. He said MONUSCO would develop better mechanisms of gathering information from communities and conduct more patrols. It would also develop guidance for its peacekeepers to investigate reports of armed group movements in high threat areas and the appropriate response. He recommended targeted sanctions on the leaders of the armed groups responsible for the rapes. He also said the illegal exploitation of resources was driving violence in the region and needed to be combated. (On 8 September, President Joseph Kabila ordered the indefinite suspension of mining in North and South Kivu and Maniema Provinces in eastern DRC.) Wallström pledged to prioritise the establishment of systems for obtaining real-time, actionable information. She also urged the imposition of targeted sanctions. Following the briefing and closed consultations, the Council President delivered remarks to the press in which he reiterated the Council’s strong condemnation of the events. The Council urged the DRC government to immediately launch an inquiry and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. It also urged the UN to take all necessary measures to improve its efficiency to help prevent and respond to such attacks and to better coordinate its actions.
On 8 September members of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict agreed on press elements on the mass rapes in the DRC. Members expressed strong condemnation of the events and highlighted the fact that there had been 32 cases of rape against children. This was the first time the Working Group had publicly responded to a crisis through remarks to the press.
On 14 September the DPKO produced a non-paper for Council members containing recommendations on enhancing protection of civilians in the DRC. The paper reportedly provides recommendations for the UN on improving relations and radio communications with communities, enhancing dialogue with state and non-state actors on sexual violence, fully staffing MONUSCO’s sexual violence unit, increasing interpreters and assisting the government to bring the perpetrators to justice. It also recommends the Council reconsider authorising the provision of basic equipment to the Congolese police that MONUSCO is training. After meeting on 16 September the Council issued a presidential statement on 17 September urging the government to swiftly prosecute the perpetrators of the rapes and expressing the Council’s readiness to consider all appropriate actions, including targeted measures against the perpetrators.
During his 7 September briefing to the Council, Khare also reported ten women were raped by elements of the Congolese military (FARDC) on 17 August in Fizi territory, South Kivu. He said many rapes also occurred in Shabunda and Mwenga territories in South Kivu in July and August. At least 214 cases of sexual violence have been recorded in Shabunda and 74 in and around Miki, Mwenga territory. At least 38,000 people have also been displaced since early July in Shabunda as a result of attacks perpetrated by the Rwandan Hutu rebel group the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR).
An estimated 90,000 people were displaced in Beni territory in North Kivu following the commencement on 30 June of a FARDC military operations against the Ugandan rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU). The return of residents to their villages reportedly stalled in mid-September following the launch of the second phase of military operations against the ADF-NALU.
On 11 August, Human Rights Watch reported the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had abducted more than 697 adults and children in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Bas Uele district of northern DRC over the past 18 months. Nearly one-third of those abducted were children. MONUSCO reported that a dozen people were abducted on 10 August near Duru in Haut-Uele district. On 18 September, Uganda’s defence minister and the DRC’s defence and veteran’s minister met to discuss joint operations against the LRA and the ongoing operations against the ADF-NALU.
On 18 August up to sixty unidentified men attacked the MONUSCO operating base in Kirumba, North Kivu, killing three Indian peacekeepers. In a press statement, the Council condemned the attacks and encouraged the government to ensure that the perpetrators of such attacks be swiftly brought to justice.
On 25 July a delegation from the electoral assistance division of the UN Department of Political Affairs visited the DRC to evaluate the role, modalities and scope of possible electoral assistance. The Congolese government has formally requested UN support for general and local elections. The first round of presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for 27 November 2011. If required, a runoff will be held on 26 February 2012, to coincide with provincial-level elections.
On 21 May the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, briefed the DRC Sanctions Committee. Coomaraswamy provided information to the committee to support the listings of six individuals. The group of experts also presented their interim report to the committee. On 6 August the Committee adopted guidelines for the conduct of its work.
On 19 May the team leader for the Great Lakes Integrated Operational Team, Kevin Kennedy, briefed Council experts on the outcome of the DPKO-led mission to the DRC from 1 to 10 May to assess MONUC’s conditionality policy (as per resolution 1906). Kennedy reportedly said it was difficult to assess whether the policy had reduced the number of violations committed by the FARDC. He said MONUC was supporting fewer FARDC units as a result of the screening process. Paradoxically this meant MONUC’s ability to influence the FARDC had diminished.
|Human Rights-Related Developments
A High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) report mapping the most serious human rights violations in the DRC from 1993-2003 has caused controversy between the UN and Rwanda. The draft report includes allegations that Rwandan troops killed tens of thousands of Hutus (including civilians) during the Congo Civil war—acts it says may amount to genocide. The objective of the mapping exercise was to formulate options to assist the government of the DRC in identifying appropriate transitional justice mechanisms to deal with the legacy of these violations. The publication of the report has been delayed until 1 October 2010. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with officials in Rwanda on 7 and 8 September to discuss their concerns and with President Kagame in New York on 25 September.
A continuing issue for the Council, which is highlighted by events in the DRC, is mismatch between the tools the Council has created (such as peacekeeping operation mandates, special advisors, panel of experts and targeted sanctions) and its capacity for practical oversight to ensure that the tools are in fact utilised to prevent abuses of the kind that recently occurred in the Kivus.
A key issue for the Council is not only improving MONUSCO’s response in civilian protection situations but also the more general implications.
A related issue is improving communications in the field and between the field and UN headquarters.
A further issue is ensuring that the assessments on which the Council will base possible reconfigurations of MONUSCO reflect the true situation on the ground and are not masked by political filtering.
A possible future issue is the impact of the publication of the human rights mapping report.
The November renewal of the mandate of the group of experts could become an issue for the Council, as it seems unclear at this stage whether the DRC government supports their renewal.
There is a possibility that the assessment requested by the Council in OP20 of resolution 1925 to guide future possible reconfigurations of MONUSCO will not be available before the next regular report of the Secretary-General. An option for the Council is to request a supplemental briefing as soon as the assessment is ready.
An option for the Council, once this assessment is available, is adopting a presidential statement.
In addition, the Council could follow up on Khare’s recommendations for targeted sanctions and also utilise the information provided by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict to expand the sanctions list.
Some countries, including Austria, France, Mexico the UK and the US, see value in sanctioning leaders responsible for rapes in the DRC. Other members question the effectiveness of such measures.
There is concern among some Council members that the blocking of candidates for sanctions groups of experts is becoming a growing trend. The establishment of the DRC group of experts following the adoption of resolution 1896 was delayed five months, partially as a result of the DRC government, supported by China, objecting to a proposed candidate.
During the May MONUC renewal negotiations all Council members found the demands from the government for a fixed withdrawal timetable for MONUC unacceptable. As to the mandate, China wanted MONUSCO’s top priority to include not only protection of civilians but also stabilisation and peace consolidation. It also wanted to reorder the priorities within the protection of civilians’ subset. Although China eventually supported the order of prioritisation within MONUSCO’s mandate, it was unhappy that protection of civilians was designated as the “highest” priority (in OP11 of resolution 1925). The US (with the support of the UK, Austria and Mexico) favoured the retention of “highest,” but language on MONUSCO’s support for the regional military organisations against the LRA was used in a compromise. Uganda and the US both strongly advocated and were successful in gaining inclusion of a MONUSCO role in supporting the Ugandan military in fighting the LRA.
Some members, including China, Brazil, and the African members of the Council, wanted MONUSCO to be mandated to support peacebuilding activities. Others argued this was the domain of the UN Country Team.
The lead country is France.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Latest Presidential Statement
Latest Secretary-General’s Report
Selected Security Council Press Statements
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
Roger Meece (US)
MONUSCO Force Commander
Lt.-Gen. Chander Prakash (India)
Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 30 June 2011