February 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 January 2011
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action

In February, the Council will hear a briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the peacekeeping operation in the DRC, MONUSCO, by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Roger Meece. The briefing will be followed by consultations.

The mandate of MONUSCO expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments
On 29 November, the Council received a report from its group of experts on sanctions (S/2010/596). The report discussed the illegal exploitation of natural resources by armed groups and elements within the Congolese National Army (FARDC).

The experts also provided the sanctions committee with a confidential file containing information on three people implicated in the Walikale mass rapes in July and August 2010.

The report recommended new due-diligence standards for importers, processors and consumers of minerals from the eastern part of the DRC. The first set provides guidance on how to mitigate the risk of providing support to illegal armed groups subject to targeted sanctions. The second set advises on how to mitigate the additional risks of providing support to criminal networks and perpetrators of serious human rights violations within the FARDC.

On 29 November 2010, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1952, renewing the sanctions regime until 30 November 2011. (A sixth expert, on natural resources will be appointed soon.) The Council requested the experts to concentrate their activities in areas affected by illegal armed groups and on regional and international networks providing support for such groups and to focus on criminal networks and perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, including those within the FARDC, in the eastern part of the country.

On 1 December 2010, the DRC sanctions committee added four people to the list of individuals and entities subject to the assets freeze and travel ban imposed by paragraphs 13 and 15 of resolution 1596, as renewed by resolution 1952. Three of the individuals listed are members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), while the fourth, Innocent Zimurinda, a lieutenant colonel in the FARDC, was listed for several human rights violations. The sanctions list currently consists of thirty individuals and entities. Also in December, a proposal to designate a member of another armed group active in the DRC was put on hold by two permanent members to allow them to process the designation domestically and may be approved later.

Callixte Mbarushimana, the Executive Secretary of the FDLR arrested in France in October 2010, was transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 25 January. Mbarushimana is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the DRC.

The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice president of the DRC, began on 22 November 2010 at the ICC. Bemba, leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to atrocities allegedly committed in Central African Republic from October 2002 to March 2003. In the 2006 presidential election Bemba won 42 percent of the votes.

On 16 January, the Congolese parliament approved constitutional amendments that will allow the president to be elected by a simple majority in the 27 November election, thus eliminating second round voting. President Joseph Kabila has supported this revision. The opposition claims that the true goal of the amendments is to increase Kabila’s chances of re-election.

On 31 December 2010, FARDC soldiers allegedly committed at least 32 acts of rape in the village of Bushani, in North Kivu. On New Year’s Day, members of the FARDC reportedly committed acts of sexual violence involving at least fifty women in the town of Fizi, in South Kivu. Lieutenant colonel Kibibi Mutware, the officer in charge of the soldiers believed to be responsible for the Fizi attacks, three additional officers and 11 soldiers have been detained.

The Secretary-General’s second report on the implementation of resolution 1925 included a short preliminary update on the joint DRC-MONUSCO security assessment process, stating that both sides to the process are in agreement that no reconfiguration of MONUSCO is called for at this time. However, the report states that no substantial progress has been made on security sector reform in the DRC and notes that the level of violence in the eastern provinces persists. It also stressed the need for additional helicopters in order to protect civilians, in particular attack helicopters. As for the elections, the report indicates that MONUSCO is assisting the DRC with voter registration, which is low at the moment. It also states that the DRC intends to fund approximately 60 percent of election costs, while relying on donors for the remaining costs.

On 16 December 2010, the Council adopted resolution 1960, requesting the Secretary-General to establish a monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangement on conflict-related sexual violence. The resolution reiterated the Council’s intention, when adopting or renewing targeted sanctions, to consider including, where relevant, criteria for sanctioning individuals for acts of sexual violence.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The special representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallström, has called on the authorities of the DRC to investigate reports of a large number of rapes that occurred recently in the South Kivu. Speaking on 8 January, Wallström said she suspected that those reports confirmed the warnings she had conveyed to the Security Council in October 2010 about the possibility that soldiers from the FARDC might have been responsible for committing these crimes. She said that she expected the Government of the DRC to “respect human rights, to do everything in its power to prevent abuses of all kinds and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in the upcoming months in light of resolution 1960 is the role of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence, amidst reports of the continuing recurrence of such violence.

A second issue is the optimal way to engage with the DRC regarding the upcoming presidential election, to which MONUSCO is already providing material assistance, in order to promote a fair process and to avoid any deterioration in the security environment.

A third issue is how to establish momentum for the due-diligence guidelines in resolution 1952 and effectively promote their practical implementation.

Options for the Council include:

  • adopting a press statement that addresses the Secretary-General’s report and expressly deplores the latest atrocities in South Kivu;
  • requesting the sanctions committee to accelerate its work in light of resolution 1960 and for the Secretary-General to provide recommendations for the implementation of the resolution 1952 guidelines;
  • requesting the sanctions committee to produce implementation assistance notices, similar to those produced by other sanctions committees, in order to assist the domestic application of the guidelines;
  • requesting MONUSCO, in light of the electoral process in the DRC, to more closely monitor the evolving situation; or
  • taking no action at this time.

Council Dynamics
Council members in general want to raise awareness of and implement the standards laid out in due-diligence guidelines. The chair of the sanctions committee, Brazil, is currently circulating notes verbale to UN members and letters to the countries in the region on the adoption and content of the guidelines.

Council members seem pleased with the group of experts’ level of reporting. Some Council members are hoping that this will ease the process of approving the candidates for the experts group for this term. (The Secretariat is expected to circulate an initial list containing the candidates’ names in the next few weeks. Some of the current experts are expected to stay for another term.)

Few Council members seem to have clear ideas on how resolution 1960 should be implemented by the sanctions committee with respect to sanctioning perpetrators of sexual violence. Some believe that the next step is enhanced cooperation with Wallström’s office and worry that the sanctions committee and group of experts will run on parallel tracks with Wallström’s office, rather than collaborate and exchange information effectively.

There seems to be growing support for sanctioning the alleged perpetrators of the atrocities in Walikale. Nevertheless, certain Council members feel hesitant about sanctioning a member of the FARDC unless the DRC government consents to the designation.

Finally, Council members are in agreement that the election process in the DRC must be monitored closely. At the moment, MONUSCO’s assistance to the election is of a logistical nature, and the Council is of the view that the nature of any future involvement will depend on the wishes of the DRC government.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1952 (29 November 2010) extended the DRC sanctions and the mandate of the group of experts to 30 November 2011.
  • S/RES/1925 (28 May 2010) extended the mandate of MONUC until 30 June 2010 and decided that from 1 July 2010, MONUC should replace it until 30 June 2011.

Latest Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2010/17 (17 September 2010) urged the DRC government to prosecute the perpetrators of the mass rapes that occurred in eastern DRC in late July and August.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6403 (15 October 2010) was the briefing by Roger Meece.
  • S/PV.6400 (14 October 2010) was the briefing by Margot Wallström.

Selected Security Council Press Statements

  • SC/10099 (1 December 2010) announced the listing of four individuals by the sanctions committee.
  • SC/10016 (26 August 2010) expressed the Council’s outrage at the mass rapes in eastern DRC.

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Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee

HE Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Roger Meece (US)

MONUSCO Force Commander

Lt.-Gen. Chander Prakash (India)

MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission

  • Strength as of 31 October 2010: 17,112 troops, 715 military observers, 1,181 police, 954 international civilian personnel, 2,776 local civilian staff and 597 UN volunteers
  • Approved budget (1 July 2010-30 June 2011): $1.369 billion

MONUSCO Duration

30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 30 June 2011

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