May 2011 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
In May, the Council will hold an open debate on the DRC. The Secretary-General is expected to attend, and the DRC will be represented at the ministerial-level. Special Representative of the Secretary-General Roger Meece is also likely to participate, as well as a representative of the World Bank. France’s minister for cooperation, Henri de Raincourt, is expected to preside. The open debate may result in a presidential statement.
The Secretary-General’s latest report on MONUSCO is due by 13 May.

The mandate of MONUSCO expires on 30 June.

Also in May, the special representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallström, may brief the DRC sanctions committee, as will the group of experts on their interim report, which is due on 18 May.

Key Recent Developments
On 7 February, Meece briefed the Council. In a press statement following the briefing, Council members expressed concern over the lack of progress in security and judicial-sector reforms and the high levels of insecurity in eastern DRC. Members also condemned the recent sexual violence in North and South Kivu provinces by elements within the Congolese army. They called for the swift prosecution of all perpetrators of human rights abuses and called upon the Congolese authorities to inform the Secretary-General about measures taken.

On 21 February, a military court in South Kivu sentenced Lt. Col. Kibibi Mutware and three of his subordinate officers to twenty years imprisonment. Mutware was convicted of four counts of crimes against humanity for sending his troops to rape, beat and loot in the town of Fizi on the 2011 New Year’s Day. Five other soldiers received sentences between ten and 15 years. Additionally, the UN has been providing technical and logistical support to military-justice authorities in the trial of Gen. Jerôme Kakwavu for two counts of rape. He is the highest ranking army officer to be prosecuted for such crimes in the DRC.

In a briefing on women, peace and security on 14 April, Wallström told the Council that 185 rapes of Congolese women and girls were recorded in January along the Angola-DRC border. She added that her visit to Angola in mid-March resulted in a joint communiqué by Angola and the UN, outlining a proactive approach by Angola to raise awareness of and enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual violence within the ranks of the Angolan army and police.

During her briefing, Wallström also told the Council that the team of experts on the rule of law, established pursuant to resolution 1960, will visit the DRC in May to reinforce investigators and prosecutors through prosecutor-support cells in the Kivus and mentor women magistrates who have been trained to try cases of sexual violence.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that from January through March there was an increase in attacks by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in the central African region, with the majority of the attacks occurring in the DRC and causing 43 deaths. Reports indicate that the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, has returned to the DRC. In a statement on 10 March during her visit to the DRC, the head of OCHA, Valerie Amos, said that the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) must step up its operations against the LRA. Council members have expressed an interest in possibly arranging a briefing by Amos in May.

The Secretary-General’s policy committee will discuss possible UN strategies to address the issue of the LRA in one of its upcoming weekly meetings. One option may be to send an assessment team to the region to gather more information, including finding out more about a renewed AU regional initiative to engage with the LRA. Another question is the role of the UN Regional Office in Central Africa, inaugurated on 2 March in Libreville, Gabon, in addressing this regional concern.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 25 March the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution urging the government of the DRC to redouble its efforts to end all violations of human rights and bring perpetrators to justice. It also called on the international community to respond quickly to the DRC’s requests for technical assistance. It asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen her office’s technical assistance activities in the DRC. Earlier, seven thematic UN human rights experts presented their third joint report on the situation in the DRC, reiterating their deep concern at the serious human rights situation in the country, which has not improved since their initial report in 2008. Involved in preparing the report were experts on: violence against women; human rights of internally displaced persons; children and armed conflict; independence of judges and lawyers; the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health; the situation of human rights defenders; and human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Key Issues

A major issue is the optimal way to engage with the DRC regarding the upcoming presidential election, especially in light of the fact that the preparation for the election has fallen behind schedule and the Independent Electoral Commission is expected to announce a new schedule soon.

A second issue is the wider challenges of stabilisation, in particular institutional and economic progress.

Options

Options for the Council include:

Council Dynamics
Many members welcome the open debate as an opportunity for re-establishing the issues in the DRC as a priority and to explore options for a more in depth engagement with the DRC government on achieving progress on stabilisation, with a look forward towards the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate in June. In particular, the discussion may cover the areas previously identified as the pillars of stabilisation in the DRC: enhanced security, institutional capacity and economic development. Though Council members are in agreement that the situation in the DRC is better than it was in the recent past, some are worried about the slow progress in achieving long-term stabilisation goals.

Some Council members emphasise the importance of promoting a fair electoral process to ensure credible governance and see this as crucial if the Council’s future engagement with DRC is to produce results on the ground. A few members are worried that a recent attack on the presidential residence on 27 February—resulting in the death of six men and the arrest of several others—is evidence of the fragile security environment and think that security will remain a priority during the election. Council members are generally in agreement that the DRC government’s wishes are a key factor in finding the right avenue for MONUSCO’s electoral assistance and involvement.

Council members hope that Wallström will provide the sanctions committee with concrete information for future listing of perpetrators of sexual violence. A few members hope that Wallström’s appearance, on a German initiative, will become common practice across other relevant sanctions committees in the future. The report of the group of experts is expected to be brief and focus on methodology and technical aspects, as the mostly newly appointed group has only recently visited the DRC.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1952 (29 Nov 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, MONUSCO 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

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6476 (7 February 2011) was the briefing by Roger Meece.

Press Statements

  • SC/10167 (7 February 2011) expressed the Council’s concern with the lack of progress in reforms and the security situation in eastern DRC.
  • SC/10099 (1 December 2010) announced the listing of four individuals by the sanctions committee.

Other

  • A/HRC/16/68 (9 March 2011) was the third joint report of seven UN experts on the situation in the DRC.

Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the DRC Sanctions Committee

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 28 February 2011: 17,129 troops, 737 military observers, 1,270 police, 964 international civilian personnel, 2,805 local civilian staff and 563 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

Full forecast