June 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2011
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
In June, the Council will hear a briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report on MONUSCO, the peacekeeping operation in the DRC, by the special representative of the Secretary-General, Roger Meece. The briefing will be followed by consultations.

The Council is likely to renew the mandate of MONUSCO, which expires on 30 June.

The DRC Sanctions Committee will convene to discuss the interim report of the group of experts and to hear a briefing by the special representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallström, which was postponed from May.

Also in June, the DRC will be discussed in OCHA’s briefing before the protection of civilians group of experts.

Key Recent Developments
The Secretary-General’s final report requested in resolution 1925 was distributed on 12 May. It states that the joint assessment by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) has not found a need for MONUSCO to be reconfigured. It notes the continuing violence, the limited progress made in institutional reforms, the delays in the election schedule and the illegal exploitation of natural resources. In light of the above, the report concludes that MONUSCO’s mandate should be renewed for another year at its current strength.

On 18 May, the Council held a debate on the DRC, with the participation of the Secretary-General and representatives of the UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the EU. The Secretary-General recognised achievements made in the DRC. Yet 1.7 million people remain displaced, and human rights violations continue on a large scale. The Congolese minister for international and regional cooperation, Raymond Tshibanda, surveyed the progress that has been achieved in the DRC and the government’s plans for further advances. He suggested that it was time for the reconfiguration of MONUSCO with a progressive yet steady withdrawal of its military component.

At the conclusion of the debate, the Council adopted a presidential statement, applauding the cooperation of the DRC government with MONUSCO.

The statement then focused on four topics. The Council:

  • underlined its concern with the persisting violence, including sexual violence, and human rights abuses against civilians, particularly in the eastern provinces and areas affected by the LRA;
  • called on all parties in the DRC to ensure that the November elections are inclusive, transparent, peaceful, free and fair; it also called for MONUSCO to support these efforts, including by training the Congolese police, and for donors to provide support for police equipment;
  • stressed the need for urgent progress in institution-building and reforms, in order to strengthen the rule of law and end impunity; and
  • emphasised the importance of economic development and long-term stabilisation, including by reintegration of former combatants and regional cooperation.

The Council received a report from its group of experts on sanctions on 13 May. The report is mostly methodological and discusses the group’s plans to fulfil their mandate in their final report. Council members were not expecting a substantial report at this juncture, as the group has only been fully operative for a couple of months.

On 11 May, a study published by the American Journal of Public Health concluded that approximately 1.69 to 1.80 million women in the DRC had reported being raped in their lifetime, more than 400,000 of them in the 12 months preceding the study period. Wallström praised the study as “a commendable effort that helps to fill the gap in empirical research”. Some have questioned the conclusions of the study and its methodology.

On 4 May, the trial of Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni, two leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, commenced in Germany. The two are accused of 39 counts of war crimes and 26 counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged conduct in the DRC in 2008-2009.

During the second half of May, a joint UN Department of Political Affairs and UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations assessment mission was sent to the region. In order to devise a new UN strategy on the LRA, the mission planned to visit Sudan, the DRC, the Central African Republic, and Uganda and then meet with AU officials in Addis Ababa. The mission, which was due to return on 28 May, will report to the Secretary-General’s policy committee in June on options to tackle the LRA issue.  

Human Rights-Related Developments
During the 10 May Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the head of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that the DRC was preparing to establish a special chamber to investigate and prosecute serious violations of international law, including mass killings, sexual violence and displacement. The High Commissioner foresaw, however, that the enabling legislation would need to be amended to guarantee the inclusion of a sufficient international component and to protect the independence and integrity of the process. The setting up of the special chamber is a direct response to the recent mapping report prepared for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights containing descriptions of 617 alleged violent human rights abuses occurring in the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council in June is the renewal of the MONUSCO mandate.

An underlying issue is MONUSCO’s engagement with the DRC regarding the upcoming presidential election, in order to ensure a fair, free and timely process with credible results.

Another issue continues to be the rate of progress with MONUSCO’s wider objectives, in light of the growing volatility in the country as elections approach, the discomfort by opposition groups with recent constitutional changes affecting the electoral process and the ability in such a vast country of maintaining security if grievances gain a hold.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • a relatively small resolution renewing MONUSCO’s mandate for another year at its current configuration;
  • enhancing MONUSCO’s role in providing logistical and technical assistance to the presidential and capacity to deal with any scenario that might develop before or following the election;
  • downsizing the peacekeeping mission in light of the DRC’s comments to that effect (less likely given the ambiguous nature of its position); or
  • including language in the resolution on the input from the UN Regional Office in Central Africa, inaugurated on 2 March in Libreville, Gabon.

Council Dynamics
Council members viewed the debate on 18 May as a strategic opportunity to better understand the needs of the DRC and assess the Council’s long-term engagement in the country. DRC’s participation at the ministerial level in the debate was perceived as demonstrating the commitment of the DRC to improve the situation in the country and to define MONUSCO’s role in the process.

The election will be a major focus in negotiations on the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate in June. Council members as a whole seem to agree that MONUSCO’s role should be on the logistical and technical aspects. Some Council members feel that UN involvement in all electoral processes should be limited in light of the recent events in Côte d’Ivoire. They worry that substantive involvement may dent its impartiality and jeopardise MONUSCO’s ability to maintain cooperation with all parties after the election. Other members do not accept this line of argument as a matter of principle. However, it seems that most members agree that the new resolution should contain language on elections similar to that in the presidential statement, which is flexible enough to allow MONUSCO to assist the DRC in different ways. Members are also convinced of the need to provide MONUSCO with resources for election assistance.

In light of the elections in November, the continuing violence and the conclusions of the joint assessment process, Council members seem to be generally in agreement that there is little room for a drawdown of MONUSCO at this juncture. (Some Council members, as a matter of principal, believe that the will of the host state that is most pertinent, while others emphasise objective benchmarks on the ground.) It seems that the DRC is not likely to press on this issue during the current mandate renewal, instead emphasising the need to adjust MONUSCO’s mandate in the long-term, in correlation with progress made in the DRC. The convergences reached between Council members in 2010 in resolution 1925 on the objectives of MONUSCO are likely to remain substantially similar in 2011, though the Council has yet to begin negotiating a draft resolution.

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/2011/11 (18 May 2011) focused on stabilisation efforts in the DRC.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

·         S/2011/298 (12 May 2011)

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6539 (18 May 2011) was the debate on stabilisation in the DRC.

Press Statement

  • 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 30 April 2011: 17,009 troops, 731 military observers, 1,255 police, 986 international civilian personnel, 2,781 local civilian staff and 616 UN volunteers
Approved budget (1 July 2010-30 June 2011): $1.369 billion

Mission Duration

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

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