July 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2011
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Lord’s Resistance Army

Expected Council Action
In July, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe is expected to brief the Council on recent developments relating to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the conclusions of the recent joint UN assessment mission to LRA- affected areas. Council members hope to receive the mission’s report prior to the debate. Pascoe might be joined by briefers from the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Council members are to discuss ways to address the challenges posed by the LRA.

Key Recent Developments
On 17 November 2009, Pascoe briefed members of the Council, followed by consultations to discuss the Great Lakes region and the LRA attacks on civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan. This was the last time the LRA was discussed as a standalone issue in an official Council meeting. The briefing came after an increase in LRA activities in the previous months. Following the meeting, the Council issued a press statement (SC/9791) expressing concern at the direct and serious threat the activities of the LRA posed to the civilian population, humanitarian operations and regional stability.

On 24 November 2010, US President Barack Obama presented a new strategy to address the LRA problem. The US military has been providing intelligence and financial support to the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF)—operating in CAR, the DRC and southern Sudan, as well as Uganda—for several years. The four main objectives of the strategy were to increase protection for civilians, encourage rebel defections, improve humanitarian access and “apprehend or remove from the battlefield Joseph Kony and senior commanders” (Kony, facing charges for international crimes before the International Criminal Court (ICC), is still at large and believed to be in the DRC). The US Senate Armed Services Committee set aside $35 million to fund the strategy on 17 June.

In 2011, LRA attacks have continued, most noticeably in the DRC. In March, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that since January, the LRA had intensified its attacks in Orientale province of the DRC, killing some 35 people, abducting 104 others and displacing more than 17,000 people. Since 2008, according to Human Rights Watch, the LRA has killed over 2,400 civilians in the region, abducted 3,400 others—many of whom are children—and displaced over 400,000 people from their homes.

During the second half of May, a joint UN assessment mission was sent to the region, led by the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and DPKO. The mission visited Sudan, the DRC, the Central African Republic and Uganda and then met with AU officials in Addis Ababa. The mission was to report to the Secretary-General’s policy committee towards the end of the month.

The mission found that the LRA has weakened in capabilities and numbers yet continues to be a disruptive and life-threatening force in the region. The report may also note that the governments in the region do not see the LRA as a major strategic threat and are in disagreement as to whether and to what extent the LRA is active in a regional sense. Animosities between the different government forces active in the region have been a factor in pursuing any kind of joint strategy. The mission seems to have concluded that these issues must be addressed for a regional response to the LRA to succeed.

On 8 June, the defence and security ministers of those countries affected by the LRA (CAR, DRC, Uganda and southern Sudan) met to consider the establishment of a regional task force authorised by the AU with the support of the international community. They decided to set up a joint mechanism to coordinate their efforts, as well as those of the AU and other partners. In a press release, the ministers agreed to submit the outcome of the meeting to their governments and to the AU summit of heads of state to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on 30 June to 1 July.

The International Working Group on the LRA, a group of interested states, met in Washington, D.C., on 27 June.

On 28 June, the Council adopted resolution 1991 renewing the mandate of the Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). The resolution contains language supporting MONUSCO’s efforts in assisting those resisting the LRA. Regarding the priorities of the mission, the resolution refers to MONUSCO’s mandate protection of civilians as laid out in resolution 1925, which contains language on efforts to address the LRA issue, both in terms of military assistance and integration.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is that the briefing is the first step in a process. The next step will be the possible AU initiative for a regional response to address the LRA. And for later in the year, once more information is available, the question would be identifying the Council’s best role in supporting or endorsing AU efforts and what other steps can be taken by the Council to enhance existing and future peacekeeping missions’ (as the new mission in Southern Sudan) response to the LRA.

Another factor is the role that the newly established UN Regional Office in Central Africa (UNOCA) can play in coordinating UN efforts on this issue.

Options for the Council in July include:

  • issuing a press statement indicating its ongoing concerns and future intentions to keep a focus on the issue;
  • requesting UNOCA to enhance cooperation between the UN missions and information-sharing related to LRA; 
  • noting the upcoming AU regional discussions and requesting that the Secretary-General keep the Council informed of the particulars of the initiative as they unfold;
  • urging better cooperation among countries in the region in prioritising the need for protection of civilians in LRA-affected areas;
  • including language on the LRA in the resolution establishing the mandate for the new mission in Southern Sudan; or
  • taking no action at this time.

Council Dynamics
Though the LRA has not been discussed in the Council as a standalone issue since November 2009, it has come up in country-specific contexts, and Council members have continued to discuss the LRA regularly at the expert level. Against the backdrop of the recent changes in LRA activity, and in light of the recent UN assessment mission and the AU initiative, some members feel that this is an opportunity to regain momentum towards addressing the issue.

Most Council members seem supportive of a strong regional response to the LRA. At this juncture, it is unclear whether and to what extent this includes agreement on the role for the Council, and the UN as a whole. Some Council members seem conscious that taking a leading role on the LRA issue at this time may complicate rather than facilitate regional initiatives. Council members are likely to gain more knowledge following the AU summit and the meeting of the international working group in Washington.

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UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

S/RES/1991 (28 June 2011) extended MONUSCO’s mandate for another year. It condemned the attacks by LRA in the Orientale Province of the DRC and demanded that LRA immediately stop recruiting and using children and release all children associated with it.
S/RES/1919 (29 April 2010) renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan UNMIS and encouraged cooperation among UN peacekeeping missions in addressing regional threats such as the LRA.

Presidential Statement

S/PRST/2008/48 (22 December 2008) condemned Joseph Kony’s repeated failure to sign the Final Peace Agreement, strongly condemned the recent attacks by the LRA in the DRC and southern Sudan, recalled the ICC arrest warrant for certain LRA leaders, welcomed the joint efforts made by countries in the region to address the security threat posed by the LRA and welcomed the reestablishment of peace and security in northern Uganda.

Press Statement

SC/9791 (17 November 2009) expressed concern at the threat posed by LRA activities to civilian populations and regional stability. It called for the relevant UN peacekeeping missions to coordinate strategies and share information to address the issue.

Secretary-General’s Reports

S/2011/298 (12 May 2011) was the latest report on the DRC, stating that the LRA continues to attack and abduct civilians in Orientale Province.
• S/2011/239 (12 April 2011) was on UNMIS, recognizing a decline in LRA attacks in southern Sudan.
S/2006/478 (29 June 2006) was on the LRA.

Full forecast 

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