Expected Council Action
In November, the Council expects a briefing and consultations on the Secretary-General’s report on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun. The Council will also be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa, on the work of that office.
The Secretary-General’s report was expected by the end of October.
Also in November, the working group on protection of civilians may discuss the LRA in its meeting.
Key Recent Developments
On 30 September, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the LRA has carried out 240 attacks so far this year, resulting in 130 deaths and 327 abductions, including 113 children in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. An estimated 440,000 civilians continue to be displaced or living as refugees in the affected areas.
On 30 June and 1 July, at the summit of heads of state held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the AU requested its Peace and Security Council (PSC) to authorise a proposal by the defence and security ministers of CAR, DRC, Uganda and representatives from South Sudan (South Sudan became independent on 9 July) for a regional task force, joint operations centre and joint co-ordination mechanism to address the LRA issue. It also requested the UN and other AU partners to support the initiative financially and logistically.
On 21 July, the Council was briefed by Zerihoun on the LRA in a private meeting. The permanent observer of the AU and the permanent representatives of CAR, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda were also in attendance. Following the meeting, the Council released a press statement commending the efforts taken by the militaries of the CAR, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda to address the LRA threat and welcoming the recent AU initiative proposing a range of activities to address the problem. The Council also asked the Secretary-General to report back to it in October on LRA-related developments, including an assessment of the threat posed by the group and regional and UN efforts to address it.
On 27 September, the PSC released a press statement requesting the AU Commission (the equivalent of the UN Secretariat) to report to it on modalities for implementing the mechanisms provided for in the AU initiative. The PSC reiterated the Assembly’s request for UN support for the initiative.
On 14 October, US President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 100 armed military advisers to address the LRA problem. American officials said that the majority of forces will deploy in Uganda and that the advisers will not engage in direct combat, except in self-defence. The US military has been providing intelligence and financial support to the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF)—operating in CAR, the DRC and South Sudan as well as Uganda—for several years.
On 22 September, the Ugandan constitutional court ruled that former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo, charged with 53 counts of murder and other crimes, is to be granted amnesty under the Ugandan Amnesty Act for those who have renounced rebellion. Kwoyelo was the first LRA commander to face trial in Uganda’s special war crimes court. With the exception of the commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court, Kwoyelo joins Kenneth Banya, Sam Kolo and others who have already been granted amnesty.
On 18 August, Moussa briefed the Council via videoconference. In a press statement issued after the meeting, the Council encouraged UNOCA to establish partnerships with regional organisations in order to face regional challenges, such as the LRA. The Council also requested UNOCA to consider ways to assist states in Central Africa, tackling issues such as security sector reform and promoting human rights.
A key issue for the Council is obtaining adequate information on the possible AU initiative for a regional response to address the LRA in order to identify the Council’s best role in supporting or endorsing AU efforts.
The Council may also consider what other steps can be taken to enhance existing peacekeeping missions in the region in response to the LRA.
Another factor is the role that newly established UNOCA can play in coordinating UN efforts on this issue.
Although the situation was not referred by the Security Council, a final issue is the possible interaction with the ICC as the arrest warrants against the top four commanders of the LRA are still outstanding.
- issuing a press statement indicating its ongoing concerns and future intentions to keep a focus on the LRA issue;
- requesting UNOCA to enhance cooperation between the UN missions and information-sharing related to the LRA;
- addressing the information provided on the AU regional initiative and requesting the Secretary-General to report to the Council on its particulars as it unfolds;
- urging better cooperation among countries in the region in prioritising protection of civilians in LRA-affected areas; or
- taking no action at this time.
After not being officially addressed as a standalone issue since November 2009, the LRA was discussed during the presidency of Germany in July and, now, during the presidency of Portugal. These and several other Council members hope to maintain the Council’s focus on the LRA over time.
It seems that the reportedly slow progress of the AU initiative—and its expectations of the UN system and the Council in particular—may impede the Council’s ability to consider concrete actions at this point. Council members are hoping that the LRA report and briefing will give them a better idea of the AU’s intentions. Council members may be inclined to issue a press statement if the report is substantive. The content of the report may also effect whether and when further updates from the Secretary-General are needed.
Selected Press Statements