February 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2012
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action
In February, either Roger Meece, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), or Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, will likely brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on MONUSCO. The briefing will be followed by consultations.

Though the Council does not currently plan to hold additional meetings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), they may be scheduled if the situation on the ground deteriorates following the announcement of the results of the legislative election, which has been postponed indefinitely.

MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 30 June 2012.

Key Recent Developments
Presidential and legislative elections were held in the DRC on 28 November 2011. On 2 December, Meece briefed the Council by videoconference on the elections. Following the briefing, Council members issued a press statement, stressing the importance of maintaining a peaceful and calm environment, exercising restraint and resolving any differences through established legal and mediation mechanisms. Council members urged all candidates and their supporters to refrain from acts of violence and called on the authorities to investigate any such acts and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The statement also highlighted Council members’ concern about the logistical and technical difficulties encountered during the voting process. 

On 9 December 2011, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared incumbent President Joseph Kabila the winner of the 28 November presidential election with 49 percent of the votes. (The opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, who received 32 percent, claimed to be the true victor of election and has “sworn” himself into office.)  At press time, the legislative election results, also held on 28 November, had yet to be announced. International and national observers, including the EU observer mission and the Carter Center, have reported irregularities in the vote count as well as the loss of significant numbers of ballots. AU, South African and other African observers have expressed the view that despite technical and logistical challenges, the elections and their results are credible. On 12 December, MONUSCO released a press statement citing the findings of these observer missions “relating to the significant irregularities in the management of the results process, in particular the counting and tabulation of the votes” and expressing concern. MONUSCO also called on all parties to settle election disputes by peaceful means through established institutions and to desist from incitement to violence.

Meece briefed Council members again via video-teleconference on 15 December. He updated them on election observer reports of irregularities in the election process, the security situation on the ground and MONUSCO’s preparations for possible developing scenarios. He noted that despite some violent incidents, on the whole the elections had not caused an escalation in violence and riots.

There have been several sanctions-related developments. On 29 November, the Council renewed the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts for a period of 12 months. The resolution welcomed measures taken by the government to implement the due diligence guidelines. It also asked the experts to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the guidelines on the economic and social development of the relevant mining areas in the DRC.

At press time, the Council has received an advanced copy of MONUSCO’s latest report. The report calls on the Congolese authorities to conduct a comprehensive review of the electoral process to ensure that lessons are learnt for the next electoral cycle.

With the end of Brazil’s term on the Council, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan) was appointed chairman of the sanctions committee for the period ending 31 December 2012. The two vice-chairs for 2012 are Morocco and Pakistan. (Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil had briefed the Council on the 2011 activities of the committee on 21 November.)

On 16 November 2011, the DRC sanctions committee was briefed by the Group of Experts on their annual report (officially released on 2 December, the Council received an advance copy in late October). During the meeting, the experts also handed the committee a confidential file containing information regarding potential additions to the sanctions list.

The report stresses that despite reorganisation efforts, the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) are afflicted with a parallel chain of command, due mainly to the loyalty of elements of the integrated Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) to Gen. Bosco Ntaganda (for whom there is a standing arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court). Both the FARDC and the CNDP continue to recruit minors. The report found much progress had been made in the implementation of the due diligence guidelines for the purchase, sourcing, acquisition and processing of mineral products from the DRC. It found that untagged tin, tantalum and tungsten had no buyers, with the exception of several Chinese companies that do not require tags of due diligence. The group then connected the profits of these traders to the financing of criminal networks and armed groups within the DRC. The report also highlighted that illegal exports of gold were on the rise and becoming a main source of finance for armed groups. Finally, the report noted that elements within the FARDC continue to provide armed groups with arms and ammunition.

On 6 December, at the request of Germany, the DRC sanctions committee was briefed by Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, on issues related to her mandate in the DRC. Wallström provided the committee with one name for potential listing in the near future for acts of sexual violence. (Wallström and Meece had briefed the Council on 8 November after which the Council issued a press statement expressing deep concern about the persistent high levels of violence, especially sexual violence, and human rights violations and abuses against civilians.)

On 30 December, the sanctions committee issued a press statement highlighting several recommendations contained in the Group of Expert’s report relating to natural resources, addressed to private companies conducting business in the DRC.

Violence in parts of the DRC persisted. On 20 January, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that fresh violence in the Kivu provinces had forced more than 100,000 civilians to flee their homes since November. Additionally, MONUSCO has received reports that in early January, about 45 civilians were killed and at least 50 were wounded during a raid in South Kivu’s Shabunda territory by members of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in two attacks.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 18 January the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) examined the DRC’s initial report, under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict. A key issue was the DRC government’s efforts to end the recruitment of child soldiers and ensure that they are successfully returned to civilian life. The CRC considered inputs from NGOs, including the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The coalition said that although a child protection code had been enacted criminalising child soldier recruitment, hundreds of children remained in the national armed forces. Impunity for child recruitment and use of children in hostilities were endemic, in violation of international and national laws. While some prosecutions had been made and convictions obtained, those convicted had in some cases returned to serve in the armed forces. Girl soldiers were particularly under-represented in release and reintegration programmes, despite representing almost 30 percent of children involved in armed forces.

Key Issues
A key issue is keeping a close eye on the possible escalation of violence following the announcement of the legislative election results.

Another issue is re-evaluating MONUSCO’s role in assisting the DRC government in the continuing election cycle, with elections for the provincial assemblies scheduled for 25 February and local elections scheduled in January 2013.

Meanwhile, another issue for the Council is maintaining a grasp on other continuing areas of concern, such as sexual violence and protection of civilians in the eastern provinces.

Options
Options for the Council include:   

  • issuing a press statement on the election process, specifying a greater role for MONUSCO in the next election cycle;
  • monitoring the reaction on the ground to the election process and convening additional Council meetings as necessary; or
  • taking no action unless extraordinary events occur on the ground.

Council Dynamics
As with the contradictory reports on the 28 November elections, Council members have divergent views on their credibility and how vocal the Council should be regarding the validity of the election process. Nevertheless, many Council members are of the view that lessons should be learnt to improve MONUSCO’s role in supporting the upcoming elections for the provisional assemblies in February, in order to mitigate the state of political uncertainty and instability.

Several Council members feel that the reported irregularities show a need for MONUSCO to provide more than logistical support. Some ideas are for MONUSCO to provide more technical assistance and advice, including in the process of counting election ballots. Currently Council members are not considering a certification role for MONUSCO.

One variable that will be influential in the assessment of MONUSCO’s engagement in the election process will be the view of Kabila and his government, once formed, on the role MONUSCO should play. A request for assistance from the DRC government may persuade reluctant Council members to support a more substantial role for MONUSCO in the next elections. Another unknown at this juncture is MONUSCO’s own assessment, and Council members will be eager to gain a better perspective from the anticipated report and briefing. Finally, MONUSCO’s future involvement in the election process may also depend on whether election-related violence in the DRC escalates, in particular following the announcement of the legislative election results.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2021 (29 Nov 2011) extended the DRC sanctions and the mandate of the group of experts to 30 November 2012. 
  • S/RES/1991 (28 June 2011) extended the mandate of MONUSCO until 30 June 2012.  

Presidential Statement

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

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Security Council Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6649 (8 November 2011) was the briefing by Meece and Wallström.

Security Council Press Statements

  • SC/10511 (30 December 2011) was on the group of expert’s recommendations to private companies.
  • SC/10470 (2 December 2011) was on the election process.
  • SC/10441 (8 November 2011) expressed concern over violence in the DRC.

Other Relevant Facts

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 December 2011: 16,854 troops, 703 military observers, 1,371 police, 983 international civilian personnel, 2,820 local civilian staff and 614 UN volunteers

Approved budget (1 July 2011-30 June 2012): $ 1.489 billion

Mission Duration

30 November 1999 to present: mandate expires on 30 June 2012

Full forecast 

 

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