Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In November, the Council plans to renew the sanctions regime covering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the mandate of the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, both of which expire on 30 November.
The chair of the Committee, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan), is expected to brief the Council on the Group’s annual report. The Committee will convene to discuss the annual report that was submitted in October.
Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), will brief the Council. MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 30 June.
Key Recent Developments
The rebel group M23—a source of instability in the region and of massive displacement of civilians—has been at the centre of DRC-related Council activities in recent months.
On 15 June, following a 12 June briefing by Meece, Council members released a press statement condemning the M23 and urging the full investigation of credible reports of outside support to the armed group.
On 26 June, the Council held consultations on DRC sanctions following receipt of the interim report of the Group of Experts on the DRC and a briefing by Mehdiyev in his capacity as chair of the 1533 Committee.
After a briefing by Meece on 10 July, the Council issued a press statement on 16 July condemning all outside support for any armed groups in the DRC and demanding that all forms of support for them cease immediately.
Following a video-teleconference briefing by Meece on 30 July, the Council released another press statement on 2 August condemning attacks by the M23 and calling for the cessation of all outside support for the armed group.
On 27 August, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos briefed the Council on the humanitarian effects of the fighting in eastern DRC. She focused on the influx of internally displaced persons and refugees to Rwanda from eastern DRC and emphasised the need to address the root causes of the current crisis.
The Council held an informal interactive dialogue with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and DRC representatives on 29 August. The dialogue followed a meeting of the 1533 Committee with the parties. Rwanda’s request to address the Council was in response to the 26 June Group of Experts report which asserted that Rwanda was supporting the M23. (Media reports indicate that Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US have cut development assistance to Rwanda as a result.)
Rwanda presented the Council with its own report, questioning the working methods of the Group of Experts and denying their allegations. Mushikiwabo also argued that the coordinator of the Group, Steve Hege (US), has expressed a bias against Rwanda in previous writings. (Rwanda has also sent a letter to this effect to the Secretary-General.) Hege responded to the allegations during the 1533 Committee meeting and explained the basis of the Group’s report. Council members expressed support for the Group and for dialogue between the warring parties. Some members said that the Group backed its allegations with solid evidence. The DRC called on the 1533 Committee to sanction the M23, its leaders and Rwandan officials.
Secretariat officials have provided regular briefings about developments on the ground. On 18 September, Council members were briefed in consultations by Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous on his recent trip to the region. And on 10 October, Council members were briefed by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, on the deteriorating situation in the eastern DRC, in particular the activities of the M23. He told the Council that the rebels were creating a parallel administration in eastern Congo and continuing to fight the DRC army, uprooting more than 300,000 people in recent months.
Mulet also updated the Council on the initiative of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to establish a neutral international force that would monitor the DRC-Rwanda border area. The ICGLR has said the force should consist of 4,000 soldiers and be deployed under the mandate of the AU and the UN. Media reports suggest that the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are ready to deploy their troops as part of this initiative. Meeting in Kampala on 8 October, the ICGLR heads of state adopted a declaration that directed its military assessment team to develop and submit a concept of operations for the neutral force by 25 October and also mandated the ICGLR chairman to implement the concept of operation.
In the wake of the Mulet briefing and a series of press statements in which Council members conveyed their views on the crisis in the DRC, France circulated a draft presidential statement. On 19 October, the Council adopted the statement which demands that all support for armed groups cease immediately and expresses deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighbouring countries. It also expresses its intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime.
In addition, the statement stresses the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and its neighbours, especially Rwanda. It asks the Secretary-General to prepare a special report for the Council on possible options, and their implications, for reinforcing MONUSCO to improve its ability to implement its mandate, including protecting civilians and reporting on flows of arms and related materiel across borders.
The presidential statement also welcomed the work of the Group of Experts, though it did not address its latest annual report, which was circulated to the 1533 Committee in mid-October. Media reports suggest that the latest report asserts that Rwandan Defence Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is the de facto head of the chain of command of the M23 rebellion and that Rwanda and Uganda have funnelled weapons and troops to the rebels. Both Kampala and Kigali have denied the accusations.
On 27 June the Council renewed MONUSCO’s mandate in resolution 2053. The resolution emphasises that the protection of civilians remains the priority of the mission, but stresses the importance of security sector reform within the stabilisation mandate of MONUSCO. The mandate contains specific requests for the Secretary-General to report on stabilisation efforts. On election support for the provincial and local elections, which are expected to be held in 2013, the new mandate maintains MONUSCO’s logistical support role. However, it emphasises that the support given will be continually reviewed in order to assess progress made by the DRC in ensuring the credibility of electoral institutions.
On 27 September, a high-level meeting on the DRC took place on the margins of the General Assembly. The Secretary-General attended the meeting, as did 23 countries (including the DRC and Rwanda) and representatives of the AU, EU, ICGLR and SADC. The meeting failed to produce the desired communiqué, though a summary of the meeting was released, similar in content and language to the Council’s 19 October presidential statement.
Human Rights-Related Developments
At the opening of the 21st session of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern about the surge in attacks on civilians by armed groups, who she said were committing serious human rights violations in eastern DRC. She said the surge was exacerbated by the April desertions and the formation of the M23 rebel group.
The key issue for the Council is to determine what role it can play in achieving a solution to the impasse between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda and in ending outside support for the M23 movement.
The immediate issues for the Council in November are the renewal of the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts and considering the latter’s annual report and its conclusions.
Options for the Council include:
- renewing the mandate of the sanctions regime and of the Group of Experts;
- addressing the recommendations and conclusions of the Group’s annual report and considering sanctions in the 1533 Committee against the heads of M23 and those assisting them;
- monitoring the security situation closely and responding to the ICGLR initiative as it plays out;
- calling on the states and groups concerned to negotiate a political solution to the crisis in North Kivu; and
- taking a more active role and considering the appointment of a UN Special Envoy to facilitate talks between the disputing parties, or calling on the head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, to take that role.
While the AU members on the Council are generally supportive of the ICGLR initiative, most Council members are sceptical about the feasibility of establishing an international neutral force in the near future. Council members are therefore in agreement that a political solution between the DRC, Rwanda and the M23 to end the fighting and address its root causes is necessary. Such a force also raises issues of added resources and coordination with MONUSCO, which Council members have concerns with. For the time being, Council members are not voicing their positions on the neutral force until they receive specific details and terms of operation.
The most recent dynamic is the growing support among several Council members to sanction the leaders of M23, as the violence and the humanitarian crisis in the east persist, a point supported by the latest Group of Expert’s annual report. In the past, the 1533 Committee has taken many months, sometimes more than a year, to agree on adding a name to the sanctions list. This is due in part to the vetting process that some Council members undertake before approving sanctions against individuals and also in part due to political considerations. Sanctions against state officials alleged to be connected to the M23 are not being considered at this time, despite allegations by the Group of Experts and others that Rwanda and Uganda are actively supporting the group.
Such action may, however, be considered in light of the Group’s annual report and its recommendations for listing certain groups and individuals, especially if outside assistance to the M23 persists. Council members are also conscious that Rwanda will join the Council in 2013, and this may be a factor in November when considering the renewal of the sanctions regime.
Regarding the 19 October presidential statement, it seems that France felt it was important to have a more formal Council response to highlight concern and to signal that the Council is looking for solutions to the situation. Generally, Council members felt that the language of the statement was comprehensive and conveyed the intent of the Council to take action on this issue if the situation persists.
Negotiations for the October presidential statement started a few days before the Security Council elections. The statement was adopted the day after Rwanda was elected as a non-permanent member of the Council starting in 2013. (Rwanda was endorsed by the AU and ran uncontested for the “African seat” on the Council.)
UN Documents on the DRC
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 June 2012 S/RES/2053||This resolution renewed MONUSCO’s mandate until 30 June 2013.|
|29 November 2011 S/RES/2021||This resolution extended the DRC sanctions and the mandate of the group of experts to 30 November 2012.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|19 October 2012 S/PRST/2012/22||This presidential statement concerned the unrest caused by the M23 in the DRC.|
|23 May 2012 S/2012/355||This report of the Secretary-General was on MONUSCO.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|21 June 2012 S/2012/348||This was the interim report of the Group of Experts on the DRC.|
|26 June 2012 S/2012/348/Add.1||This was the addendum of the interim report of the Group of Experts on the DRC.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 June 2012 S/PV.6785||This was a briefing by Roger Meece, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO, on recent developments in the DRC, including a recent mutiny led by army officers which has caused a serious deterioration of security in the Kivus.|
|Security Council Letters|
|12 October 2012 S/2012/768||This letter contained the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region declaration following its 8 October summit.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|2 August 2012 SC/10736||This press statement on the DRC condemned attacks by the M23 rebel group and called for the cessation of all outside support to M23.|
|16 July 2012 SC/10709||The Council condemned all outside support to all armed groups in the DRC and demanded that all forms of support to them cease immediately.|
|6 July 2012 SC/10702||This statement condemned recent attacks by the M23 group.|
|15 June 2012 SC/10675||This press statement condemned recent attacks by the M23 group.|
|27 September 2012 SG/2188||This was the summary of the high-level event on 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 30 September 2012: 16,996 troops, 721 military observers, 1,392 police, 965 international civilian personnel, 2,886 local civilian staff and 577 UN volunteers
Approved budget (1 July 2012-30 June 2013): $1.402 billion
30 November 1999 to present: mandate expires on 30 June 2013.