Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council will likely hear a briefing on the Secretary-General’s report on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and on the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) by Abou Moussa, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNOCA.
A press or presidential statement is a possible outcome.
UNOCA’s mandate expires on 28 February 2014.
Key Recent Developments
On 29 June, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/18) welcoming the regional strategy—developed by UNOCA—to address the threat and impact of the activities of the LRA on four affected countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR). LRA’s activities have included—as referred to in the regional strategy—killings, abductions (especially of children and women), recruitment and use of children as fighters, rape and other grave sexual violence. The regional strategy outlined five areas where the LRA threat could be combated, namely through supporting:
- implementation of the AU Peace and Security Council Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the LRA;
- promotion of the protection of civilians;
- expansion of disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration activities to cover all LRA-affected areas;
- formulation of a coordinated humanitarian and child protection response; and
- LRA-affected governments’ ability to extend state authority across their territory.
During a Council briefing also on 29 June, the Special Envoy of the AU on the LRA Issue, Francisco Caetano José Madeira, called on the Security Council to follow the AU’s lead in declaring the LRA a terrorist organisation. It remains unclear as to whether Council members will consider this request.
In addition to welcoming the UN regional strategy, the 29 June presidential statement urged peacekeeping and political missions, as well as other UN agencies, to continue their support for the strategy’s implementation. The Council also highlighted the need for states to protect civilians and encouraged continued efforts on disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration. The statement included a request for the Secretary-General to submit a single report on UNOCA and the LRA (including UNOCA’s activities related to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea) to the Council by the end of November.
An “Arria formula” meeting on the LRA was co-hosted by Portugal and the UK on 22 June and attended by the vast majority of Council members. Moussa spoke followed by two Congolese activists from Dungu in the DRC, sharing their experiences living in LRA-affected communities. Representatives from two international NGOs working on the LRA issue also spoke. The main points emerging from the meeting included the importance of engagement and cooperation among LRA-affected governments.
UN efforts on the ground to support the AU and counter the LRA threat in line with the AU regional initiative have been conducted through peacekeeping and political operations in the region. Such operations have provided support in a number of areas, including provision of military patrols in LRA-affected areas; support to disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration programmes; and support to improve early warning capacity.
LRA-affected countries have been contributing troops to the AU regional initiative’s military component, the Regional Task Force (RTF), since its launch on 24 March to fulfil its authorised strength of 5,000 troops. On 18 September, 2,000 Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers joined the RTF, while the Sudan People’s Liberation Army contributed 500 soldiers. This followed the deployment of 350 soldiers of the Forces Armées Centrafricaines on 12 September as part of a total of 450 soldiers to be deployed from the CAR. The DRC has also indicated that it will deploy troops under the umbrella of the RTF in the north east of the country.
UPDF soldiers clashed with LRA forces in the CAR on 24 August and on 5 September, killing three rebels, rescuing two children and recovering a range of military items. The UPDF indicated that the group was under the command of Dominic Ongwen, a top LRA commander indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005.
A key issue for the Council is progress on the implementation and the impact of the UN regional strategy and the role it can play in supporting UN and AU efforts to address the LRA issue and ensure a sustainable solution in the long term.
A related issue is the extent to which missions are fulfilling their roles as outlined in the UN regional strategy.
Another issue relates to key challenges to the effective implementation of the UN regional strategy, namely the prioritisation of protection of civilians and agreement on cross-border solutions to the LRA issue.
A further issue concerns the financial burden of the RTF. While it was originally agreed that the national armies of the four LRA-affected countries would bear the cost of operations, it remains unclear how those governments will come up with the funding for the mission and how they will ensure they are appropriately equipped.
Options for the Council include adopting a presidential statement or issuing a press statement that could:
- welcome progress in implementing the AU regional initiative and the UN regional strategy;
- welcome the efforts of affected governments, urging them to strengthen their focus on protection of civilians and to continue to cooperate on cross-border solutions;
- request further reporting from the Secretary-General; and
- welcome the engagement of missions in the implementation of the UN regional strategy and request their continued support.
Taking no action at this time is another option.
Council members generally support the UN regional strategy and are keen to see how the strategy will translate into reality during its operationalisation.
Council members are in agreement on the importance of cooperation between countries in the region and the importance of coordinated approach in addressing the threat of the LRA. Some believe the issuance of a statement could be an opportunity to applaud the efforts of affected governments to date, encouraging their continued cooperation.
Some Council members have expressed concern about the sustainability of the RTF and the need for a long-term solution to the issue of the LRA.
Several Council members see the RTF as a valuable tool, highlighting the importance of ensuring that appropriate resources are allocated; others, however, have expressed their concerns regarding the financial burden of its work and how these can be addressed.
The UK is the lead country on the LRA.
UN DOCUMENTS ON UNOCA AND THE LRA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|29 February 2012 S/RES/2039||Welcomed the Secretary-General’s assessment mission on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and called on states to implement its recommendations.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|29 June 2012 S/PRST/2012/18||This presidential statement strongly condemned the ongoing attacks carried out by the LRA in parts of central Africa and welcomed the official launching of the AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA in March.|
|14 November 2011 S/PRST/2011/21||This resolution concerned the AU efforts regarding the LRA.|
|11 June 2012 S/2012/421||This report was on the activities of UNOCA and on LRA-affected areas.|
|25 May 2012 S/2012/365||This report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict concerned the LRA.|
|4 November 2011 S/2011/693||This report was on the LRA-affected areas|
|Security Council Letters|
|21 August 2012 S/2012/657||The Security Council noted the Secretary-General’s 13 August 2012 proposal for UNOCA and his recommendation to extend the office for 18 months.|
|13 August 2012 S/2012/656||The Secretary-General recommended extending UNOCA for a further 18 months.|
|25 June 2012 S/2012/481||This letter contained the UN regional strategy to address LRA activities.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 June 2012 S/PV.6796||This was a briefing on the UN Office in Central Africa and the Lord’s Resistance Army.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|18 August 2011 SC/10364||This statement was on the role of UNOCA.|
|21 July 2011 SC/10335||This statement was on efforts to address the LRA issue.|