February 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2013
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action

In February, the Council expects a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous about possible modifications to the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to address the threat by the rebel group the March 23 Movement (M23)—a source of instability in the region and of massive displacement of civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, is expected to also brief the Council on the forthcoming report by the Secretary-General.

The 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee expects to meet with the newly appointed Group of Experts (GoE) assisting it before the GoE deploys to the region.

MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 30 June.

Key Recent Developments

The M23 group has been at the centre of DRC-related Council activities in recent months.

On 17 November 2012, the Council issued a press statement following a briefing by Ladsous, strongly condemning the resumption of attacks by the M23 (SC/10819). On 20 November, as the M23 rebels captured Goma, the Council adopted resolution 2076, signalling its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those providing it with external support. (According to the GoE’s latest report [S/2012/843], both Rwandan and Ugandan officials have been assisting the rebels to varying degrees. Both countries deny the allegations.) The resolution asked the Secretary-General to report “in the coming days” on the situation on the ground, on allegations of external support to M23 rebels and on possible modifications in the deployment of MONUSCO to address the issue.

On 21 November, Meece briefed the Council (S/PV.6868), followed by a briefing on 27 November by Ladsous and the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, following her participation in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) summit in Kampala, Uganda. She met there with, among others, Col. Sultani Makenga, the head of the M23’s military wing. (The 1533 Committee listed Makenga on 12 November [SC/10812].)

On 26 November, the ICGLR—which is currently chaired by Uganda and includes the DRC and Rwanda—issued a declaration calling on the M23 to withdraw to a distance of at least 20 kilometres from Goma and for MONUSCO to stand as a buffer between the M23 and the DRC army. The declaration also called on the DRC government to negotiate with the M23. The M23 withdrew from Goma on 1 December.

Ladsous briefed Council members again in consultations on 7 December and was again joined by Malcorra on 18 December, following her recent visit to Kinshasa.

On 8 January, Ladsous again briefed Council members in consultations. The meeting followed a 27 December letter from the Secretary-General to the Council President (S/2013/43), outlining the additional capacities that MONUSCO needed immediately to ensure that it has the resources to fulfil its mandate in light of the ongoing activities by the M23. (In a presidential statement of 19 October 2012 [S/PRST/2012/22] and in resolution 2076 of 20 November 2012, the Council had asked for a report on options for improving MONUSCO’s ability to implement its mandate. At press time, a full report was expected by early February.) The letter also states that capabilities—such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—are necessary for “advanced information collation, analysis and dissemination to enhance situational awareness and to permit timely decision-making.”

The issue of UAVs has given rise to numerous questions, including about the need and feasibility of using such equipment, possible legal ramifications, the source of funds to pay for them and the logistics of operating them. (The UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations [C34] has been discussing the issue of using modern technologies, including UAVs, in peacekeeping operations more generally. In its 2012 annual report to the General Assembly [A/66/19], it said it looked forward to further consideration by the Secretary-General of the topic and stressed the importance of the consent of the countries concerned with the deployment of such technologies. It also noted the Secretariat’s intention to use these technologies, if available, on a case-by-case basis.)

During the 8 January briefing, Ladsous gave Council members initial information on the operative and financial implications of employing UAVs and protocols for using the information they retrieved. Additional informal meetings at the experts’ level were held with Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ (DPKO) military experts on the use of UAVs. Several Council members, including Rwanda, initially expressed reservations about MONUSCO’s use of UAVs, but after further clarifications, Council members agreed in principle that deploying UAVs in the DRC on a trial basis is in line with the case-by-case approach regarding modern technologies.

UN Military Adviser Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye met with the presidents of Tanzania and Uganda in January in their capacities as chairs of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and ICGLR, respectively. He also attended a ministerial meeting of the AU on a proposed neutral international force and the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) for the eastern DRC. The suggested neutral force—an ICGLR initiative—would monitor the DRC-Rwanda border area. Media reports suggest that the SADC countries are ready to deploy their troops as part of this initiative. The EJVM, which has been deployed since 20 November, is a technical body, comprising experts from the DRC, Rwanda, the UN and the AU to address DRC-Rwanda border security issues.

On 7 January, the M23 declared a unilateral ceasefire. The DRC has since said that the M23 has not put down its arms or respected the ICGLR declaration regarding their retreat from the Goma area. Negotiations between the warring parties are ongoing in Kampala. On 28 January, during the AU Summit, the Secretary-General was scheduled to sign, along with countries in the region, a political framework agreement in which the DRC committed to enhancing the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process and countries in the region agreed not to assist rebel groups operating in the DRC. According to open sources, the signing of the agreement was cancelled shortly beforehand and at press time had been postponed indefinitely.

The Council and the DRC Sanctions Committee have also been active on the sanctions front. On 12 November 2012, the Committee met with the GoE to discuss their annual report. In a press statement (SC/10872), the Committee stressed two of the recommendations contained in the report:

  • that armed groups immediately release all child soldiers and cease any future recruitment of minors; and
  • that exporters, processing industries and consumers of tin, tantalum and tungsten mineral products from eastern DRC act with diligence to trace their origin.

On 21 November, the Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan), briefed the Council in consultations on the GoE annual report. On 28 November, in resolution 2078, the Council renewed the DRC sanctions and the mandate of the GoE until 1 February 2014, while taking note of the report.

On 30 November, the Committee added two M23 leaders—Baudoin Ngaruye and Innocent Kaina—to the sanctions list (SC/10842). On 31 December, two more M23 leaders—Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Lugerero Runiga—were placed on the list. The M23 group itself, along with the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group, were listed as well (SC/10876). Both are believed to be responsible for serious violations of international law involving the targeting of women and children. The Committee noted in a press release that according to several witnesses, the M23 receives general military assistance from the Rwandan Defence Forces.

Some members of the Sanctions Committee had urged the appointment of the GoE before the beginning of 2013 and the new configuration of the Council. Accordingly, after consultations with the Committee, on 28 December the Secretary-General informed the Council of the appointment of five experts, from Belgium, Cameroon, France, Kenya and Moldova (S/2012/967). On 2 January, the Secretary-General informed the Council of the appointment of the sixth and final expert, from the US (S/2013/1).  

Human Rights- Related Developments

In November 2012, the UN Joint Human Rights Office (composed of personnel from MONUSCO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the DRC) released a report on serious human rights violations perpetrated against civilians between April and September 2012 in Masisi territory, North Kivu, confirming the arbitrary executions of at least 264 people. The report noted that other serious violations were committed, including violations of physical integrity and rape, large-scale destruction and looting of private property and forced displacement of civilians. These violations, which could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, were perpetrated with extreme violence by combatants belonging to the rebel groups Raïa Mutomboki, Mayi Mayi Kifuafua, the FDLR and Nyatura. The report underlined the ethnic dimension of the attacks and stressed that victims were mainly children, women and the elderly.

Following his briefing to the Security Council on 18 December 2012, Ladsous told the press that a report on human rights violations during the M23’s offensive would probably be released in January (at press time the report had not been released). He said that at least 126 women had been raped and that it appeared that most of the rapes were committed by elements of the DRC army. On 21 December, Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said during a press briefing in Geneva that UN human rights teams had also documented cases of arbitrary execution, enforced disappearances, degrading treatment and rape by M23 fighters in Goma and surrounding areas.

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is to determine what changes are to be made in MONUSCO’s mandate in order to respond to the M23 crisis.

An immediate issue to address will be to decide whether the proposed international neutral force should be integrated into MONUSCO or, if it is to constitute an independent force in the region, how MONUSCO is to interact with it.

Options

Options for the Council include:

  • amending MONUSCO’s mandate to incorporate the international neutral force and make further adjustments to allow for its operation;
  • adopting a decision on the establishment of an independent force;
  • welcoming the establishment of an international force and amending MONUSCO’s mandate to cooperate with it;
  • calling on the states and groups concerned to negotiate a political solution to the crisis in North Kivu;
  • welcoming the appointment of a UN Special Envoy; and
  • emphasising the importance of accountability because ignoring the actions of persistent perpetrators of human rights violations and international crimes has played into the hands of those interested in destabilisation (a less likely option).

Regarding the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, one potential, though unlikely, option is imposing sanctions against violators of the DRC sanctions regime, including foreign officials.

Council Dynamics

The Secretary-General’s expected report on the strategy for the response to the M23 threat is likely to include information on the role of the proposed UN Special Envoy to the region, the regional political processes and recommendations on the establishment of an international neutral force either as a separate entity or within MONUSCO. Council members are expecting the report to include the positions of the regional actors on the structure of the force, its modalities and rules of engagement and requests for possible UN assistance to its operation. While the Secretariat is inclined to have the force operate as part of MONUSCO, media reports suggest that the regional actors prefer a force operating independently, possibly with UN assistance. Several Council members are sceptical that the deployment of a completely independent force is feasible.

Council members, in formulating their positions on the proposals, will likely be weighing the views of the regional actors, the DRC and DPKO. For some Council members, the preference of the DRC and regional actors, including those contributing troops to the force, is critical. Another consideration is the level of control and influence the Council will have on the force if it remains a separate entity and whether it could become a disruptive element in the already complicated situation. Another factor that may influence Council members’ reaction to the establishment of the force is the financial implication of either including it within MONUSCO’s budget or funding it as an independent force. For the troop-contributing countries on the Council, there are concerns that integrating a force that carries out enforcement activities within MONUSCO’s mandate may endanger their own troops. 

A visit to the DRC, Kigali and Kampala had been planned for February but has been postponed due to scheduling problems and other pressing issues on the Council agenda. France is the lead country on the DRC.

UN Documents on the DRC

Security Council Resolutions  
28 November 2012 S/RES/2078 This resolution renewed DRC sanctions and the mandate of the Group of Experts supporting the sanctions committee until 1 February 2014.
20 November 2012 S/RES/2076 This resolution was on future responses to the M23 threat.
27 June 2012 S/RES/2053 This resolution renewed MONUSCO’s mandate until 30 June 2013.
Security Council Presidential Statement  
19 October 2012 S/PRST/2012/22 This presidential statement concerned the unrest caused by the M23 in the DRC.
Secretary-General’s Report  
23 May 2012 S/2012/355 This report of the Secretary-General was on MONUSCO.
Sanctions Committee Documents  
12 November 2012 S/2012/843 This was the DRC Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts annual report.
Security Council Meeting Records  
28 November 2012 S/PV.6873 This was the meeting’s record of the adoption of resolution 2078.
21 November 2012 S/PV.6868 The Council was briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Roger Meece.
20 November 2012 S/PV.6866 This was the meeting records during which resolution 2076 was adopted.
Security Council Letters  
22 January 2013 S/2013/44 This was the Council’s response to the Secretary-General’s letter on the use of modern technologies.
27 December 2012 S/2013/43 This was the Secretary-General’s letter on the use of modern technologies.
2 January 2013 S/2013/1 This letter was from the Secretary-General on the appointment of the Group of Experts.
28 December 2012 S/2012/967 This letter was from the Secretary-General on the appointment of the Group of Experts.
Security Council Press Statements  
31 December 2012 SC/10876 The 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee added two individuals—Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Runiga—and two entities—M23 and the Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda—to the sanctions list.
21 December 2012 SC/10872 The Sanctions Committee drew attention to two recommendations of the annual report of the group of experts.
30 November 2012 SC/10842 The 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee added two M23 rebel group leaders—Baudoin Ngaruye and Innocent Kaina—to the sanctions list.
17 November 2012 SC/10819 The Council expressed concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation in DRC.
13 November 2012 SC/10812 This was on the listing of Makenga by the Sanctions Committee.

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 November 2012: 17,049 troops, 693 military observers, 1,412 police, 977 international civilian personnel, 2,895 local civilian staff and 579 UN volunteers
Approved budget (1 July 2012-30 June 2013): $1.348 billion

Mission Duration
30 November 1999 to present: mandate expires on 30 June 2013.