Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In July, the Security Council will hold a high-level debate on the DRC and the Great Lakes. US Secretary of State John Kerry is likely to preside and other ministers may attend.
A presidential statement is a possible outcome.
During the event, the Secretary-General will brief on his latest report on the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, will brief on her report on the establishment of benchmarks for the implementation of national and regional commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region (PSC Framework).
The 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee will receive a briefing from the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the Committee on their interim report. The chair of the Committee, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan), will then brief Council members in consultations on the interim report.
MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 31 March 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The establishment of the intervention brigade in resolution 2098 and its implications for UN peacekeeping have created much discussion. On 22-23 April, the Secretary-General met with Council members during a retreat where the traditional boundaries of peacekeeping and alternatives were discussed with particular emphasis on the mandate of the intervention brigade. Council members received an overview from the UN Office of Legal Affairs of the possible ramifications of the intervention brigade to the protected status under international humanitarian law of UN peacekeepers. Some Council members expressed surprise that resolution 2098 might have such legal implications.
New developments in peacekeeping, including the intervention brigade, were also recently discussed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ (DPKO) senior management. It was noted that the brigade must have capabilities to operate in a volatile setting and the political will to use force when necessary to achieve its goals. It was also noted that the intervention brigade’s operations might cause retaliation against civilians and UN personnel. These may cause tension between the tasks of the brigade and MONUSCO’s protection of civilians mandate and could eventually make the Council reluctant to give its full support to the brigade. While noting the need for political will to engage, some in DPKO have outlined plans for the intervention brigade to restrict itself to occasional pinpoint operations but otherwise not to attempt to consistently engage in combat activities.
The intervention brigade has begun its deployment to the Kivu region. According to MONUSCO, it will be fully deployed and at full capacity to conduct operations by the end of July.
Robinson briefed the Council, followed by consultations, via video-teleconference on her first visit to the region on 6 May (S/PV.6960). She expressed her hope that all signatories are committed to the PSC Framework, which obligates the DRC to implement reforms and to take steps to establish state authority in the eastern DRC, an area controlled by different rebel groups. It also commits countries in the region to refrain from assisting rebel groups operating in the DRC.
Violence in eastern DRC has persisted. A 7 May attack by unidentified gunmen resulted in the death of a Pakistani peacekeeper in South Kivu. On 8 May, Council members issued a press statement condemning the attack (SC/11001). At least 31 people were killed in North Kivu when gunmen attacked a military base on 15 May. Fighting between the military and the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group renewed in the vicinity of Goma between 20-22 May as well, killing at least 20 people, including civilians. The M23 declared a ceasefire on 23 May in advance of the Secretary-General’s visit to the region but has indicated that it will militarily engage with the intervention brigade.
MONUSCO and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, issued a joint statement on 10 June, expressing concern over children at risk of being recruited by the M23 in North Kivu. Of particular concern was a group of 53 children in the Nyiragongo territory that were previously recruited by the M23 and escaped from the rebels, but are again being sought by the M23.
On 26 May, the first meeting of the regional oversight mechanism of the PSC Framework was held in Addis Ababa. The Secretary-General chaired the meeting with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Representatives of ten states and of the Southern African Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region also attended the meeting. A communiqué released at the end of the meeting welcomed the establishment of a technical support committee to define regional benchmarks, as requested by resolution 2098.
On 29 May, Council members were briefed in consultations by the Secretary-General on the Addis Ababa meeting and on his visit to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda with Robinson and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. The Secretary-General called for both states and private investors to help the region establish peace and long-term development.
Following the briefing, France initiated a press statement to express Council members’ support for the PSC Framework, the deployment of the intervention brigade, its condemnation of recent M23 attacks and its readiness to impose additional sanctions on M23 leadership and those that target UN peacekeepers. Rwanda opposed the language of the statement because in its view it was overly focused on the M23, while ignoring recent attacks by the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the need to hold accountable human rights violators among the FDLR and the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC). Bilateral negotiations between France and Rwanda failed to produce an agreement, and the press statement was not issued.
On 7 June, Robinson issued a statement welcoming the scheduled resumption of peace talks in Kampala between the DRC and the M23, mediated by Uganda. On 13 June, however, the M23 sent a letter to Robinson stating that the DRC government delegation told the mediator in Kampala that it refused to negotiate after talks ended in April, when the M23 broke off negotiations. At press time, negotiations have not resumed.
The GoE of the 1533 Sanctions Committee experienced difficulties in its work. Only four of the six experts were allowed into Rwanda during their visit in March. (Rwanda has stated in the Committee that it refuses to cooperate with two of the experts after their latest annual report [S/2012/843] accused Rwanda of providing support to the M23.)
The Secretary-General appointed Martin Kobler (Germany) on 10 June as his Special Representative for the DRC and head of MONUSCO. Kobler, currently the Special Representative for Iraq, will assume the position in August.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In May, the UN Joint Human Rights Office (comprising the Human Rights Division of MONUSCO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the DRC) published a report on human rights violations perpetrated by FARDC soldiers and combatants of the M23 from 15 November to 2 December 2012 in Goma and Sake, North Kivu province, and in Minova, South Kivu province. Among the most serious human rights violations, the report documented 135 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by FARDC troops and 59 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by the M23. (Twelve senior army officers have since been suspended in relation to investigations into these incidents.)
The key issue for the Council is to ensure the implementation of resolution 2098 and the fulfilment of the commitments made by the parties in the PSC Framework.
Another issue is to oversee the deployment of the intervention brigade and to stay abreast of any collateral effects its exceptional enforcement mandate may have on the peacekeeping mandate of MONUSCO.
Regarding the DRC sanctions, a key issue is ensuring states’ cooperation with the sanctions regime and the GoE.
The Council could issue a presidential or press statement supporting the PSC Framework, Robinson’s efforts and the new benchmarks, the operations of the intervention brigade, calling on the countries in the region to fulfil their obligations and reiterating its willingness to take further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter, if commitments are not met.
Another option would be a visit to the DRC, as was done every year between 2000 and 2010, in order to show support for the implementation of the PSC Framework and the resolve to hold the parties to their commitments.
It seems that previous concerns raised by the troop-contributing countries on the Council (China, Guatemala, Morocco and Pakistan) about the blurring of the lines between traditional peacekeeping and robust peace enforcement and the risk to their troops will continue to be an issue to monitor closely. Recent discussions have suggested that Council members and DPKO are still unclear about the potential legal and political implications of robust peacekeeping and how MONUSCO’s mandate is to be implemented in light of these circumstances.
Having received a first briefing by Robinson in May, Council members will now be interested to hear about more concrete steps to be taken by the DRC government and the countries in the region to implement the PSC Framework and of any reports of non-compliance by any party.
As for the 1533 Sanctions Committee, where decisions are adopted by consensus, Rwanda will not allow for any condemnation of its actions. While some Council members may make statements calling for cooperation with the sanctions regime, it is unlikely that any Council member will initiate any action to respond to Rwanda’s non-cooperation in the Council. This dynamic, coupled with the recent inability to issue a press statement, raises concerns over the political will of Council members to take necessary action to ensure the implementation of resolution 2098 and the PSC Framework.
A Council visit to the region, originally planned for February and then rescheduled to May, has been postponed, possibly to take place in October. (The Council last visited the DRC on 13-16 May 2010.) The initiative of the U.S. to hold a high-level event may mark a renewed focus of the Council on the situation in the region.
France is the penholder on the DRC.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE DRC
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 March 2013 S/RES/2098||This resolution renewed MONUSCO’s mandate—including an intervention brigade to neutralise rebel groups in eastern DRC—until 31 March 2014.|
|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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|19 October 2012 S/PRST/2012/22||This presidential statement concerned the unrest caused by the M23 in the DRC.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|8 May 2013 SC/11001||This press statement condemned an attack that killed a Pakistani peacekeeper in South Kivu.|
|27 February 2013 S/2013/119||This was a special report on the DRC and MONUSCO, regarding options to respond to the M23 threat.|
|15 February 2013 S/2013/96||This was a report of the Secretary-General on MONUSCO.|
|Group of Experts Report|
|12 November 2012 S/2012/843||The DRC Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts annual report noted that both Rwandan and Ugandan officials have been assisting the M23 rebels to varying degrees.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|6 May 2013 S/PV.6960||At this meeting, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region briefed the Council on her first visit to the region.|
OTHER RELEVANT FACTS
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
Roger Meece (US) through July, Martin Kobler (Germany) as of August.
MONUSCO Force Commander
Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)
MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 31 May 2013: 19,192 troops, 516 military observers, 1,416 police, 1,001 international civilian personnel, 2,959 local civilian staff and 582 UN volunteers
Approved budget (1 July 2012-30 June 2013): $1.3 billion
30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 March 2014.