Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In October, the Security Council will be briefed by Special Representative Martin Kobler and by the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region (PSC Framework).
At press time, the Council was scheduled to go on a mission to the region, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in October. (For more on this, see the brief on the Visiting Mission to Africa.)
The mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) expires on 31 March 2014.
Key Recent Developments
August was marked by growing dissatisfaction of the local population with UN performance. Several demonstrations took place protesting against the newly declared UN ‘security zone’ around Goma which they claimed did not include areas in and around the city actually under the control of the rebel March 23 Movement (M23).
After a recent lull in fighting, clashes between the M23 and the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) quickly escalated on 21 August when M23 rebels entered the security zone. The recently formed MONUSCO “intervention brigade” fired its first shots when it responded with mortar shells on M23 positions. The following day, four civilians were killed in the Goma area by mortar shells reportedly fired by the M23.
At the initiative of the Secretariat, Council members received two separate briefings on the latest violence during consultations on 22 August from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet under “any other business”.
France circulated a draft press statement condemning the M23 attacks against civilians and MONUSCO. Rwanda argued that both sides should be called upon to cease hostilities and the need to implement the PSC Framework and the importance of the Kampala talks between the DRC and the M23 should be emphasised. Council members were unable to reach consensus and the press statement was put aside.
Fighting escalated during the following days. On 24 August, three civilians in Goma were killed by mortar shells fired by the M23, according to MONUSCO. A day later, peacekeepers shot and killed two civilians who were attempting to storm a MONUSCO base during demonstrations against UN inaction. Kobler announced that the DRC police and MONUSCO would conduct a joint investigation into the incident.
The “intervention brigade” joined the FARDC in an offensive against the M23, including with the support of attack helicopters, resulting in the death of two Tanzanian Peacekeepers. Media reports suggest that at least 23 FARDC soldiers were killed in the fighting and the M23 suffered dozens of casualties as well.
During a 29 August briefing to Council members, Mulet reportedly said that MONUSCO witnessed mortar shells being shot from positions held by the M23 towards Rwanda as well as Rwandan troops crossing the border into the DRC. Rwanda categorically denied that its troops had crossed the border and claimed that it had evidence that the FARDC and the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group had fired the mortars. Rwanda also requested that the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) for border issues between Rwanda and the DRC investigate the matter. (The Ugandan coordinator of the EJVM was expelled by the DRC in August, alleging he was too favourable to Rwandan interests.) After the meeting, the Council issued a press statement condemning the recent attacks by the M23 against civilians and MONUSCO (SC/11108). Council members also expressed concern about reports of mortar shells and bombs being fired repeatedly into Rwanda and called for the EJVM to conduct a thorough investigation of those incidents.
On 30 August, the M23 suspended fighting and withdrew from their positions.
On 5 September the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) summit called for the resumption of the Kampala talks, but for a period of no longer than 14 days rather than indefinitely. (The talks resumed on 10 September and were ongoing at press time.)
Despite the declared ceasefire, the M23 has reportedly continued activities against civilians in the area of Rutshuru, to which it fell back after fleeing Goma. According to media reports, M23 rebels are targeting vehicles loaded with supplies and imposing a curfew on civilians in the area.
Meanwhile, violence has also broken out near Ituri in Orientale Province where the FARDC and the Front de Résistance Patriotique de l’Ituri have clashed since late August, causing 80,000 civilians to flee their villages.
Kobler and Robinson briefed Council members via video-teleconference on 12 September about their diplomatic efforts to calm the situation. Kobler said that the military situation has stabilised and that the M23 had been pushed back from Goma. However, he added, the M23 was preparing for further fighting, which might resume if the Kampala talks failed. Robinson insisted that the talks were not to result in broad amnesties for M23 rebels for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Council members then issued a press statement taking note of the ICGLR declaration and calling for the implementation of the PSC Framework (SC/11119).
The regional oversight mechanism of the PSC Framework, the “11+4”, met at the margins of the General Assembly on 23 September, with the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, co-hosting the meeting. The heads of state of the 10 countries (a representative of CAR did not attend the meeting) adopted the regional benchmarks developed by the Technical Support Committee assisting Robinson.
Council members received the latest Secretary-General’s report on the PSC Framework in late September. The report notes certain progress in the DRC’s implementation of its commitments, but warns that the renewed fighting dramatically increases the risk of a collapse of the political process. It also reports that a monitoring and evaluation mechanism headed by Robinson will be established to ensure that the commitments under the PSC Framework are met.
In sanctions-related developments, the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee presented its interim report to the Committee on 19 July (S/2013/433). The report stated that the GoE had gathered evidence that continuous but limited support was being provided to the M23 from within Rwanda. The chair of the 1533 Committee, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan), briefed Council members about the Committee’s activities in consultations on 22 July.
In August, the US put forward the names of two M23 members to be added to the sanctions list, but Rwanda blocked them (sanctions committees routinely operate by consensus).
Human Rights-Related Developments
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri visited the DRC from 22 to 28 August and said she was particularly affected by the situation of people in North Kivu and Ituri. She was alarmed by the scale of sexual violence committed in Ituri, mainly by armed groups but also by security and defence forces and by civilians, with many victims awaiting justice. She witnessed renewed fighting around the city of Goma and strongly denounced the indiscriminate bombings.
On 25 September, Pansieri presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in the DRC from November 2011 to May 2013 (A/HRC/24/33). On 27 September, the HRC decided that it will hold a high-level dialogue during its 25th session on remaining challenges in the fight against sexual violence in the DRC.
The key issue is to ensure the implementation of resolution 2098, which demands the fulfilment of the commitments made by the parties in the PSC Framework.
Another issue is to closely oversee the operations of MONUSCO, and particularly the “intervention brigade”, and how these affect the protection of civilians in the DRC.
The Council could issue a presidential or press statement either during or following its visit to the region, supporting the implementation of the PSC Framework and the operations of the “intervention brigade”.
It may also expand sanctions—or indicate its willingness to expand them—if commitments of the parties under the PSC Framework are not met. The 1533 Sanctions Committee could likewise revisit some of the unimplemented recommendations identified by the GoE in its latest report, including secondary sanctions against those undermining the current sanctions regime.
At press time, with the fighting having apparently subsided, Council members appear hopeful that the trip to the region will enable political momentum and send a message to the parties that the Council intends to follow up on the implementation of the PSC Framework and resolution 2098.
Recent events concerning press statements and the sanctions committee indicate that Rwanda’s presence on the Council has made consensus-based action more elusive at times. Some Council members are concerned that the subsequent delayed reaction, and at times inaction, is not consistent with a “hands-on” approach and effective follow-up on the implementation of the PSC Framework and the operations of the “intervention brigade”.
While supportive of a negotiation process, Council members have nonetheless been ambivalent about the Kampala talks. Most Council members oppose an agreement that would lead to the reintegration of M23 rebels into the FARDC without addressing issues of accountability. Furthermore, there are concerns that reintegrated rebels might not forfeit their allegiance to non-government forces, as has happened in the past.
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 Press Statements|
|30 September 2013 SC/11119||This press statement expressed the Council’s support for the PSC Framework.|
|13 May 2013 SC/11108||This condemned recent attacks by the M23 against civilians and MONUSCO.|
|30 September 2013 S/2013/569||This was the report on the PSC Framework.|
|28 June 2013 S/2013/388||This was a report of the Secretary-General on MONUSCO.|
|Group of Expert’s Report|
|19 July 2013 S/2013/433||This was the interim report of the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
Martin Kobler (Germany)
MONUSCO Force Commander
Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)
MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 31 July 2013: 20,519 troops (including 512 military observers and 1,420 police), 994 international civilian personnel, 2,947 local civilian staff and 549 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2013-30 June 2014): $1.4 billion
30 November 1999 to present; mandate expires on 31 March 2014