Expected Council Action
In November, the Security Council expects a briefing by Abou Moussa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), on the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and the implementation of the regional strategy on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Either a presidential or a press statement is a possible outcome.
UNOCA’s mandate expires on 28 February 2014.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last discussed UNOCA and the LRA on 29 May (S/PV.6971), when Moussa briefed on the 20 May UNOCA/LRA report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/297). Moussa emphasised a number of issues of regional significance: UNOCA’s capacity-building work with the Economic Community of Central African States, efforts toward deploying the AU Regional Task Force (AU-RTF), increasing insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the cross-border implications of Nigeria’s counter-insurgency against Boko Haram, an Islamist rebel group based in northern Nigeria. (For example, there have been recent media reports of increasing Boko Haram activity in the CAR, which has likely exacerbated sectarian violence.) The Council issued a presidential statement welcoming the implementation plan for the UN’s anti-LRA strategy and reiterating its condemnation of the LRA’s human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law (S/PRST/2013/6).
On 17 June, the AU released a report of the Chairperson on the AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the LRA (RCI-LRA) noting that progress had been made toward full deployment and operation of the AU-RTF. Out of an envisaged 5,000 troops, 3,350 had been contributed as follows: Uganda, 2,000; Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 500; South Sudan, 500; and CAR, 350 (although the CAR contingent disintegrated shortly after deployment due to renewed offensives by Séléka rebels in that country). The report highlighted the problems posed by the 24 March Séléka seizure of power in the CAR, particularly with respect to the need for the AU-RTF to suspend anti-LRA operations as the Séléka immediately called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. In line with the recommendations in the report, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) issued a communiqué on 17 June renewing the mandate of the RCI-LRA until 22 May 2014.
According to press reports on 3 October, Uganda announced that its AU-RTF troops had resumed operations in the CAR after prolonged negotiations with the transitional government in the CAR. On 9 October, the US commended Uganda for its contribution to the effort and reiterated its continued support for the AU-RTF (100 US special forces troops serve in an advisory and training capacity).
On 10 October, the Council adopted resolution 2121 concerning the CAR, the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (now known by its French acronym MISCA) and the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) (S/PV.7042). The resolution expressed concern at the continued operation of the LRA in the CAR and called on all countries in the region and subregional and regional organisations to further their efforts and enhance their coordination—including through the AU-RTF and UN regional strategy—to address the threat posed by the LRA.
The Council will be focused on an update and analysis regarding implementation of the UN regional anti-LRA strategy, particularly regarding the five strategic goals:
- full operationalisation of the RCI-LRA and AU-RTF;
- enhanced efforts to promote protection of civilians;
- geographic expansion of disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration to cover all LRA-affected areas;
- coordinated humanitarian and child protection response; and
- supporting peacebuilding, human rights, rule of law and development to regional governments in order to facilitate establishment of their authority.
One option for the Council is issuing a press statement or presidential statement in support of UNOCA and the RCI-LRA.
Another option would be to request member states to contribute more resources toward anti-LRA efforts while also stressing the importance of regional cooperation.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are largely in agreement on LRA-related issues and strongly support the UN regional anti-LRA strategy, particularly the need to grasp a window of opportunity to eradicate the LRA, whose combined forces now number an estimated 500 rebels at most. There is also a recognition that conflicts within the region must be effectively dealt with in order to deny territory for the LRA to regroup.
Difficult regional relations have been a conspicuous obstacle to a better-coordinated and more aggressive LRA counter-insurgency. For example, the LRA is thought to be present in areas controlled by the Sudan Armed Forces in South Darfur, where AU-RTF troops are not allowed to deploy. Likewise, from April through September, Ugandan AU-RTF contingents ceased to operate in the CAR as the Séléka-led government called for the expulsion of all foreign forces. While Ugandan troops have since resumed operating in the CAR, they remain unauthorised to conduct cross-border LRA operations into the DRC, where the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo has been ineffectual. Moreover, the collapse of state authority and the armed forces in the CAR following the Séléka takeover has exacerbated security voids in the CAR. Thus, while there has been progress in making the AU-RTF a more effective force, the LRA has intermittently benefitted from de facto safe havens within the region.
The UK is the penholder on the LRA.
UN Documents on UNOCA/LRA
|Security Council Resolution|
|10 October 2013 S/RES/2121||This resolution updated the BINUCA mandate in five areas.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|29 May 2013 S/PRST/2013/6||This presidential statement condemned the actions of the LRA and requested that the Secretary-General keep it informed through a single report on UNOCA and the LRA by 15 November 2013.|
|20 May 2013 S/2013/297||This was a report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa and on the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas|
|Security Council Letters|
|19 April 2013 S/2013/240||This was the implementation plan for the UN regional strategy to address LRA activity.|
|25 June 2012 S/2012/481||This letter contained the UN regional strategy to address LRA activities.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|10 October 2013 S/PV.7042||The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2121 updating the BINUCA mandate in five areas.|
|29 May 2013 S/PV.6971||This was a briefed on the Secretary-General’s report on the Lord’s Resistance Army and on UNOCA (S/2013/297) by Abou Moussa, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNOCA.|
Additional Useful Resources
Communiqué, AU PSC, 17 June 2013.