Expected Council Action
In May, 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.
Key Recent Developments
The Council last discussed UNOCA and the LRA on 20 November 2013 (S/PV.7065), when Moussa briefed on the 14 November UNOCA/LRA report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/671). Francisco Madeira, AU Special Envoy for the LRA, also addressed the Council. On 25 November, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/18) expressing its strong support for the AU Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA (RCI-LRA) and the enhanced operation of the AU-Regional Task Force (AU-RTF). The statement also requested that the Secretary-General keep it informed through a single report on UNOCA and the LRA by 15 May 2014.
Media reports suggest that the LRA has recently participated in operations against Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR) alongside the Anti-Balaka Christian militia groups. On 10 April the Council adopted resolution 2149 and established the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). MINUSCA is to coordinate its operations and share relevant information with the AU-RTF.
On 21 April, the AU-RTF captured Charles Okello, a junior LRA commander, and rescued three women and seven children in an operation in southeast CAR. This follows indications that Okot Odhiambo—Joseph Kony’s deputy—likely died of his wounds after an attack late last year in the CAR. The ICC has issued arrest warrants against both Kony and Odhiambo for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and forced enlistment of children.
In March, the US deployed four CV-22 Osprey aircraft, two C-130 transport planes and two KC-135 refuelling aircraft, as well as 150 US Air Force special forces personnel, to join the 100 US special forces personnel already in Uganda, in order to assist anti-LRA efforts. (The Osprey is a multi-utility aircraft that has vertical takeoff and landing capability, similar to a helicopter, combined with the long range and speed performance of a propeller airplane.) Aircraft capability is intended to allow forces to cover more ground in the hunt for LRA leaders.
On 27 March, the EU pledged 2 million euros to the RCI-LRA to cover staff allowances, communication equipment and operational costs of the initiative for 17 months.
Against the backdrop of deteriorating relations between Sudan and Uganda, the prime minister of Uganda, the driving force of the AU-RTF and its main contributor, said in a press statement on 24 April that “sadly, Sudan has not stopped supporting Joseph Kony and the LRA”. Sudan has been suspected in the past of providing support to the LRA to further its interests in what today is South Sudan.
The Council will primarily be focused on an update and analysis regarding implementation of the UN regional anti-LRA strategy, though other urgent needs persist in the region, including how the situations in the CAR and in South Sudan are affecting the regional strategy.
A new issue will be ensuring cooperation between MINUSCA and the AU-RTF.
One option for the Council is issuing a presidential or press statement that would:
- support UNOCA and the RCI-LRA while calling on the states in the region to maintain their full commitment to the AU-RTF; and
- encourage member states to contribute more resources toward anti-LRA efforts and regional cooperation, especially in light of the turmoil in countries in the region.
Taking no action at this time is another option.
Council members are largely in agreement on LRA-related issues and strongly support the UN regional anti-LRA strategy, particularly as they see the current period as a window of opportunity to maintain pressure and eradicate the LRA, whose combined forces now number an estimated 500 rebels at most.
There is also recognition that conflicts within the region may ultimately undermine the RCI-LRA efforts. South Sudan has been in a civil war since 15 December 2013, and the CAR has been in conflict and lawless at least since March 2013. Rebel groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), such as the March 23 movement, the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda and the Allied Democratic Forces, have been the focus of operations in the country for the UN and the DRC military. These conflicts have afforded the LRA new areas in which to operate and regroup. 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. Council members will be interested to hear how the situations in these countries are currently affecting the anti-LRA efforts.
UN Documents on UNOCA/LRA
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|25 November 2013 S/PRST/2013/18||This was a presidential statement condemning the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army and requesting the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed through a single report.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|25 November 2013 S/PV.7066||This was the meeting at which S/PRST/2013/18 was adopted.|
|20 November 2013 S/PV.7065||This was a meeting record where the Council was briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNOCA, Abou Moussa.|
|Security Council Letter|
|10 February 2014 S/2014/103||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council about the extension of UNOCA until 31 August 2015.|
|14 November 2013 S/2013/671||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and the implementation of the regional LRA strategy.|