Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In August, Mark Simmonds, UK Minister for Africa, will preside over a high-level meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, will brief, as well as possibly the exiting Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson. The newly appointed Special Envoy, Said Djinnit (Algeria), may also participate, as may representatives of regional organisations and countries of the region.
The Council may also be briefed by the Chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee (Jordan) on the interim report of the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the Committee (S/2014/428).
On 28 March, the Council adopted resolution 2147, renewing the mandate of MONUSCO—including of its intervention brigade—until 31 March 2015.
Key Recent Developments
Violence by armed groups has continued in eastern DRC. On 6 June, at least 30 people died and 15 were wounded in fighting in South Kivu. According to reports, DRC forces and MONUSCO personnel stationed nearby failed to intervene to stop the conflict despite being notified of the fighting as it unfolded. The local MONUSCO commander was later removed from his post.
A report released by Doctors without Borders (MSF) on 16 July stated that women are being kidnapped by armed gangs and forced to work as sex slaves in eastern DRC. MSF also warned that men are being kidnapped and put to work as labourers in the gold and diamond mining region of Okapi.
The latest Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in the DRC (S/2014/453) notes that the recruitment and use of children by armed groups remained endemic in 2010-2013. Close to 4,200 cases of recruitment and use of boys and girls by armed groups and the Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo (FARDC) were documented. The report also documented more than 900 cases of sexual violence against children committed by all parties to the conflict while acknowledging that many more children are likely to have been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. One positive development was that the action plan signed in 2012 by the DRC to end the recruitment and use of children and sexual violence by the FARDC has led to the release of hundreds of children.
Five FARDC soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Rwandan troops on the Rwanda-DRC border in North Kivu on 11 June. According to open sources, the Extended Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) reported that there were violations of territory from both sides but noted that there was “provocation by Rwanda Defence Forces on the Congolese national army positions”. The report then cites mistrust between the two militaries and the contested border in the area as the backdrops of the incident. One recommendation is that a detailed forensic autopsy be conducted on all the corpses to determine the time, cause and circumstances of death (the DRC claims that four of the soldiers were not killed in combat). The report was not signed by the Rwandan member of the EJVM.
The ministers of defence and foreign affairs of the ICGLR and member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) held a meeting on the DRC on 3 July in Luanda, Angola, taking note of the EJVM report and encouraging it to conclude its investigations on the issue for further review.
On 18 April the Hutu rebel group Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) issued a communiqué in which it announced its intention to surrender to SADC troops (of the MONUSCO intervention brigade) in exchange for negotiations, including with Rwanda, on reintegration. While some 200 FDLR members had surrendered by early June, the process has since stalled, and the FDLR remains active. The DRC recently announced that it would give the FDLR another six months to disarm voluntarily before commencing military operations to neutralise the group, as was also agreed with the ICGLR and SADC in Luanda. This delay and the continued presence in Rwanda of more than 600 former fighters of the disbanded March 23 (M23) rebel group, remain contentious between Rwanda and the DRC. Meanwhile, the FARDC remains active against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS).
MONUSCO’s latest report of 30 June (S/2014/450) highlights the partial progress achieved in the fields of neutralising armed groups, ending gross human rights violations, consolidating state authority in the east and national reforms. It notes that serious human rights violations and abuses, including rape and abductions, continue to be committed by armed groups and the DRC security forces and that armed groups continue to operate in the eastern provinces and pose a serious threat to civilians. MONUSCO continues to implement its reconfiguration to the east and by the end of August 2014, some three-quarters of all civilian staff will have redeployed to eastern DRC.
The Secretary-General takes the view in the report that the disarmament of the FDLR needs to be completed without delay and that the military option against the group should be seriously considered again if the negotiated process produces inadequate results. At the same time, the Secretary-General remains concerned by the slow progress in the implementation of national commitments, in particular those relating to army reform and the establishment of a rapid reaction force, a key element in the exit strategy for MONUSCO set out in resolution 2147. The report calls on the DRC to live up to its commitment to implement key reforms under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC Framework).
In other developments, the Independent National Electoral Commission published a partial electoral calendar on 26 May, setting the timeframe for various local elections between June and October 2015.
On 14 July, Zainab Bangura and Leila Zerrougui, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Children and Armed Conflict, respectively, welcomed the appointment of Jeannine Mudiayi as presidential adviser on conflict-related sexual violence and child recruitment in the DRC. In a joint statement, they noted the commitment of President Joseph Kabila to the fight against conflict-related sexual violence and recruitment and use of children in the DRC.
In sanctions-related developments, the Sanctions Committee added the ADF to the sanctions list on 30 June for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including the recruitment of child soldiers, and attacks on MONUSCO peacekeepers.
The interim report of the GoE was submitted to the Council by the chair of the Sanctions Committee on 19 June (S/2014/428). The GoE notes that in contrast to claims that the FDLR is ready to disarm, it continues to recruit and train combatants, including children. In addition, FDLR leaders state that their main objective remains to attack Rwanda. Evidence also indicates continuing collaboration at the local level between the FARDC and FDLR. The report also notes that resolving the issue of the ex-M23 combatants in Rwanda and Uganda continues to stagnate and that there is evidence of reorganisation among M23 members in Uganda.
On natural resources, the GoE notes delays in the implementation of the regional certification mechanism due to structural weaknesses in the ICGLR secretariat and lack of political will among its members. The lack of implementation of the DRC’s mine-validation system outside of the Kivus encourages the continuation of smuggling through neighbouring states.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 9 April, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and MONUSCO’s Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) released a report on the progress and obstacles in the fight against impunity for sexual violence in the DRC between January 2010 and December 2013. This period was characterised by the persistence of extremely serious incidents of sexual violence. UNJHRO registered some 3,600 victims of sexual violence and found that the FARDC was responsible for a third of the acts and that rape is used as a weapon of war. While the number of prosecutions and convictions has increased, the report stated that much more is needed to be done to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.
During a press briefing on 6 May, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its disappointment about the 5 May judgment of a military court against 39 members of the FARDC who were accused of perpetrating rapes committed in Minova in November 2012. Fourteen of them were acquitted; two were convicted for rape, one for murder and the remaining were convicted for lesser crimes. According to OHCHR, the outcome of the trial confirmed shortcomings in the administration of justice in the country. Following the 29 April review of the DRC, the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review working group adopted its report on 2 May (A/HRC/27/5). The DRC rejected 38 of the 229 recommendations.
A key issue for the Council is to oversee MONUSCO’s operations, including the intervention brigade, in neutralising rebel groups, including the FDLR.
A related critically important issue for the Council is ensuring that the DRC lives up to its commitment to implement key reforms.
Another key issue is to ensure the implementation of the PSC Framework at the national and regional levels, in particular the disarmament and reintegration of combatants.
A continuing issue is the transition of MONUSCO’s operations from western to eastern DRC.
The Council could adopt a statement that would:
- welcome the appointment of Djinnit;
- call on the DRC and other countries to implement their commitments under the PSC Framework;
- call on the DRC to ensure that the FDLR surrenders voluntarily or, if needed, by force; and
- express support for the activities of the ICGLR and the SADC, in particular in calming border tensions between the DRC and Rwanda.
Taking no action at this time is another option.
Despite the military achievements against the M23 and the ongoing engagement of the FARDC with the ADF and the APCLS, Council members are increasingly concerned with the slow or stalled progress on other fronts. Several Council members are of the view that at this point much focus should be given to national reforms, the reintegration of former rebels, neutralising remaining groups and the establishment of state authority. They hope that the appointment of Djinnit as Special Envoy will create new momentum in the implementation of the PSC Framework.
Some Council members are of the view that emphasis should be placed on the DRC’s implementation of its commitment to engage with the FDLR.
They see the initial surrender of approximately 200 FDLR members as a positive occurrence, but the FDLR remains active, and none of its estimated 1,500 members have laid down their arms since early June. These Council members believe that the situation must be monitored to ensure that the DRC follows through on this issue.
France is the penholder on the DRC.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE DRC
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 March 2014 S/RES/2147||This resolution renewed the mandate of MONUSCO – including its intervention brigade – until 31 March 2015.|
|30 January 2014 S/RES/2136||This resolution renewed the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|14 March 2014 S/PV.7137||The Council was briefed by the Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler on the MONUSCO report (S/2014/157).|
|30 June 2014 S/2014/453||This was a report on children and armed conflict in the DRC.|
|30 June 2014 S/2014/450||This was a report on MONUSCO.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|1 July 2014 SC/11459||This was a press release on the listing of the ADF.|
|19 June 2014 S/2014/428||This was the interim report of the GoE on the DRC.|
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 May 2014: 21,166 troops (including 488 military observers and 1,150 police), 972 international civilian personnel, 2,964 local civilian staff and 523 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2013-30 June 2014): $1.46 billion
Mission Duration: July 2010 to present