Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In October, the Council will be briefed by Special Representative Martin Kobler, head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), as well as the recently appointed Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit. The briefing will be followed by consultations.
The mandate of MONUSCO—including its intervention brigade— expires on 31 March 2015.
Key Recent Developments
The Council was last briefed on the situation in the DRC on 7 August by Kobler and outgoing Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson. Also addressing the Council was Angola’s Minister of Defence João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, representing the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
Kobler told Council members that, despite greatly improved security and last year’s surrender of the March 23 rebel movement (M23), the protracted conflict in the DRC would persist if other armed groups in the east failed to lay down their weapons. He specifically singled out the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), as some 1,500 of its combatants remain active and are not conforming to the DRC’s six-month voluntary disarmament plan. Kobler further expressed his support for the position of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the ICGLR countries to use force against those unwilling to disarm. Lourenço expressed his concerns over the slow progress of the voluntary surrender and disarmament of FDLR members.
The ICGLR held a mini-summit on 13-14 August on the DRC and the Great Lakes Region resulting in a communiqué giving the FDLR an ultimatum for voluntary surrender by 2 December as set out by a joint ICGLR-SADC meeting of defence ministers on 2 July. (The communiqué, however, contained a reservation by Rwanda, which opposes any postponement of military action against the FDLR). It also announced ICGLR’s intention to review the surrender process in October so as to measure progress and plan military action if necessary.
On 26 August, Council members issued a press statement expressing deep concern regarding the sustained threat posed by FDLR and reaffirming support for its swift neutralisation. Council members took note of the ICGLR-SADC ultimatum. The statement further expressed concern about reports indicating that the FDLR has interpreted the ultimatum’s timeline as a pretext to stall previously scheduled demobilisations. The statement also encouraged the DRC to maintain military pressure against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilisation process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses.
The press statement also called for the full and swift implementation by the DRC of its national commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC Framework), particularly regarding security sector reform. It noted the need to hasten the return from Rwanda and Uganda to the DRC of former M23 combatants who are eligible for reintegration.
On 20 August, in response to Kobler’s call on Radio France Internationale for FDLR combatants to disarm and be repatriated to Rwanda, six Rwandan opposition parties issued a press release, rejecting the call and indicating that Rwanda would not uphold the combatants’ rights if they returned. In a 1 September letter to the chair of the SADC, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the FDLR reiterated its commitment to disarmament and called for political pressure to be applied to Rwanda to enter political dialogue.
The Regional Oversight Mechanism of the PSC Framework, comprised of its signatories, met in New York on 22 September, on the margins of the General Assembly. A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting called upon all concerned stakeholders to step up efforts to neutralise all negative forces, accelerate the implementation of the agreement between the DRC and the M23, fully restore state authority in eastern DRC and end impunity.
According to media reports on 14 September, Didier Bitaki—the leader of the 2,800-member Mai Mai Kifuafua group, which operates in Walikale territory in North Kivu Province—said that his group will not disarm before the government provides assurances that it will protect civilians in the territory the group controls and sends the Congolese military to control that area.
On 19 September, DRC President Joseph Kabila promoted General Gabriel Amisi, to head of one of three newly-created national zones of defence, comprising the capital Kinshasa and western provinces. Amisi was previously suspended after a report by the Group of Experts assisting the DRC Sanctions Committee had accused him of supplying arms to rebel forces as part of a criminal network for personal gain (S/2012/843).
Kabila is also rumoured to be considering a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term in 2016. (Kabila has not announced any plans to stand again, but a number of his supporters have made public appeals for him to change the constitution before his second term expires in 2016.)
In sanctions-related developments, on 20 August, Ambassador Dina Kawar (Jordan), the chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in consultations on the activities of the Committee and the Group of Expert’s midterm report (S/2014/428). (For more on the midterm report, see our August Monthly Forecast).
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Human Rights Council (HRC) on 26 September adopted a resolution on human rights technical assistance and capacity-building in the DRC, inter alia requesting the High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study on the impact of technical assistance and capacity building on the human rights situation in the DRC and to present it at the HRC’s thirtieth regular session (A/HRC/RES/27/27).
A key issue for the Council is to oversee MONUSCO’s operations, including the intervention brigade, in neutralising the rebel groups, including the FDLR.
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 and the operations of the intervention brigade.
Options include taking no action at this time or adopting a statement:
- calling on the DRC and other countries to improve implementation of their commitments under the PSC Framework;
- expressing concern over continued violence in eastern DRC and calling for armed groups to disarm and undergo reintegration; and
- expressing support for the activities of the ICGLR and the SADC, in particular in support of DRC action against the FDLR and other groups.
Council members continue to be concerned with the slow or stalled progress on several fronts of the PSC Framework commitments. Several Council members are of the view that at this point, more focus should be given to national reforms, the reintegration of former rebels, neutralising remaining groups and the establishment of state authority. They hope that Djinnit, briefing for the first time as Special Envoy, will be able to report on renewed progress on at least some issues.
Council members will be monitoring closely the results of the ICGLR-SADC summit in October and any decisions taken on further action against the FDLR, which has shown no recent signs of laying down its arms. Several Council members are of the view that the situation must be monitored closely to ensure that the DRC government follows through on this issue so that security and state authority are established in eastern DRC.
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 Press Statement|
|26 August 2014 SC/11533||This was a press statement reaffirming support for the swift neutralisation of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda as a top priority in bringing stability to the DRC and the Great Lakes region.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|7 August 2014 S/PV.7237||This was a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC and the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, and the outgoing Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson.|
|30 June 2014 S/2014/450||This was a report on MONUSCO.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|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
Lt. Gen. Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)
MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 31 July 2014: 21,187 troops (including 484 military observers and 1,164 police), 963 international civilian personnel, 2,964 local civilian staff and 477 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2013-30 June 2014): $1.46 billion
Mission Duration: July 2010 to present