Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In July, the Council will be briefed by Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
The Chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Dina Kawar (Jordan), will brief the Council on her May visit to the region.
MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 31 March 2016.
Key Recent Developments
Rebel groups continue to spread violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A joint MONUSCO and Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) offensive was launched against the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FPRI) from the Ngiti ethnic group in Orientale Province on 3 June. In the first 10 days of the offensive 34 militants and four FARDC soldiers were killed. Of all the armed groups, the FRPI were reportedly responsible for the highest number of human rights violations committed during the month of April 2015 (33 violations and 102 victims), according to the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO). Other armed groups such as the Ugandan Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remain active as well. Violence in North Kivu has led to 50,700 additional internally displaced people according to OCHA.
On 26 March, the Council adopted resolution 2211, which renewed the mandate of MONUSCO, including its force intervention brigade (FIB), until 31 March 2016. MONUSCO is authorised to “carry out targeted offensive operations through the FIB in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO,” either unilaterally or jointly with the FARDC, to neutralise armed groups. The resolution asks MONUSCO to maximise its inter-operability, flexibility and effectiveness in the implementation of its mandate. (The report of the Secretary-General on the strategic review of MONUSCO, requested by the Council, contained criticism regarding the poor performance of some of MONUSCO’s contingents, recommended a more proactive approach and called for all contingents to show willingness to use force to protect civilians [S/2014/957].)
Following the calls by the DRC for a significant withdrawal of troops, the resolution endorsed the recommendations made in the strategic review, downsizing the mission by 2,000 troops. The resolution notes that this reduction will become “permanent” once significant progress in the DRC is achieved, including in fighting the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR). (The DRC continues to operate unilaterally against the group as MONUSCO will not cooperate with the FARDC generals leading the operation, who are suspected of human rights abuses, in accordance with the UN human rights due-diligence policy.) The resolution further encourages the DRC to enter into a strategic dialogue with MONUSCO to develop a joint road map for an exit strategy.
Starting in April, Council members and troop-contributing countries have been receiving monthly updates at the expert-level from the Secretariat on MONUSCO and the FIB. The third such update meeting was on 10 June, during which Council members and TCCs were briefed by the DPKO Team Leader for the Great Lakes Integrated Operational Team, Herve Lecoq. Lecoq informed them that cooperation with the FARDC regarding the FDLR is still at an impasse. Apparently, the FDLR has retaken some positions from the FARDC, and only a minimal number of FDLR fighters have surrendered, mainly child soldiers. On other fronts, he noted some cooperation between MONUSCO and the FARDC in operations against the ADF in North Kivu and successful cooperation in operations against the FRPI. This latter operation involves the participation of non-FIB contingents, in accordance with MONUSCO’s attempt to become more proactive in its overall operations. Lecoq also noted that the strategic dialogue with the DRC called for in resolution 2211 is proceeding successfully and that currently a joint security assessment was being consolidated.
On 6 March, the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee held an exchange of views on the final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2015/19) with the representatives of Angola (who in addition to attending the meeting as a Council member was also representing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region), Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania. Kawar asked the Committee members and these countries for priorities to focus on during her visit to the region. During the meeting, a representative of the UN Mine Action Service briefed the Committee regarding efforts to assist the DRC authorities in the management and storage of arms and ammunition.
Kawar visited the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda between 24 and 29 May, the first 1533 Committee Chair to do so. She focused on receiving first-hand information pertaining to improving the effectiveness and implementation of the sanctions regime. The visit also followed up on requests for capacity-building, discussed on 6 March in the Committee. An issue raised during the visit was that there has been little success in curbing the illegal smuggling of natural resources. Regarding this, various actors told Kawar that new designations by the Committee might be useful.
The Committee will receive a report from Kawar on her visit and will discuss it in the Committee prior to the Council briefing.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The UNJHRO published a report on 14 May, detailing grave violations of international humanitarian law committed by combatants of the ADF against civilians in the territory of Beni, North Kivu province, between 1 October and 31 December 2014. The violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UNJHRO was able to confirm the summary executions of at least 237 civilians, including at least 65 women and 35 children, the injury of 47 civilians, the rape of two others, the kidnapping of at least 20 civilians, the recruitment of children and the looting and systematic destruction of dozens of houses during this period. The report also refers to allegations that members of the FARDC were involved in grave human rights and humanitarian law violations, including the extrajudicial execution of 15 civilians. According to the report, the civilian population in Beni remains extremely vulnerable to attacks, and the threat has now extended to the Irumu territory, also in eastern DRC, where violations committed by ADF combatants have been reported since the beginning of 2015.
An ongoing issue is the continuing tension in the working relationship between MONUSCO and the government, which is crucial for the overall success of the mission. In particular, the breakdown in cooperation against the FDLR is an immediate concern.
Follow-up on the information gathered and the interaction in the region during the Chair’s visit is an important issue for the Sanctions Committee.
The DRC has not been the focus of Council members’ attention since the adoption of resolution 2211, but Council members may wish to adopt a statement reiterating the need for the DRC’s full cooperation with MONUSCO and, in particular, for a significant joint operation to eliminate the FDLR threat. It may also welcome receiving the conclusions of the joint strategic dialogue.
In the Sanctions Committee, the membership may consider further designations against individuals, as designations have not been made since December 2012.
Council and Wider Dynamics
During the negotiations on resolution 2211, New Zealand suggested including a request to receive informal briefings on the work of the intervention brigade in neutralising armed groups. Several Council members agreed that due to the uniqueness of the brigade’s mandate, a more hands-on approach and close monitoring by the Council is warranted. However, others thought that including such a request in the resolution would result in a rigid schedule of formal briefings that would not add value to current reporting. As a compromise, it was agreed that Council members and troop-contributing countries will receive informal monthly updates at the expert-level from the Secretariat on the intervention brigade. Following three such briefings thus far, the general consensus among members is that these meetings have been informative and helpful.
Council members continue to be concerned about the need to neutralise the FDLR, and what so far appears to be a lacklustre effort by the FARDC to engage with the FDLR. However, they are encouraged by the resumption of cooperation between the DRC and MONUSCO on some issues, after a complete breakdown in communication at the beginning of the year.
There also seems to be a general agreement that the monthly informal updates by DPKO have been a useful exercise in providing up-to-date and reasonably detailed information to Council members on the operations of MONUSCO and the FIB. It is also proving to be a useful platform for Council members and the troop-contributing countries to inquire and interact with DPKO and each other about MONUSCO operations.
France is the penholder on the DRC.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE DRC
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 March 2015 S/RES/2211||This was a resolution renewing MONUSCO and its intervention brigade until 31 March 2016.|
|29 January 2015 S/RES/2198||This was a resolution renewing the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|8 January 2015 S/PRST/2015/1||This was a presidential statement reiterating the need for the DRC, together with MONUSCO, through its intervention brigade, to neutralise the FDLR by commencing military operations immediately.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|6 May 2015 SC/11883||This was a press statement condemning a 5 May attack against peacekeepers in North Kivu.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|19 March 2015 S/PV.7410||This was a briefing by Special Representative Martin Kobler and Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|6 March 2015 SC/11815||This was a press release about a meeting with the countries of the region.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
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 March 2015: 20,878 troops (including 473 military observers and 1,113 police), 889 international civilian personnel, 2,612 local civilian staff and 463 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2014-30 June 2015): $1.46 billion
Mission duration: July 2010 to present