Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In January, the Council will be briefed by Maman Sambo Sidikou, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 31 March 2016.
Key Recent Developments
Rebel groups continue to spread violence in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Joint operations by the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) against the Ugandan Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been ongoing since January 2014. Since October 2014, more than 500 deaths have been attributed to the ADF.
The former head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, last briefed the Council on 7 October 2015, shortly before leaving his post. Reflecting on his two-year tenure as head of the mission, Kobler noted improvements in the security situation in some areas in the east and in the performance of the FARDC, but said that the population in many areas still relies on the presence of MONUSCO for critical security. He noted that the 1,100-strong Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) continues to terrorise civilians. He called on DRC President Joseph Kabila to resume cooperation with MONUSCO in order to carry out joint operations against the FDLR. On the same occasion, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, briefed on the latest report on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement.
On 9 November 2015, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the situation in the DRC. The statement stressed the importance of neutralising, once and for all, armed groups in the DRC, and the Council’s concern that joint operations between the Congolese army and MONUSCO’s FIB have yet to resume, in particular against the FDLR. The statement further reiterated the importance of the extension of state authority over territory vacated by armed groups and of the effective disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants. It also called on the DRC to ensure the timely holding of presidential and legislative elections by November 2016 and expressed the Council’s concern over the increasing political tensions in the DRC.
The violence in eastern DRC has not subsided. On 29 November 2015, the ADF carried out coordinated overnight attacks in North Kivu on a hospital in Eringeti and a MONUSCO base. Reports indicate that some of the victims were civilians at the hospital who were killed with machetes. A Malawian peacekeeper, four FARDC soldiers and 12 rebels were also among the dead. MONUSCO responded with an attack on ADF positions several miles southeast of Eringeti the following day, with the assistance of attack helicopters. On 30 November, Council members issued a press statement condemning the repeated attacks perpetrated by the ADF against civilians and called for the urgent resumption of operations against these groups.
In a 16 December 2015 letter to the Council president, the Secretary-General reported that a joint DRC-MONUSCO assessment team found that the FARDC had improved its capacity and that the security situation had improved in some areas. He noted the willingness of the DRC to reengage in a strategic dialogue to develop MONUSCO’s exit strategy and to enhance cooperation. He thus recommended that the Council reduce MONUSCO’s troop level by 1,700 at the next mandate renewal.
Political tensions surrounding the elections also continue to mount. The electoral cycle, including six local, provincial and national elections, was to commence on 25 October 2015, culminating with the presidential and legislative elections on 27 November 2015. However, the 25 October local and provincial elections did not take place following an 8 September ruling by the DRC Constitutional Court that the packed electoral calendar should be reassessed by the electoral committee.
Kabila called on 28 November 2015 for a national dialogue to address several issues, including the funding of the elections and the election calendar. Kabila also expressed support for a UN mediator to facilitate the dialogue, a condition the largest opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, has been insisting on.
Many fear that Kabila intends to stay in power beyond the constitutionally mandated limit of two terms, which ends in November 2016, and that the unreasonable electoral calendar and consequent delays are part of this strategy. While Kabila has not commented publicly on his political future, the government’s official line is that Kabila will abide by the constitution.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that the government has adopted a policy of limiting the opposition’s ability to conduct political activities ahead of the electoral cycle. The UN Joint Human Rights Office published a report on 8 December 2015 that highlighted a clampdown on opposition actors, the media and civil society since the beginning of the year. The report documented 143 human rights violations in relation to the pre-electoral process between 1 January and 30 September 2015, including summary executions, arbitrary detention, excessive use of force by security forces and restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
On 14 October 2015, the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 Sanctions Committee briefed the Committee on their midterm report. One issue raised in the report is a recommendation that an independent inquiry should be conducted into the inability of MONUSCO to protect civilians and measures to be taken to improve MONUSCO’s future ability to protect civilians against the ADF. With respect to the FDLR, the Group reported that FARDC operations (carried out without MONUSCO) have forced the FDLR to retreat from some positions temporarily, but that the military capacity of the FDLR thus far remains intact. The report further states that certain elements in the FARDC have provided advanced warning of attacks to the FDLR.
The Chair of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Dina Kawar (Jordan), briefed Council members on the report in consultations on 28 October 2015. She also briefed the Council on 17 December 2015, along with the other Committee chairs ending their term on the Council. She advocated more listings and that the Committee should focus on sanctioning the companies outside the DRC that are illicitly profiting from minerals extracted in eastern DRC, thereby helping to sustain the same criminal elements who destabilise the east.
The Committee met with the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, on 20 November 2015. Zerrougui reiterated that she had previously provided the Committee with names to be added to the sanctions list. Kawar said that the Committee should consider new additions at this point.
The Committee held a meeting with Burundi, the DRC, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda on 14 December 2015 in an effort to encourage the regional countries to engage and cooperate with its Group of Experts.
The relationship between MONUSCO and the government, in particular, and the breakdown in cooperation against the FDLR continues to be an important issue.
The continued activity of the ADF and its impact on the population in North Kivu remains a serious concern.
An increasingly troubling development is the political tension surrounding the electoral calendar and Kabila’s possible attempt to remain in power.
Council members may wish to adopt a more robust stance regarding the need to uphold constitutionally mandated terms and the conduct of free, fair and timely elections.
The Council may also consider visiting the country during the electoral period to take stock of the situation and deliver a strong political message to interlocutors.
Another option is for the Council to call on the Secretary-General to appoint a mediator to help facilitate the DRC national dialogue.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members are of the view that the security situation in the DRC remains problematic and has not shown significant improvement in recent months. In addition, concerns over the electoral process and its effects on the stability of the DRC are mounting.
There is some hope among Council members that Sidikou might be able to provide new insight on the way forward and a strategic vision for MONUSCO’s future, as well as improving the situation on the ground.
Although discussions over MONUSCO’s mandate renewal are still months away, some Council members are sceptical that the situation on the ground warrants further troop reductions, especially during an unpredictable election period. Council members will be looking to receive further information on what served as the basis of this conclusion.
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 Statement|
|9 November 2015 S/PRST/2015/20||This presidential statement that stressed the importance of neutralising armed groups in the DRC and the Council’s concern that joint operations between the Congolese army and the Force Intervention Brigade in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO have yet to resume.|
|22 September 2015 S/2015/735||This was the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|30 November 2015 SC/12145||The Security Council condemned the attacks conducted on 29 November by the ADF in North Kivu, including against a MONUSCO base, that led to the killing of one peacekeeper, four FARDC soldiers and several civilians, and the injury of several others. including one peacekeeper.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|7 October 2015 S/PV.7529||This was a brefing on the situation in the DRC and the Secretary-General’s report.|
|Security Council Letters|
|16 December 2015 S/2015/983||This was a letter containg the Secretary-General’s recommendation for reducing MONUSCO’s troop strength by 1,700 peacekeepers.|
|7 October 2015 S/2015/767||This was from the Council president to the Secretary-General on the appointment of Sidikou as the head of MONUSCO.|
|5 October 2015 S/2015/766||This was from the Secretary-General to the Council president on the appointment of Sidikou as the head of MONUSCO.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|16 October 2015 S/2015/797||This was the midterm report of the Group of Experts of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Maman Sambo Sidikou (Niger)
MONUSCO Force Commander
Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil)
MONUSCO Size, Composition and Cost of Mission
Strength as of 31 August 2015: 23,438 troops (including 481 military observers and 1,178 police), 840 international civilian personnel, 2,725 local civilian staff and 450 UN volunteers.
Approved budget (1 July 2015-30 June 2016): $1.33 billion
Mission duration: July 2010 to present