Expected Council Action
In December, François Louncény Fall, Acting Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), will brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The mandate of UNOCA expires on 31 August 2018.
Key Recent Developments
The LRA remains a threat to civilians in the region. After an increase in activity attributed to the LRA in the beginning of 2016, particularly in the south-eastern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), the LRA continued to be active in the region with 143 abductions reported between April to mid-September, according to the latest report by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). A report by the NGOs Invisible Children and Resolve found that LRA forces abducted 44 civilians in eight attacks in October, in southeast CAR and the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the NGOs, five of these attacks were probably committed by the LRA splinter group led by Achaye Doctor, operating independently of Joseph Kony’s command since late 2014.
A joint UNOCA-AU mission travelled to LRA-affected areas in the DRC on 25-28 October. The mission concluded that further engagement by the AU with the troop contributors to the AU Regional Task Force (RTF) against the LRA is needed to address logistical challenges, and that further joint missions should be taken to engage with the contingents of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC to increase their support for AU-RTF operations, in particular in light of an expected Ugandan pull-out from the force.
In an issue related to the role of UNOCA in the Great Lakes Region, the Secretary-General recommended in a 4 October letter to the Council that the role of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region be expanded beyond issues relating to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement for the DRC (PSC Framework). The Secretary-General recommended that the position be changed to “Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region” and that the role of the Special Representative would be to engage with actors in the region on “all peace and security issues”, “including issues that may have not been foreseen in the PSC Framework”. The letter also states that the Special Representative should cooperate and interact with the relevant regional offices but does not provide details on how this new position is to relate to UNOCA, which covers the Great Lakes at present.
In response, in a 21 October letter, the Council said that it looked forward to further discussions about the recommendations.
Abdoulaye Bathily, the former head of UNOCA who finished his term on 31 October, last briefed the Council on the latest UNOCA report on 15 June. The Council was also briefed by Ahmad Allam-Mi, Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States, regarding the activities of the organisation in the region.
A key issue for the Council will be to get an updated analysis regarding the implementation and effectiveness of the UN’s regional anti-LRA strategy and the wider impact of the LRA on the region.
A related issue is how other conflicts and political upheavals in the region allow the LRA to continue to operate.
Monitoring instability and potential deterioration in other areas in the region is a major concern for the Council.
As in the past, an option for the Council is to issue a presidential or press statement that:
- expresses support for UNOCA and encourages member states to contribute more resources toward anti-LRA efforts and regional cooperation, especially in light of the turmoil in countries in the region;
- commends the LRA-affected states for their cooperation and encourages further commitment to the force to overcome the LRA threat once and for all; and
- expresses support for UNOCA’s efforts in addressing the increasing political and security challenges in Central Africa.
Council members are largely in agreement on LRA-related issues. Council members have also been supportive of UNOCA’s continued shift to focus its efforts on the region as a whole, rather than on the LRA as its main objective.
The request for regular reporting from UNOCA in the presidential statement of 11 June 2015 reflected the view of several Council members that in the absence of particular developments or new concerns, adopting a semi-annual presidential statement on UNOCA is not very productive.
Thus, while Council members maintain their interest in LRA activities and other sub-regional developments, the Council will be less likely to adopt an outcome document following next month’s briefing without a new and specific issue to address.
In relation to the position of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, several Council members felt that the Secretary-General’s proposals required additional elaboration as to their financial and organisational ramifications, including clarifications of potentially overlapping responsibilities with UNOCA. While the Council is waiting for further information from the Secretariat on this issue, some Council members may take the opportunity of the briefing to elicit Fall’s views on whether and how a new position of Special Representative for the Great Lakes (instead of a Special Envoy) would affect the functioning of his office and what a possible division of labour might look like were such a position created.
The UK is the penholder on the LRA.
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|11 June 2015 S/PRST/2015/12||This was a presidential statement expressing concern at the grave security situation in parts of Central Africa, in particular the ongoing crisis in the CAR and its regional impact, the continuing threat of the LRA and the terrorist activities of Boko Haram.|
|29 September 2016 S/2016/824||This was the Secretary-General’s report on MINUSCA.|
|25 May 2016 S/2016/482||This was the report of the Secretary-General on UNOCA.|
|Security Council Letters|
|4 October 2016 S/2016/891||This was a Secretary-General’s letter to the Security Council on the mandate of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes.|
|21 October 2016 S/2016/892||This was a letter by the President of the Security Council to the Secretary-General concerning the mandate of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|15 June 2016 S/PV.7718||This was a briefing on the latest UNOCA report.|