Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is scheduled to hold a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi (Kuwait) will brief in his capacity as chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.
The mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) expires on 20 December 2019.
Key Recent Developments
At press time, the second-largest outbreak of Ebola on record has surpassed 2,200 confirmed cases in the DRC since August 2018. More than 1,500 people have died. On 12 June, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed the first Ebola deaths outside the DRC during the current epidemic, of a five-year-old boy and his grandmother who had recently crossed the border into Uganda. Other members of their family have also become sick and died, leading to increased fears in Uganda and other neighbouring states. WHO said the family most likely did not cross through official border points. On 14 June, WHO declined, for the third time, to declare this outbreak a global health emergency. Attempts to address Ebola in eastern DRC continue to be hampered by the vastness of the territory, ongoing violence, and the population’s distrust of authorities.
Meanwhile, there has been renewed violence in north-eastern DRC. According to reports, fighting between militias of the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups has resulted in many deaths: local officials have stated that over 161 people have been killed, but exact numbers are extremely difficult to confirm. The fighting has also destroyed around 40 villages and displaced more than 300,000 people in Ituri province since mid-June. In the late 1990s, thousands were killed in a war between these two groups, and it seems that the current violence stems from decades-long tensions and disputes over land and resources. A spokesman for UNHCR told reporters on 18 June that there is evidence of “both communities forming self-defence groups and being involved in revenge killings”. The Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the Congolese armed forces, have attempted to exert control, and MONUSCO has also taken the step of setting up three temporary military bases in the area of Djugu and Mahagi.
In June, the Council renewed the sanctions regime for the DRC until 1 July 2020. It continues to affirm that sanctions will apply to individuals and entities designated by the committee that meet such criteria as engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the DRC and planning, directing, sponsoring or participating in attacks against MONUSCO peacekeepers or UN personnel, including members of the Group of Experts. Sanctions also apply to individuals who engage in serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children or women in situations of armed conflict. According to the committee’s December 2018 report, there were 35 individuals and nine entities on the committee’s sanctions list.
The resolution added language, evidently recommended by Special Representative Leila Zerrougui, that requested the Group of Experts to circulate information every 12 months on “relevant additions or modifications” to the listings, such as deaths. The provision apparently stems from the urgent need to have accurate information listed and the difficulties of getting such updates in the past. While such requests are often listed in the Guidelines of the Committee for the Conduct of its Work, it is unusual to see them included in the operative paragraphs of the resolution itself. Their inclusion should ensure that the list is examined every year for necessary updates.
From 27 April to 6 May, the sanctions committee chair led a visiting mission by the committee to the DRC, Uganda and Dubai.
The resolution reiterates the need for the DRC government to “swiftly and fully investigate the killing” in March 2017 of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán, members of the Group of Experts of the 1533 Committee, and the four Congolese citizens hired as motorbike drivers and a translator. A military tribunal in DRC charged Colonel Jean de Dieu Mambweni with the murders on 17 June. He was reportedly in contact with those who killed Catalán and Sharp. A date for his trial has not been set.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 41st session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) is expected to hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on 9 July with the two international experts on the situation of human rights in the Kasai region and to consider their report (A/HRC/41/31). The report sets out recommendations to combat impunity in the Kasai and emphasises the urgent need for reconciling communities, disarming and integrating members of all militia groups, and reducing the military presence in Kasai, among other recommendations. The HRC will also receive an oral update from the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the DRC.
Key Issues and Options
With MONUSCO’s mandate renewed until December, the Council will continue to monitor the situation on the ground, including the continued instability of DRC politics, ongoing violence, and the Ebola outbreak. The Council will also await the outcome of the independent strategic review of MONUSCO, which is due in September, as well as any new developments connected to the murders of Catalán and Sharp, and the four Congolese assisting them.
Despite their divergent reactions to the elections in the DRC in January, Council members appear to now have a united front, at least on some items. All members want to see the DRC strengthen its institutions. Previously, members have also welcomed the efforts taken by the DRC government to restore the trust of the people. Likewise, members have applauded President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve relations with MONUSCO and the UN.
When the time comes to renew MONUSCO’s mandate in December, however, differences may once again surface. Some members are ready to begin the process of drawing down MONUSCO. Others, including those in the region, are urging caution and want to determine how to move forward based on the situation on the ground. In the meeting in which MONUSCO was renewed on 29 March, South Africa, which has played a significant role on this file, noted the recent peaceful elections and transfer of power in the DRC while also underlining the destabilising security situation in the east. South Africa expressly highlighted the “vital role” of MONUSCO.
France is the penholder on the DRC, and Kuwait chairs the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 June 2019S/RES/2478||S/RES/2478 (26 June 2019) renewed the 1533 sanctions regime until 1 July 2020.|
|29 March 2019S/RES/2463||The MONUSCO mandate was renewed through this resolution until 20 December 2019. By that point, a strategic review will have taken place to determine the future of MONUSCO.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 March 2019S/PV.8498||S/PV.8498 (29 March 2019) was the adoption of resolution 2463, with explanations of votes by some countries.|