December 2021 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2021
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AFRICA

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action

In December, the Security Council will convene to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Bintou Keita, the Special Representative and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), is the anticipated briefer. Consultations are expected to follow the briefing. The Council is also expected to renew the mandate of MONUSCO, which expires on 20 December.

Key Recent Developments

The Council last met to consider the situation in the DRC on 5 October. Keita briefed on the current situation in the country, particularly on the implementation of the “state of siege” in North Kivu and Ituri provinces and the support provided by MONUSCO to the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC) to restore state authority in those provinces. (With the state of siege, civilian governance was transferred to a military governor and a police vice-governor in North Kivu and Ituri, and increased powers of search and arrest were given to police and military.) Keita also presented MONUSCO’s transition plan, submitted to the Council as an annex to the latest report of the Secretary-General on 17 September.   She pointed out that the implementation of the transition plan is closely linked to the programme of action adopted by the government in April and its ability to finance its priorities to create conditions for the mission’s orderly and responsible withdrawal.

The security situation in the eastern provinces of the DRC remains a source of grave concern. The state of siege was extended for the 11th time in November, but lawmakers reportedly challenged the government’s decision in parliament. They opposed the extension amid the deterioration of the security situation. Media reports indicate that there has been an upsurge in attacks by armed groups in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in recent weeks that has resulted in the loss of lives, the burning of houses, and the mass displacement of people.

The political situation also remains tense in relation to the 2023 elections. Influential Catholic and Protestant leaders and opposition parties reportedly objected to the appointment of Denis Kadima—a former executive director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), based in South Africa—to head the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) because of his alleged affiliation with President Félix Tshisekedi. Thousands of Congolese also came out to the streets of Kinshasa to protest the decision and call for a neutral electoral commission.

Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix conducted a six-day working mission to the DRC in October and held discussions with Congolese authorities on a range of issues, including the elections planned for 2023, the security situation in the eastern provinces, and the gradual and phased withdrawal of MONUSCO. According to media reports, he said that the transition plan should not be seen as providing an artificial timeline for the mission’s departure, which is not inevitable.

The Chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Abdou Abarry of Niger, also visited Kinshasa in November and discussed the implementation of the sanctions regime with Congolese stakeholders. The Congolese government requested the Council to lift the measures imposed in paragraph 5 of resolution 1807 (2008) on advance notification to the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee of any shipment of arms and related material for the DRC, or any provision of assistance, advice or training related to the military activities of the FARDC. The current mandate of the DRC sanctions regime expires on 1 July 2022, as per resolution 2582.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 11 October, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution during its 48th session on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the DRC (A/HRC/48/L.2). The resolution decided to renew the mandate of the Team of International Experts on the situation in the Kasai and to extend it to the entire national territory of the DRC. It requested the team to present its final report to the Council at its 51st session and an oral update at its 49th session. It also requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide an oral update at its 49th session and to prepare a comprehensive report for its 51st session.

Women, Peace and Security

During the 5 October briefing on the DRC, Nelly Godelieve Madieka Mbangu, Coordinator of Sauti Ya Mama Mukongomani/Voice of Congolese Women, briefed the Security Council (S/PV.8873). Mbangu concentrated her remarks on the dire security and socio-economic situation in eastern DRC. She called on the Security Council to strengthen MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade to “enable it to restore peace” in eastern DRC. She also called on the Security Council to support the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process and to set up an international investigative mechanism to “establish responsibility for the crimes against humanity and genocide crimes committed against the people of the eastern [DRC]”. Mbangu further drew the Council’s attention to the contribution made by women in eastern DRC to the peacebuilding process and called for increased support for women’s organisations “which are on the front lines of looking after victims of sexual violence and other trauma related to violent extremism in conflict”.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue for Council members to consider is how to address the security and humanitarian challenge in the eastern provinces and create the necessary political conditions for holding elections in 2023. In renewing the MONUSCO mandate, they may wish to:

  • reiterate their call for enhanced joint operations by MONUSCO and the FARDC to respond to the threats posed by armed groups in full compliance with the UN’s human rights due diligence policy on UN support to non-UN security forces;
  • call for carrying out the disarmament, demobilisation, community recovery and stabilisation programme that was launched by the government in July to sustainably disarm those groups;
  • continue to encourage the search for non-military solutions to the long-standing security challenge in the eastern provinces through regional cooperation;
  • call for international support for the 2021 humanitarian response plan;
  • reiterate their condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse as well as the use of hate speech, which is fuelling intercommunal violence; and
  • express concern over the increasing polarisation in the country and urge Congolese political stakeholders to resolve their differences through dialogue to create conditions favourable for holding peaceful and credible elections in 2023.

 

Regarding MONUSCO’s transition plan, one option for the penholder is to convene an informal meeting of Council members, troop- and police-contributing countries, the host state, and other relevant stakeholders ahead of the discussion on the mandate renewal to create a better understanding about the way forward. In renewing the mandate of the mission, the Council could also consider requesting the Secretary-General to provide updates on follow-up and implementation of the transition plan as part of his regular report.

Council Dynamics

There appears to be general support among Council members for MONUSCO’s work and for the mission’s gradual drawdown. Several members have welcomed the development of the mission’s transition plan with the government and with the involvement of civil society representatives. However, differences could possibly emerge in the upcoming mandate renewal process. Some members may advocate for strict implementation of the benchmarks and timelines outlined in the transition plan, while others are likely to favour a flexible approach based on an assessment of the evolving security situation on the ground. Ireland might be keen to reference resolution 2594 of 9 September 2021 on peace operations transitions.

In the face of a deteriorating security situation in the eastern provinces and its impact on the civilian population, the protection of civilians will continue to be paramount in MONUSCO’s mandate. Issues of performance, conduct and discipline might also be raised during the upcoming negotiations. Some members may express serious concerns over several new cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in the mission and underscore the need to ensure accountability, while others may attach importance to the safety and security of peacekeepers.

Regarding the implementation of the state of siege, the Congolese government has been clear that it will be maintained until the insecurity in the eastern provinces is addressed. Some members have, however, expressed concern over its effects on access to justice, pre-trial detention, and prison overcrowding. These members may wish to include in the mandate renewal a strong reference to accountability and justice and the need for strict adherence to international humanitarian law and human rights law. The possible links between the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in the eastern part of the DRC and the Islamic State/Daesh could also be raised in this month’s meeting, particularly in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Kampala, allegedly by groups affiliated with the ADF.

In relation to the discussion in October on the illegal exploitation of natural resources, Kenya might be keen to strengthen the language in the MONUSCO resolution by referencing the presidential statement adopted on 20 October during its Council Presidency.

France is the penholder on the DRC; Ambassador Abdou Abarry of Niger chairs the 1533 Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON THE DRC

Security Council Resolutions
9 September 2021S/RES/2594 This unanimously adopted resolution addressed the crucial role peace operations play in the pursuit of sustainable political solutions and building peace and emphasised the need for peace operations to engage at the earliest possible stage in integrated planning and coordination on transitions with the host state and other national stakeholders.
18 December 2020S/RES/2556 This extended the mandate of MONUSCO until 20 December 2021. Fourteen members voted in favour of the resolution, whereas the Russian Federation abstained.
Security Council Presidential Statement
20 October 2021S/PRST/2021/19 This presidential statement recognised the progress made in the implementation of national and regional commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and urged the signatory states to remain committed to its full implementation.
Secretary-General’s Report
17 September 2021S/2021/807 The report provides updates on developments in DRC and activities of MONUSCO.
Security Council Meeting Record
5 October 2021S/PV.8873 This was a meeting on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

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