December 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 November 2022
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action 

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

Key Recent Developments 

On 20 October, fighting resumed between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and the M23 Movement, an armed group that operated in North Kivu province previously and became active again this year. The recent fighting, which started in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu, has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the region. The M23 has gained control of more territories, and, according to a FARDC spokesperson, by 14 November the fighting had reached closer to Goma, the regional capital. The FARDC has launched a major land and air offensive to forestall the advance of M23 forces, and Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi has called for mass mobilisation.  

The escalating security situation has also aggravated the already tense relationship between the DRC and Rwanda. The Congolese government, which continues to accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23, expelled the Rwandan ambassador to Kinshasa on 29 October. Rwanda expressed regret over the decision and has continued to deny the DRC’s accusations.  

Following the Council’s 26 October meeting on the Great Lakes region, Council members issued a press statement on 28 October reiterating their concern about the resurgence of the M23 Movement and the increasing military activities of other armed groups in eastern DRC. They called on all armed groups to immediately cease all forms of violence and disarm unconditionally. In a 30 October statement, Secretary-General António Guterres also expressed deep concern over the fighting, which has resulted in civilian casualties, massive displacement, and the injury of four MONUSCO peacekeepers. He also spoke to regional leaders to express the UN’s support for their ongoing mediation efforts.     

The current chair of the East African Community (EAC), Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye, convened a high-level consultative meeting of the EAC heads of state on 7 November in the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The EAC has been implementing a two-track approach, known as the Nairobi process, to addressing the situation in eastern DRC: to facilitate political dialogue between the Congolese government and armed groups and to deploy a regional force to deal with those who refuse to join the dialogue process. According to a communiqué issued at the end of the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting, the participants assessed the situation in eastern DRC and called for a cessation of hostilities to pave the way for holding a third round of political dialogue between the Congolese government and armed groups in Nairobi, which started on 28 November. (Two rounds of dialogue took place in April and May under the auspices of the EAC.) They also reviewed progress regarding the deployment of the EAC regional force in eastern DRC and took note of the establishment of its headquarters in Goma. According to the communiqué, participants also noted that Burundian, Kenyan and Ugandan forces had deployed on the ground and called on South Sudan to expedite the deployment of its forces.  

The chairperson of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Angolan President João Lourenço, visited Rwanda and the DRC on 11 and 12 November, respectively, as part of his regional mediation efforts as mandated by the AU Chairperson, known as the Luanda process. Lourenço met separately with the two countries’ presidents to seek ways to ease the tensions. Earlier, the foreign ministers of Angola, the DRC and Rwanda met in Luanda to follow up on the implementation of the Luanda Roadmap, agreed by Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame on 6 July with the facilitation of Lourenço, to normalise their bilateral ties.  

The EAC Facilitator of the Peace Process in the eastern DRC, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, travelled to Kinshasa on 13 and 14 November for high-level consultations with Tshisekedi, and visited Goma on 15 November. Media reports quoted him as having urged “the Congolese to lay down arms and nurture a sense of patriotism” in an interview with Radio Okapi, a radio network created by MONUSCO. 

On 21 November, Council members held closed consultations to discuss the M23 Movement’s advances, at the request of France (the penholder on the DRC), the UK and the US, during which Keita briefed. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 20 November.) Following this meeting, Council members issued a press statement on 22 November strongly condemning the resumption of attacks by the M23 and reiterating their support for ongoing regional efforts to de-escalate the situation and resolve it through dialogue. 

Sanctions-Related Developments 

The chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), visited the DRC and the Great Lakes region from 7 to 18 November to consult with government officials and other relevant stakeholders on the effective implementation of the measures imposed within the framework of the 1533 DRC sanctions regime. Biang is expected to brief the Security Council in December about the work of the committee and on the findings of the recent visit to the DRC and the region.  

Human Rights-Related Developments  

During its 51st session in October, the Human Rights Council (HRC) considered the final report of the International Team of Experts on the DRC (A/HRC/51/60) and the annual report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation and the activities of the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the DRC (A/HRC/51/61). The report noted that the human rights situation in the DRC remains an active concern, although the number of human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law documented by UNJHRO has decreased.  

On 1 November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk issued a statement calling for urgent de-escalation of tensions in the DRC, noting that the resumed fighting between the FARDC and the M23 Movement is “threatening a human rights disaster”. He also expressed concern about a resurgence in hate speech and a rise in misinformation, disinformation and negative rhetoric against MONUSCO.  

Key Issues and Options 

A key priority for Council members in December is to renew MONUSCO’s mandate. This will happen against the backdrop of a deteriorating security situation in eastern DRC and growing anti-MONUSCO sentiment among the local population. Following July’s violent protests against the mission in eastern DRC, the Congolese government requested a review of MONUSCO’s transition plan, which was developed in close consultation with the government and other stakeholders and was endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2612 of 20 December 2021, which most recently renewed MONUSCO’s mandate.  

Among other issues, Council members are likely to consider the following: 

  • how to better prioritise and sequence the mission’s mandate in light of current realities; 
  • how to support and reinforce the ongoing regional initiatives—the Nairobi and Luanda processes—to find a political solution to the security situation in eastern DRC and ease regional tensions; 
  • how to support the Demobilisation, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilisation Program (P-DDRCS) for ex-combatants;  
  • how to ensure better coordination between MONUSCO and the EAC regional force being deployed in eastern DRC; 
  • how to adapt MONUSCO’s transition plan in light of recent developments and tailor it towards the implementation of core tasks in support of reinforcing the capacities of the host country; 
  • how to build trust with the host government and host communities through better strategic communications; and 
  • how MONUSCO can provide support for the 2023 elections through its good office’s mandate. 

One possible option for Council members is to convene an informal meeting with the participation of the DRC, MONUSCO, countries of the region, and troop- and police-contributing countries to receive their input on MONUSCO’s work and to facilitate greater convergence of views among Council members ahead of the mandate renewal process. 

Council Dynamics 

Council members support MONUSCO’s work and the gradual, responsible and conditions-based drawdown of the mission. However, at a 30 September Council meeting on the DRC, the three African members (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya) supported the Congolese government’s request for a review of MONUSCO’s transition plan. They also argued that the potential benchmarks should focus on strengthening key defence and security institutions to pave the way for the mission’s successful drawdown and exit. China stressed the need to streamline MONUSCO’s mandated tasks to focus on protecting civilians and maintaining security and stability.  

India, a major troop-contributing country to MONUSCO that lost two of its peacekeepers during the violent protests against the mission in July, emphasised the issue of accountability for attacks against peacekeepers. Brazil highlighted the challenges that MONUSCO is facing because of the disinformation campaign against it and emphasised the need to enhance the mission’s strategic communications capabilities and its community engagement.  

In relation to the deployment of the EAC regional force, the US pointed out that “all countries must notify the Security Council in advance on matters involving defence cooperation, including the deployment of troops and the provision of arms” in line with the 1533 DRC sanctions regime. It also expressed deep concern about the M23 Movement and the support it receives from external actors, specifically mentioning the Rwanda Defence Forces. Furthermore, the US called on member states to freeze the group’s assets and deny any funds or other economic resources to the M23, which remains designated under the 1533 DRC sanctions regime.   

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Security Council Resolutions
20 December 2021S/RES/2612 This resolution extended the mandate of MONUSCO until 20 December 2022.
Security Council Meeting Records
30 September 2022S/PV.9142 This was a briefing on the situation in the DRC.
Security Council Press Statements
28 October 2022SC/15087 This was on the situation in the Great Lakes region.
22 November 2022SC/15115 This was on the situation in the DRC.