Update Report

Posted 24 January 2006
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Update Report No. 8: Great Lakes

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Expected Council Action
The Council will hold a ministerial-level debate on the Great Lakes on 27 January. It will be preceded by an Arria-style meeting with NGOs today.

A draft resolution is in the final stages of negotiation and is expected to be adopted during the ministerial meeting.

Key Facts
The ministerial-level debate on the Great Lakes is a Tanzanian initiative. It followed an increased Council focus on the region since the undertaking of a mission to central Africa in November. Issues that surfaced in December will provide the context for the debate.

  • Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland briefed the Council on Northern Uganda on 19 December. He indicated that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) constitutes a threat to regional peace and security (this conclusion was brutally reinforced with the death of eight UN peacekeepers in combat with the LRA in the DRC on 23 January.)
  • Uganda’s position in December was that the LRA problem is a purely internal matter. It criticised countries such as Canada for seeking the inclusion of the issue in the Council’s agenda. Canada replied that the situation is a threat to peace and security and mentioned past Council resolutions.
  • There have been some encouraging regional developments, including the adoption of the new constitution in the DRC after a national referendum in December, which took place in a relatively calm environment.
  • The Council adopted two resolutions—one on Burundi, and another on the DRC—that should also contribute positively to an overall regional approach.

    Resolution 1649 primarily addresses the issue of foreign armed groups in the DRC. It extends the travel ban and the assets to leaders of foreign and outside-supported Congolese armed groups, who impede the disarmament, resettlement or repatriation of combatants. The resolution also hints at the possibility that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) could participate in the forcible disarmament of combatants in that country.

    Resolution 1650, on the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), not only renewed ONUB until 1 July 2006, but also included a particularly interesting regional characteristic, namely the possibility of transfer of forces between ONUB and MONUC.

  • Discussions have commenced on the possibility that the AU and the EU should send troops to the DRC to support MONUC. The AU announced the intention to send troops to eastern DRC to help fight armed groups. The EU, on the other hand, is considering the possibility of sending forces to Katanga.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how best to respond in a sustained way to the main themes arising from the Tanzanian initiative.

The Tanzanian delegation circulated a concept paper (S/2006/27) and a draft resolution for consideration among Council members. The proposed main themes for discussion were:

  • improving cooperation between the UN and African organisations, particularly in peacekeeping and conflict prevention;
  • creating momentum for the second Great Lakes summit and the adoption of a pact on peace and security. (The summit was initially scheduled for December 2005, and it is now likely to be rescheduled for the second half of 2006); and
  • referring the DRC and/or Burundi to the Peacebuilding Commission.

Other key themes will also be raised in the debate:

  • The LRA/Northern Uganda question
  • Other irregular fighters in the DRC, particularly the Rwandan Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR), as well as the connection between neighbours’ concerns and interests in the DRC and violations of the arms embargo.

But the resolution currently being finalised will have a more limited scope:

  • The Great Lakes summit
  • Good governance and accountability
  • Disbanding foreign fighters and local militias
  • Sanctions compliance and natural resources

The LRA/northern Uganda issue will also be addressed in the new resolution, albeit within the context of a request for a report of the Secretary-General on the cooperation of UN missions in the region with governments.

Council Dynamics
Council members welcome a debate on regional dimensions of peace and security in the Great Lakes, since:

  • a renewed appreciation of the matter emerged in the Council as a result of the November mission;
  • Council members are also ready to show support for the development of African capacity in peacekeeping and mediation. In that regard, members have welcomed the involvement and leadership of Tanzania, a regional stakeholder and active participant in peace processes, particularly in Burundi; and
  • Council members also welcome the development of confidence-building and cooperation mechanisms in the region, such as the Great Lakes summit.

On the other hand, some members have also displayed concerns that the debate may become too formalised and vague. Criticism of thematic discussions has been a constant theme within the Council, since those discussions are seen as potentially lacking in concrete action.

Council dynamics are also affected by the concerted pressure from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC within the context of the Tripartite Plus One Joint Commission. They have been pressing strongly that foreign fighters in Congolese territory be disarmed, in particular the LRA and the FDLR. The Commission forwarded a letter to the Council in October requesting that MONUC forcibly disarm all armed groups in eastern DRC.

On the LRA/northern Uganda issue, the Council is divided between a greater UN involvement and the opposition from Kampala, with Chinese support in particular, against the inclusion of the issue in the Council’s agenda. A balanced approach is emerging, attempting to formulate the issue as UN support for governments in providing civilian protection. Some Council members intend to raise the issue at the debate.

It seems that negotiations between the experts have exhausted possibilities for further options at this stage in the draft resolution. However, in the actual debate, Council members may:

  • put forward concrete proposals for a UN-AU partnership, particularly with the AU’s intention to send troops to the DRC. This debate could establish a formal follow-up mechanism on the ten-year AU capacity-building plan as mandated by the 2005 World Summit Outcome;
  • suggest a follow-up process to sustain the proactive regional approach over future months so that the ministerial meeting momentum does not fade;
  • express concern with the threat to regional peace and security posed by the situation in Northern Uganda and call upon the government and the LRA to ensure access for humanitarian assistance to civilians; and/or
  • recall the Government of Uganda’s responsibility vis-à-vis the protection of civilians and express readiness to continue to consider the matter within the Security Council.

Underlying Problems
In the 1990s, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the DRC experienced extremely brutal conflicts. They were inter-linked through the movement of combatants and refugees, particularly of Rwandans escaping the genocide. Those connections, allied to economic interests, led to the military intervention of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi into the DRC. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia responded by intervening on behalf of Kinshasa.

In Burundi, the conflict pitting Hutus and Tutsis finally subsided in 2000, with the Arusha Agreement. It established a three-year transitional period. In the following years, virtually all Hutu armed groups joined the process, apart from the PALIPEHUTU-FNL. The Council established ONUB in 2004 to assist the government, patrol the borders and monitor the ceasefire.

In the DRC, the war formally ended with the signing of the Global and All Inclusive Agreement in December 2002. MONUC currently supports the Congolese government in the transition.

The most important issue for regional security is the DRC transitional process. There are concerns with the potential for violence with the elections and the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs, events which have historically been triggers of major bloodshed in the region.

There are also concerns with the irregular fighters, some reportedly proxies of Uganda and Rwanda. Disbandment has been hindered by delays in DDR programmes, Kinshasa’s failure to pay the armed forces and the refusal of commanders to lay down arms.

MONUC supports the Congolese armed forces in the east and in Ituri, particularly against the LRA, the FDLR, the Mouvement révolutionnaire congolais (MRC) and the RCD-Goma. However, in Katanga, MONUC is not currently involved, and the rebels, the Mayi-Mayi, have largely remained outside the peace process.

In recent years, the Council imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions. It also established a Sanctions Committee and a Group of Experts. The sanctions rationale is the connection between illegal exploitation of resources, irregular fighters and the perpetuation of conflict in the Great Lakes.

Rwanda and Uganda have continued to have security concerns for almost a decade, directly linked to the presence of fighters in the DRC. The failure to disarm the FDLR and the LRA prompted renewed threats of intervention from Kigali in 2004 and from Kampala in 2005.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/Res/1650 (21 December 2005) renewed the ONUB mandate and permitted cooperation and force transfers between ONUB and MONUC.

  • S/Res/1649 (21 December 2005) strengthened sanctions in the DRC.

  • S/Res/1596 (3 May 2005) expanded the DRC arms embargo and added travel bans and assets freeze.

  • S/Res/1565 (1 October 2004) expanded MONUC’s mandate to include seizing arms and monitoring compliance with the embargo.

  • S/Res/1545 (21 May 2004) established ONUB.

  • S/Res/1533 (12 March 2004) established the DRC Sanctions Committee and the Group of Experts.

  • S/Res/1493 (28 July 2003) imposed an arms embargo.

  • S/Res/1484 (30 May 2003) authorised IEMF’s deployment.

  • S/Res/1445 (4 December 2002) expanded MONUC.

  • S/Res/1291 (24 February 2000) added Chapter VII protective powers to MONUC.

  • S/Res/1279 (30 November 1999) established MONUC.

Selected General Assembly Resolutions
  • A/Res/60/1 (24 October 2005) was the World Summit Outcome.
Selected Reports of Council Missions to the Region
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2005/832 (28 December 2005) was the latest report on the DRC.
  • S/2005/728 (21 November 2005) was the latest report on Burundi.
Selected Letters
  • S/2006/27 (19 January 2006) was the Tanzanian concept paper.
  • S/2006/13 (9 January 2006) was the Canadian response to Uganda.
  • S/2005/785 (13 December 2005) was the Ugandan letter to the Council.
  • S/2005/667 (25 October 2005) contained the Tripartite Plus One Joint Commission’s recommendations to the Council.
Selected Reports of the DRC Group of Experts

Historical Background

23 January 2006

Eight UN peacekeepers were killed in combat with the LRA in the DRC.

21 December 2005 The Council strengthened sanctions in the DRC and renewed ONUB’s mandate.
November 2005

Council members visited the Great Lakes. The LRA is reported to have retreated into Sudan.

September 2005 LRA elements enter the DRC. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda threatened to intervene if they are not disarmed.
August 2005 Pierre Nkurunziza was elected president of Burundi.
May 2004 ONUB was established.
July 2003 The Council imposed an arms embargo in the DRC.
December 2002 The Global and All Inclusive Agreement was signed.
April 2002 The Sun City Agreement was signed.
January 2001 Joseph Kabila was sworn in as the Congolese president.
August 2000 The Arusha Agreement was signed.
February 2000 Chapter VII powers were added to MONUC.
December 1999 MONUC was established.
July 1999 The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was signed.
August 1998 Insurgents rose up against President Laurent-Desire Kabila.
May 1997 Kabila was sworn in as president. Zaire was renamed DRC.
1994-1996 Rwandan Hutu extremists carried out attacks against Rwanda and the civilian population of Zaire.
1994 Rwandan genocide took place. Rwandan Tutsi forces were victorious.
1993 Ethnic turmoil escalated in Rwanda and Burundi.
1986 Museveni took power in Uganda. The LRA began fighting.

Other Relevant Facts
MONUC: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
William Lacy Swing (US)

MONUC: Size and Composition of Mission

  • Authorised maximum strength: 17,000 military personnel.
  • Current strength (31 October 2005): 16,221 total uniformed personnel, including 15,197 troops, 724 military observers, 300 police.
  • Main troop contributors: Pakistan, India, Uruguay, South Africa.

US$383.188 million for 1 July 2005 – 31 October 2005

MONUC: Duration

30 November 1999 to present

ONUB: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Carolyn McAskie (Canada)

ONUB: Force Commander

Derrick Mgwebi (South Africa)

ONUB: Size and Composition of Mission
  • Total authorised strength: 5,650 military personnel, including 200 military observers
  • Current Strength (31 October 2005): 5,642 total uniformed personnel
ONUB: Cost
$307.69 million (gross) between 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006
ONUB: Cost and Duration

May 2004 to present

Useful Additional Sources

Click here for other SCR Reports on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Great Lakes Region, Uganda and Burundi