Update Report No. 6: Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Council is expected to authorise in the next few days the deployment of an EU military mission in support for the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) during the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A formal proposal was submitted to the Council by the Secretary-General on 13 April. The authorisation will start at the date of the adoption of the resolution and extend for four months after the polls, now scheduled to begin on 18 June. Council action follows Congolese government’s consent to the mission and the approval of the Council of the European Union on 23 March.
The EU mission is expected to be mandated to, inter alia, support MONUC to stabilise the situation, should it deteriorate during the elections, contribute to the protection of civilians under imminent threat and contribute to airport protection in Kinshasa.
Following the Security Council resolution, an advance team of approximately 400-450 EU forces–mostly headquarters support and logistics–is expected to be pre-deployed in Kinshasa. The remaining forces, around 800 troops, will be pre-positioned outside the DRC (at a location yet to be determined) and will be available to be promptly deployed by the EU upon request from the UN Secretary-General. In case of specific emergencies (such as airport security), the deployment would only need close consultations with MONUC. The deployment of remaining forces would not require a further Council decision.
Even though the Council is not divided on the issue, considerable effort was required within the EU to gain approval for the mission following the initial request by the UN Secretariat in December. Besides difficulties with securing actual force contributions, the request also faced some initial reluctance from Germany to lead the mission. The issue now appears to be resolved. The German government has stated its willingness to lead. However, the German parliament has yet to give final confirmation.
Germany and France will reportedly contribute 500 troops each, with smaller contingents from Spain, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.
The EU forces request was the latest of the alternatives contemplated by the Secretariat to generate additional security for the DRC elections. Particular concern was given to the situation in Katanga, where MONUC does not have an operational military presence yet.
The issue first arose with the special report of the Secretary-General on the DRC elections in May 2005, when the Secretary-General requested an increase in MONUC’s military and police ceilings. While the requested police units were authorised with relative speed, concerns with costs within the Council meant that only one additional battalion was authorised in resolution 1635 specifically for support during the elections.
In addition, earlier this month, in resolution 1669, the Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s 31 March request to redeploy to Katanga one infantry battalion, a military hospital and 50 military observers currently under the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB). Interestingly, the resolution does not limit the ONUB forces’ mandate to providing security for the elections and is not precise about the mandate of those additional forces. The Secretary-General’s original request stressed that those forces would have the same mandate as MONUC, of which election security is one aspect. However, it is noteworthy that the Council only agreed to this redeployment until 1 July.
The Council also expects three reports related to the situation in the DRC in the next few weeks:
(i) The regular MONUC report, now expected by the end of April or the beginning of May. Given the possible delays with the finalisation of the elections, it is quite possible that the report will mention the need to renew the mandate of the additional MONUC and ONUB contingents beyond 1 July. The report is also expected to highlight that additional time will be needed for the report on MONUC’s post-election strategy, initially requested in resolution 1621 for before 1 June.
(ii) The report on a comprehensive strategy for the disarmament, repatriation and resettlement of foreign combatants requested in resolution 1649. The original due date was 15 March, and the report is now expected in the coming weeks.
(iii) The report on UN missions’ assistance to governments with civilian protection, particularly regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), requested in resolutions 1653 and 1663. The due date is now 24 April per resolution 1663.
Key UN Documents
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