Update Report

Posted 9 June 2009
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Update Report No. 2: Northern Uganda and LRA-Affected Areas

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23 June: The latest information is that the briefing by Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for LRA-Affected Areas, originally scheduled for 25 June, has been postponed to 15 July.

Expected Council Action
On 25 June Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army-Affected Areas, is expected to give a final briefing to the Council before his mandate is suspended on 30 June. His last briefing to the Council took place in closed consultations in December 2008. (For more background, please see our December 2008 Forecast.)

Key Recent Developments
In a letter dated 26 May the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to suspend Chissano’s assignment as special envoy as of 30 June. He explained that Chissano (who was appointed in 2006) had achieved the main objectives of his mandate with the conclusion of negotiations in March 2008 when agreements were signed on all substantive issues, including by the representatives of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While the final peace agreement has yet to be implemented due to LRA leader Joseph Kony’s refusal to honour his commitments and sign the agreement (he maintains the position that the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him and other LRA leaders must first be lifted), the Secretary-General considered that Chissano had completed his assignment. The support office for Chissano established in Kampala would also be closed as of 30 June. The Council responded in a letter of 29 May saying that members had “taken note” of the Secretary-General’s intention.

Last December Chissano’s mandate was renewed for one year until 31 December 2009. In his letter to the Council recommending the renewal the Secretary-General said it was important to allow Chissano to continue his good offices in the region to achieve a lasting peace in northern Uganda. However, the political process led by the chief mediator, Riek Machar Teny, Vice-President of the Government of South Sudan, had been suspended since early December following Kony’s failure to sign the peace agreement on repeated occasions. Kony and his fighters had relocated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as southern Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) and had continued their practice of kidnapping and inflicting atrocities on civilians.

Moreover, prospects for a peace agreement seemed to deteriorate further in late 2008. Uganda, the DRC and southern Sudan on 14 December launched a joint military operation (Operation Lightning Thunder) against the main LRA bases in the forested area of Garamba, in the east of the DRC. The main camp of Kony was reportedly destroyed. The objective of the offensive was to put pressure on Kony to assemble his fighters in Ri-Kwamgba in southern Sudan and to sign the final peace agreement.

In his last briefing in closed consultations on 16 December 2008 Chissano informed the Council that Kony had failed to sign the peace agreement with the Ugandan government for the seventh time and had continued operations against civilians in the DRC and southern Sudan. He said this had prompted the recent joint military action against Kony. Council members reportedly expressed support for the military operation and hoped this would pressure Kony to commit to the peace process. Some expressed concern about the impact of the military offensive on civilians. There was also support for an extension of Chissano’s mandate beyond 31 December.

On 22 December the Council issued a presidential statement condemning Kony’s repeated failure to sign the final peace agreement, recalling the outstanding ICC arrest warrant for LRA leaders and welcoming the “joint efforts” of states in the region to address the security threat posed by the LRA.

It seems that the joint military offensive has failed to achieve its goal. Indeed, there has been an escalation in LRA attacks against the civilian population in eastern DRC. On 16 January the Council issued a press statement strongly condemning attacks carried out by the LRA which had resulted in over 500 dead and over 400 abducted. On 17 February Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes briefed the Council on his visit to the DRC from 6 to 10 February. Holmes said the number of deaths since December 2008 as a result of LRA attacks was believed to have approached 900 while 160,000 were estimated to have fled their homes.

The joint military operation was officially terminated on 15 March, but the Congolese army has continued its campaign against the LRA with the support of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC). The Congolese forces are also coordinating activities with the armies of other LRA-affected countries, including Uganda and CAR. In a press statement on 9 April on the situation in the DRC following a briefing by Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, the Council expressed support for joint operations by Congolese government forces and MONUC against armed groups, including the LRA. A new operation against the LRA (Rudia II) was launched on 8 May. Meanwhile, LRA reprisal attacks against civilians continue. Humanitarian reports in May estimated that another 12,000 people had been displaced as a result of the most recent LRA attacks.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether the current military approach will succeed in defeating the LRA and lead to the signing of the final peace agreement. Another key issue is the impact on the civilian population as they continue to suffer from LRA reprisal attacks. A further issue is the role of MONUC, in particular as it relates to protecting civilians and possibly supporting the execution of ICC arrest warrants.

Options
The Council could issue a statement after the briefing to thank Chissano for his contribution and reiterate its previous calls for the LRA to cease all attacks against civilians and surrender and disarm as required by the final peace agreement.

Council and Wider Dynamics
The suspension of Chissano’s assignment appears to have been largely a result of his own assessment of the situation which led him to conclude that there was not much he could do under the current circumstances. Focus now seems to be on the military approach. There seems to be general agreement in the Council that only an effective military offensive can put enough pressure on the LRA to return to the negotiating table.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1856 (22 December 2008) extended MONUC’s mandate until 31 December 2009. It condemned the attacks by LRA in the Orientale Province of the DRC and demanded that LRA immediately stop recruiting and using children and release all children associated with it.
  • S/RES/1812 (30 April 2008), S/RES/1663 (24 March 2006) and S/RES/1653 (27 January 2006) requested reports on LRA issues from the Secretariat.

Selected Security Council Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/48 (22 December 2008) condemned Joseph Kony’s repeated failure to sign the Final Peace Agreement, strongly condemned the recent attacks by LRA in the DRC and southern Sudan, recalled the ICC arrest warrant for certain LRA leaders, welcomed the joint efforts made by countries in the region to address the security threat posed by LRA and welcomed the reestablishment of peace and security in northern Uganda.
  • S/PRST/2008/38 (21 October 2008) strongly condemned the attacks by the LRA in DRC and recalled the ICC indictments against members of the LRA leadership.
  • S/PRST/2007/6 (22 March 2007) welcomed the efforts of Special Envoy Chissano and emphasised support for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Selected Press Statements

  • SC/9633 (9 April 2009) expressed support for operations jointly planned and conducted by the Congolese army and MONUC against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, the LRA and other armed groups.
  • SC/9576 (16 January 2009) strongly condemned attacks carried out by the LRA which resulted in over 500 dead.
  • SC/9167 (13 November 2007) conveyed the Council’s continued support for Special Envoy Chissano’s facilitation role and its views on the security and humanitarian situation in northern Uganda.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6083 (17 February 2009) was a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes on his visit from 6 to 10 February to the DRC.
  • S/PV.5415 (19 April 2006) was a briefing by the Ugandan government on the LRA.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2008/409 (23 June 2008) was a report on children and armed conflict in Uganda.
  • S/2006/478 (29 June 2006) was a report on the LRA.

Other

  • S/2009/282 (29 May 2009) was the letter from the president of the Council thanking the Special Envoy for the LRA-Affected Areas, Joaquim Chissano, for his contribution to the northern Uganda peace process.
  • S/2009/281 (26 May 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General to the Council regarding his decision to suspend the assignment of Chissano as of 30 June 2009.
  • S/2008/827 (29 December 2008) and S/2008/826 (23 December 2008) was an exchange of letters between the Council and the Secretary-General extending the mandate of the special envoy for LRA-affected areas for an additional year, until 31 December 2009. The mandate would be unchanged.
  • S/2008/684 (3 November 2008) was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council advising of the appointment of a Special Envoy for eastern DRC who would work in close coordination with Chissano.
  • A/63/346/Add.1 (22 September 2008) was the proposed resource requirements for the special political mission in 2009.
  • A/63/323 (22 August 2008) was the report of the ICC.
  • S/2008/414 (23 June 2008) was the report and recommendations of the chief mediator.
  • S/2007/720 (6 December 2007) and S/2007/719 (21 November 2007) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council extending the mandate of special envoy and upgrading its Liaison Office to a special political mission until 31 December 2008.
  • S/2006/930 (30 November 2006) was a Secretary-General’s letter informing the Council of Chissano’s appointment and mandate.
  • S/2006/861 (3 November 2006) and S/2006/944 (6 December 2006) contained the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and its addendum.