Briefing on LRA and the UN Regional Office for Central Africa
On Monday (November 14), the Council will be briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Abou Moussa, on UNOCA’s work and on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It appears that a number of countries in central Africa have shown interest in participating in the briefing. The AU has also been invited to address the Council but at the time of writing had not responded. (When the Council held a private meeting on the LRA on 22 July, the DRC, CAR, South Sudan and Uganda and the permanent observer of the AU, Téte António, attended.) Moussa last briefed the Council on UNOCA by video-link on 18 August.
A draft presidential statement, which is expected to be adopted following the briefing, was circulated by the UK to Council members for comments on Wednesday, 9 November. It seems that the draft expresses concern over the impact of LRA activities on the population and addresses several issues, including the importance of bringing LRA leaders indicted by the ICC to justice, the responsibility of the governments in the region to protect their population, and the need for a regional approach to the LRA problem.
In addition it apparently emphasises the need to coordinate UN efforts, and suggests that UNOCA should play a role in this respect. The presidential statement also requests that the Secretary-General report to the Council on developments regarding the LRA.
It appears that no meetings have been planned to discuss the draft as Council members don’t appear to have any major disagreements over the approach taken in the draft. Any minor changes are likely to be done through email ahead of Monday’s meeting.
Council members received an advance copy of the Secretary-General’s report on the LRA a few days ago. While welcoming the AU regional initiative to tackle the LRA, the report calls on the AU to finalise its regional strategy and appoint a special envoy as soon as possible.
It also calls on the affected countries in the region to extend state authority, cooperate on military operations and share information. Among the recommendations are that UN missions in the region coordinate their efforts to address challenges posed by the LRA, with UNOCA playing a central role.
The Secretary-General’s first report on UNOCA, which was expected by early November, is still not officially available. However, Council members received an advance copy yesterday evening (10 November). The report covers UNOCA’s activities following its official inauguration in March 2011 and Moussa’s assumption of office in June 2011. Among the challenges highlighted in the report are the lack of dedicated air assets for UNOCA and the need for continued financial and political support from the international community.
Given some of the emerging threats in the region, it is likely that Council members will be keen to hear more about how UNOCA is working with other UN agencies and regional organisations to combat not just the LRA threat but also other challenges such as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the illicit flow of arms and fighters.