What's In Blue

Meetings on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This afternoon (Tuesday, 28 August), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee will meet with the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, on the recent report (S/2012/348) by the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the Committee. The report asserted that Rwanda was supporting the M23 rebel group, which has been operating in eastern DRC since April. It seems Rwanda asked to appear before the Committee to address the report, and present its own document refuting the evidence presented by the GoE. (The Rwandan document can be found here.)

Although Rwanda denies all claims that it has been supporting the M23 group, it has been subject to much criticism over its role as presented in the GoE report. (M23 is comprised of recent defectors from the DRC army who were allegedly dissatisfied with the implementation of the 23 March 2009 agreements signed between the government of the DRC and the armed groups operating in the eastern Kivu provinces. M23 is led by Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.)

Yesterday (27 August), the Council was briefed in consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos who had asked to update the Council on the humanitarian developments in the eastern DRC. It seems her focus was on the influx of internally displaced persons and refugees to Rwanda from eastern DRC and their difficult living conditions. She updated the Council on the attempts by the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to ensure humanitarian access to displaced people. Amos also informed Council members that in her meetings with the DRC government, as well as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) secretariat, she had emphasised the need to address the root causes of the crisis. (The ICGLR is an international governmental organisation comprising 11 states in the African Great Lakes Region, including the DRC and Rwanda.)

On Wednesday (29 August) Council members will hold an informal interactive dialogue concerning the situation in the DRC and regional developments, meeting Rwanda and the DRC representatives separately. The interactive dialogue seems to have come about as a result of Rwanda’s request to discuss recent developments with the Council and this format allows non-Council members to have a private meeting with Council members.) It seems that Council members believe that meeting with the representatives of both states separately will allow for a more candid discussion and avoid unnecessary friction between the parties.

One regional development that will likely be discussed is the initiative of the ICGLR to establish an international neutral force, composed of African troops. The idea is that the force would monitor the DRC-Rwanda border and neutralise the M23 under the mandate of the UN and the AU. Although the ICGLR has not made any formal request for assistance from the UN, its Executive Secretary, Alphonse Ntumba Luaba, met with several Council members bilaterally last week to provide more information about the formation of this force.

At present, no outcome is expected following the two upcoming meetings. Some Council members feel quite strongly that as these are informal meetings, it would not be appropriate to have any sort of outcome as a matter of procedure. More substantively, some members believe that it is unrealistic to try and establish an international force for this purpose, particularly in the near future. These members are likely to take this opportunity to stress to the parties the need for a bilateral political solution to the current crisis and emphasise the importance of ending any outside assistance to the M23.

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