What's In Blue

Consultations on the DRC

Tomorrow afternoon (18 September), Council members will be briefed on the DRC during consultations by Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. (Ladsous has recently returned from a trip to Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC, which included a visit to the capital of North Kivu, Goma.) At press time no outcome was envisioned, but issuing a press statement remains a possibility.

Council members are likely to be interested in hearing Ladsous’s assessment of the situation in Eastern DRC and recent actions taken by the regional states to solve the 23 March Movement (or M23) issue at the military and political levels. This is a continuing source of instability and violence in the region with fighting between the M23 and the Congolese army uprooting nearly half a million people in recent months.

A likely focus of the discussions is the initiative of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to establish an international neutral force that would monitor the DRC-Rwanda border area. Media reports suggest that the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are ready to deploy their troops to Eastern DRC as part of this initiative. (The SADC grouping comprises 15 states in southern Africa, including the DRC but not Rwanda. The ICGLR is made up of Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania andZambia,) In a statement made while in Goma, Ladsous said that the matter of an international neutral force is under consideration by DPKO but that “it is up to the Security Council to express itself on the approval of such a concept and its implementation”. However, given the widespread scepticism among Council members about the feasibility of establishing an international neutral force in the near future, a quick decision on this initiative appears unlikely.

Another point that Ladsous might raise during the consultations is the expansion of the Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM)—an existing bilateral arrangement between Rwanda and the DRC designed to verify allegations against either side—to all 11 ICGLR member states.

Council members are cognisant that Rwanda, whose role in supporting the M23 has been controversial, is likely to be on the Council next year as it is running for an uncontested African seat. The DRC sanctions committee Group of Experts has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 in a report submitted to the Council, an allegation Rwanda has denied. Some Council members have shown interest in trying to find a political solution between the DRC and Rwanda by the end of the year. However, it is unclear what sort of role the Council would play in bringing about any political solution.

Next week some Council members will also participate in the high-level meeting on the DRC scheduled for 27 September on the margins of the General Assembly. The Secretary-General is expected to attend the meeting as are the countries from the Great Lakes region (including the DRC and Rwanda) and the SADC countries.

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