Presidential Statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Security Council members are set to adopt a draft presidential statement on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) later this afternoon. Last Wednesday (10 October), Council members were briefed by Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the deteriorating situation in the eastern DRC, in particular the activities of the M23 rebel group. Led by Bosco Ntaganda, the M23 has been a source of instability in the region, fighting the DRC army and uprooting more than 300,000 people in recent months.
Following the briefing, and a series of press statements in which Council members have previously conveyed their views on the current crisis in the DRC (most recently SC/10736 on 2 August), France initiated the idea of a draft presidential statement. It seems that France felt it was important to have a more formal Council response to highlight concern about the situation and to signal that they are looking for solutions.
The draft text, circulated on Tuesday, condemns all outside support to the M23 but does not name specific countries. It also expressed the Council’s intention to apply targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo. The draft presidential statement also stresses the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and its neighbours, especially Rwanda. (Rwanda was elected yesterday to be a non-permanent member of the Council for a two year period starting 1 January 2012.)
The presidential statement also calls on the Secretary General to present a special report with details on possible options for reinforcing the ability of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to address the threat of the M23 within its mandate. During an expert level meeting on Wednesday afternoon, it seems several members were of the view that MONUSCO should only assist the DRC army within the confines of its current mandate and resources.
The draft statement also apparently welcomes the work of the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the DRC Sanctions Committee, though it does not address its latest annual report, which was circulated to committee members this week (all 15 Council members are members of the committee). While the 27 June addendum (S/2012/348/Add.1) to the 21 June GoE interim report (S/2012/348) accused Rwanda of assisting the M23, media reports suggest that the latest report asserts that the Rwandan Defense Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is the de facto head of the chain of command of the rebellion and that Rwanda and Uganda have funneled weapons and troops to the rebels. Both Kampala and Kigali have denied the accusations. It seems that Council members are not inclined to address this report before they receive its supporting annexes (which are expected soon) and have the opportunity to discuss it in the sanctions committee.