Council Activities on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Council members are currently negotiating a draft resolution on the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), circulated by France yesterday (19 November). Although some members appear keen to adopt it later today, at press time it was unclear if agreement on a revised draft could be reached today. The Council is also scheduled to meet tomorrow (21 November) for a briefing on the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the DRC Sanctions Committee, and it is possible that the draft resolution could be adopted following these meetings.
While Council members have been following the activities of the 23 March Movement (M23) closely and in recent months have issued several press statements and adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/22) on 19 October, this is the first attempt at adopting a resolution on this issue. The draft text circulated yesterday proposes additional targeted sanctions against the M23 rebel group leadership as well as those who are providing it with external support. It also calls for an immediate end to external support to the rebels and requests the Secretary-General to report on the allegations of this external support while expressing its readiness to take appropriate measures. The draft resolution, rather unusually, also has an annex adding two individuals from M23 to the DRC sanctions list. (Though not unprecedented, such action is normally taken through the Sanctions Committee designating individuals, rather than the Council itself acting through a resolution.) It seems that some members would like more time in order to do a more thorough vetting of the two individuals.
The draft resolution additionally requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Envoy for the crisis in eastern DRC. It seems that this envoy would be involved in facilitating dialogue between relevant parties. It appears that not all members are comfortable with the immediate designation of a Special Envoy and would instead prefer requesting the Secretary-General to provide more information on this possibility. The draft resolution also asks for the Secretary-General to report to the Council in the “coming days” on the crisis and diplomatic efforts.
In addition, the draft resolution also focuses on MONUSCO’s role. It asks the Secretary-General to report on possible redeployments which could help MONUSCO implement its mandate, particularly to protect civilians and report on the flow of arms across the borders in the region. This is an area that is likely to be discussed further tomorrow during the briefing on MONUSCO. (The 19 October presidential statement had also asked the Secretary-General for a special report on possible options—and their implications—for reinforcing MONUSCO’s ability to address the threat of the M23 within its mandate.)
While there appears to be some support among Council members for responding to the current crisis in the DRC, it seems that some members feel that the initial draft text was too wide-ranging. These members would like to see a draft resolution focused on the crisis with the wider sanctions issues addressed separately.
On Saturday (17 November) the Council issued a press statement (SC/10819) following a meeting of Council members, called for by France, to discuss the intensification of violence in the North Kivu region in eastern DRC. (Head of UN peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, updated Council members on the situation on the ground during the meeting.) In the press statement, Council members expressed concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation. They also condemned and called for the cessation of attacks by the M23 and demanded the cessation of “any and all” outside support and supply of equipment to the M23. In addition, members indicated willingness to apply additional sanctions against the leadership of the M23.
Besides the deteriorating situation in eastern DRC, Council members are also focused on the DRC Sanctions Committee. Yesterday, Council members met at the expert level to discuss a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the sanctions regime and the Group of Experts that assist the Committee. Tomorrow, Council members are also scheduled to have consultations on the DRC Sanctions Committee where its Chair, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev (Azerbaijan), is expected to brief on the Group of Experts’ annual report, which was circulated to members in mid-October.
With the intensification of M23 activity and the allegations of external support from neighbouring countries, some Council members may wish to have a more in-depth discussion of the findings of the report. (This document is not public but media reports suggest that it asserts that Rwandan Defence Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is the de facto head of the chain of command of the M23 rebellion and that Rwanda and Uganda have funneled weapons and troops to the rebels. Both Kampala and Kigali have denied the accusations.)
Council members are aware that discussions on this issue may become even more complicated with Rwanda joining the Security Council as a non-permanent member on 1 January. As of today- six weeks prior to the start of the new term- the five newly elected members are invited to attend “all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies and the informal consultations of the whole,” as codified in Presidential Note 507 on working methods.
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