What's In Blue

Posted Tue 8 Jan 2013

DRC Consultations

This afternoon (8 January) Council members will be briefed in consultations by Hervé Ladsous, head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). The meeting follows a 27 December 2012 letter from the Secretary-General to the Council President. The letter outlined the additional capacities required in the immediate term to ensure that MONUSCO has the resources to fulfil its mandate in light of the ongoing problems with the M23 rebel group in eastern DRC. (The Council in its presidential statement of 19 October 2012 [S/PRST/2012/22] and in resolution 2076 of 20 November 2012 had asked for a report on options for improving MONUSCO’s ability to implement its mandate.) At press time it seemed that Council members were primarily interested in an update from Ladsous and no Council outcome was anticipated.

Council members are likely to be particularly interested in the Secretary-General’s request concerning additional utility and attack helicopters and surveillance capacity, such as unmanned aerial systems (more commonly referred to as drones). At present, MONUSCO has 23 deployed helicopters although a further six have been authorised. The Secretary-General’s letter states that it will be “critical” to complete the deployment to 29 and then add a utility helicopter and two attack helicopters, complete with much-needed night vision capabilities. The letter also states that additional capabilities—such as unmanned aerial systems—are necessary for “advanced information collation, analysis and dissemination to enhance situational awareness and to enable timely decision-making.”

Council members will be interested in hearing more from Ladsous about the rationale for this additional capacity and what purposes the additional equipment might serve. The Secretary-General’s letter lists four objectives and tasks which the requested resources would help achieve, including the protection of civilians, reporting arms flows across the borders of eastern DRC, providing increased support to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in monitoring border areas in eastern DRC, and improving surveillance capacities.

The call for additional helicopters for MONUSCO appears to be a standard request. More attention is likely to be given to the proposal for the mission to use drones for surveillance purposes as this is much more uncommon. (There are instances of UN missions relying on information provided by drones, such as in Kosovo, although it does not seem that a UN mission itself has operated such equipment to date.) The issue gives rise to several questions concerning the feasibility of using such equipment and the logistics of operating and funding such requests. Council members are likely to want to expand on these issues this afternoon.

The Secretary-General’s 27 December letter also notes that Ban Ki-moon requested UN Military Adviser Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye to meet with the presidents of Tanzania and Uganda in their capacities as chairs of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and ICGLR, respectively. It appears that Lieutenant General Gaye was in the Central African Republic last week and while he will not brief this afternoon, Council members might be interested in an update from Ladsous on Gaye’s meetings and the anticipated next steps.

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