Briefings on UNOCA and the DRC
Briefing on UNOCA Report
Tomorrow morning (29 May), the Security Council will be briefed by Abou Moussa, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) on the Secretary-General’s report on UNOCA and on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (S/2013/297). A presidential statement is likely to be adopted following the meeting.
The discussion is likely to focus on two main issues. Firstly, Council members will be interested in hearing more about UNOCA’s activities in relation to the LRA. The latest UNOCA report covers regional efforts to counter LRA activities, including the implementation of the UN LRA strategy (S/2012/481 was the strategy and S/2013/240 was its implementation plan). It notes that several sources have reported that there is an LRA base in the Kafia Kingi (a disputed area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, currently under the control of the former. The area also borders the Central African Republic (CAR) to the west, a country where the LRA is known to operate). The report also notes that Sudan denies any LRA presence in the area.
The other issue which is likely to be of interest to Council members is the situation in the CAR. The report notes the urgent need to restore peace and security in the CAR following the seizure of Bangui by the Séléka rebels in March and prevent a possible spill-over to areas in central Africa. In particular, the report of the Secretary-General expresses concern over the challenges posed by the crisis on addressing the threat posed by the LRA. Notably the report calls on the Council to consider targeted sanctions against human rights violators in order to send a strong message to the Séléka.
Council members held one meeting on 24 May to negotiate a draft presidential statement. It seems the original draft contained a paragraph recalling the Council’s condemnation of the seizure of power by the Séléka and ensuing violence while another paragraph called on the CAR authorities to uphold their commitment to the AU regional initiative against the LRA. Some Council members expressed their opinion that an LRA-focused statement should not address the entirety of the CAR situation and Council engagement in CAR. A compromise proposal drafted jointly by France and Pakistan addressing the “pause of counter-LRA operations in CAR in the context of the current crisis in the country due to the seizure of power” by the rebels was accepted.
One controversial issue that arose during the meeting was how to address allegations of Sudan harboring the LRA. The initial draft by the UK – the lead country on the LRA – expressed concern over the reports of LRA presence in Kafia Kingi and called on Sudan to cooperate with regional counter-LRA efforts. Some Council members objected to such language. Eventually one country suggested following the language of the Secretary-General’s report and a compromise was reached and it seems in the final draft Council members will simply take note of reports of the LRA presence in Kafia Kingi.
Other elements of the expected presidential statement are the Council’s support for the AU Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA, recalling the outstanding warrants by the International Criminal Court against LRA members and a request for further reporting by the Secretary-General on UNOCA and LRA in a single report due by 15 November 2013.
Secretary-General’s Briefing on his visit to the Great Lakes Region
Tomorrow afternoon Council members may also receive a briefing from the Secretary-General on the first meeting of the regional oversight mechanism of the DRC peace and security framework agreement, which he chaired with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and which took place on 26 May in Addis Ababa. The meeting was also attended by representatives of 10 states and of the Southern African Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
A communiqué released at the end of the meeting welcomed the establishment of a technical support committee to define regional benchmarks, as requested by resolution 2098. Council members may be keen to hear more about this committee and what it is expected to present at the next meeting of the regional oversight mechanism to be held in September 2013 on the margins of the 68th UN General Assembly. The communiqué also welcomed deployment of the intervention brigade as part of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to counter the threat posed by armed groups operating in the eastern part of the country.