Dispatches from the Field: Council Visiting Mission to the Great Lakes
KINSHASA: Council members began their tour of the Great Lakes when they landed in Kinshasa this evening (4 October). Over the next three days they will also be visiting Goma, Kigali and Entebbe. The final stop will be Addis Ababa for the annual consultation with the members of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC). France and Morocco are the co-leads on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) leg of the visiting mission; the US for the Rwanda leg; the UK for the Uganda leg;and Azerbaijan and Rwanda on the Addis Ababa leg. (The Council last visited the DRC and Uganda in 2010, and Rwanda in 2009. Since 2007, the itineraries of Council visiting missions to Africa have included Addis Ababa every other year for the consultative meeting with the members of the AU PSC.)
Great Lakes Tour
The substantive day for Kinshasa-based meetings will be on Saturday (5 October) when Council members are expected to meet with key interlocutors, including the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the leadership of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC(MONUSCO). (At press time, it seemed likely Council members would meet with President Joseph Kabila but the meeting had yet to be confirmed.)
In tomorrow’s meetings with the DRC government, topics expected to be discussed include the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region (PSC Framework). In particular, Council members are planning to have a focused discussion on Security Sector Reform (SSR) issues with the ministers of the interior, defense and justice.
While in Kinshasa, Council members will also meet with MONUSCO leadership, including the Special Representative and head of the mission, Martin Kobler, and the force commander, General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil). These interactions are expected to focus on protection of civilians issues, implementation of resolution 2098 and the subsequent roadmap to transition tasks from MONUSCO to the UN Country Team. (The most recent Secretary-General’s report on MONUSCO identified these areas to be in demining, technical election support, civil affairs, gender, child protection, justice and corrections and sexual violence [S/2013/581].)
Following a full day of meetings in Kinshasa, Council members will continue on to Goma on Sunday (6 October) and are expected to focus on the activities of MONUSCO’s newly deployed “intervention brigade”, visit an IDP camp and hold a roundtable with civil society representatives on sexual violence in conflict and child protection issues.
Kigali and Entebbe
Monday(7 October) will be spent in Kigali, Rwanda, followed by Entebbe, Uganda, where the Council delegation is set to meet with Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni respectively. Obligations under the PSC Framework will also be a focus of discussion in these two countries with added focus in Uganda likely to be on the Kampala talks (the Ugandan mediated talks between the March 23 rebel movement and the DRC government).
Meeting with the EU Political and Security Committee
During the layover in Brussels on the morning of 4 October (Friday), Council members took advantage of the time to meet with the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC) to exchange views on the Great Lakes region and the shared interest between the AU, EU and UN in fostering regional stability and supporting the PSC Framework and Kampala talks. The EU PSC also communicated to Council members that the EU would wind down its SSR activities with the DRC government by the end of 2014 and that the EU would like to see MONUSCO prepare to take over these tasks.
It seems the ICC was another issue that came up in Brussels, with the EU PSC underlining that Council referrals of a situation to the Court under Article 13 of the Rome Statute of the ICC are an important accountability tool. It seems that while the African Council members agreed on the importance of accountability, there also seemed to be the perception that the approach to Council referrals was uneven, with decisions on African countries more likely to include an ICC referral.
Consultative Meeting with the AU Peace and Security Council
It seems the ICC issue may also be informally raised on the final leg of the visiting mission in Addis Ababa when Council members will hold their annual consultative meeting with the members of the AU PSC on Tuesday (8 October). The formal items on the agenda for the consultative meeting include the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes Region, the Sahel, Somalia, and Sudan and South Sudan. The other focus of the meeting will be on enhancing cooperation between the two bodies with a joint communiqué expected to be adopted at the end of the session.