Democratic Republic of the Congo Consultations
Tomorrow Council members will be briefed in consultations on recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) Martin Kobler and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson.
Council members have been following the situation in the DRC closely since the March 23 (M23) rebel group announced that it would end its military operations on 6 November. They are likely to be eager for an update from the briefers on any progress in finding a final agreement between the DRC and the M23 which would cement the military achievements against the rebel group. The DRC and the M23 were scheduled to sign an agreement on 11 November, but eventually failed to conclude their negotiations in Kampala and the agreement remains pending. They will be interested in more details on why the two parties have failed to agree and in hearing an assessment of what this means for the stability of the DRC.
Council members are likely to ask Kobler about the tasks of MONUSCO, including the intervention brigade, after its assistance to the successful offensive by the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) against the M23. They will likely be interested in hearing how the intervention brigade may be working to neutralise the threat posed by the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR)—in addition to other rebel groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and various Mayi Mayi groups—as the Council in its 14 November presidential statement on DRC stressed the importance of accomplishing this goal.
On 20 November, the DRC government announced its Disarmament, Reintegration and Social Reinsertion plan for former combatants who lay down their arms stressing that not all combatants would be reintegrated into the FARDC. Council members will be interested in the implementation of this plan particularly with respect to the disarmament and reintegration of FDLR combatants, as well as members of other armed groups that have surrendered.
Another issue that may be addressed tomorrow is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the DRC. On 3 December, the UN launched its first ever UAVs, when MONUSCO operated two units for the first time. At the launching, MONUSCO Force Commander General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz said that with this equipment, “one can observe the movements of the armed groups, movements of populations and can even see the arms carried by people on the ground, and it is also possible to see people in forested areas.” Earlier he stated that that there would be 24 hour UAV surveillance operational in the eastern DRC by March or April. Council members may be interested in information on the areas of operation of the UAVs and their surveillance activities to date.
The Council agreed to the deployment of this Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) initiative when it stated in a letter (S/2013/44) that the deployment of UAVs is in line with DPKO’s expressed intention to use assets to enhance situational awareness. In addition, resolution 2098 of 28 March stated that in monitoring the implementation of the arms embargo in cooperation with the Group of Experts (GoE) assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, emphasis is to be placed on cross-border flows of military personnel and arms, including by using surveillance capabilities such as unmanned aerial systems.
Council members agree that the military accomplishments of the FARDC, with the assistance of the MONUSCO intervention brigade, should help generate political momentum in the DRC and the region in addressing the root causes of the conflict and there may be interest in discussing more concrete ways of leveraging on this.