What's In Blue

Resolution Renewing Mandate of UN Mission in DRC

Tomorrow (27 March) the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) – including the mandate of the intervention brigade – for one year. The draft resolution was put under silence yesterday evening, but silence was broken by Russia and Rwanda this morning. It seems that France, the penholder on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has held discussions with the two members to resolve their issues. A new draft was expected to be put in blue this evening. (Update: The adoption was postponed yesterday evening, possibly to Friday (28 March).

The Council was most recently briefed on MONUSCO on 14 March (S/PV.7137). The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, updated the Council on the operations against armed groups, in particular the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). He stressed that a more active MONUSCO presence was needed in Ituri, South Kivu and Katanga and advocated for a more proactive approach of MONUSCO to the protection of civilians in general.

During that meeting, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson told the Council (via video-teleconference) that, with the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework Agreement entering its second year, the DRC needed to move with haste on its national disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. She also noted the need to facilitate the repatriation of the former March 23 (M23) combatants from Uganda as a matter of urgency.

Both during the consultations that followed, and in the meeting between troop-contributing countries (TCC) and Kobler and MONUSCO force commander Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) on 12 March, several countries voiced concern about the impact of the operations of the intervention brigade on the nature of the tasks and conduct of the other MONUSCO contingents. During consultations, China and Russia also expressed concern over the safety of MONUSCO peacekeepers in light of the operations of the brigade against rebel groups. (MONUSCO, through its intervention brigade, is authorised by resolution 2098 to neutralise armed groups, on top of its protection of civilians mandate). Kobler expressed the view that MONUSCO is a single mission with several components that all carry out their respective tasks and acknowledged that if the intervention brigade is engaging with rebel groups or assisting the DRC army in such operations, this would naturally pose more risks to MONUSCO peacekeepers.

Council members have been negotiating the MONUSCO mandate renewal resolution since last week. While there is consensus over the need to renew the mandate based on language similar to resolution 2098, there were several points of contention. One point is the aforementioned concern of the TCCs and others regarding the core principles of peacekeeping of impartiality and non-use of force and keeping a distinction between the intervention brigade and the rest of MONUSCO. It seems that Russia in particular feels strongly that in neutralising armed groups through the intervention brigade, there should be specific reference to TCC consent if they are to be asked to perform tasks not included in the mandate of the mission. Also in relation to the intervention brigade, Russia suggested that the draft resolution maintain the language of resolution 2098 which specified that the Secretary-General’s report to the Council should include the activities of the intervention brigade. It seems that possible compromise language might involve clarifying both the delineation between the intervention brigade and the MONUSCO forces as well as their link.

Another issue revolves around the language used to describe the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. During the negotiations on resolution 2136, adopted 30 January 2014, Rwanda suggested adding in a paragraph on the operations of the FDLR that the rebel group includes perpetrators of “the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda”. It seems the US suggested adding language on other victims, and the resolution as adopted referred to the “perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed”. The language adopted was a marked change from the more general “genocide in Rwanda” used by the Council over the last two decades to refer to the atrocities that took place in Rwanda. Rwanda would like this recently agreed to language to be used in the MONUSCO draft resolution, while several other Council members prefer to retain “genocide in Rwanda”. At press time there were ongoing discussions to try and resolve this issue.

Looking ahead, how this issue is resolved may impact language in a draft resolution being planned for a debate on genocide to be held next month when Nigeria presides over the Security Council. Rwanda recently circulated a draft resolution to commemorate the “1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda” to Council members, which stressed the importance of the prevention of genocide, the responsibility to protect and justice mechanisms such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Negotiations on the draft resolution are expected to commence in early April.

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