Briefing on DRC by Head of UN Mission and Great Lakes Region Special Envoy
On Monday (27 October), the Council will be briefed by Special Representative and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Martin Kobler, as well as the recently appointed Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit. The briefing will be followed by consultations.
Kobler will present the latest MONUSCO report (S/2014/698), which notes that in August, MONUSCO finalised the implementation of its reconfiguration with the redeployment of civilian, police and military personnel from the western to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the handover of several substantive responsibilities to the UN Country Team. The report also notes the stalling of the repatriation of former March 23 rebel movement (M23) fighters from Rwanda and Uganda, in accordance with the Nairobi Declarations that officially ended the M23 military operations, and called on Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC to act swiftly in this regard. Members are likely to be interested in any progress achieved in repatriating former M23 members and any further information about MONUSCO’s transfer of tasks in western DRC to the UN Country Team.
Council members will be keen to hear about the current status of Congolese and MONUSCO operations against armed groups and in particular the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR). MONUSCO has supported Congolese military operations against the Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka and the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain and the ADF in North Kivu with some success. The report notes a considerable weakening of ADF and, to a lesser extent, some other armed groups, and states that by early August approximately 280 out of the 600 hostages believed to be held by ADF were released and returned to their villages. However, it warns that progress is slow and reversible. And indeed, two recent attacks by the ADF in Beni territory on 15 and 17 October resulted in the death of more than four dozen people. The attacks have led to demonstrations against MONUSCO inaction in the area. During one of the demonstrations, two civilians were reportedly killed while blocking the path of a joint MONUSCO-Congolese patrol. The incident is currently being investigated by MONUSCO.
Another issue related to armed groups is the continued delays in the surrender of FDLR members. The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) held a mini-summit on 13-14 August on the DRC and the Great Lakes Region resulting in a communiqué giving the FDLR an ultimatum for voluntary surrender by 2 January 2015 as set out by a joint ICGLR- Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting of defence ministers on 2 July. It also announced the intention to review the surrender process in October so as to measure progress and plan military action if necessary. A SADC summit held in Zimbabwe on 17 and 18 August also endorsed the 2 July decision.
Council members issued a press statement on 3 October (SC/11586) following the 2 October half-way point of the timeframe for the FDLR voluntary surrender, noting with concern the lack of progress on surrender and reiterating their call on the DRC government, to undertake, in coordination with MONUSCO, military action “against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilisation process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses”. Council members further rejected any political dialogue with the FDLR and reaffirmed the importance of accountability for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The follow-up ministerial meeting of the ICGLR and SADC took place in Luanda on 18-20 October. The meeting concluded that no progress in the voluntary surrender of the FDLR has been achieved thus far and that, consequently, military action will be needed if this does not change. At the same time, media reports suggest that SADC countries that comprise MONUSCO’s intervention brigade (Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania) mandated to neutralise armed groups have been hesitant to have their troops actively engage with the FDLR. Rwanda, which opposes any postponement of military action against the FDLR, is likely to express strong views on the lack of progress. There may be interest from some members in getting a better understanding of why the intervention brigade has not been particularly effective in neutralising the FDLR. Several Council members are supportive of the ICGLR-SADC timeline for military action and are concerned with the lack of progress.
Djinnit will brief for the first time as Special Envoy on the latest report on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation(PSC) Framework Agreement (S/2014/697), which notes with concern that the overall implementation of the PSC Framework remains slow and every effort must be made to energise it. Members may seek Djinnit’s views on what can be done to speed up the implementation.
The report also notes that in the DRC, implementation is lagging in several critical areas such as security sector reform, decentralisation, reconciliation and democratisation. In his report, the Secretary-General urges the DRC to accelerate measures to restore and consolidate state authority throughout the eastern DRC, and to give priority to establishing a rapid reaction force as called for in resolution 2098. The report also identifies the lack of progress in implementing the Nairobi Declarations as an impediment for moving forward successfully. Members who believe that more focus should be given to national reforms, the reintegration of former rebels, neutralising remaining groups and the establishment of state authority will be keen to get Djinnit’s assessment of what is needed in order to see some progress in these areas.
Another issue that may interest Council members is the recent decision of the DRC to declare the director of the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC (UNJHRO), Scott Campbell, as persona-non-grata. This came after a UNJHRO report of 15 October documented grave human rights abuses—including summary executions and enforced disappearance—by Congolese police against gangs in Kinshasa during “Operation Likofi”. On 20 October the DRC sent a letter to the Council president, denying the allegations in the report and accusing Campbell of a bias against the government for several years. The DRC noted that the government will continue to fully cooperate with the UNJHRO but cannot do so with Campbell. Both the Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, have expressed their full support for Campbell and condemned the DRC decision and urged the DRC authorities to reverse it. Some Council members who may be interested in having the Council react to this development may be looking for further information. However, there are others who are likely to view these issues as the state’s prerogative and are not expected to support a Council outcome.