What's In Blue

Posted Wed 5 Nov 2014

Presidential Statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Security Council is set to meet this afternoon to adopt a presidential statement on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that was under silence until this morning. The draft statement was originally circulated on Friday (31 October) as a draft press statement. It seems that the idea of issuing a press statement was raised during the consultations following a 27 October joint briefing on the DRC by Martin Kobler, Special Representative and head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), and the recently appointed Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit (S/PV.7288).

During his briefing, Kobler spoke about the expulsion from the country of the head of the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO), Scott Campbell, following the publication of a UNJHRO report on extrajudicial killings and disappearances by Congolese police during its Operation Likofi from 15 November 2013 to 15 February against street gangs in Kinshasa. Kobler informed members that he had asked the DRC government to reconsider its decision to expel Campbell. Apparently during consultations, one member raised the issue of having a press statement on Campbell’s expulsion and several Council members took the view that if a statement was to be issued, it should be comprehensive and address the wider challenges in the DRC.

Following an exchange of comments by email, a revised draft was circulated on Monday, 3 November. The decision to turn the press statement into a presidential statement appears to have been taken yesterday based on the substantive and comprehensive nature of the draft text.

During last week’s consultations, Council members expressed concern over a number of issues related to the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the repatriation of the former March 23 Movement (M23) members, the electoral process, the expulsion of Campbell, and lack of progress on security sector reforms, economic reforms and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. Many of these concerns are reflected in the draft presidential statement.

A key focus of the draft is the lack of progress on the voluntary disarmament process of the FDLR as assessed by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and Southern African Development Community and confirmed by Kobler during his briefing last week. The draft presidential statement makes clear that there should be no further delay beyond the 2 January 2015 deadline set by the two sub-regional organisations for this process. It also calls on the government of the DRC, in coordination with MONUSCO, to immediately undertake 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. This appears to be in line with Kobler’s assessment that, as the FDLR has continued to violate human rights, there is no excuse for further delay in their disarmament. Kobler welcomed the clear instructions from Council members on the neutralisation of the FDLR contained in its 3 October press statement and, praising the intervention brigade and MONUSCO forces’ performance neutralising the M23, added, “I am more than confident that, if the FDLR does not disarm before 2 January, the Brigade, supported by all MONUSCO forces, will fight equally bravely and successfully against it”.

Djinnit noted the slow pace of implementation of the Nairobi Declarations in relation to the M23 group, with many of its former fighters still awaiting repatriation in neighbouring countries. He referred to a high-level follow-up meeting to be held in Kinshasa on 7-8 November to encourage the parties to hasten the amnesty and repatriation processes. The draft reminds parties of their commitments under the Nairobi Declarations, refers to the upcoming meeting in Kinshasa and stresses the need for all parties to overcome barriers to repatriation at this meeting.

The draft also condemns the recent attacks by the ADF in the Beni territory, brutally killing over 100 civilians, mostly women and children, and takes note of a statement by DRC president Joseph Kabila committing to military action to neutralise this group permanently, with the support of MONUSCO.

The draft statement also recalls the importance of completing the permanent demobilisation of the former M23 combatants and calls for the acceleration of the implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement programme. It also stresses the importance of the fulfilment of implementation of the reforms committed to by the DRC in the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework Agreement to the stability of the DRC and the region. In this context, the draft statement expresses concern over the continued slow progress on security sector reform in the DRC, including the establishment of a Congolese rapid reaction force that is to replace the intervention brigade.

The draft presidential statement places the expulsion of the head of the UNJHRO within the context of protecting human rights and fighting impunity. Expressing grave concern over his expulsion and threats against other staff members, Council members make clear that monitoring and reporting on human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are part of MONUSCO’s mandate. The draft statement further calls on the DRC to investigate the allegations in the UNJHRO report while taking note of the government’s willingness to work with MONUSCO, including the Joint Human Rights Office.

It seems that after a period of perceived progress in stabilising the situation in eastern DRC and the military defeat of the M23, there is now a general agreement among members that the Council needs to pay closer attention to the continuing issues of concern in the DRC and the stagnation in the implementation of the commitments under the PSC Framework.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails