What's In Blue

Posted Mon 6 Nov 2017

Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential Statement

Tomorrow (7 November), the Council is scheduled to adopt a presidential statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sanctions regime. The statement is being adopted pursuant to resolution 2360 of 21 June 2017, which renewed the regime and decided that the Council should review the provisions of the resolution by 31 October 2017, after the submission of the final report of the Group of Experts assisting the DRC Sanctions Committee.

The reason behind this review is that the resolution was adopted prior to the submission of the final report by the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts (S/2017/672 of 10 August). The report was postponed due to the murder in March of two of the Group’s experts: Zaida Catalán (Chile/Sweden) and Michael Sharp (US). The confidential report of the Board of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General found that it was likely that militia groups were responsible for the deaths of Catalán and Sharp, and that further investigation is needed to determine the exact identity of the perpetrators. It recommended a further criminal investigation by the DRC with the support of other member states.

In the draft statement, the Council reiterates the need for the DRC government to fully investigate the killings and to bring the perpetrators to justice. It notes the decision of the Secretary-General, outlined in his 31 October letter to the Council (S/2017/917) and agreed with the Congolese authorities, to deploy a team to assist national authorities in the investigation. It further notes the Secretary-General’s intention to report to the Council on the team’s work, while welcoming his commitment that the UN will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. The text further welcomes the cooperation of the Congolese authorities with the UN, as well as with further existing and potential investigations conducted by Sweden and the US.

With regard to sanctions in the DRC more generally, the statement reiterates the Council’s readiness to sanction individuals who undermine the peace, stability or security of the DRC including by planning, directing, sponsoring or participating in attacks against UN personnel, including members of the Group of Experts. It also encourages the Group of Experts to consider in its work, in cooperation with relevant Congolese authorities, issues related to illicit financial activity, including money laundering operations, supporting the activities of armed groups, and criminal networks involved in destabilising activities in the DRC. Finally, the draft statement underlines that no adjustments to the measures in resolution 2360 are necessary at this time.

The draft statement was not contentious among Council members and was seen as a technical exercise. However, the language concerning the investigations on the death of the two experts was carefully worded, as previous discussions on this issue exposed differences of approach to the matter. Some Council members, particularly the US and Sweden, emphasised the need for accountability and swift action, while others stressed the primary responsibility of the DRC to investigate crimes within its territory and issues of national sovereignty.