NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

17 May 2000
SC/6862

NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

17 May 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6862

NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO CONFLICT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

20000517

Reporting on Council Mission to Region, Holbrooke Says ‘Lusaka Peace Agreement Is Only Way Forward’

The Security Council today heard 27 speakers in an open briefing on the Council’s 4 to 8 May mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the mission, the seven-member delegation –- composed of the Permanent Representatives of the United States, France, Mali, Namibia, Netherlands, Tunisia and the United Kingdom -- also visited Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda.

Presenting the mission’s report, the representative of the United States, who had headed the Council delegation, said every meeting during the visit had seen an endorsement of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. The people sought peace and the withdrawal of outside forces, and they wanted the rebel movements to lay down their arms. They also wanted the Government to engage in a national dialogue, and aspired to live in a State built on democratic institutions.

Everything about the mission had been designed to bring the process of that dialogue forward, he said, stressing that there was no military solution to the conflict. The Lusaka Agreement was the only way forward.

As other representatives did after him, he stressed that Council decisions should not be affected by the dangerous and difficult events in Sierra Leone. Africa was as diverse as any region of the world. It was a fallacy based on superficial knowledge to say that the failure of the Lomé Accords in Sierra Leone implied a failure elsewhere on the continent.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the members of the Council mission had been eyewitnesses to the deep desire for peace of his country’s people. Throughout the entire territory, children, fathers and mothers were demanding an end to the unspeakable suffering which had been their daily plight since 2 August 1998. The country had spent two years in a pitiless war. He called on the international community to use all means to put an end to the war once and for all.

Namibia remained gravely concerned at reports of human rights violations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic, that country’s representative said. The systematic rape of women and girls in the east must stop, and the Congolese

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6862 4143rd Meeting (AM & PM) 17 May 2000

women who had been buried alive in the east should not be forgotten. The situation demanded immediate action, and it was imperative that those responsible be held accountable.

There was no doubt that the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic was helping to finance the ongoing war, he continued. He supported the proposal to establish an expert panel to address the subject and was ready to take a formal decision on the matter.

Many representatives stressed that phase II of the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) must be deployed as soon as possible. The representative of Algeria, for the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said MONUC would make a contribution to strengthening the current ceasefire and to developing confidence in the peace process. The representative of France noted that the United Nations could do nothing without a commitment from Member States to provide the necessary resources.

Reiterating the statement of President Robert Mugabe, made during his meeting with the Council team on 6 May, the representative of Zimbabwe said that now was the opportune moment for the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers to prevent the situation from unravelling any further. The deployment should not be contingent upon progress or lack of it in the inter-Congolese dialogue, “since the conflict remained uppermost in people’s minds”. He implored the Council to deploy a peacekeeping mission with a robust United Nations Charter Chapter VII mandate that would complete the work of phase II of MONUC.

Peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region could not be achieved as long as eyes were fixed on the Democratic Republic alone, Rwanda’s representative said. The situation in that country needed to be seen as part of a region in crisis and the root causes must be addressed individually and collectively.

Statements were also made today by the representatives of the United Kingdom, Tunisia, Ukraine, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Canada, Mali, Argentina, Jamaica, Netherlands, China, Japan, Pakistan, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, Portugal (for the European Union and associated States), and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The meeting began at 10:30 a.m. and was suspended at 1:15 p.m. It reconvened at 3:30 p.m. and was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.

Security Council Mission Report

When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report on the Council’s mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2000/416), which took place from 4 to 8 May.

The seven-member mission visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda, meeting, respectively, with President Laurent-Désiré Kabila, President Frederick J.T. Chiluba, President Robert G. Mugabe, President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The mission also held meetings with the leaders of the two factions of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), RCD-Goma and RCD-Kisangani, as well as with, among others, Congolese members of civil society, religious leaders and representatives of political parties. Read-outs of those meetings are included in the report. Three members of the mission -- Namibia, Netherlands and United Kingdom -- visited Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a possible deployment site for the next phase of the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

The report stresses that the leaders of the region have to share responsibility for returning the Democratic Republic of the Congo to stability. The mission recommends that before he makes his final decision on deployment of phase II of MONUC, the Secretary-General should speak to each of the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement -- which established a basis for the peaceful resolution of the conflict –- at the highest level, seeking their unequivocal commitment to assist the proposed deployment, testing their commitment to the maintenance of the 8 April ceasefire agreed in Kampala, and asking for their firm undertaking to support phase II on the ground in every way possible.

The report states that military activity in and around Kisangani during the course of the mission’s journey, in clear breach of the ceasefire, has been condemned by the Council. While the mission was pleased to play a role in promoting the joint declaration on Kisangani’s demilitarization, issued by the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda on 8 May, it noted that implementation is the only true test, and that disturbing reports of fresh shelling and apparently hostile troop movements have already been received. Immediate and forceful follow-up action by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and by MONUC was needed.

The mission was left in no doubt of the fundamental importance of establishing a national dialogue on the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the report states. Without a political track, the parties would inevitably focus on the military track. All the signatories of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement the mission met, as well as the representatives of the Congolese civil, political and religious communities, placed emphasis on the need for vigorous and legitimate political activity. The mission concluded that follow-up on this central aspect should be urgently pursued.

In that regard, the mission stressed that Sir Ketumile Masire, the neutral facilitator for the peace process, needs immediate access to funds and the unequivocal support, in particular, of all the Lusaka signatories. It hopes that the facilitator, with the assistance of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the active backing of the Council, will address the question of the venue for the first stages of the dialogue with renewed vigour. Kinshasa is the natural eventual home of the political process, but the mission recommends that an interim solution, possibly Kisangani, could be explored and that Kinshasa could be re-examined at a later date, when confidence between the parties has grown.

The Lusaka requirement for a disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement programme, without which no sustained cessation of the conflict would be possible, was broached with the parties, the report continues. The issue should be taken forward in New York in June. The mission recognizes the need for time and the most substantial deployment of peacekeeping forces, beyond phase II of MONUC, for this purpose, but work must be done now on the details, so that the parties can be confident that the whole structure of Lusaka is being given attention.

Another issue raised by the mission was the question of the illegal exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it was made clear during the exchanges that the Council would return to this problem. The report also states that none of the external parties claimed a long-term interest in remaining on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s territory in either a military or economic context. The mission recommends the expeditious establishment of an expert panel by the Council to take the matter forward.

The report also notes that, at the mission’s instigation, particular parties offered to take steps to exchange prisoners of war. The Council should urge the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to renew its approaches to turn this expressed willingness into practical results.

The mission stresses that, while developments in Sierra Leone cast a shadow over the mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation in that country has its own unique characteristics, and the peacekeeping operation there must be judged on its own merits. Sierra Leone should not be allowed to cloud the international community’s responsibility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its capacity to make a real difference there.

The mission, which was headed by Richard Holbrooke (United States), included Jean-David Levitte (France), Moctar Ouane (Mali), Martin Andjaba (Namibia), A. Peter van Walsum (Netherlands), Said Ben Mustapha (Tunisia), and Sir Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom).

Statements

WANG YINGFAN (China), Security Council President, informed the Council that he had received letters from the representatives of Algeria, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, Libya, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, requesting to be invited to participate in today’s discussion.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) introduced the report on the Council’s mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2000/416), which took place from 4 to 8 May. He said it had been a great honour to chair the delegation, and stressed that the seven nations had taken no national positions. He wished to speak in that spirit today. The single voice the delegation had spoken with had carried a very powerful message, and they had made it clear that they were also speaking for the eight other Council members not present. Every ambassador had spoken in every meeting on every issue -- such a carefully balanced delegation had constituted a powerful symbol.

The mission had been, simultaneously, a fact-finding mission, an opportunity to report to the Council and a negotiating meeting, he said. It was critical to get the Council out of the Chamber and into the real world. He noted that three members of the team had made an extraordinary trip to Kananga. It had been the emotional high point of the trip -- a chance to see the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a massive human demonstration of a desire for peace.

Every meeting had seen an endorsement of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, he said. The people sought peace and the withdrawal of outside forces, and they wanted the rebel movements to lay down their arms. They also wanted the Government to engage in a national dialogue, and aspired to live in a State built on democratic institutions.

Everything about the mission had been designed to forward the process of national dialogue, he said, stressing that there was no military solution to the conflict. The Lusaka Agreement was the only way forward.

He also stressed that Council decisions should not be affected by the dangerous and difficult events in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone was not a metaphor for Africa. Africa was as diverse as any region of the world. It was a fallacy based on superficial knowledge to say that the failure of the Lomé Accords in Sierra Leone implied a failure elsewhere on the continent.

Peacekeeping, the core function of the United Nations, must be gotten right, he said. An important discussion had been held on the subject yesterday in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

He praised the men and women of the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) for their efforts, as well as those of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Force Commander. MONUC’s deployment in adequate conditions of security must remain a priority

The strains between the Joint Military Commission (JMC) and MONUC continued, he said. He drew attention to a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of the word “co-location”. The Council had meant only the cohabitation of the same building. The Lusaka signatories had thought the word referred to cohabitation of the same city. Several signatories had stated that they would not send their representatives to Kinshasa. That was an unresolved problem requiring further attention.

Ambassador Levitte of France, who would hold the Council presidency in June, had invited the political committee to come to New York on or about 16 June, he said. He believed that would be a critical meeting and another step forward in the emerging Organization of African Unity (OAU)/Security Council collaboration.

He then addressed the outbreak of fighting in Kisangani. It had provided the delegation with a challenge and an opportunity, and had demonstrated that under certain circumstances in such situations the Council could make significant strides forward. He stressed that getting a United Nations unit to Kisangani immediately, in the next few weeks, was absolutely critical.

Mr. WANG (China), Council President, thanked the members of the delegation for their work.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that overall the mission had given a timely boost to the peace process and had demonstrated the commitment of the Security Council to problem solving in Africa. That was important in raising the morale of Africans and reinforcing their confidence that the Council would not abandon the task of addressing their problems.

The mission’s visit to the town of Kananga, which had no electricity or water but did have a spirit of peace, was an inspiration to the mission. Events in Sierra Leone, he said, should not cast a shadow over the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but they were a warning of what could happen in the Democratic Republic if the ceasefire broke down. Therefore, a quick follow-up to the report’s recommendations was necessary, he said. Among other things, the assurances received on Kisangani must be pursued. Rwanda and Uganda had reaffirmed their commitment to withdrawal of all their troops from Kisangani. That town seemed a prime candidate for the co-location of MONUC and the JMC. A Secretariat assessment of the practicality of using Kisangani would be helpful, he said.

Follow-up was also necessary on the demobilization, disarmament, reintegration and resettlement (DDRR) process, he continued. That issue should be raised with the Political Committee when it visited New York, and should also be addressed by the JMC.

He went on to say that the timetable proposed by the Facilitator was a realistic one, and the international community should support it. The Facilitator urgently needed funds. However, the national dialogue was for the Congolese people to decide on, and the outside mechanism should only facilitate that dialogue and not decide on its substance. There was also a need to move in the direction of an expert panel on illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic’s natural resources.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed to be judged on its merits, he said, and asked if the Secretariat could let the Security Council know frankly whether their preoccupation with Sierra Leone was affecting the needs of the Congo. Otherwise, it would need immediate resources to be able to deal with the needs of the Democratic Republic.

JEAN-CLAUDE LEVITTE (France) said that the Council mission to Central Africa had been very busy and useful. It had provided the members with a better understanding of the suffering and hopes of the Congolese people and to assess the state of mind of the belligerents and their different expectations of the United Nations.

The people of the Congo were suffering and war-weary. They were tired of violations of human rights, fighting and the plundering of their natural resources. The Government of the Democratic Republic was ready to cooperate fully with the United Nations and clear commitments had been made. Third States involved in the conflict claimed they wished to respect the ceasefire and to disengage and implement the Lusaka Agreement.

A focus on implementation of the military aspect of the Agreement was a top priority, he said. The parties must implement disengagement through the Joint Military Commission, then redeployment, then withdrawal. Phase II must be deployed as fast as possible. That would involve co-location of MONUC, pursuant to resolution 1291. Preparation for deployment must speed up. The United Nations could do nothing without a commitment from Member States to provide resources. France would contribute towards matériel and support for one battalion.

The national dialogue was another focus, a fundamental element of the Lusaka Agreement, he said, but it was also a way for the Democratic Republic to develop a democratic base to achieve national reconciliation. His Government would contribute $700,000 for the Facilitator. The national dialogue must bring together all political forces, and must begin quickly. Even though internal dialogue was desirable, it would be counter-productive to link the two processes, the political and the military, too closely. The military situation might destabilize, but that might be for reasons not linked to internal political differences.

He drew attention to a recent report from Human Rights Watch on violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and said that impunity for such acts must not be tolerated. The Council must explore ways of fact-finding, even though the situation was very complex. It was also clear, however, that no viable lasting military solution was possible. All refugees and exiles must be offered physical security, an economic option and reinsertion in their community, he said.

The MONUC needed resources quickly so it could deploy on the ground, he said. The credibility of the Council and the Organization was at stake. Recent events in Sierra Leone had cast a shadow on peacekeeping missions, but every crisis had its own particular features. Lessons had to be drawn from this, but the commitment to the Democratic Republic had to be a success for the United Nations and for everyone.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the Council’s decision to send a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrated the importance it attached to settling the conflict, as well as its desire to actively follow up implementation of its resolutions. His delegation endorsed the recommendations and observations contained in the report and felt that they deserved the Council’s full attention.

The visit had made it possible to engage in direct dialogue on the implementation of resolution 1291, he said. They had pressed the parties to opt for peace while taking into account their expectations and concerns. President Kabila had shared with the mission his Government’s devotion to peace. The ceasefire of 8 April had been a step forward, but it was as yet fragile, as demonstrated by military developments in Kisangani during the mission’s visit. The mission had contributed to addressing that development. The importance of the rapid deployment of phase II of MONUC had been stressed. Such a deployment required firm commitment from all parties. The signing of the status-of-forces agreement in the presence of the Council delegation had been a meaningful sign, he added.

Support had been reiterated for the national dialogue, he said. He hoped that differences would be eliminated so that the process could move forward. The question of the exchange of war prisoners would contribute to promoting trust among the parties, he added. The reaction of the parties in that regard had been welcomed. It was hoped that the ICRC would continue its efforts. The question of the illegal exploitation of national resources had also been addressed. The visit of the mission had made it possible to commence constructive dialogue with the parties. The proposed June meeting would be a positive step.

Mr. WANG (China) informed the Council that he had received a request from the representative of Rwanda to participate in the Council’s discussion.

VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) expressed appreciation to the members of the mission for their important contribution towards reinforcing the Council's pledge of commitment to conflict resolution in Africa. Ukraine had endorsed all the observations and recommendations of the Council mission.

He said the results of the mission's discussions with leaders of the parties had reconfirmed the urgency of the deployment of phase II of MONUC. Ukraine agreed that a compelling task was to prevent any negative impact of developments in Sierra Leone on the United Nations presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His delegation agreed with the mission's recommendation that the Secretary- General's final decision on MONUC deployment should be preceded by reaffirmation of all parties' commitment to the Lusaka Agreement. At the same time, it urged the Secretary-General to pay particular attention to increasing MONUC's capabilities to protect its personnel.

The new attitudes of the parties towards maintaining the ceasefire, noted in the mission's report, was encouraging, he said, adding that the parties had to demonstrate more responsibility in advancing all other integral parts of the peace process.

Ukraine supported the initiative of France to convene a meeting of the Political Committee (set up under the ceasefire agreement) in New York next month, which might resolve some of the outstanding questions impeding progress in the peace process. The New York talks should also take up other difficult issues such as disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement of armed groups.

He acknowledged the role played by the Security Council mission in defusing the Kisangani crisis involving Rwandan and Ugandan troops.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the civil war in the Democratic Republic was a key link in the interconnected events in Africa. Thousands of civilians had been killed and many more were dying from disease and hunger. The recent fighting in Kisangani was a setback to the peace process. Setbacks, however, should not deter the Council. The international community must not abandon the Democratic Republic -- that would send the wrong message to Africa.

The deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in a secure environment was essential, he said. All of the Presidents consulted were unequivocal in their support for deployment. The leaders of the region had to share responsibility for returning the region to stability, he stressed.

Malaysia agreed that any successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme required the non-State militias to be disarmed and reintegrated. Malaysia supported the French initiative to invite the parties in June. The international community was at a crossroads about how to respond in the Democratic Republic. The situation in Sierra Leone should not cloud the situation. Similar mistakes should not be repeated in other missions.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the mission had brought back credible promises of keeping the peace process on track. The most immediate question was the deployment of MONUC. The mission, drawing lessons from the Sierra Leone experience, advised caution against deployment “before a conflict has run its course”. The Council was confronted with two opposing considerations: the expediency of deployment of MONUC for helping the peace process and the imperative of security of peacekeepers and avoiding humiliation. He recalled Bangladesh’s offer to provide one infantry battalion to MONUC.

Nations willing to contribute their men, but not having the capacity to furnish matériel, should have their contribution complemented by countries that could provide equipment and other logistic and technical support, he continued. All armed groups, including the ex-FAR and Interahamwe, must commit themselves to the DDRR process. That issue remained at the heart of the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict and had implications for peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. He added that the inter-Congolese dialogue should be in conjunction with the deployment of MONUC and the DDRR process.

In the context of respect for human rights and humanitarian law, he said the incident at Mwenga was particularly abhorrent. The crime should be investigated and those responsible prosecuted. He supported the establishment of an expert panel on illegal exploitation of the natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) echoed the positive assessment of the work of the Council mission. The main result of that mission was the confirmation by all parties of their commitment to settle the conflict by peaceful means. The fact that the ceasefire was generally respected was encouraging, but there had been a clear violation on 5 May. The swift implementation of the agreement between Rwanda and Uganda on demilitarizing Kisangani was a priority. There was also a need for a swift deployment of MONUC.

He said that developments in Sierra Leone should not cloud the vision of the international community as it moved to assist in the settlement of the Democratic Republic’s problems. The Secretary-General should speak again to all parties at the highest level on their commitment to the deployment of MONUC.

The problem of demobilization, disarmament, reintegration and resettlement of members of armed bands should be resolved peacefully and voluntarily, he said. The Political Committee’s visit to the Council in June could be helpful in that regard. The inter-Congolese dialogue was one of the most important tasks for the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It should start without delay, within the Democratic Republic territory. With everybody working together, establishing peace in the Democratic Republic was possible, he concluded.

ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) believed the timing of the Council's mission had been critical. The ceasefire had largely held, although the eruption of armed hostilities in Kisangani on 5 May demonstrated that Council vigilance remained necessary, and that without it much could be lost.

More work needed to be done before confidence among the signatories to the Lusaka Agreement could truly exist. He was impressed by the determination of the Congolese people to establish a democratic political structure, and by the call of civil society for a viable political track to replace the military one. He also appreciated the mission's efforts to harmonize relations between MONUC and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as demonstrated by the signing of a status-of-forces agreement on 4 May. The removal of administrative obstacles would facilitate the process of assuring MONUC's effectiveness.

He said that there was grave concern regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Many of the parties' justifications for the high incidence of human rights abuses, which had so far been committed with impunity, were unacceptable. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should assemble the resources needed to hold all human rights violators accountable.

In light of events in Sierra Leone, Mr. Fowler was concerned that MONUC did not have enough capacity to achieve even the core elements of its mandate. The resolution authorizing phase II of MONUC fell short of matching the mission's mandate with the resources needed for it to succeed. Short-changing United Nations peacekeeping missions was penny-wise and pound-foolish, he said. Recent developments in Sierra Leone had demonstrated dramatically the imperative that the United Nations deploy capable, well-trained and fully-equipped troops from the moment of their arrival in theatre.

He called on all parties to fulfil their obligations under the Lusaka Agreement and subsequent accords. The MONUC needed the necessary resources to be more than a passive witness, while also ensuring its own safety. In that light, careful review of the current plans and parameters for MONUC was necessary. The significant challenges awaiting the United Nations in the Democratic Republic should be approached in a spirit of hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said any further delay in the arrival of the military observers in the Democratic Republic might be misinterpreted and taken advantage of by the enemies of peace in the Congo. He urged the Secretary- General to bring the initial deployment timetable forward. He also urged the Facilitator to continue to work with all Congolese to resolve outstanding issues on the inter-Congolese dialogue and, thus, pave the way for its early holding.

Now that the ceasefire was holding, it was time for the exchange of all prisoners of war, he said. He insisted that parties holding prisoners cooperate with the ICRC to secure the release of the prisoners. Namibia remained gravely concerned at reports of human rights violations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic. The systematic rape of women and girls in the east must stop. The 15 Congolese women who were buried alive in the east should not be forgotten. The situation there demanded immediate action, and it was imperative that those responsible be held accountable.

There was no doubt that the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic was helping to finance the ongoing war. He supported the proposal to establish an expert panel and was ready to take a formal decision on the matter. Stating that it was unacceptable that foreign forces wage war against each other on foreign territory, he said Namibia looked forward to the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the forces of Uganda and Rwanda.

ILLALKAMAR AG OUMAR (Mali) thanked Mr. Holbrooke for his role in leading the mission and for placing Africa at the top of the Council’s agenda in January. His delegation was pleased with the positive outcome of the mission. The Kisangani incident and other events was deplorable and required follow-up. Phase II of MONUC must be implemented -- that was imperative for all the Lusaka signatories, he stressed.

Mali supported the recommendations to the Secretary-General regarding MONUC’s deployment. In the recent past, Mali itself had witnessed how beneficial a national dialogue could be and was, therefore, happy that the parties in the Democratic Republic supported such a dialogue. He hoped that the question of the venue for the dialogue could be resolved. The French initiative to hold a meeting in June was also supported by Mali.

LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) thanked the members of the mission for their efforts. He said these were difficult times for the United Nations in Africa. Sending the mission to the Democratic Republic and also to Ethiopia and Eritrea had itself been an important sign. Efforts must be redoubled to deal with such a delicate situation.

He said the mission’s mandate had been clear-cut, and it was obvious that it had been fully discharged. Argentina agreed with the recommendations and observations in the report. It was evident that there was consensus among the parties on the need to implement phase II of MONUC. That was essential to move along the path towards peace. The joint declaration, in the presence of the mission, of Rwanda and Uganda on the need to disarm Kisangani had been a positive step.

The inter-Congolese dialogue was an important process, he said. It was hoped that the Facilitator would be able to move the dialogue forward. The impact of the conflict on the civilian population was cause for serious concern. Argentina supported the initiative to hold a meeting with the parties in June. A group of experts should be set up to consider the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic’s natural resources. He reiterated his country’s commitment to the peace process.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the debate was a tangible expression of the Security Council's commitment to reinvigorate the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She recalled that the Council had the opportunity last week to critically assess the progress of peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo following the dispatch of a similar mission. It was obvious that those missions were effective tools in creating a better understanding of issues before the Council. The tone of the mission's report reflected a picture of optimism, despite the issues that threatened to thwart the peace process in the Democratic Republic. Significant events, including the signing of the status-of-forces agreement on 4 May and the proposed timetable for the withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan troops from the Democratic Republic, were positive improvements since the Security Council’s last discussion of the Democratic Republic. Her delegation also welcomed the political will demonstrated by the parties to the Lusaka Agreement, which inaugurated the ceasefire of 14 April. It hoped progress seen in those areas would also lead to compliance with other provisions of the Lusaka Agreement.

The readiness of some of the armed groups to dialogue with the mission was a very positive development that should be encouraged. It was a hopeful sign that all parties to the conflict demonstrated some desire for sustaining peace in the Democratic Republic, and expressed confidence in the further deployment of MONUC. Her delegation, supporting rapid deployment, emphasized the necessity for all parties to provide credible security guarantees to enable MONUC to fulfil its mandate.

The establishment of a national dialogue on the future of the Democratic Republic, as noted in the mission's report, was essential. The Security Council, for its part, must continue to send a strong message of support for the Facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, Sir Ketumile Masire. Her delegation remained concerned that the issue of relocation of MONUC/JMC continued to be a source of contention.

It also noted that the mission's report supported the view that the core structure for ceasefire monitoring, as outlined in Council resolution 1291, had to be MONUC and the JMC working jointly from a co-located headquarters. Her delegation believed that the coordination of the activities of MONUC and the Commission was a functional one, and that every effort should be made to resolve the problem of location. Resources should be given to the Commission to support its operations, given the crucial role assigned to it. There was need for considerable work in the area of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants for the ceasefire to survive.

The proliferation and access of arms to the population would continue to undermine the peace process and inevitably perpetuate the cycle of conflict. The diplomatic initiatives taken by the mission to address the fighting in Kisangani between Rwandan and Ugandan troops deserved special commendation. Her delegation welcomed the agreement of the Political Committee to meet in New York at the invitation of the Security Council in June. There was no doubt that it would serve as a stimulus to the peace process, she added.

A. PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that at a time when United Nations peacekeepers were taken hostage by rebels at one end of Africa, and a Security Council mission failed to prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war at the other end, the idea of deploying another peace operation in the heart of that troubled continent could easily be depicted as a harebrained plan.

If the international community were dealing with a fierce and bitter war between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its Southern African Development Community (SADC) allies, on the one hand, and Rwanda and Uganda, on the other, deployment of troops would indeed be a harebrained operation. However, the most important conclusion by the mission was that all the forces wanted to disengage.

A demarcation zone running right through the country, even one as narrow as 30 kilometres, would be manageable from a military observer’s point of view, he said. MONUC II would not be able to put an end to all the bloodshed, but its focus should be on the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. The OAU’s decision not to tamper with existing borders bespoke great wisdom. That was why disengagement was not enough, but must be followed by withdrawal. A solution to the problem of the armed groups within the country was a prerequisite for that withdrawal.

While there was a sharp focus on military solutions, however, another condition for preserving the country’s territorial integrity -- the successful implementation of the inter-Congolese dialogue -- tended to be overlooked. He suggested that the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government should take a fresh look at the nationality question. Stripping ethnic groups of their nationality on account of their kinship with an ethnic group in a neighbouring country could not be reconciled with the African doctrine of inviolate borders.

Council President WANG YINGFAN (China), speaking in his national capacity, commended the work of the mission. To speed up and complete the deployment of MONUC II should be a priority of the Security Council. The mission’s report reflected the hope of the Congolese people for peace. There were differences on many issues, but it was clear that all parties shared the desire for early deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. He, therefore, hoped that MONUC II would be deployed smoothly and promptly in order to create the conditions for implementation of the Lusaka Peace Agreement.

The mission had succeeded in getting Rwanda and Uganda to demilitarize Kisangani, he noted. He hoped that the agreement to that effect would be implemented effectively. The problem of lack of resources for the Facilitator should be solved on a timely basis. The peace process still faced enormous tasks. In addition to support from the international community, the political will of the parties to the conflict was imperative. The leaders of the region must honour their respective commitments to the peace agreement. France's proposal to invite members of the Political Committee to the Security Council would be helpful in promoting the peace process, he said.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), whose President holds the current chairmanship of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said that today’s meeting was being held in a particularly serious context, including renewed conflict in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Four months after the Council’s special session on the issue, progress had been made in bringing peace to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that progress should be preserved and strengthened.

Algeria would have hoped that its Ambassador, who had visited the country, would be at the table to hear the views of the OAU, he said. The visit had permitted the Council to transmit a message of peace to the region and to take note of the formal commitment of the parties to faithful implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. The rapid deployment of MONUC remained a priority. It would make a contribution to strengthening the current ceasefire and to developing confidence in the peace process. He welcomed the signing of the status-of-forces agreement. Algeria was following events in the Democratic Republic with particular attention, he said. It had held a summit on the question in Algiers on 30 April, which had been attended by leaders of the region. The summit had made it possible to carry out an evaluation of the progress achieved and to reiterate the validity of the Lusaka Agreement. The summit had also issued an appeal to members of the OAU to help contribute to peace in the country.

The implementation of resolution 1291 must be accelerated if fresh conflict was to be avoided, he said. He was aware of the efforts by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to complete arrangements for that deployment. He encouraged those efforts and stressed that lessons learned from other missions should be taken into account. He added that secure conditions must be established and that adequate equipment and arms for the mission must be ensured.

ANDRE M. KAPANGA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that the members of the Council mission had been eyewitnesses to the deep desire for peace of the people of his country. Throughout the entire territory, children, fathers and mothers were demanding an end to the unspeakable suffering which had been their daily plight since 2 August 1998. The country had spent two years in a pitiless war. Its people called on the international community to use all means to end that war once and for all.

He called on the international community to become further involved in bringing the aggressors to sincere negotiations for peace and stability. He thanked the acting President of the OAU, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, for the organizing of the Algiers Summit which would facilitate the rapid implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. Even though the ceasefire had been respected, the armies of Rwanda and Uganda had once more engaged in fierce fighting among themselves in Kisangani, showing no concern for the inhabitants of that town. It was regrettable that Uganda and the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) were stepping up skirmishes in the country.

Those activities did, however, not endanger the peace process, he said. The war was a transnational war of governments that were sensitive to friendly pressure for peace. That was the difference with the situation in Sierra Leone. The situation there should in no way obscure the situation in the Democratic Republic.

The United Nations should take advantage of the respite to engage in rapid deployment of MONUC II. President Kabila had assured mission members that his Government would not hinder such a deployment in any way. He thanked all countries who had made contributions to MONUC, and assured them that their sons and daughters, who had committed themselves to peace, were welcome in the Congo.

The United Nations should also work towards restoring the fundamental rights of the people of the Democratic Republic, as authorized under paragraphs 12 and 15 of resolution 1291 (2000). A recently published report of Human Rights Watch had revealed brutal violations of human rights. The United Nations must insist that the Governments of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the members of the National Committee, as well as the MLC, immediately cease all attacks aimed at civilians. The Organization should also begin investigations and take action against the perpetrators. His country had become the land of choice for all kinds of illegal actions, he said. One such action was the exploitation of natural resources by other countries, which fueled their war efforts. He called upon the Security Council to make the expert group operational as fast as possible.

The most important purpose of the inter-Congolese dialogue was that the Congolese people could participate freely in determining the future of their country, he said. An unequivocal consensus was emerging, that meetings to that end should be held as soon as possible. Consolidation of peace and economic reconstruction was necessary, and restoring good relations with neighbours, was therefore, vital. Courage was needed to identify the problems facing the country, and to take measures towards reconciliation, power sharing, and revitalizing democratization and development.

The international community, he said, had a moral obligation to help the country solve its problems. He expected that United Nations would deploy MONUC II as soon as possible to establish conditions conducive to withdrawal. The Democratic Republic asked the United Nations and the Security Council to establish a panel of experts to study the question of illegal exploitation of natural resources. He also asked for a rapid start to the inter-Congolese dialogue and effective implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. He assured the Council of his Government’s full cooperation in concluding the process begun in Lusaka.

The meeting was suspended at 1:15 p.m., prior to resumption in the course of the afternoon.

When the meeting resumed at 3:30 p.m., KIYO AKASAKA (Japan) said recent experiences in Sierra Leone should not deter the international community from resolving the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 8 April ceasefire agreement provided an important basis for future peacemaking efforts, although events at Kisangani involving Rwanda and Uganda had demonstrated the agreement’s fragility. He called upon those two countries to withdraw from Kisangani, and stressed that the recent hostilities were an infringement of the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic.

Past experience had shown that the observance of a ceasefire must be confirmed before a peacekeeping force was deployed, he said. Japan, therefore, fully supported the recommendation that the Secretary-General obtain from the parties to the Lusaka Agreement their commitment, in writing, to maintain the ceasefire and support the deployment of phase II of MONUC. Next month’s meeting of the Political Committee in New York would be an appropriate occasion to obtain such a commitment.

Sir Ketumile Masire, the neutral Facilitator for the peace process, required solid financial backing to carry out his planned activities, he said. Japan supported the proposal to hold the inter-Congolese dialogue in Kisangani, and hoped that preparations for that dialogue would commence as planned by the Facilitator. He stressed that the international community should focus on the positive achievements made so far in the peace process.

SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said his Government considered the Lusaka Agreement a comprehensive document -- its faithful implementation by all concerned could ensure a lasting peace. His Government supported the active involvement of the Council in peacekeeping efforts, in accordance with the Agreement, to facilitate an early end to the protracted conflict.

He was assured, he said, by the commitment given to the Council mission by President Kabila and others that they would help early deployment of peacekeepers. He stressed the importance of ending the arms flow to the country from outside and beginning to disarm all members of the armed groups. Also essential was the upholding of human rights.

He said attention must be focused on effective planning and deployment of peacekeepers. A practical concept of operation, and configuration of the force so that it could carry out its mandate, was key. The security component of the mission should also be adequately equipped. There was no short cut to effective preparation, he stressed. Pakistan would do its utmost to support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said that the most welcome news lately had been the signing of the status-of-forces agreement between the United Nations and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His Government remained committed to conflict resolution in the region. Together with partners in the SADC, South Africa had been engaged in the behind-the-scenes negotiations which had resulted in the Lusaka Peace Agreement. It had also offered to join in supporting MONUC.

The primary tasks for MONUC II would be to inject much-needed confidence into the peace process by monitoring the ceasefire and devising plans for the third phase of deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. That planning must include a realistic framework and timetable for disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement. The search for long-term peace in the Democratic Republic could not succeed as long as there were armed groups everywhere, he said.

Sending troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo could only be the first step towards achieving peace in that troubled land, he continued. The contribution to peace that would emerge from a real political settlement -- to be reached through the inter-Congolese dialogue -- would be critical. He urged countries to give assistance to Sir Ketumile Masire, the former President of Botswana who was coordinating the dialogue.

Recent negative experiences encountered by the United Nations in Sierra Leone must not be allowed to derail its efforts in the Democratic Republic. Sierra Leone had confirmed the lessons from Bosnia and elsewhere that it was important to send troops with an appropriate mandate. It was equally critical to equip United Nations troops with the appropriate resources to carry out their mandate.

The international community could not afford to fail the Congolese people in their search for a lasting peace. Simultaneously, the international community could not fail to recognize the responsibility of the Congolese people themselves to lay the foundations of their own much-needed peace, he said.

LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana) said his country had urged the Council before to consider deploying speedily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even if conditions were not 100 per cent conducive to a United Nations peacekeeping deployment, much effort had been put in by the parties to the conflict and they deserved the assistance of the international community. He urged the Council to heed the appeal of the regional leaders to deploy peacekeepers expeditiously.

Their presence would go a long way in enhancing mutual confidence among the parties, he continued. He urged those in the Democratic Republic conflict to live by their promises to cooperate with MONUC and, most importantly, to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel. He appealed to the parties to the inter-Congolese dialogue to utilize the offices of the Facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire.

MATHIAS DAKA (Zambia) said the recent signing of the status-of-forces agreement, and the progress so far made in the implementation of the plan for the disengagement and deployment of forces, presented the Council with the opportunity to fully and immediately deploy phase II of MONUC. It was important that it be done without further delay in order to avoid creating a vacuum.

He stressed the need to urgently provide the necessary financial and logistical support to the Facilitator, Sir Ketumile Masire, to enable him to undertake his important task in the peace process. The holding of the inter- Congolese dialogue was indispensable to the successful implementation of the peace process in the Democratic Republic.

CLIFFORD S. MAMBA (Swaziland) noted that the Council’s mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a clear expression of its commitment to strengthening the peace process there. The signing of the status-of-forces agreement on 4 May was the result of efforts to harmonize relations between MONUC and the Government of the Democratic Republic. That agreement would be crucial in ensuring the effectiveness of MONUC, and eventually would be pivotal in deploying phase II of the United Nations Mission. However, while the disengagement agreement of 8 April had been effective, the resumption of hostilities in Kisangani between Rwanda and Uganda was deplorable, and undermined efforts for peace.

He said it was also disturbing that the inter-Congolese dialogue was beset with difficulties, including lack of funds and logistical support. Moreover, protracted discussions over the venue of the dialogue should not be allowed to delay an early launching of the talks. He supported the recommendation that the current developments in Sierra Leone should not be used as a yardstick for future deployment of peacekeepers in the African continent, and that the situation in the Democratic Republic should be viewed on its own merits. The Secretary- General should solicit, in accordance with resolution 1291, credible assurances from the parties to the conflict for the security and freedom of movement of United Nations and related personnel.

ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed and endorsed the mission report’s recommendations. He added that the Central and Eastern European countries associated with the Union and the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey had aligned themselves with his statement. He expressed concern that some of the issues before the Council today had been addressed before, without significant progress being achieved on the ground. Strong political will and unequivocal commitment from the parties was necessary to guarantee the peaceful implementation of the Lusaka Agreement and the Kampala disengagement plan. Recent events in Kisangani demonstrated the fragility of the ceasefire. It was, therefore, incumbent upon the Council to maintain diplomatic and political pressure on the belligerent parties.

The European Union reaffirmed its willingness to continue to support the Joint Military Commission and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the rapid deployment of phase II, provided that the parties gave the necessary guarantees for it to carry out its mandate effectively, he said. The European Union reiterated its deep concern at the ongoing illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic’s natural resources, in particular minerals. He welcomed the proposal for an expert panel on the matter. He expressed the hope that the inter-Congolese dialogue would be transparent, representative and free from all external interference. The European Union fully supported the work being carried out by Sir Ketumile Masire, and was considering further ways of assisting him in discharging his difficult task.

For progress to be achieved, a continued realistic, integrated and coherent approach by the international community, using different types of instruments appropriate to the prevailing circumstances, needed to be maintained. The European Union believed it was appropriate to continue to consider the idea of a conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region, to be organized by the OAU and the United Nations. Preparatory work for the conference should begin as soon as the main elements of the Lusaka Agreement had been implemented, he said.

DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the Council’s mission had vindicated the continued significance of the Lusaka Peace Agreement as the only viable framework for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It had also underscored the urgent need for the United Nations to deploy military observers. The commitment of all the parties to the Lusaka Agreement was reaffirmed, despite some setbacks. Deployment of MONUC II should not be delayed any longer.

He said that unlike Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic did not have a Foday Sankoh. All the warring parties had urged the presence of the United Nations. What underlined the broad support for the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic and the region was the need for swift and determined action to ensure implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. Some fragile aspects must not undermine the relevance of that Agreement, he said. Setbacks ought to be expected, however. The challenge was to continue urging the parties to walk down the road to peace and security for the people and countries of the region to which they were all committed.

There was concern about the recent fighting in Kisangani, but the Council mission had had the opportunity to broker an agreement between Rwanda and Uganda to stop fighting. As a result of a follow-up summit meeting by the Presidents of those countries, hosted by his own country’s President Benjamin Mkapa on 14 May, he was now even more optimistic about the commitment of the two Presidents to the disengagement plan. Urgent deployment of MONUC in that area was, therefore, of critical importance.

He called for continued and sustained support of the Office of the Facilitator, and urged the Congolese people to embrace his efforts in the interests of comity and peace for their people and country. Allegations of serious human rights violations in the Democratic Republic, particularly in Eastern Congo, were a matter of deep concern. A thorough investigation was necessary and culprits should not go unpunished. The reported outrage to innocent and unarmed civilians, especially women and children, must be matched with firm action, he said.

If the Council and the United Nations were to continue to be relevant to Africa, it was imperative that the needs of the people of Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo be taken on board. “A ray of hope is on the horizon. We urge the Security Council to translate the hopes into concrete action”, he said.

TICHAONA JOSEPH B. JOKONYA (Zimbabwe), reiterating the statement of President Robert Mugabe made during his meeting with the Council team on 6 May, said that now was the opportune moment for the United Nations to deploy peacekeepers to prevent the situation from unravelling any further. The deployment should not be contingent upon progress or lack of it in the inter- Congolese dialogue, “since the conflict remained uppermost in people’s minds”.

Zimbabwe would extend its full cooperation to any expert panel created by the Council to take up the issue of the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including in the areas of the country under Zimbabwe’s control, he said.

The peace opportunities in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, created by regional initiatives through the Lomé and Lusaka Agreements, should not be allowed to unravel, he stressed. Last year, repeated calls for a robust peacekeeping mandate in Sierra Leone had been spurned, and it had become clear that half-hearted efforts seriously undermined the credibility of the United Nations and brought into question its commitment to peacekeeping, particularly in Africa. The Sierra Leone case had demonstrated that all successful United Nations operations depended on clear and unambiguous mandates with adequate resources.

He urged the Council to immediately deploy MONUC observers, who would be able to identify and verify parties that break the ceasefire, thereby enabling the Council to impose costs on those bent on pursuing the military option. He implored the Council to deploy a peacekeeping mission with a robust United Nations Charter Chapter VII mandate that would complete the work of MONUC phase II.

JOSEPH W. MUTABOBA (Rwanda) thanked the members of the mission and noted the concrete proposals President Kagame had been able to share that had led to solving the regrettable incidents in Kisangani, which his country had not started. There had been no deliberate intention to hurt local civilians, he stressed.

He said his country was still committed to the Lusaka Agreement, and believed it was the sole viable framework to reach peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region. Reference to the incident of Kisangani as a deliberate violation of Lusaka was wrong, and should not be used as a delaying tactic. Pragmatic and progressive approaches, like the ones proposed by President Kagame and agreed to by President Museveni and the Council mission, were needed. Included in his statement this afternoon was a copy of the latest joint statement on the demilitarizaition of Kisangani.

Peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region could not be achieved as long as eyes were fixed on the Democratic Republic alone, he said. The situation in that country needed to be seen as part of a region in crisis, and the root causes must be addressed individually and collectively. He had heard rumours recently that some countries might be planning to take Rwandan citizens to their territory. If that was done, they would miss a chance to repent and reconcile themselves with their society.

He stressed the need to find a durable solution to the question of armed groups. Demilitarization and demobilization could be achieved peacefully and voluntarily, he said. However, the armed forces must cooperate.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.

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For information media. Not an official record.