SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO UNTIL 15 DECEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1323 (2000)

13 October 2000
SC/6935

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO UNTIL 15 DECEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1323 (2000)

13/10/2000
Press ReleaseSC/6935

Security Council

4207th Meeting* (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

UNTIL 15 DECEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1323 (2000)

The Security Council this morningextended the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) until

15 December 2000.

Deploring the continuation of hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and reaffirming the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of that country and all States of the region, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1323 (2000).

Speaking before the vote, Canada’s representative said the parties to the conflict, through their unwillingness to commit fully to the peace process, were threatening investments in the peace process by the international community.  If they did not desist from such a destructive approach, the Council would need to   re-examine whether MONUC, as it was presently conceived, was the appropriate instrument for helping to stabilize the situation.  “In the wake of the Brahimi Report on peace operations, we question whether the current level of commitment to the Lusaka Agreement meets baseline standards for a United Nations peacekeeping presence”, he said.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the progress must be shown in the next two months.  The parties must commit themselves fully to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement or the peace process could not move forward.  They, therefore, had to make a decision.  Did they want peace or did they want to continue a war that could not be won?  He also called for an early meeting of Council members and troop-contributing countries to review the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The representatives of Argentina, Netherlands, France and the United States also made statements before adoption of the resolution.

The meeting, which began at 10:29 a.m., was adjourned at 10:49 a.m.

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*     4206th Meeting was a closed meeting.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to extend the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

It had before it Secretary-General’s fourth report on MONUC (document S/2000/888) in which he recommends extension of the mandate of the Mission for another two months and expresses the hope that the extension "will be used wisely by the parties to relaunch the peace process".  The Council also had before it a related resolution.

In the report, the Secretary-General "regrets to inform the Security Council that there has been little progress, if any, in the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement”.  He adds that lack of any progress in the peace process makes it difficult to justify not only the commencement of the second phase of the United Nations deployment, but also the current level of the Mission's presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He goes on to say that "United Nations peacekeeping operations cannot serve as a substitute for the political will to achieve a peaceful settlement”.

In describing political developments, the Secretary-General calls attention to the summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Windhoek on 7 August and the summit of the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and the SADC on 14 August.  The participants made no progress on how to overcome difficulties in implementing the Agreement, principally because of the reluctance of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow the deployment of MONUC troops and to accept the former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, as the neutral facilitator.  Recent negative public statements concerning the facilitator do not augur well for the resumption of the facilitation process, the Secretary-General says.

During the period under review, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy met with President Laurent Kabila and requested that the Government cease all hostilities, extend full freedom of movement to MONUC and comply with the provisions of the status–of-forces-agreement.  He stressed that the Government should cease any participation in or support for the campaign of vilification conducted against MONUC and the United Nations in the Kinshasa press.  President Kabila maintained that the “aggressors” were responsible for the obstacles to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement and he criticized the international community for ignoring the problems.  He insisted that the invasion of his country be urgently addressed and that the international community ask the uninvited foreign forces to leave without delay.

The Government proposed direct talks with the Governments of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, under United Nations auspices and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  He said the "war of aggression" needed to be separated from the political conflict between the Government and a number of armed Congolese factions and proposed an international mediation effort to bring together the belligerent parties though direct negotiations. 

During the reporting period, the report says, progress in developing the Kampala disengagement plan has been stalled.  Since late July, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo withdrew from the Joint Military Commission deliberations on this subject.  Significant military operations continue and there have been indications of intensive military preparations.  These include:  the procurement of large quantities of weapons and military equipment; extensive recruitment of young males and freed prisoners; retraining of combat units; forward deployment of battalions; and reinforcement of front-line units.  Also rebel movements intensified their attempts to achieve a united front opposing the Government.

The report states that United Nations efforts to assist the parties in implementing the Lusaka Agreement have been frustrated by persistent restrictions on the Mission's freedom of Government, lack of compliance with the provisions of the status-of-forces agreement and opposition, until recently, to the deployment of United Nations troops.  In addition, a propaganda campaign directed against MONUC increased safety concerns regarding the safety of the Mission's personnel.

The report states that MONUC continued to plan and reconnoitre new sites for military observer teams, but was limited by severe restrictions on its movement and access.  It has developed a list of essential practical measures which include full freedom of movement, joint air safety measures at airports, provision of and access to facilities at airports, presence of MONUC air operations officers at air terminals, access to river ports and facilities, granting of communications licenses and frequencies, resolution of the issues of currency exchange rate, and the imposition of indirect taxes.  The most serious threat facing the Mission is the volatile confrontations between the belligerent parties.  In Kinshasa, MONUC headquarters often became the scene of organized demonstrations and the target of inflammatory propaganda in the local media.

The Secretariat has continued preparations for phase II deployment of MONUC by working closely with troop contributors, but the Organization lacks the necessary offers for indispensable specialized units, especially in cargo handling.  In addition, some battalions that have been offered by troop contributors still require major equipment to be fully operational.  The Secretary-General appeals to potential donors to consider providing them with equipment and training.

 Regarding the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation, the Secretary-General states that military confrontations have hindered access by humanitarian agencies to many areas, leaving vulnerable populations without much-needed assistance.  The continuing fighting and widespread insecurity has also worsened the situation of children and requires sustained action aimed at protecting their rights.  Despite the difficulties encountered, there have been some positive developments.  Rwanda and Uganda have withdrawn their forces to a distance of some 100 kilometres from the centre of Kisangani.  Also, the release of prisoners of war, pursuant to one of the key aspects of the Lusaka Agreement, was a valuable confidence-building measure undertaken by the parties.

Draft Resolution

The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/2000/979) which reads, as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolutions 1291 (2000) of 24 February 2000, 1304 (2000) of 16 June 2000 and 1316 (2000) of 23 August 2000, the statement adopted by its Summit meeting of 7 September 2000 (S/PRST/2000/28), and all previous resolutions and statements of its President relating to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Reaffirming the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all States of the region,

Deploring the continuation of hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the lack of cooperation with the United Nations, and the lack of progress on the national dialogue,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General of 21 September 2000 (S/2000/888) and its recommendations, as well as the observations contained in paragraphs 82 and 85,

Reaffirming its readiness to assist in the peace process, in particular through the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), in accordance with resolution 1291 (2000),

Expressing its deep concern at the dire consequences of the conflict for the humanitarian and human rights situations, as well as at reports of the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of MONUC until 15 December 2000;

“2.   Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Statements

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that today was the third time that the Security Council was meeting to renew the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  Yet, the Ceasefire Agreement that the Mission was created to help implement was still the object of wholesale violations by all sides, more than a year after it was signed.  The same parties continued to hinder the deployment of MONUC.  As a result, violations could not be reported credibly and, therefore, deterred.  In addition, the principal elements of the Agreement had yet to be implemented.  Also, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had fallen short of honouring its commitment to participate in genuine inter-Congolese dialogue and with foreign forces, most notably those of Rwanda and Uganda, who still remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in violation of United Nations resolutions.

He said the Council had spared no effort in encouraging and exhorting the signatories of Lusaka to honour their commitments under the Agreement.  Yet, those same signatories had not seized the Council’s engagement as an opportunity to end the devastating conflict.  Valuable time and countless lives had been lost during a year of delay.  The continued pervasiveness of premeditated attacks suggested that force, rather than dialogue, was still the preferred means of interaction.  Until that changed, there would be little that the Council could do to stabilize the situation or move the countries of the region towards a common understanding of the need for peace.

He said that, in the first instance, it was the responsibility of the Congolese Government to get the peace process moving again by finally honouring its repeated commitment to allow MONUC full freedom of movement.  It was also the responsibility of all parties, however, to acknowledge that the United Nations presence was necessary and could not be made secondary to strategic calculations.  The signatories of the Agreement must realize that the Council would not consent to a process in which cooperation with MONUC or the Joint Military Commission was selective, or was used to legitimize gains made through armed aggression.  The parties, through their unwillingness to commit fully to the peace process, were threatening the investments made in the peace process by the international community.  If they did not desist from such a destructive approach, the Council would need to re-examine whether MONUC, as it was presently conceived, was the appropriate instrument for helping to stabilize the situation.

“In the wake of the Brahimi Report on peace operations, we question whether the current level of commitment to the Lusaka Agreement meets baseline standards for a United Nations peacekeeping presence”, he said.  It might, therefore, be necessary for the Council to consider what other means it had at its disposal to compel the parties to seek a peaceful settlement. Today, Council members needed to examine whether the concept of operations of the Mission could now be reconciled with the dire situation on the ground.  He reiterated, however, that even under the current circumstances, it was not too late to realize the promise of Lusaka. “We call again on the parties to stem the passage of lost opportunities and make a genuine commitment to peace”, he said.

ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) said one way to make sure that MONUC was ready would be to hold an early meeting of Council members and troop-contributing countries to review the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In his current report, the Secretary-General said that the Mission could not do its job at present, since efforts to create the right conditions for deployment had been unsuccessful so far.  The present situation could not be allowed to drift further.

He said the two-month extension to the Mission’s mandate that was about to be agreed upon must show progress in those two months.  The parties must commit themselves fully to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement or the peace process could not move forward. That was critical for the stability of the region. The parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had to make a decision.  Did they want peace or did they want to continue a war that could not be won?

ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said the extension of the MONUC’s mandate was necessary, but the Mission’s presence could not be extended indefinitely.  If serious violations of the ceasefire continued, MONUC could not stay.  The Lusaka Agreement was a basis for a solution that considered the interests and security of all the States in the area.  The United Nations had a historical responsibility in the area and must play a part in the peace process.  But, it could not be a substitution for the will of the parties to make and live in peace.

ADRIAAN KOOIJMANS (Netherlands) said extension of the mandate put the parties on notice that, for the United Nations to remain involved in the peace process on the basis of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, the Council expected the parties to demonstrate their full commitment to that process in the months ahead.

He said the Council called, in particular, on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to effectively facilitate the deployment of MONUC and to commit itself to a meaningful dialogue with the Congolese parties.  He called on the parties to start the withdrawal of troops and to end all military offensives.  His Government continued to support the Secretary-General's efforts to help establish peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and looked forward to his new recommendations for the future of MONUC's operations.

PASCAL TEIXEIRA DA SILVA (France) said that last February the Council had authorized phase two.  Nine months later, the implementation of that resolution remained blocked by lack of cooperation with the Council.  The Council, on several occasions, had to remind the parties of their obligations.  It had demanded that all the parties cooperate in the deployment of MONUC, but those demands had not been heeded.  He hoped that the parties would make good use of the extension of the mandate.  He reiterated the United Nations appeal to the parties to:  desist from hostilities and conform to their obligations; rapidly withdraw all foreign forces; fully commit to a national dialogue by all Congolese parties; and cooperate with MONUC.  The onus was on all the parties to respond to the appeal.

He said the conflict had tragic consequences for the Congolese people.  Today, the conflict was the most serious humanitarian crisis in the country.  It was urgent that it be brought to an end.

MARK C. MINTON (United States) said his Government supported the decision to extend the mandate of MONUC, but that support was tempered by concern about international peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There could be no peace in the Congo unless and until the parties to the conflict upheld their Lusaka commitments.  There would be no further deployment of United Nations personnel as long as volatile confrontations between the belligerent parties continued.

He said the critical humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could not be properly addressed, despite collective efforts, as long as humanitarian agencies were denied safety and freedom of access to all areas.  Sixty days remained in which to renew efforts to encourage peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  If efforts to block MONUC’s mission continued, and should the parties fail to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process, the Council would have little choice but to review closely the utility and purpose of the continued presence of MONUC.  He called on all the parties to relaunch the peace process and demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to renewed stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Council then unanimously adopted the draft resolution as resolution 1323 (2000).

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For information media. Not an official record.