SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO’S NATURAL RESOURCES
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO’S NATURAL RESOURCES
4317th & 4318th Meetings (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF DEMOCRATIC
REPUBLIC OF CONGO’S NATURAL RESOURCES
Following Day-Long Debate, Presidential
Statement Notes Terrible Toll Conflict Is Taking
The Security Council this afternoon condemned the illegal exploitation of natural resources and wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and expressed serious concern at those economic activities fuelling the conflict in that country.
The Council took that action by adopting a statement read out by its President, James Cunningham (United States), following a day-long open discussion of the report of the Expert Panel charged with investigating the illegal exploitation of Congolese natural resources.
Also by the statement, the Council noted with concern the terrible toll the conflict was taking on the people, economy and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and stated its belief that the 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, and the relevant Council resolutions, were the only viable solution to the crisis.
Emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to the conflict, the Council asked the Secretary-General to extend the Panel's mandate by three months and requested its members to submit an addendum to the main report.
The requested addendum should provide an update of relevant data and an analysis of further information, including data not available before on the activities of countries and other actors; responses and reaction of those cited by the Panel; and conclusions about whether progress had been made.
Also according to the statement, the Council stated its intention to give full consideration to the Panel’s report, and notes that the report contains disturbing information about illegal exploitation of Congolese resources by individuals, governments and armed groups involved in the conflict.
The statement urges the governments named in the report to conduct their own inquiries into this information and take immediate steps to end illegal exploitation of the natural resources by their nationals or others under their control.
Speaking in his national capacity during the Council’s earlier debate, the representative of the United States said that although the Panel’s report was a reminder that the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were not being used for the benefit of the Congolese people, their exploitation was a consequence rather than an objective of the conflict. The report provided a broadly accurate picture of the illegal exploitation of the resources -- a dimension of the crisis that could not be ignored.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo expressed regret that the Panel’s report was rather belatedly confirming his Government's long-standing position on the link between the shameless looting of Congolese natural wealth and the conflict in his country. Illegal exploitation of diamonds, gold, timber and other natural resources had had devastating, perhaps irreversible, effects not only on the Congolese people, but also on the country's flora, fauna and national parks. The Congolese people were the only losers. The Council must act swiftly on the Panel’s recommendations.
Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation questioned the principles forming the basis of the investigation and the quality of the evidence presented. As the report implicated top Ugandan military officers and civilians in illegal exploitation of Congolese resources, the Ugandan Government had decided to establish an independent judicial commission to investigate the allegations. However, he questioned the quality and credibility of the document.
The Special Envoy of the President of Rwanda said that as his country's security concerns could not be minimized by any other consideration, only the Lusaka Agreement could provide equitable solutions to the problems facing all the parties to the conflict.
Burundi’s Minister of Finance, said his country's role was dictated by the rebel presence in the border region and by the need to keep open trade corridors to the United Republic of Tanzania. Burundi had no designs whatsoever on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burundi was ready to pursue dialogue with all parties to secure the borders and end all the tensions tearing the region apart.
Several speakers during the meeting stressed the need to carefully assess the Panel's findings before taking action on its recommendations, including applying sanctions against those involved in the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources. While some speakers said that the natural wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the reason for the continuation of the conflict, others maintained that the looting was a consequence of the war.
Safiatou Ba-N'Daw, Chairperson of the Expert Panel, presented the Panel’s report to the Council.
(page 1b follows)
Also speaking today were the representatives of Council members Tunisia, Ukraine, Ireland, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Mali, China, Colombia, Norway, Bangladesh, Singapore, Jamaica and Mauritius.
The Council also heard from the representatives of Japan, Canada, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Namibia, Sudan, Angola, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Today’s first meeting began at 10:50 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m. It resumed at 3:08 p.m. and adjourned at 5:35 p.m. The second meeting, during which the presidential statement was adopted, started at 5:43 p.m. and adjourned
at 5:47 p.m.
Report of Expert Panel
The Council had before it a letter from the Secretary-General to the Council President, dated 12 April (document A/2001/357), transmitting the Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Panel was established by the Secretary-General on the Council’s request (document S/PRST/2000/20) for a period of six months.
The Panel had a mandate to follow up on reports and collect information on all activities of illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and to research and analyse the links between the exploitation of the natural resources and other forms of wealth in the DRC and the continuation of the conflict. Safiatou Ba-N’Daw (Côte d’Ivoire) chaired the Panel, which consisted of François Ekoko (Cameroon), Mel Holt (United States), Henri Maire (Switzerland) and Moustapha Tall (Senegal).
According to the Panel of Experts, illegal exploitation of the mineral and forest resources of the DRC had taken place at an alarming rate in two phases. During the first phase of mass-scale looting, stockpiles of minerals, coffee, wood, livestock and money from territories conquered by the armies of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were taken and transferred to those countries or exported to international markets.
The second phase was one of systematic and systemic exploitation, requiring planning and organization, the report states. That exploitation flourished because of the structures developed during the conquest of power of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. It was carried out in violation of the sovereignty of the DRC, national legislation and sometimes international law, and led to illicit activities. Key individual actors, on the one hand, including top army commanders and businessmen, and government structures, on the other, have been the engines of that systematic and systemic exploitation.
According to the report, illegal exploitation of resources by Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda took different forms, including confiscation, extraction, forced monopoly and price-fixing. The first two forms reached proportions that made the war in the DRC a very lucrative business. There are strong indications that, even if security and political reasons were the professed motivation to move into the eastern DRC, some top army officials clearly had economic and financial objectives.
The Panel has strong indications that during the phase of mass-scale looting key officials in the Governments of Rwanda and Uganda were aware of the situation on the ground, including that looting of stocks from a number of factories was taking place. The report states further that the current structures of illegal exploitation were facilitated by administrative structures established by Uganda and Rwanda. Those countries’ leaders directly and indirectly appointed the regional governors or local authorities or, more commonly, appointed or confirmed Congolese in those positions. The report names functionaries, companies, banks and individuals involved in the exploitation.
In researching the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict, the Panel, by comparing the involved countries’ budget allocations for their respective armed forces with the actual expenditures, demonstrated that military expenditures far outweigh the money allocated for such expenses. Rwanda’s military appears to be benefiting directly from the conflict. The Uganda economy benefited from the conflict through the re-exportation economy. In turn, the treasury benefited, and that allowed an increase in the defence budget. The Government of the DRC has relied on its minerals and mining industries to finance the war. The report also describes the way Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia finance their involvement in the DRC.
Bilateral and multilateral donors and certain neighbouring and distant countries have passively facilitated the exploitation of the resources of the DRC, and thereby the continuation of the conflict. The role of private companies and individuals has also been vital. In particular, the role of the World Bank is questioned by the Experts. The report states that President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda are on the verge of becoming the “godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the DRC”.
The Panel recommends, among other measures, that the Security Council declare: a temporary embargo on the import/export of coltan, pyrochlore, cassiterite, timber, gold and diamonds from and to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, until their involvement in the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is made clear; an immediate embargo on weapons and military materiel to the rebel groups, and extending that embargo to the States that supported those groups.
The Panel also recommends that the Council: request the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider suspending their support to the budgets of Rwanda and Uganda until the end of the conflict; strongly urge all Member States to freeze the financial assets of the companies or individuals who continued to participate in the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Individuals, religious groups and companies whose properties had been damaged, looted or expropriated by Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian armed forces and their allies should be compensated by the States concerned.
The Panel further recommends that the Council consider establishing an international mechanism that will investigate and prosecute individuals involved in economic criminal activities, and companies and government officials whose economic and financial activities directly or indirectly harm powerless people and weak economies. The Council should also consider establishing a permanent mechanism that would investigate the illicit trafficking of natural resources in armed conflicts so as to monitor the cases which are already subject to the investigation of other panels, such as those of Angola and Sierra Leone.
Following the 1994 massacres in Rwanda and the establishment of a new Government there, some 1.2 million Rwandese Hutus -- including some who had taken part in the genocide -- fled to Kivu province in eastern Zaire, an area part inhabited by ethnic Tutsis. There, a rebellion started in 1996, pitting Zairean Tutsis, led by Laurent Désiré Kabila, against the pro-Hutu army of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire/Congo (ADFL), aided by Rwanda and Uganda, took Kinshasa, the capital, in 1997, and established the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civil war resulted in more than 450,000 refugees and internally displaced people.
In 1998, a rebellion against the Kabila Government started in Kivu, and within weeks the rebels had seized large areas of the country. Angola, Chad, Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe promised and provided President Kabila with military support. Despite the recapture of several towns and halting of a rebel advance on Kinshasa, the rebels maintained their grip on the eastern regions. The rebel movement, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), was supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The Security Council called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign forces, and urged States not to interfere in the country's internal affairs. Uganda signed a peace agreement with the Kabila Government in April 1999. In May, the RCD split into two factions.
Efforts by the Secretary-General, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led in July 1999 to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. Signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, it provided for an end of hostilities and for the holding of an inter-Congolese dialogue. The "Lusaka Agreement" included provisions for the normalization of the situation along the border; the control of illicit arms trafficking and infiltration of armed groups; the holding of a national dialogue; and the establishment of a mechanism for disarming militias and armed groups. It also provided for a Joint Military Commission composed of two representatives from each party under a neutral chairman appointed by the OAU. The two rebel factions signed the agreement in August. To help implement the agreement, the Council authorized the deployment of 90 United Nations military liaison officers to strategic areas in the country and to the capitals of the signatory States.
To maintain liaison with the parties, assist in implementing the agreement and monitor security conditions, the Security Council in November established the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), incorporating the personnel it had authorized earlier on. In February 2000, the Council expanded the size and mandate of the Mission, which was to monitor implementation of the ceasefire, support disarmament and demobilization, and provide support to the facilitator of the National Dialogue. The Council authorized the use of force by MONUC to protect United Nations personnel and civilians under imminent threat of violence, and made the deployment of the mission to its authorized strength of 5,500 contingent on adequate access, security and cooperation. Continued fighting has prevented full deployment.
In January 2001, President Laurent Kabila was killed. The Security Council met formally four times in February to discuss the changing situation in the country. Laurent Kabila’s son, Joseph, assumed the presidency, and in February, at separate meetings, both he and Rwandan President Paul Kagame addressed the Council. It seemed the impasse might be broken. The Secretary-General proposed an updated concept of MONUC operations to monitor and verify ceasefire and disengagement plans, and, on 22 February, the Council adopted a resolution endorsing this new concept and calling for rapid implementation of disengagement plans. Reports in late February and early March were received of withdrawals of Ugandan and Rwandan troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic.
At the opening of the meeting, the President of the Council, JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), expressed sadness and outrage over the brutal murder of six representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 26 April. He extended condolences to their families and expressed hope that such events would not reoccur in the future.
The Chairperson of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, SAFIATU BA-N’DAW (Côte d’Ivoire), presented the outcome of the work of the Panel, saying that the results showed that illegal exploitation of resources and other forms of wealth were taking place in that country at an alarming rate. Massive looting of natural resources had been going on since 1998.
The exploitation of resources was carried out in a systematic and systemic fashion, taking the forms of confiscation, extraction, forced monopoly and price-fixing, she continued. The leaders of the rebellion and several regional leaders had directly profited from the looting, which had required preparation and organization. Key individual actors, including top army commanders and businessmen, as well as government structures, had taken part in those activities. The Panel had identified some rather surprising practices by which, for example, some companies had been granted concessions, in violation of normal rules and procedures.
There was a direct link between the level of military activities and the level of exploitation of resources, including coltan, cassiterite, timber, gold and diamonds, she said. Rwanda’s military was benefiting from the conflict, and economy of Uganda covered its shortfalls from re-exportation of resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several other countries, including Burundi, were also involved.
The recommendations of the Panel included that the Council impose sanctions on those exploiting resources of the country illegally, that it institute preventive measures, and that compensation be paid to those who suffered as a consequence of illegal activities. In conclusion, she added that the Panel had undertaken a difficult and delicate mission, and had carried it out in hazardous conditions.
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, extended condolences to the ICRC, to the Governments of Colombia and Switzerland, and to the bereaved families of six humanitarian workers killed in his country, including four Congolese. He hoped that, despite that tragedy, the ICRC would continue to help the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Emphasizing that the real reason for the aggression against his country was the systematic exploitation of its wealth in natural resources, he expressed regret that the Panel’s report was rather belatedly confirming what the Congolese Government had been saying for a long time. Documents provided by the Government to the United Nations since August 1998 clearly showed the links between the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources and the prosecution of the war, as well as between the illegal exploitation and massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
He said a consensus was clearly emerging in the Council and in the international community on the links between the shameless looting of Congolese natural wealth and the massacres of the Congolese people. The report described eloquently the structures used by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to facilitate their actions. There had even been death threats against Panel members, which was unacceptable. The Council would recall the figures provided by the United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who said that 16 million Congolese had been killed or otherwise directly affected by the fighting.
The Council would recall the massacres and assassinations of civilians, deportations, torture, rape and deliberate spreading of HIV/AIDS, he said. It would also recall that three times in the city of Kisangani clashes between Rwandan and Ugandan forces had resulted in the deaths of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure. As a result, the Council had adopted resolution 1341 (2000) last June, condemning those clashes. Another result of the aggression was the fighting between the Hema and Lendu peoples of the eastern provinces, who previously had lived in peace.
He said that the powerful alliances of the Ugandan and Rwandan armed forces had Balkanized the entire Democratic Republic of the Congo illegally, exploiting diamonds, gold, timber and other forms of wealth. That exploitation had devastating, perhaps irreversible, effects on flora and fauna, including the national parks. In addition, Rwandan refugees who had flooded into the country, had contributed to the destruction of elephant, mountain gorilla, white rhino, okapi and other precious wildlife. In such a situation, the Congolese people were the only losers and their Government called for reparations. The Security Council must act swiftly on the Panel’s recommendations.
Thanking the Governments of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe for helping his country to resist the occupation, he said that those countries would never have entered Congolese territory had the aggression not occurred.
PATRICK MAZIMHAKA, Special Envoy of the President of Rwanda, said the Panel's mandate was not carefully defined, which had led to contentious interpretations. Firstly, the report interpreted the use of "illegality" to mean activities carried out without the consent of a legitimate government or authority exercising control over territory. Those concepts were, in the context of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, defined in Article II of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, which stipulated that State administrative authority shall be exercised by the Congolese signatories until the establishment of new institutions emanating from the inter-Congolese dialogue.
Secondly, he said, the Panel had extended the definition of natural resources and other forms of wealth to include transport, finance and other services regulated by multilateral agreements. Thirdly, the sources cited by the Panel did not reflect his Government's efforts to facilitate access to information. The Panel had met President Paul Kagame for two hours, but nothing in the report indicated that it had benefited from that meeting. The same applied to ministers and officials who had made themselves available to the Panel. Finally, the Panel had never contacted the private sector, characterized in the report as "pivotal" in the illegal exploitation, to clarify business practices or credentials.
He said it was unusual that a panel of experts would evaluate its own report, pass judgement and impose punitive measures, and that on the basis of a report the Panel admitted to be only 70 per cent complete. The report surely should not include condemnation of heads of State and their families, companies and individuals without rigorous proof of guilt. The way the report treated heads of State was simply unacceptable and set a dangerous precedent. Rwanda proposed that the report be dropped altogether because it was inaccurate, inconclusive and did not in any way accurately interpret the Council's wishes. It did not reflect the genuine desire by Council members to establish the state of affairs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo so as to recommend ways to rectify the situation in the interest of the Congolese people.
However, he said, should the Council wish to re-open the investigations and correct the numerous lacunae in the report, Rwanda proposed that the Council and Member States that were the subject of the investigation should agree on the terms of reference and spell out their methodology. Clear definitions of terms loosely used in the report -– such as “illegal”, “legitimate”, “power” and “control” -- should be established in relation to the specific and unique political situation prevailing in the Democratic Republic and the region. Treaties, agreements and protocols governing the regional trade regime should be recognized and the responsibility of countries of destination of the resources should be determined with regard to import and export activities.
Urging the Security Council to maintain its course in its efforts to secure peace and security in the Great Lakes region, he stressed that the Lusaka Agreement provided the only realistic and long-lasting approach to the region’s problems. Rwanda believed that its security concerns could not be minimized by any other consideration, but that in the Lusaka agreement all the parties would find equitable solutions to the problems facing their respective countries.
AMAMA MBABAZI, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Uganda, said that his Government welcomed the release of the report of the Panel and wanted to respond to that document, including the allegations against Uganda, contained in it. He wanted to speak about the principles forming the basis of the investigation and about the quality of the evidence presented. He also wanted to present some suggestions for the way forward.
A code was being actively enforced, prohibiting high-ranking Ugandan military personnel and their families from engaging in any trade in the Congo, he continued. The report implicated top Ugandan military officers and civilians as people involved in illegal exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he was happy to inform the Council that his Government had decided to establish an independent and transparent judicial commission to investigate the allegations.
Uganda had serious problems with the report, however, for it had fundamental flaws. One of them was the Panel’s definition of illegality. The Panel said that all activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo carried out without the consent of the Government in Kinshasa and in violation of its rules were illegal. However, under Lusaka Accord, for the period of implementation of that agreement, each of its three parties would be charged with the responsibility to administer the area it controlled until State control was established throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Everyone accepted the fact that the central Government had no authority over 60 per cent of the country. Thus, under the Panel’s definition, any economic activities in those parts of the DRC would be automatically illegal. That was erroneous, and he did not believe that it was a meaning intended by the Council.
The second flaw in the report was the quality of certain evidence, which was either false, or based on hearsay, he said. Sources were not given for some statements. Such an approach presented a serious problem. Uganda was involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for accepted reasons, contained in the Lusaka Agreement. If the Panel wanted to contradict the position that the Council had accepted in numerous resolutions, no questions about its credibility should remain. The conclusions should not be based on street gossip or newspaper reports. When considering recommendations to impose sanctions against a country of 23 million people, there should be no doubt as to the truth of the Panel’s statements.
The Panel had received maximum cooperation from his Government, he continued, but in its report it stated that its request to see several individuals had been turned down. First of all, the Panel had not presented such a request. Also, the people they wanted to interview were available to them. He found most despicable the personal attack by the Panel on his country’s President Museveni. Without providing any evidence, the Panel had stated that he and President Kagame of Rwanda were “on the verge of becoming godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict”. The report only referred to some relatives of the President involved in business. That was not sufficient to label the President of the country a person involved in crime. That was totally unacceptable to the people of Uganda.
The report was of very low quality, and its credibility was seriously in question, he said. For that reason, he recommended that a new panel be put in place, or the existing one be expanded under a new chairmanship. It was necessary to achieve a level of balance in the new panel to assure its competence. Uganda was not institutionally involved in the exploitation of resources, yet the Panel recommended sanctions against his country. Instead, it would suffice to investigate the people involved in such activities. The primary focus should be on establishing peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the implementation of the Lusaka agreement. The matter needed to be handled very carefully, for the report had seriously poisoned the atmosphere in the region. Exploitation of natural resources was not a cause of war, but its consequence. The Council should continue to play a leadership role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
CHARLES NIHANGAZA, Minister of Finance of Burundi, said the report had not produced sufficient evidence against his country, in view of the wide publicity given to the accusations against it. One might have expected a mass of specific data to back up those accusations. Burundi had been named, in a ritualistic manner, among a list of targeted countries.
He said that of the three or so specific references to Burundi, one cited an International Monetary Fund (IMF) memorandum indicating that although the country did not produce gold, diamonds, cobalt, coltran and several other minerals, it had been exporting those minerals since 1998, a period when the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was under occupation. That had been all the evidence given for accusing Burundi. The IMF document could not be traced and possibly did not exist. Burundi was not involved in plundering the resources of the DRC, he reiterated.
It was astounding that the report stated that there was no trade between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Trade had always existed between the two countries and covered a wide range of goods. Approximately 40 per cent of Burundi's exports went to the DRC and a similar volume was exported there today. Trading in gold, by Burundians and nationals of other countries, had existed well before independence.
He said that even pupils in school were taught that. The Panel’s conclusions should reflect the substance of the body of the report. But five whole pages of the Panel's conclusions were based on just three sentences referring to Burundi. However, Burundi was still prepared to offer its full cooperation to the Panel, and would carry out its own inquiry into the involvement of Burundians in the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources. The Panel should make a second visit and conduct interviews with Burundians. Burundi was glad that the Council was considering extending the Panel's mandate.
Burundi's presence on its border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo was dictated by the presence of rebels and by the need to keep trade corridors to the United Republic of Tanzania open, he said. Burundi had no territorial designs whatsoever on Congolese territory. Resolving security issues on the Congolese borders with its neighbours would solve all that country's problems. Burundi was ready to pursue dialogue with all parties to secure common borders and to end all the tensions tearing the region apart. He noted with concern that negative forces were shifting to rear bases in the region, and he would soon propose a plan to the Security Council aimed at preventing an accommodation of the death mongers to the detriment of the entire region.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said that the report prepared by the Panel was an extremely important document. The presence of ministers from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi testified to the importance that those countries attached to the matter before the Council. The meeting was taking place at a decisive moment in the implementation of the Lusaka Accord and the related resolutions of the Council.
The links between the continuation of the fighting and the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be addressed, he continued. The report established a certain correlation between economic interests of certain players and the continuation of hostilities. It was a question of reaffirming sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately, the Congolese people were suffering the consequences of looting and the continuation of the war. They were counting on the international community to put an end to that situation and to ensure the return of peace, stability and security to the region.
The conclusions of the Panel would have significant consequences for the region and for future efforts of the Council, he said, and they must be carefully considered. Constructive dialogue must be undertaken with all those involved. States named in the report should have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion. He believed the report should encourage the parties to implement Council resolutions and take concrete steps to advance both the peace process and the expected withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as planned.
In conclusion, he added, that a horrible crime had interrupted the peace process. That was last week’s killing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of staff of the ICRC. In view of that event, he reaffirmed the responsibility of all parties to ensure safety and security of the United Nations and associated personnel.
VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) expressed his deep concern at, and condemnation of, the cowardly murder of the six staff from the ICRC in an ambush on the Bania-Djuga road in Orientale province on 26 April. He stressed the urgent need to ensure safety and security of international relief workers, as well as United Nations peacekeeping and other personnel.
Ukraine urged an end to the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which nourished the conflict there, he said. The present Panel report was sharply different from the one submitted to the Council on 16 January. It contained numerous recommendations, including coercive measures -- results of the Panel's extensive review. Of great concern was the considerable illegal exploitation of coltan, cassiterites, diamonds and niobium. He called upon all governments concerned to take immediate steps to end such activities and to ensure compliance by individuals and corporations with legally acceptable business standards. Of equal importance was their full cooperation with the Panel in its efforts to collect information and research the links between such activity and the continuation of the conflict.
The matter should be a principal focus of the Council, he said. The Council should pursue an approach that linked efforts aimed at cessation of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the achievement of the desired political objectives, especially implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. The Council should extend the mandate of the Expert Panel for a final period of three months, to enable it to complete its action plan. Council members should be given an opportunity to consider the whole situation in question before deciding on the proposed recommendations, for which he would await the Panel's final report.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said that Irish authorities were carefully reviewing the report of the Panel of experts. His delegation supported an extension of the mandate of the Panel so as to allow it to continue its work. It was hoped that an addendum to the present report would provide the international community with a fuller picture of the extent to which the exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic contributed to sustaining the conflict in the region. The report of the Panel made some very serious allegations against all parties to the conflict. Today's meeting gave those countries against which allegations were made an opportunity to respond.
His delegation had heard the concerns of some parties named in the report that the information was unsubstantiated or incorrect, he said. Nonetheless, the allegations were of a sufficiently serious nature to merit thorough investigation by relevant national authorities. No effort must be spared to ensure that activities which undermined the peace process in the Democratic Republic were halted and that the Congolese people were finally allowed to benefit directly from the natural wealth of their own country. At the same time, the concerns expressed by some parties named in the report could not be dismissed out of hand.
The report, he said, was but one element in the wider efforts of the international community to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic. The Security Council mission to the region later this month would provide the Council with an opportunity to engage with the parties on the wider dimension of the conflict, focusing in particular on the three core elements of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. Ireland urged the parties to maximize the potential of the visit for concrete progress, and to use the occasion of the visit to engage closely with the Council on the core obstacles to peace in the region.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), associating his country with the European Union statement to be read by the representative of Sweden, said that the information in the report was not entirely new, as some indications of what it presented had emerged in the press and elsewhere. However, it was the first time that an overall picture of the looting had been provided to the Council and that picture was extremely disquieting. The report was fully documented, and was courageous given the safety of Panel members had sometimes been threatened.
He said that the looting of Congolese resources not only fuelled the conflict, but might have become a motive for its continuation. The Council must consider that facet of the deadliest conflict besetting the African continent. Approximately 2.5 million people had died since 1998, and thousands of others had been directly affected by the fighting. Those figures were appalling and urgent action by the Council was required.
The report would help to end the pillage, he said. A unanimous decision to extend the Panel's mandate for three months would help keep the Council informed, and would lead to a fresh appraisal of the situation. It was important to ensure that multilateral institutions and the countries concerned all played their part in that endeavour. The Council should work in a spirit of dialogue with all involved.
He welcomed the announcement by the Ugandan Foreign Minister that his country would establish an independent inquiry, as well as the statement by Burundi's Finance Minister that a similar investigation would be established in his country. A spirit of dialogue should be demonstrated by all States involved. Some countries had chosen not to state their position. Those not present should demonstrate the same spirit as that shown by the Ministers present today.
Above and beyond the report, he said, it was necessary to keep in mind the Council’s key objective in the Great Lakes -– the restoration of peace with security for all. Ultimately, the objective was a return to economic development, which required adherence to the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. However, it was up to the parties to the conflict themselves to make that possible.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that it was extremely important that representatives of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi were taking part in today’s debate. He took note of the work of the Panel so far, saying that the report addressed the important issue of the use of natural resources to fuel the continuation of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He supported the extension of the mandate of the Panel, which would allow it to pursue further information and seek responses to the report. The expected addendum to the Panel’s report would allow it to produce balanced information on the matter.
One of the most important things was to bring the problem to the surface, he continued. Now, a dialogue with all concerned was needed, and the debate should go on. In today’s discussion, there was agreement that illegitimate exploitation of natural resources had to end, but there was some disagreement regarding the precise facts involved. That was natural, given the scope and complexity of the problem. The purpose was not to assign blame, but to alleviate the suffering of the Congolese people, whose resources were being exploited for the benefit of others.
Natural resources were not a cause of the problem, but their exploitation contributed to the conflict, he said. In the future, the Panel should focus on long-term strategies, concentrating on specific resources, including gold and diamonds. In addressing the abuses, the international community should also be prepared to help build structures for the legitimate use of resources. A comprehensive approach was needed.
ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) joined others who had welcomed the presence of the representatives of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi at today’s meeting. His country was grateful to the Panel for its substantive report on the illegal exploitation of resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The report should not be seen as grounds for hasty decisions based on emotions, however. Rather, it should be calmly and carefully studied.
He supported the proposed three-month extension of the mandate of the Panel, which would allow it to gather additional information and seek responses from the countries involved. All the parties should cooperate with the work of the Panel. Illegal acts -–whoever committed them -– must come to an end. The Russian Federation proceeded from the premise that the underlying cause for many problems, including exploitation of natural resources, abduction of child soldiers and refugees, was the armed conflict. Only recently, some movement towards a political settlement had become obvious, and supporting that should be among the priorities in the Council's work.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said his country resolutely opposed the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources, as well as the continuing conflict. The Security Council should thoroughly scrutinize the Panel's recommendations with a view to ending the plunder, which was causing unspeakable suffering to the Congolese people and destabilizing the whole region.
The report's message was plain, he said. Measures must be taken to end the pillage. The Council and the international community must promote the peace process, which had recently taken on a more positive form with the deployment of phase II of MONUC.
Stressing the need to take steps for the deployment of phase III, he said it was essential to promote the energy and dynamism of the Lusaka process. Mali
reserved its right to state its views on the Panel's recommendations, and supported the extension of its mandate.
He condemned last week’s killing of six humanitarian workers at Bunia in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council President, Mr. CUNNINGHAM (United States), then suspended the meeting until 3 p.m.
WANG YINGFAN (China) welcomed the presence of the Ministers from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi at the Council’s open meeting, adding that the report of the Panel and the work of the Council could help to stop the looting of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had become truly rampant. It was closely related to the continuation of the conflict, and the Council must take the measures to stop it. Therefore, he endorsed the extension of the mandate of the Panel for an appropriate period of time.
He went on to say, however, that the report had caused serious repercussions in the region, and he believed that there was room for improvement. For example, in the document, it was hard to distinguish between cases of reliable evidence and hearsay. Stricter standards should be applied, and conclusions must be based on hard evidence. Also, linking all exports with the exploitation of natural resources was stretching the facts.
The conflict involved complicated questions such as disarmament, national reconciliation and the security concerns of the Democratic Republic and the neighbouring States, he said. Many of those problems were interwoven, and joint efforts were needed to resolve the situation and implement the Lusaka agreement, translating into action the commitments made under it. In the final analysis, it was necessary to reconcile of all groups involved. Peace and stability in the region should be built on the basis of territorial integrity, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of States.
Lately, the situation in the Great Lakes region had undergone some positive changes, and he hoped that the parties concerned would treasure the hard-won momentum for peace and make effective efforts to put an end to the conflict. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had long been involved in senseless conflict, and it was important to achieve peace. Post-conflict problems would also be significant, and the international community should provide the necessary assistance to overcome them.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that the subject before the Council was clearly related to the creation of an environment of peace and security in the Great Lakes region. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with close relationship to the exploitation of Congolese natural resources, continued to take the lifeblood of that country and had already taken the lives of
2.5 million people, as well as affecting 200,000 others either directly or indirectly.
He said grave actions occurred in such circumstances, such as last week’s killing of humanitarian workers of the ICRC. If it continued to cause a tragedy of such proportions, the exploitation of natural resources, whether legal or not, must be condemned by the international community. The governments and armed groups mentioned by the Panel should study the data contained in its report.
Because of its geographical location, he said, the eastern part of the country was very much inter-linked with economic activities in neighbouring countries. A peace conference for the region should take that aspect into consideration. While sanctions were a legitimate mechanism by which the Council could bring about changes in the conduct of the parties, Colombia proposed more peaceful measures and dialogue to resolve the issue. Any action by the Council should be part of a vigorous effort to achieve a lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which respected the security interests of all countries in the region.
WEGGER STRØMMEN (Norway) said his Government noted with concern the terrible toll the conflict was having on the people, economy and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and remained strongly concerned about the lack of governance and continued violence, particularly in its eastern regions. Norway strongly condemned the recent murders of personnel of the ICRC in the Orientale Province and underlined the need to hold the guilty accountable for that hideous crime. The parties must ensure the safety of all international personnel working to assist the region in its quest for peace, security and development.
He said that the Lusaka ceasefire agreement remained the path to a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict. Hopefully, the countries and the various rebel groups involved in the conflict had not forgotten that fundamental premise. They were urged to explore thoroughly all political avenues for finding a peaceful solution. The parties had taken significant steps since the adoption of Council resolution 1341 in February; the disengagement process had begun, and the deployment of MONUC observers and liaison officers was proceeding. Other key aspects of the peace process, however, notably, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the forces operating in the region and a constructive inter-Congolese dialogue leading to effective governance, were indispensable.
Efforts to re-establish peaceful relations in the Great Lakes must take due account of economic agendas in the conflict, he went on. The considerable legal exploitation of natural resources indicated in the Panel report was deplorable. All parties must cease without delay all activities fuelling the conflict. Regrettably, in preparing its report the Panel states that it faced a lack of cooperation from certain countries, individuals and private companies. All parties must cooperate fully and provide the Panel with relevant data as soon as possible. Further, the Panel should look into the possibility that some private companies involved in the exploitation had been omitted from the report. It was very difficult for Council members to distinguish between information and accusations that were based on primary data and the parts of the report based on information obtained in interviews. If possible, the next presentation should contain corroborative evidence against those involved.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that if the Panel's conclusion of the continued plundering of the country's resources, and the link between the illegal exploitation and the continuation of the war were beyond doubt, then all concerned would have to assume due responsibility and take measures to break the nexus. The Panel's findings should be examined, taking fully into account the views of concerned countries and other relevant parties. There were questions about the methodology used, the quality of evidence, and the nature of the conclusions. The Panel would do well if it could substantiate its conclusions against the disclaimers provided.
He said that the findings and conclusions of such expert panels had serious implications for the objectives pursued by the Council. Reports of expert panels issued in the name of the United Nations should meet evidentiary standards and other relevant norms. At the same time, the Panel should be able to investigate and submit its findings with absolute independence and objectivity. The Panel's definition of illegal exploitation did not seem to conform to the provisions of the Lusaka agreement. There were questions about the legality or illegality of exploitation of resources in areas under rebel control. The question was relevant, as some of the rebel movements were signatories of the Lusaka agreement.
As an interim response to the findings and recommendations, the Council should call for immediate cessation of the illegal exploitation of the resources of the country, he said. The Panel recommended a number of steps that Member States could take unilaterally at present. That included those related to the questionable import, export, and transportation of certain minerals and financial transactions. Countries involved might also consider declaring an immediate moratorium on the supply of weapons and all military materiel to rebel groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A unique area of concern was conflict timber. It was a revelation that plundering extended to such mass volume products as timber and non-timber forest products.
He said he supported the Panel's recommendation that concerned countries should, as per international practice, declare to the Forum on Forests the origins of the timber that was being shipped from their seaports, as well as provide the certification documents of such timber. They should declare timber and non-timber forest products coming from warring areas, "conflict timber and non-timber forest products". Similar positive steps by the countries on the demand side might also be considered. The Council's demand for such interim measures should extend to all actors involved in the illegal activities –- governments, armed forces, individuals, public and private enterprise that were engaged directly or indirectly in the extraction, transport, import and export of the country's resources.
He said that any specific measures by the Council should follow consideration of the expected addendum to the report, which the Panel was being asked to submit before the expiration of its mandate. The Panel was expected to respond to the comments of those cited in the report, update its data and complete unfinished tasks in the remaining areas of investigation. Appropriate Council action could only follow conclusive evidence and after the parties responsible for illegal activities failed to take corrective measures or comply with the Council's demands. The Democratic Republic of the Congo should have full sovereignty over its natural resources, and exploitation, illegal or otherwise, by outside actors should not contribute to sustaining the war. The Council's purpose in pursing the matter was to facilitate the peace process; it should take all appropriate measures to that end.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that his delegation had studied the report of the expert Panel very carefully and with an open mind. The Panel had dug up several gems in its finding that shed some light on the economic agendas driving the conflict in the Democratic Republic. After reflecting on the report's findings, it was clear to Singapore that the continued looting of that country’s natural resources could not be condoned or justified in any way. The substance of the Panel's finding must be taken very seriously. However, in terms of presentation, his delegation would like to have seen a more solid and compact structure of facts set out in the report. Certain conclusions required further reflection and consideration.
Arresting the cycle of exploitation of the Democratic Republic’s resources was clearly a priority, he said. The legacy of exploitation began more than a hundred years ago when King Leopold II of Belgium colonized the region as his personal fiefdom, and systematically exploited its natural wealth. More recently, the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide in 1994, and the 1996 and 1998 rebellions in the Democratic Republic, had transformed economic activities and trade networks in the region. The structures of exploitation and the deep grievances would remain even after the implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. Addressing the deep sources of conflict, therefore, remained critical to achieving a lasting peace settlement.
The Panel's findings, he said, had exposed a complex web of economic and security interests involving regional cartels and global networks. Some light was thrown on parts of that web, while other areas remained obscure for reasons outlined in the report. Further investigation might be necessary, along with a deeper study of some of the Panel's recommendations. His delegation had studied the actions suggested by the Panel. The Council would be setting out clear guidelines on what it expects the Panel to achieve over the next three months, and he looked forward to the addendum to the final report in early August 2001.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), stressing the need for those with a direct interest in the conflict to be heard by the Council before it took any action, said the report contained disturbing and extremely serious allegations about illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Jamaica, therefore, welcomed assurances given today by ministers that investigations would be carried out and those found to have been perpetrators brought to justice.
Supporting the extension of the Panel’s mandate for a further three months, she said that only when the Panel had finalized its work would the Council be able to examine its findings and take appropriate action. Jamaica also supported actions to be taken by the Panel based on its action plan and on the presidential statement to be made at the end of today’s meeting.
She said that the enormous number of people affected by the Congolese conflict, including more than 2 million internally displaced persons and refugees in neighbouring countries, underlined the real danger of an immense humanitarian catastrophe. She expressed Jamaica’s condolences to the families of the ICRC staff members killed last week, and to the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and Switzerland. That tragedy underscored the risk that such personnel undertook in venturing where others would not go, in the service of humanity.
Today’s meeting emphasized the urgent need for a comprehensive and lasting peace for all the countries of the Great Lakes region, she said. There could be no military solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it was, therefore, important that the Council support a process leading to national reconciliation.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said that the meeting on the illegal exploitation of the natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would undoubtedly help the Council to chart future actions in the Great Lakes region. He commended the Panel for its comprehensive report, saying that it was important to recognize the complex nature of the experts’ task. Obviously, the conclusions of the report would be questioned by the parties concerned. In certain cases, the criticism may be justified. In others, it would be superficial. However, the report had proven that there was massive pillage of Congolese resources and that there was a connection between the looting and the continuation of the conflict.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a sovereign country, which should have full control of its resources, he said. The conflict had served as an opportunity for many to plunder a country in a situation of crisis. He urged all concerned parties to stop unlawful activities in the Congo, and supported the proposal to extend the mandate of the Panel to allow it to complete its work. All parties should cooperate with the Panel and ensure its members’ safety.
The Council should hold off on implementation of the sanctions recommended in the report until the addendum to that document was received, he continued. He also welcomed the initiative by Uganda to investigate illegal activities. The deadly conflict must end, and the way to achieve that was through the implementation of the Lusaka agreement. In conclusion, he expressed his shock at the killings of humanitarian workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and said that the perpetrators of that crime should be brought to justice.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States), speaking in his national capacity, said the Panel provided a broadly accurate picture of the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was a dimension of the crisis that could not be ignored. While the report was a reminder that those resources were not being used for the benefit of the Congolese people, their exploitation was not the objective of the conflict, but rather a consequence. Serious consideration must be given to the imminent report of the International Rescue Committee, which indicated that a million deaths a year had resulted from the conflict.
With regard to armed groups, he described the report’s reference to two of them as “so-called ex-FAR and Interahamwe” as an unfortunate linguistic formulation, saying that the opprobrium with which the Council regarded those groups was well known. Similarly, the report had misrepresented Kiswahili as a language foreign to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was widely spoken there and was a lingua franca used in commercial activities throughout the region. Labelling it a foreign language was, therefore, inaccurate.
Noting that the Government of Zimbabwe had not cooperated with the Panel, he stressed the need for all parties to the conflict to cooperate with it. Those countries that had cooperated most with the Panel had come in for the most criticism, he added.
He said his country agreed that the Lusaka ceasefire agreement remained the key to resolving the Congolese crisis. A resolution to the conflict rested on three pillars: withdrawal of all foreign forces; disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation or resettlement of armed groups, including the ex-FAR and Interahamwe; and a national reconciliation process emanating from the inter-Congolese dialogue.
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) expressed his Government's shock and deep regret at the deaths of six workers of the ICRC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 27 April. Resolution of the conflict in that country, in which nearly half the States on the African continent were involved and more than 3 million lives had been lost, was critical not only to the countries directly concerned, but to the peace and prosperity of Africa as a whole. All parties concerned should implement the Lusaka agreement without further delay.
The illicit exploitation of diamonds and other natural resources must be stopped, as it posed one of the main obstacles to the settlement of the conflict, he said. Consolidating peace throughout the region would require adoption of a comprehensive and integrated approach. In particular, the Security Council should address economic and security problems in neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. It would be necessary to pursue peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, development and democratization from a regional perspective.
Regarding the reference made in the report to countries, including Japan, which were claimed to be importing uncertified timber from a Uganda-Thai forest company operating in the Democratic Republic, he said that Japanese authorities were investigating the matter. Any concrete evidence that the Panel of experts might have to substantiate the statement made in the report would be appreciated. Japan was doing its utmost to halt such illegal practices and was committed to cooperating with the international community.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a disturbing example of a new sort of conflict -- one in which war itself had become profitable, where economic interests competed with political objectives, and where the aim of some belligerents was to sustain the conflict conditions which allowed criminality to flourish. The Panel's report contained disturbing allegations, which the Council would need to consider carefully. Where the allegations were borne out, the Council must act.
First, he said, the Council should work with relevant Member States to ensure that action was taken to stop the looting of resources. Where those Member States failed to cooperate, more robust Council action should be considered. Any individuals, governments and armed groups found to have illegally exploited the natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, through their activities, to have contributed to perpetuating the war, should then receive the Council's condemnation. The exploitation of resources and the fuelling of war must end without delay. Progress on that would be critical to reducing the flow of arms circulating in the region -– itself a key prerequisite for peace in the region.
He said that the illegal exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo contributed directly to the suffering of civilians. The International Rescue Committee estimated that up to 3 million people had died as a result of the war, directly or indirectly. Children who survived ran the risk of recruitment by armed groups fighting for control over regions rich in resources. In some instances, those groups engaged in deliberate campaigns of terror among civilian populations and committed with impunity violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Populations forced to flee from violence and leave their land and homes were deprived of the means of subsistence, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. More than 2 million people were internally displaced and hundreds of thousands were refugees.
Humanitarian access must be provided to help those people, he said. All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations, including the need to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel. The tragic murder last week of six ICRC workers had deeply saddened his country. The Lusaka signatories must, without delay, bring an end to the conflict, he said. Implementation of the agreement and relevant Security Council resolution was the only viable solution to the crisis. The inter-Congolese dialogue was also crucial to peace and stability in the country and must be held as soon as possible. Full consideration must be given to the Panel's report, and its mandate should be extended. A full understanding of the causes of conflict would enable the international community to assist in identifying effective political solutions and in "choking off" economic incentives for the continuation of war.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union would support the Security Council extending the mandate of the Panel of experts for a period of three months. It was important that this time be given to allow the Panel to gather additional information on aspects not fully covered in the report, such as the role of regional actors. Though further consultations were warranted, the Union was concerned at the general findings in the report which indicated widespread illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For its part, the Union had taken note of the information in the report relating to alleged activities by European companies, and member States were following up on that information.
Establishing a legal framework for sustainable management of resources was crucial for any long-term development policy, he said. As the Democratic Republic and the neighbouring countries emerged from the devastating conflict that had engulfed the region, opportunities to invest in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and socio-economic development would grow. The Union remained ready to respond to those needs. Lasting peace in the Democratic Republic could be achieved only through a negotiated peace settlement which was fair to all parties. The Union reiterated its strong support for the Lusaka agreement as a consensual basis for peace in the Democratic Republic and the region.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) expressed condolences over the tragic events on 26 April, when humanitarian workers were killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Calling for an investigation to bring those guilty to justice, he expressed hope that the tragedy would not seriously disrupt important humanitarian work in that country.
Despite some statements today, the Panel had produced an accurate and comprehensive report, he continued. The use of primary resource documents, often produced by the countries themselves, objectively revealed discrepancies between exports and trade before and during the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There was proof of ruthless plundering of the country by aggressor countries, rebel groups and individuals. He had not expected Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to say “Yes, we are looting the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. Previously, they had also denied their military presence in that country. The Council should not be fooled by their denials.
The report reflected the high degree of professionalism of the Panel’s members, he said. They had maintained a high standard and substantiated their findings. The report proved that plundering of the country was taking place for economic reasons and not for reasons of security. He fully supported the conclusions reached by the Panel. The revelations about the role of some international financial institutions were disquieting, for it seemed that they were unwittingly supporting the export of natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That matter needed to be further investigated.
He went on to say that Namibia’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had never been motivated by economic interests. It was in full conformity with the Charters of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Due compensation should be paid to the people of the DRC for the expropriation of property and looting of the country. All avenues should be explored to cultivate an environment conducive to the implementation of the Lusaka agreement. The Council should ensure that the Lusaka agreement and relevant Council resolutions were implemented. Complete demilitarization of Kisangani should be pursued. The report also pointed out the systematic character of looting, and the existence of criminal cartels, which presented a serious problem for the region. The Council should take immediate action to end those criminal activities.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said that the Ugandan regime had once again chosen to spread falsehoods in order to divert attention from its actions in openly invading the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in violation of international law. Those flimsy pretexts included the need to contain threats emanating from the Sudan.
He said that his country’s borders with the DRC had been under the control of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), operating in collusion with Ugandan forces, and had been since 1996. In addition, Sudan’s borders controlled by Sudanese forces were hundreds of miles away. Uganda’s intervention in Congolese areas where there were gold and diamond mines had been mounted for financial and economic objectives, under a pretext of security. The Ugandan regime was behind the crises and catastrophes in the Great Lakes region that threatened peace and security. Its actions violated the Charters of the United Nations and the OAU.
Even if Uganda were to claim security reasons, he said, such a dangerous justification should be clearly condemned by the Council, because it would allow any other State to attack Uganda on the basis of the same pretext. Several countries bordering Uganda were facing serious security threats stemming from Uganda’s support for outlaws and mercenaries on their territory. The Ugandan regime had embraced the rebellious SPLA and provided it with logistical support in southern Sudan. Uganda was also systematically exploiting and looting gold, silver and ivory in southern Sudan.
He said Uganda should remember that it no longer had the support it once enjoyed from certain Powers, and was no longer the spoilt child of certain interests. Times and interests were changing. The Sudan called upon the Security Council, after considering all the evidence, to act firmly to deter the Ugandan leadership from its continued looting of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from its continued presence in that country.
JOAQUIM A.B.B.MANGUEIRA (Angola) stressed the important factual value of the report before the Council. Describing the massive pillage and illegal exploitation of the natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it particularly focused on the ramifications of such activities and the connection between funding and the persistence of the conflict in the country.
The circumstances and the mandate of the presence of Angola and its allies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were widely known, he continued. The report made a clear distinction between the role of the “invited forces” and that of the “invading forces”. It also referred to Angola and Namibia as the two countries that funded their participation in the conflict with expenditure from their ordinary budget and did not behave in a suspicious way. In his country’s case, that showed a recognition of his Government’s policy based on the principles of the defence of sovereignty and borders and on the respect for the sovereignty of other States.
The solution to the Congo issue would only be reached with the implementation of the Lusaka Accords and their additional protocols, he continued, as well as relevant Council resolutions. These would establish the necessary prerequisites for a lasting solution to the questions raised in the report. The international community could play an important role in that regard. He hoped that the recommendations of the Panel would become the object of special attention from the Council, and that concrete measures would be taken to put an end to illegal exploitation of natural resources and to seek compensation and reparation for damages.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, as his country shared a border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was hosting refugees from that country, and witnessing their suffering even as it bore the burden of caring for them. Peace in the Democratic Republic was of particular importance to his country. For that reason, he viewed with considerable concern the allegations by the Panel of Experts regarding use of the sea and air ports in Dar es Salaam as a transit point for what was described as commercial activities of RCD-Goma. He was also concerned at the description of the Bank of Tanzania as a holding point for Democratic Republic of the Congo diamonds. Those were serious allegations.
The obvious and perhaps unintended implication was that the port, airport and the Bank of Tanzania were either knowingly or unknowingly being used to finance the continuation of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Regrettably, the report did not offer much help in regard to the veracity to those allegations. It also failed to make a determination about the real likelihood of parties in Tanzania dealing at face value and in good faith with documents covering the shipments, “complete with required stamps and signatures indicating approval and issuance in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi”. That was of particular importance, because his country had a legitimate undertaking to facilitate lawful trans-shipment of goods destined to or from the landlocked countries along its western borders, including eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as agreed between the two Governments.
It was also a matter of concern that the report alleged that “the shipments of gold, diamonds and timber are also processed in Dar es Salaam in cooperation with RCD representatives by a company believed to be a covert business entity created for the purpose of facilitating support for the financial and logistical operations of RCD-Goma”. Both the RCD representatives and the covert company remained unnamed. It was even more puzzling that those activities were said to be “exclusive operations handled by the Government of Rwanda via Kigali”.
His Government was willing to play a constructive role in efforts to end the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he continued, but it could only do so in the context of irrefutable facts or a transparent process. Although he understood it had not been an easy task for the Panel, under the prevailing circumstances, it was difficult for his country to respond to allegations in a meaningful way. Regrettably, the Panel had chosen not to visit Dar es Salaam. Consequently, no government official, or to his knowledge, any Tanzanian had been interviewed. That neglect may have unwittingly undermined the relevance of those parts of the report, which were devoted to his country’s role. That flaw must be remedied. Tanzania continued to extend its hand of cooperation, in the interest of peace for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.
TICHAONA JOSEPH JOKONYA (Zimbabwe) said that where past failure by the international community to account for the presence of economic agendas in conflict situations had at times seriously undermined international efforts to coordinate fragile peace agreements, the Panel’s report -- an indictment of those countries that had invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- should impel the Council to spare no efforts in ensuring the withdrawal of uninvited forces from that country in accordance with Council resolutions.
He said that while the efforts by enterprising aggressor States in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to benefit materially from war through looting and/or other forms of violent accumulation was hardly new, it had been made possible by the wilful participation of an international private sector which must also be shamed for adopting a studiously “neutral” stance in a conflict that had cost the lives of 3 million innocent Congolese. The international private sector must be engaged to establish how they viewed their role in fuelling and sustaining the Congolese conflict.
Noting that the Panel had identified Zimbabwe as a “special case”, he reminded the Council that his country was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the invitation of that country’s legitimate Government. The report insinuated that President Robert Mugabe had received a Congolese mine concession, the suggestion being that he had derived personal gain from Zimbabwe’s intervention. In the same breath, the Panel said that it drew no conclusion on Zimbabwe’s economic cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Why then had it allowed the insinuation to be imbedded in the report?
He said that, as pointed out by President Joseph Kabila, the joint ventures and other operations of Zimbabwean companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were above board and were carried out under agreements with the Congolese Government and in compliance with the laws of that country. Many foreign companies, most from developed countries, were operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, under the international and domestic laws of that country, in the same manner as Zimbabwe, and yet were not treated as “special cases”.
In line with the Lusaka agreement, Zimbabwe had begun withdrawing its forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. He reaffirmed that Zimbabwe had no agenda in the Democratic Republic other than safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Zimbabwe supported the Panel’s recommendations regarding sanctions, preventive measures to avoid a recurrence of the current situation, reparations to victims of the illegal exploitation of natural resources, improvement of international mechanisms and regulations governing some natural resources, and security issues
In his closing remarks, Mr. MBABAZI, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Uganda, expressed condolences to the families of the six humanitarian workers who had been murdered on 26 April, and informed the Council that his country’s defence forces would help in the investigation to bring to justice those responsible for that crime. He added that two days before, on
1 May, at the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, a truckful of local people coming from the market had been attacked. A local Muslim leader and his wife were killed, and several people were wounded. That was very close to a place where, in March 1999, eight tourists and a park warden were killed by the same group. He wanted to inform the Council about those events, because it needed to be informed about the situation on the border. Finally, he said that he would not respond to the statement by the representative of the Sudan for fear that people would not be able to tell the difference between the two of them.
Mr. MAZIMHAKA, the Special Envoy of the President of Rwanda, said that the security problems caused by criminal forces were not deniable. Some of the latest had just been mentioned by his colleague. They must be addressed by the Council in order to bring normalcy to the region. The debate today had been illuminating, and “the fallout” from the report was beginning to manifest itself. Some had come to claim their innocence, as was the case with Namibia and Zimbabwe. Their arguments brought back the debate about the invited and uninvited countries. That was not a welcome sign. He did not believe that Namibia and Zimbabwe had been invited to come to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and loot. The intervention by the representative of the Sudan simply raised an issue about unduly exposing the personalities of the region to abuse. No further actions should be taken on the report until full investigation had taken place. In the future, his Government would cooperate with the Panel when it exercised its mandate.
The Council’s President, Mr. CUNNINGHAM (United States), said that the debate had indeed illuminated the positions of the parties. He hoped that, in the future, excessive rhetoric could be avoided. The position of the Council would be stated in a statement.
Adoption of Presidential Statement
The Council President, Mr. CUNNINGHAM (United States), at a second meeting of the Council, read the following presidential statement:
“The Security Council recalls the statement of its President of 2 June 2000 (S/PRST/2000/20). It expresses its intention to give full consideration to the report of the Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2001/357). It takes note of the action plan of the Expert Panel for the extension of its mandate (S/2001/416).
“The Security Council notes that the report contains disturbing information about the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources by individuals, Governments and armed groups involved in the conflict, and the link between the exploitation of the natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the continuation of the conflict.
“The Security Council condemns the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and expresses its serious concern at those economic activities that fuel the conflict. It urges the Governments named in the report in this regard to conduct their own inquiries into this information, cooperate fully with the Expert Panel while ensuring necessary security for the experts, and take immediate steps to end illegal exploitation of the natural resources by their nationals or others under their control.
“The Security Council notes with concern the terrible toll the conflict is taking on the people, economy and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The Security Council believes that the only viable solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains the full implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (S/1999/815) and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
“The Security Council emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive approach addressing all the root causes of the conflict to achieve a lasting peace settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of the Expert Panel for a final period of three months, and requests also that the Expert Panel submit to the Council, through the Secretary-General, an addendum to its final report which shall include the following:
“(a) An update of relevant data and an analysis of further information, including as pointed out in the action plan submitted by the Panel to the Security Council;
“(b) Relevant information on the activities of countries and other actors, for which the necessary quantity and quality of data were not made available earlier;
“(c) A response, based as far as possible on corroborated evidence, to the comments and reactions of the States and actors cited in the final report of the Expert Panel;
“(d) An evaluation of the situation at the end of the extension of the mandate of the Panel, and of its conclusions, assessing whether progress has been made on the issues which come under the responsibility of the Panel.
“The Security Council expresses its intention to examine and respond to the recommendations of the report in the light of the addendum submitted by the Panel, so as to advance the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
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