COUNCIL, CONSIDERING REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON MONUC, FAVOURS PROPOSAL TO EXTEND CONGO MISSION
COUNCIL, CONSIDERING REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON MONUC, FAVOURS PROPOSAL TO EXTEND CONGO MISSION
4327th Meeting (AM & PM)
COUNCIL, CONSIDERING REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON MONUC,
FAVOURS PROPOSAL TO EXTEND CONGO MISSION
The Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was intended to demonstrate the Security Council’s commitment to the Mission and resolution of the conflict in the Great Lakes region, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, told the Council today.
As the Council met to consider the eighth report of the Secretary-General on MONUC, Mr. Guéhenno, who was presenting the report, said the proposed extension of the Mission was also designed to facilitate the recruitment of civilian staff of the necessary high quality by ensuring greater continuity.
He went on to say that the function of many of the proposed civilian staff would be to gather as much information as possible on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, through its public information operations, MONUC would explain to the Congolese parties and people what it and the broader international community were doing in the country. The human rights, humanitarian and child protection personnel would also have a great deal to do in terms of helping to improve the quality of life of the Congolese people.
Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, also addressed the Council this morning. “There is an urgent need for a plan of action to address the grave situation of war-affected children in the Democratic Republic”, he said. "Their protection and rehabilitation must become a national and political priority, and should figure prominently on the agenda of the inter-Congolese dialogue and the peace process in general."
The massive recruitment and use of children as child soldiers in the Democratic Republic had become a plague, he said. He therefore proposed: a complete stop to all recruitment and participation in armed groups and forces of young persons below the age of 18; the establishment of a mechanism to monitor and report on the application of the above commitment; the organization of a major public awareness campaign to sensitize the military, civil society and local communities; the undertaking of joint visits by MONUC, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and military authorities to military camps and barracks; and the establishment of the necessary structures for demobilization, rehabilitation, reception and reintegration of child soldiers. Those recommendations had been accepted by all political and military leaders in the Democratic Republic, he noted.
Leonard She Okitundu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said there had been delays to disengagement because of the continuing refusal of one party to the Lusaka process to act in compliance with the Kampala plans and the Harare sub-plan. The party had been ordered by the Council to disengage by 1 June, but that had not happened. That was a violation of the provisions of Council resolution 1341 (2001) of 22 February. If the relevant provisions of that resolution were not applied or heeded, the Council had the duty to respond vigorously.
During the debate that ensued, speakers acknowledged the cautious optimism about developments in the country as expressed in the report of the Secretary-General. They noted, however, that the improvements seen were far from irreversible and that all efforts should be made by the parties to fully comply with the Lusaka Agreements.
Stressing the important role to be played by MONUC, speakers supported the extension of the Mission's mandate proposed by the Secretary-General, as well as other of his recommendations. They emphasized that everything possible must be done to address the grave humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic, and that the international community and financial institutions should provide support to efforts aimed at reconstruction. They also stressed the importance, for regional peace, of bringing peace to Burundi.
Statements were made by the representatives of France, Ukraine, Jamaica, China, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Mauritius, Singapore, United States, Ireland, Tunisia, Norway, Mali, Colombia, Sweden (for the European Union and associated States), Namibia, Egypt, Japan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Bangladesh.
Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, also spoke.
The meeting was called to order at 10:54 a.m. It was suspended at 1:20 p.m., resumed at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 4:39 p.m.
When the Security Council meets this morning, it will have before it the eighth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2001/572).
The report reflects developments since the Secretary-General’s seventh report on MONUC of 17 April 2001 (document S/2001/373).
According to the report, in its resolution 1332 (2000) of 14 December 2000, the Council extended the mandate of MONUC until 15 June 2001. By its resolution 1341 (2001), the Council demanded that the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement implement fully the Kampala plan and the Harare sub-plans for disengagement and redeployment of forces without reservations in the 14-day period stipulated in the Harare Agreement, starting from 15 March 2001. It also urged the parties to the Lusaka Agreement to prepare and adopt, not later than 15 May 2001, in close liaison with MONUC, a precise plan and schedule. That plan and schedule, in accordance with the Lusaka Agreement, would lead to the completion of the orderly withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council also urged the parties to the conflict, in close liaison with the Mission, to prepare, also by 15 May, prioritized plans for the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration (DDR), repatriation or resettlement of all armed groups referred to in the Lusaka Agreement. The present report is submitted in accordance with the above resolutions and reflects developments since the Secretary-General's seventh report on MONUC of 17 April 2001 (document S/2001/373).
The Secretary-General states that he shares the same cautious optimism as the Security Council mission that visited the Great Lakes region from 15 to 26 May about the immediate future of the Lusaka peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also feels the same sense of foreboding with respect to the precarious situation in Burundi, which is closely linked to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the Secretary-General, while there is continued adherence to the ceasefire, reports of the eastward movement of armed elements and their recent incursions into Rwanda, Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania are particularly disturbing. There is speculation that the armed groups are moving out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to evade participation in the DDR, repatriation or resettlement programmes, for which the parties and MONUC will now intensify their planning.
There can be no lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, continues the Secretary-General, without a comprehensive settlement of the situation in Burundi. Like the Council Mission to the region, he, therefore, urges the heads of State of the countries concerned to continue jointly to seek ways to remove their differences and reinforce areas of cooperation.
The Secretary-General is heartened by the recent visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Harare to meet with the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe. He is also encouraged by indications that the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda may soon be ready to meet. It would be particularly important for President Kabila and President Kagame to remain in close touch, especially over the question of armed group activity in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this connection, any influence the regional heads of State can bring to bear on the armed groups, including the Burundian groups, to refrain from violence, can only be helpful.
While welcoming the continuing cooperation by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with MONUC, the Secretary-General calls on the rebel movements to extend the same cooperation. The substantial compliance of the parties with the Harare disengagement plan, as monitored and verified by MONUC military observers, is also a matter for encouragement. He notes, however, the reluctance of the Front de Libération du Congo (FLC) to disengage its forces in Equateur Province. Although Jean-Pierre Bemba of the FLC has taken some initial steps to fulfil the undertaking he made to the Security Council mission on 25 May to pull back on 1 June, his disengagement is by no means complete.
The MONUC, says the Secretary-General, will continue to monitor FLC disengagement until it is fully accomplished. The MONUC will also dispatch military observers and civilian personnel as necessary to monitor any indications that the civilian population may be at risk once Mr. Bemba’s forces have withdrawn. The Government also has a particular responsibility to cooperate in this respect by continuing to ensure the necessary discipline in its armed forces in Equateur Province and elsewhere.
The Secretary-General states that the plans drawn up by the Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee, in consultation with MONUC, for the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the DDR, repatriation or resettlement of armed groups do not constitute a sufficient basis for further action by the United Nations at this point. Without significant additional detailed information, the Secretariat cannot draw up, nor can he recommend to the Council, specific adjustments to the mandate and the force structure of MONUC. The Secretary-General, therefore, aligns himself with the strong request of the Council mission to the parties to provide, as soon as possible, the detailed information required.
Nevertheless, though incomplete, the substantial progress made in the disengagement of forces -- phase II of MONUC deployment -- demands an appropriate follow-up. It is also necessary to build on the DDR, repatriation or resettlement of armed groups. He, therefore, recommends that the Council authorize a transition to the third phase of MONUC deployment. During this transitional phase, the Mission would continue to monitor the completion of the disengagement and verification phase
The Secretary-General states that the transitional stage MONUC is about to enter will lead, if the parties continue to honour their commitments, to the full range of activities, with their associated problems and risks, envisaged for the third phase. That is likely to require a significantly larger force. Even for this transitional stage, he recommends that it will be necessary to considerably expand the civilian components of MONUC (including a new civilian police component), as well as its logistical capabilities.
The Secretary-General says it should be recognized that MONUC and the United Nations will be engaged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for some considerable time to come. It would be prudent to plan for the longer term, and to begin now to provide the Mission with the resources it will need. He recommends that the Council extend the mandate of MONUC for a period of 12 months, until 15 June 2002. In doing so, the Council will be signalling its commitment to the peace process and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a view to stabilizing the situation in the subregion. In the context of the reporting obligations required of him by the Council, he would expect to revert during that period with recommendations for full entry into phase III when he considers the time to be ripe.
The Secretary-General states that the announcement by Sir Ketumile Masire, the neutral facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, that a preparatory meeting for the dialogue is to begin on 16 July, is to be welcomed. The MONUC will continue to support the facilitator and looks forward to further developments in the conduct of the dialogue. The repeal, on 17 May, of Decree Law No. 194 banning political party activity is also a welcome step forward in this respect.
The Secretary-General adds that the announcement by the Council mission, during its visit to Mbandaka on 20 May, of the reopening of the Congo River, is of more than symbolic importance. Together with the proposed creation of a Congo River Basin Commission, which was proposed in April, it points the way to a revitalization of trade along the country's main artery -- the inland waterway system. The recent deployment at Mbandaka of the Uruguayan river unit will also contribute significantly to this process. The benefits to the city of Kinshasa, which has seen its food supplies dwindle as river traffic has been blocked by insecurity, should also soon be apparent. The MONUC intends to make increasing use of the river to supply its contingents, thus, easing its heavy dependence on expensive air transportation.
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, said the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the mandate of MONUC was intended to demonstrate the Security Council’s commitment to the Mission and to the resolution of the conflict in the Great Lakes region. It was also designed to facilitate the recruitment of civilian staff of the necessary high quality by ensuring greater continuity.
He said the Secretary-General also requested authorization from the Council for a transition to the third phase of MONUC deployment, as the second phase –- deployment to monitor and verify the disengagement of forces from the confrontation line –- was now in the process of being accomplished. The Secretary-General was not at this time seeking to exceed the authorized troop strength of 5,537 which was approved by the Council in resolution 1291 (2000). It was, however, envisaged to continue to build up the military contingent of MONUC within that figure.
The demilitarization of Kisangani was demanded by the Council in its resolution 1304 (2001). The MONUC would continue to insist that the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) withdraw its forces from that city. To that end, the Mission’s military planners were prepared to assist the RCD to draw up plans for an orderly withdrawal of forces. At the same time, MONUC was very much aware of the political, military and symbolic importance of Kisangani, as well as of the potential fragility of the economic and security situation there. A precipitous withdrawal of the RCD military forces could, therefore, provoke major civil unrest, with potential adverse implications for the peace process.
He said that in keeping with its expectations that the local authorities would retain responsibility for civil administration and the maintenance of law and order, MONUC had no objection to the RCD remaining as the de facto civil authority in Kisangani. Accordingly, it was vital for local stability to ensure, prior to the withdrawal of RCD military forces, that the local police had adequate capacity to maintain law and order after their departure. Though MONUC was prepared to build up its military strength for its own security, it had no intention of assuming law-and-order functions in Kisangani.
The Secretary-General, he continued, envisaged a major expansion of the civilian components of MONUC. So far, in view of the daunting logistical problems of deployment, the vast majority of the civilian staff of the operation had been administrative and logistical personnel. “As we contemplate entry into phase III, it will be necessary to expand other civilian operations of the mission, including the political, human rights, humanitarian, child protection and public information staff.” The Secretary-General also believed that it was very important to include the nucleus of a civilian police component in MONUC for the first time.
He went on to say that the function of many of the proposed civilian staff would be to gather as much information as possible on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, through its public information operations, MONUC would explain to the Congolese parties and people what it and the broader international community were doing in the country. The human rights, humanitarian and child protection personnel would also have a great deal to do in terms of helping to improve the quality of life of the Congolese people. It should also be noted that the risks could increase, in what had become a widespread climate of impunity and lawlessness in many parts of the country.
He said that during its recent mission the Council became aware of the economic aspects of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the role that MONUC could play in improving the economic situation. While this was not usually a feature of peacekeeping operations, its importance in this case could not be over-stressed. The reopening of the Congo river system was of central significance, politically, economically and militarily. A barge loaded with vehicles, bulk fuel and water containers was due to arrive in Mbandaka on 16 June, accompanied by two Uruguayan fast patrol boats with 14 military personnel aboard. Another barge, loaded with fuel for MONUC, was today at Lisala between Mbandaka and Kisangani.
“We have noted with concern”, he said, “the reported statement of a senior RCD official that the rebel group might block the MONUC fuel convoy before it reached Kisangani” unless the Mission investigated allegations of ceasefire violations committed by government forces. The RCD also claimed that the reopening of the river would only benefit President Joseph Kabila and facilitate infiltration.
“Needless to say”, he continued, “we do not accept this interpretation and continue to favour the opening of the river system as the most important single step that can be taken to promote economic recovery of the country, to enable the Congolese people to re-establish contacts, to reinforce the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, not least, to enable MONUC to support its own contingents throughout the country in a way that would be cheaper and more easily sustainable.” The Force Commander of MONUC, General Diallo, was taking that issue up today with the RCD as a matter of urgency.
Since the report was completed, there had been a few developments that warranted attention. Among those were allegations from the RCD that the FLC had allegedly occupied positions vacated by the RCD. The MONUC intended to investigate those allegations, and had taken the matter up with the Government. In addition, President Bongo of Gabon, speaking on the withdrawal of foreign forces, had insisted on the distinction between “invaders” and “invited forces”. Beni was also reported to be the scene of clashes between Mayi-Mayi militia and the FLC.
He said MONUC was about to enter a particularly demanding phase of its activities. The continued support of the Council would send a convincing signal to the parties that the United Nations was prepared to do what it could to assist them in their efforts to restore peace, security and prosperity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
OLARA OTUNNU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said he had recently concluded a 10-day mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the impact of the wars on children. He had been able to visit different parts of the country, including the provincial cities of Goma, Bukavu, Bunia, Kisangani and Kananga. He had also visited Kinshasa, where he had met with President Joseph Kabila.
The direct and indirect impact of the war had taken a very heavy toll on children, in a country where 50 per cent of the population of 49 million were children under 16. He noted that the vast majority of the 2 million people displaced by the war were children and women. Hundreds of thousands of children suffered or died from severe malnutrition and preventable diseases because of conditions created by the wars.
He also pointed out that in the past 10 years infant mortality had doubled and more than half of the children of school-going age were not in school. The incidence of child labour, child prostitution and street children had sharply increased. He also drew the Council’s attention to the “particular and silent” trauma of girls exposed to sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and forced concubinage by soldiers of various affiliations. Everywhere he went, he added, he had received consistent reports of massive recruitment and use of child soldiers.
“There is an urgent need for a plan of action to address the grave situation of war-affected children in the Democratic Republic”, he said. Their protection and rehabilitation must become a national and political priority, and should figure prominently on the agenda of the inter-Congolese dialogue and the peace process, in general.
Turning to the subject of MONUC, he said the arrival of the military contingent and military observers had had a striking impact on the local populations. Their sheer presence was bringing much-needed confidence and reassurance for the local populations, allowing them to begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives: their facilitation of and engagement with humanitarian activities; and their association with the protection of children. He strongly recommended the expansion of those elements of MONUC’s role.
He said the primary responsibility for ensuring the well-being of the children and, therefore, the future of the country rested with the Congolese leaders. He also appealed to the international community to reach out to the Congolese children.
The massive recruitment and use of children as child soldiers had become a plague, he said. He, therefore, proposed: a complete stop to all recruitment and participation in armed groups and forces of young persons below the age of 18; the establishment of a mechanism to monitor and report on the application of the above commitment; the organization of a major public awareness campaign to sensitize the military, civil society and local communities; the undertaking of joint visits by MONUC, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and military authorities to military camps and barracks; and the establishment of the necessary structures for demobilization, rehabilitation, reception and reintegration of child soldiers. Those recommendations had been accepted by all political and military leaders in the Democratic Republic.
Those important commitments must now be translated into concrete action that could make a difference to the lives of children on the ground, he said. He counted on the political and military leaders to demonstrate the necessary political will and to deliver on their commitments.
What he had seen in the Democratic Republic demonstrated more than ever the need for systematic data and information on the impact of war on children and on the most effective means and methods to intervene for their protection and rehabilitation. He added that he had been very encouraged by the vigour and commitment of civil society throughout the country, and he urged the United Nations and other international actors to link efforts more closely with them.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), Council President, said the five-point programme of action set out by the Special Representative would require the attention of the Council, as would other aspects of his presentation.
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said there had been delays to disengagement because of the continuing refusal of one party to the Lusaka process to act in compliance with the Kampala plans and the Harare sub-plan. The party had been ordered by the Security Council to disengage by 1 June, but that had not happened. To be consistent with the Kampala plan, the parties should withdraw by at least 165 kilometres from their present positions. If that did not happen,
it would be a violation of the provisions of Council resolution 1341 (2001) of
22 February. If the relevant provisions of that resolution were not applied or heeded, the Council had the duty to respond vigorously.
He said the demilitarization of Kisangani should be tackled on a priority basis. That city had not been demilitarized -- a deliberate act of non-compliance that was a flagrant violation of Council resolution 1304 (2000) of 16 June 2000. The Council must send a precise and unambiguous message that the parties should not misunderstand its determination to ensure that all its resolutions were observed. Just as Kisangani was now a symbol of the martyrdom and the suffering of the people, it would also become the signal of renewal.
Addressing the withdrawal of foreign forces, he said 22 February 2001 should have been marked as D-Day for withdrawal. Governments must now spare no efforts to finalize withdrawal plans. His Government was firm in its belief that the Democratic Republic of the Congo could not serve as a forward base for the destabilization of other countries. Peace would not last if the deep-seated causes of unrest in the Great Lakes region were not taken into account -- marginalization, destabilization and lack of tolerance. The advocates of ethnic cleansing must also be hunted down and brought before an international criminal tribunal.
Turning to the issue of child soldiers, he said his Government had adopted a decree forbidding their recruitment into the Congolese armed forces. It was also working with UNICEF to demobilize children used in conflict. He said the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a disaster. More than 2.5 million Congolese had died as direct or indirect victims of aggression. Indicators pointed to an unbearable humanitarian catastrophe. Sixteen million had been directly affected by the war.
He said the reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, if handled properly, could only help the situation in all of Africa. The process of DDR must, therefore, be implemented as soon as possible. Addressing the transition to phase III, his Government had taken note of the ceiling over 5,000 observers, but hoped the Mission’s mandate would be redefined to endow it with a directive of an enforceable nature.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the mission undertaken to the Great Lakes region had been very important, and had made it possible to record limited but real progress. The peace process was witnessing encouraging development -– the ceasefire was being respected and a number of States had begun to withdraw their troops. The inter-Congolese dialogue was also progressing. The announced reopening of the Congo river was a harbinger of hope, and none of the parties should threaten this hope.
The Council shared the cautious optimism set out in the report of the Secretary-General; however, the peace process continued to be fragile and the parties to the conflict must continue their efforts. The disengagement phase must be completed in full. The demilitarization of Kisangani was another priority.
While the ceasefire was generally being respected, the Council mission had noted that foreign armed groups had engaged in clashes that might jeopardize the peace process. All the parties to the Lusaka Agreement, particularly the Government of the Democratic Republic, must ensure that support for those armed groups ceased. He added that all parties to the conflict must do a lot more to redress human rights abuses. Only complete respect by all of the commitments made would make it possible for the dynamics of peace to continue. He stressed the need to maintain close contact with the signatories of the Lusaka Agreements.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said the precarious situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was still dependent on many political, military and social problems whose solution, in its turn, was dependent on the willingness of the parties to implement in practice their commitments under the Lusaka Peace Agreement. In that regard, it was extremely important for the parties to realize that the only comprehensive solution to the problems (accompanied by their readiness for a constructive dialogue and compromise) could bring about real results leading to a meaningful settlement of the conflict.
He called upon all parties to leave behind needless ambitions and engage in the practical implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. In that connection, he expressed his concern over the fact that some parties had still not provided information on the numbers, disposition and armaments of their forces in the Democratic Republic, on which was directly dependent further progress in transforming the revised concept of operation into a genuine plan.
He said he fully shared the Secretary-General’s opinion regarding the need for a balanced approach to the transition to phase III of the MONUC operation. He considered appropriate the decision to expand substantially the civilian components of MONUC, including a new civilian police component, and to increase its logistical capabilities. In that regard, he supported the proposed mandate extension.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said there should be no doubt concerning the commitment of the Security Council and the international community to the peace process in the Democratic Republic. He noted that the Council had further demonstrated its commitment to peace by sending its mission to the Great Lakes region, during which it had emphasized to all the parties that their commitments to Lusaka and subsequent related agreements must be unconditional.
He stressed the importance of dialogue in ending the conflict. He urged President Kabila to engage his counterparts in meaningful discussions on ending conflict in the region, and for them to do the same. A security threat to one of them would affect them all. He reiterated the importance of each party acting in a positive manner, including ceasing all hostile acts against each other, in words and deeds.
In that context, he stressed the need to end all support of groups within the Democratic Republic by outside forces. He also underlined the importance of carrying out the DDR and reintegration of all armed groups. Further, he stressed the importance of respecting human rights and humanitarian laws and guaranteeing the protection of the civilian population. Bringing an immediate end to the recruitment and retention of child soldiers was also essential.
He added that the Mouvement de Libération du Congo and the RCD must act in accord with the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and with the disengagement plans, and must abide by Security Council resolutions. He stressed the importance of building a peace that would last. The international community, in particular the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), must become fully engaged in the peace process.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said his delegation agreed with the Secretary-General’s assessment of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and approved of his recommendations for phase III of the Mission. The situation in that country was still fraught with instability and risk. Certain parties were still engaged in violent activities and others still had to produce detailed information on their armed forces and groups. Turning to the opening of the Congo river waterway, he said that was very important although there were still difficulties and obstacles. The attitude of the RCD in that respect was very disturbing, and he requested them to cooperate fully with MONUC.
He said a key element in the whole process was for the parties concerned to generate the political will to settle the conflict by peaceful means as soon as possible. Many had called on the United Nations and the international community to pay due attention to Africa. It should not become a neglected conflict. Ultimately, the fate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was in the hands of the Congolese people themselves, the armed forces, the Government and civil society. He called on the parties to the conflict to cherish the hard-won momentum for peace. That also included commitments made on the use of child soldiers.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said there had been agreement after the Council mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo that the primary responsibility for peace in the Great Lakes region rested with the parties and leaders of the parties to the conflict. The Council could only play an ancillary role. Much more was needed and the role of MONUC could only be developed on the back of progress made by the parties. Those parties, however, needed international support and they would not get that support unless they were wholeheartedly behind the Lusaka accords. There was need for serious plans for troop withdrawal and disarmament and demobilization. The latter two were vital elements and had to get going if the negative elements that were roaming around and causing damage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were to be reined in.
He highlighted the links between the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the conflict in Burundi. Addressing the inter-Congolese dialogue, he said the interplay between that and the peace implementation process was vital. “We also need to recognize the interplay between political and economic processes”, he said. Turning to the extension and continuation of the mission, he said the Council had to make serious decisions about what was needed and what was affordable. He welcomed the measures to end the use of child soldiers and the parties’ acceptance of those measures. It was imperative that children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had a real alternative –- that of a normal life.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said he shared the cautious optimism expressed in the Secretary-General’s report. A general observance of the ceasefire was important, and progress in disengagement and preparations for the inter-Congolese dialogue had been seen. It was too early, however, to speak of the irreversibility of the peace process, and continued effort on the part of the parties was essential. He supported the extension of MONUC’s mandate, which would make it possible to prepare for the beginning of phase III of the Mission. Completion of the disengagement process and the demilitarization of Kisangani, in accordance with resolution 1304, was key in that regard.
The logic behind the development of the peace process dictated that the intensity of the dialogue between the parties be stepped up, especially through bilateral contact by the Democratic Republic with its neighbours. He stressed the importance of not permitting armed groups from the Democratic Republic to move to neighbouring countries, which would only spread the conflict. He called for recommendations from the Secretary-General on how to curb that tendency. Efforts aimed at the economic recovery of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be supported. In that context, he stressed the importance of reopening navigation of the Congo river.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said that following the improvements seen in the region, he now looked forward to the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from the soil of the Democratic Republic and welcomed the plans worked out by the parties at the Lusaka meeting. Now that the process of the inter-Congolese dialogue was about to get under way, the Congolese armed groups must decisively give up their military options and gear up to join the political dialogue. Together with the political parties in the country and civil society, the armed groups must help prepare the constitutional framework for democratic rule.
Disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and rehabilitation of the negative forces that were responsible for much of the trouble the region had seen in recent years must be a high priority, he said. He noted that as the conflict abated and normalcy gradually returned, the Government of the Democratic Republic would have to engage in massive all-around reconstruction to put the economy back on the rails and to consolidate peace and democracy. That could only be achieved with large-scale support from the international financial institutions and the donor community.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said “we cannot take for granted the ‘window of opportunity’ for peace that has been referred to repeatedly in our discussions since February”. The Council mission to the Great Lakes had helped to give further impetus to the Lusaka Agreements. A fragile peace was beginning to take root in the Democratic Republic. The positive momentum generated by the disengagement of forces and the withdrawal of foreign forces must be maintained. Many obstacles and dangers remained, and signs of backsliding by some of the parties had been seen.
A key challenge was ensuring DDR or resettlement, he said. He wished to highlight a report by the International Crisis Group entitled “Disarmament in the Congo: Investing in Conflict Prevention”. He did not agree with all its findings, but thought it a useful document for the Council’s consideration.
Another key challenge concerned the question of responsibility for the protection of civilians, he said. Although it had neither the mandate nor the resources to protect civilians, at the very minimum MONUC could carry out a valuable monitoring function by alerting the Council to serious threats to the security of civilians. He also drew attention to the grave humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic. Another important dimension of the question was the situation in Burundi. Failure to contain that crisis would have repercussions for peace in the entire subregion, and close attention must be paid to the unfolding situation.
CAMERON HUME (United States) said the use of children in war merited a special programme. The Council's overall strategy had been to support commitments made by the parties and the execution of those commitments by the parties. Those commitments included promises to restore peace and progress. Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed democratic legitimacy, beginning with national dialogue aimed at eventual general elections. Negotiation and compromise would help achieve that goal and lead to the rebuilding of the Congolese State, based on the principles of democracy, justice and legitimate State authority. Peace also depended on ending threats posed by so-called negative forces.
He said the Ex-FAR (former Rwandan Army), Interahamwe, Front pour la Défense de la Démocratie (FDD) and the Mouvement National de Libération (MNL) were moving east towards Rwanda, Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania. It was morally indefensible to aid any movement of those groups back to those countries. He called for those forces to be disbanded, repatriated and resettled. The peace process also required the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While there had been some progress in that respect, it had not been enough. Commitments must be honoured now and there could be no backsliding.
He stressed the need to end the impunity associated with the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. The first recourse should be to turn to the partners in the peace process and remind all of them of their obligations under the Geneva conventions. All the parties had obligations under Council directives and international law to respect civilian rights. Kisangani must thus be demilitarized and the Congo river opened for commerce. The Congolese people required that such actions be taken now.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said the intervention of the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning had been both constructive and forward-looking. Since the return of the Council mission from the Great Lakes region, there had been both positive and negative developments in that region. The onus was now on the parties to maintain the ceasefire instead of using it to gain military advantages over adversaries. He expressed concern at the reported incidents of non- cooperation by both the MLC and the RCD. He urged the RCD to comply with the Council demand to withdraw its forces from Kisangani. He also called on all governments to refuse support to so-called negative forces.
Addressing the Secretary-General's proposals, he said it was regrettable that only Angola and Uganda had supplied information requested so far. His delegation also supported the proposal to deploy a civilian component to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to attach humanitarian and gender specialists to MONUC.
Turning to the dire humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he supported the call for the establishment of humanitarian corridors between Kinsasha and the eastern and northern provinces. He said the mere presence of the United Nations on the ground in the Democratic Republic would create a sense of expectation to which the organization must be ready to respond. In addition, the success of the inter-Congolese dialogue was important to the peace process in that country and the wider region. That dialogue would give the Congolese a key to unlock doors and realize the potential that could benefit them.
MOHAMED SALAH TEKAYA (Tunisia) said the peace momentum persisted in the region, but it was fragile. It must be made irreversible, and the main responsibility lay with the parties. They must respect the commitments they had undertaken and must refrain from any behaviour that would negatively impact on the peace.
The MONUC continued to have problems with lack of cooperation on the parts of the FLC and the RCD, he said. He also noted that the humanitarian situation in the country remained worrisome. He was grateful to the Special Representative for his efforts to address the problem of children affected by war. He noted the good will of donor countries and the Bretton Woods institutions in support of the Democratic Republic. The recommendations of the Secretary-General were realistic, and he supported them.
The enlargement of the civilian component of MONUC was necessary, he said. The demilitarization of Kisangani and the increasing presence of MONUC in the city were to be supported. While extending MONUC’s mandate, the Council must remain vigilant and continue to assess the situation.
Resumption of Meeting
When the meeting resumed following a suspension, OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) noted the consistency of the Secretary-General’s and the recent Council mission’s reports. Progress in the peace process over the last months was encouraging, but the challenges at hand remained enormous, he noted. A carefully balanced approach was needed.
Norway supported the recommendation to extend MONUC’s mandate for 12 months. He also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase the mission’s personnel. He shared the Secretary-General’s concern about the incursion by armed groups into countries near the Democratic Republic.
Pressure must be applied to the parties to cease support for the various armed forces operating in the country, he said. There could be no lasting peace without addressing the situation in Burundi. He called for measures to be taken by the parties and the international community to address the humanitarian situation and the use of child soldiers in the conflict.
SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said the report made it possible to harbour cautious optimism about the Lusaka process in the Democratic Republic. Despite important strides made, however, there could be no lasting peace without a global settlement of the situation, particularly that in Burundi. He supported the holding of bilateral consultations to that end. The future of the Lusaka process depended on the commitment of the parties. In that light, he took note of the disengagement by certain parties. He remained concerned, however, by the continued presence of the FLC and the RCD in Kisangani.
He reiterated the appeal to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to help with the economic situation, and supported the reopening of the Congo river. The opening of a humanitarian corridor was also important. His delegation would support the resolution to extend MONUC’s mandate.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said his delegation supported the views put forward by the Secretary-General in his report. Insufficient information from the parties to the Lusaka Agreement currently made it impossible to formulate the next phase of MONUC’s deployment. Nevertheless, while non-compliance with deadlines caused a certain degree of disappointment, there was no loss of confidence in the peace process since there were positive signs. Peace was a goal that required continuous efforts against strong resistance.
He said bilateral negotiations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda were very important. He was also worried about the repatriation without disarmament that seemed to be taking place. The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a cause for great concern as well. Sixteen million people with critical food needs and lack of easy access to humanitarian organizations was completely unacceptable. Rebel groups must be brought in line so that humanitarian corridors could be established. He also supported the prompt deployment of human rights monitors in sufficient numbers.
Addressing the issue of children in conflict, he expressed support for the proposal made by Mr. Otunnu this morning in that regard. His delegation would work towards having those recommendations reflected in the resolution scheduled for adoption at the end of this week. Colombia also supported extending the Mission for another 12 months and entering the eventual phase III of operations.
PER NORSTROM (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The Union remained fully supportive of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement –- the consensual basis for peace in the Democratic Republic. Sustained advances should be ensured on all aspects of the Agreement, in particular orderly withdrawal of foreign troops. Continued progress depended, first and foremost, on the parties to the conflict.
Taking into account the current situation and its positive and troublesome characteristics, he said the Union agreed with the Secretary-General that the momentum generated by the disengagement of forces and the withdrawal of foreign forces should not be lost. The Union thus welcomed the proposal of the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of MONUC and to deploy additional personnel within the force level of 5,537.
He said the humanitarian situation in the country and in the region remained an area of most serious concern. In order for genuine improvement to be possible, all parties must guarantee secure, rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. He added that the difficult humanitarian conditions, which particularly affected women and children, must be given increased international attention and financial assistance. The European Commission, he noted, had decided to provide €35 million in humanitarian assistance and €120 million for poverty alleviation and the promotion of human rights.
GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said he welcomed the progress made so far in the inter-Congolese dialogue. The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, was precarious. The human rights violations were also troubling, especially in the eastern part of the country. He hoped the murderers of the six personnel of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and their associates would be apprehended soon and brought to justice, so that United Nations agencies would be able to resume their activities in the eastern part of the country.
He also called for complete demilitarization of Kisangani. The reasons advanced for that locale's continued occupation were unfounded, since the MONUC troops were quite capable of providing security in that city. Moreover, the expansion of the Mission’s presence as proposed by the Secretary-General would adequately take care of any security concerns.
He said the economic revival of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was extremely important to alleviate the suffering of the Congolese people and improve the disastrous economic situation of the country. Namibia was committed to the Lusaka peace process and the full implementation of the Harare/Kampala disengagement plans and sub-plans. It also supported the proposed 12-month extension of MONUC’s mandate.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the international community now looked to the United Nations to intensify its efforts to support the parties in implementing their commitments in accordance with the Lusaka Agreement and relevant Council resolutions. That would prepare a conducive environment for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the establishment of arrangements that would restore sovereignty and territorial integrity in that country while addressing the security concerns of its neighbours.
He hoped that the United Nations would proceed to prepare the necessary plans to establish and deploy the third expanded phase of the Mission. Hopefully, the period about to be entered -- supposedly a transitional one –- would not be prolonged nor would the situation in the field become bogged down.
He said “we cannot ask the United Nations to undertake the primary role in the efforts to resolve peace in the Congo without reaffirming the responsibility that the parties themselves bear in proceeding forward with the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement”. He encouraged those parties to intensify their diplomatic contacts at the highest level in a way that would drive the peace process forward and contribute to the building of trust among them. He hoped the international community would prove its resolve in building a true peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through generous contributions to the various programmes.
In conclusion, he expressed deep concern at the ongoing events in the Central African Republic after the failed coup attempt in Bangui two weeks ago. Perhaps those events would strengthen the conviction of the United Nations that the security and political situation in the Great Lakes was still extremely fragile. Any undue haste in terminating or reducing the presence of the United Nations in the region, or failing to confront the interlinked problems that posed a threat to international peace and security, would only result in multiple consequences of a more serious nature than those already afflicting the country.
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) said peace in the Democratic Republic must be considered in the wider context of consolidating peace throughout the region, and must therefore be pursued from a comprehensive and integrated approach. Peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and development, democratization and a halt to the illicit exploitation of natural resources, must likewise be pursued from a regional perspective. In that light, the Council should also address the economic and security problems in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. For that reason, the recent deteriorating situation in Burundi was all the more worrisome.
He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Security Council authorize the transition to Phase III of MONUC’s deployment, which entailed the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement of armed groups while MONUC continues to complete phase II of its operations. He added that Japan regarded the expansion of the civilian components of MONUC as necessary if the Council was to have a longer-term commitment to the peace process in the region.
He concluded by noting that as the situation became more stable, Japan looked forward to considering extending assistance to the Government of the Democratic Republic for its nation-building efforts.
MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said the encouraging prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic were at the root of the unfortunate evolution of the security situation in Burundi. The Secretary-General and the Council had understood this. The countries of the region that had signed the Arusha peace accord should work together to end the war in Burundi. This was the most ardent wish of his Government and the people of his country. Peace would be regional or there would be no peace, he stressed. Every passing day pointed to a certain duplicity on the part of some countries in the region. This was troubling when it was considered that all the concerned countries had signed the Arusha Agreement.
As long as the armed groups in Burundi were not disarmed and repatriated to Burundi, they would be considered negative forces that constituted a regional danger, just like their allies. He asked the Council not to allow the Arusha and Lusaka processes to destroy each other. The Council must help avert the challenges to peace in the region. The transfer of war towards Burundi and Rwanda would maintain the regional conflict, as had been pointed out.
Strong pressure must be placed on the Burundian armed groups -- by the United Republic of Tanzania especially –- to get them to stop their violence. He was gratified that many members of the Council had today appealed to those who had influence on those groups to urge them to stop fighting. The international community must also exercise pressure and he was pleased that the Council was doing that, in particular since its meetings with the two armed movements. The violence in Burundi was blocking application of the peace agreement. Peace in Burundi must be saved before it was too late.
ANASTASE GASANA (Rwanda) said the worst that had happened vis-a-vis his neighbours in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was that an alliance had been perpetuated with those who had committed genocide. That could only be deplored. Today there was intensive fighting in two provinces of Rwanda, which bordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The fighting was prompted in part by opposition to those who had planned the earlier genocide in Rwanda and now found refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said the situation in the two border provinces was described as dangerous. Those provinces also existed in places where no United Nations presence was allowed. The Council was duty-bound to assist both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. The ex-FAR and Interahamwe must be disengaged. Various statements to date had highlighted the exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by foreign elements. Rwanda once again affirmed that it had gone to the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of events following the genocide and for its security, and not to plunder Congolese natural resources.
He said everyone needed peace, especially the children to whom Mr. Otunnu had referred this morning. "Unfortunately we have to live with the legacy bequeathed to us –- the massacres of thousands of human beings in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo." The latter had not created the ex-FAR or the Interahamwe. Those elements were part of the legacy inherited from the leaders of the past. The Council had not been able to offer an appropriate response to that threat. Why was there not joint action by the Council, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda to neutralize those elements that carried the seeds of the genocidal philosophy in the Great Lakes region?
FRED BEYENDEZA (Uganda) said he wished to emphasize the positive and constructive attitude in the presentation of the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic, not only touching the security concerns of his country, but also those of its neighbours, including Uganda. He noted that the concerns raised earlier by the Special Representative had been his country’s concerns for some time, following the continuous abduction of Ugandan children by the Lord’s Resistance Army. He invited the Special Representative to visit Uganda in that connection.
He said Uganda had continued to implement the withdrawal policy within the framework of the Lusaka peace accord as communicated to the Council and as recognized in the Secretary-General’s report. That process would continue. Uganda had continued to cooperate with MONUC under the planned withdrawal in respect to the country’s disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement programme. Again, the report of the Secretary-General confirmed that Uganda was the only country, apart from Angola, which continued to provide information on numbers, dispositions and armaments of forces in the Democratic Republic.
In his view, maintaining the same level of operation at 5,537 officers and men was still too small a force for too large an area. The issue should be left open and be reviewed, even at mid-term, as troops withdraw and MONUC is called on to take more and more areas under its observation and control. He stressed that his delegation believed that any violation of human rights was wrong, whatever the circumstances, and the problem should be addressed in the entire region of the Democratic Republic. He reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and called upon all signatories to implement it fully.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said he was struck by Mr. Otunnu's observation that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was being robbed of its future, and that the children of that country represented many faces of suffering. He reminded Council members that his country had recently proposed the creation of child-soldier-free zones.
He said an area of particular interest to his delegation was the inter-Congolese dialogue, as it was the "centrepiece of the entire peace process". It would address in a sustainable way the main source of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He welcomed the decision of Mr. Masire to convene the related preparatory conference on 16 July, and stressed that it should not be further delayed.
He said the most important matter at this stage was certainly the preparedness of the United Nations. In his present report the Secretary-General drew attention to the need for considerable expansion of MONUC's civilian components. The deployment of those components, including the civilian police, was extremely important in the context of the need for protection of civilians and related matters. "We believe the Council should take the lead in mobilizing necessary support in that regard", he said.
He added that his country had drawn attention to the humanitarian imperative when the Council considered the seventh report of the Secretary-General on MONUC in April. He hoped the United Nations funds and programmes, the Bretton Woods institutions and the international community were seriously engaged in the planning that was urged about two months ago "The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had suffered the scourge of a protracted war", he said. "We must not fail them as they stake everything to secure peace."
Mr. OTUNNU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said he had taken note of all the important comments made and would act on them. His Office was at the Council’s disposal. He hoped that some of the practical recommendations he had made would be included in the resolution to be adopted later. “The children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo need us, we must not let them down”, he said.
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, expressed his thanks to the members of the Council for their comments regarding the work done by MONUC and the Special Representative to support the peace process in the Democratic Republic.
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