REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO IS CHALLENGED IN SECURITY COUNCIL
REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO IS CHALLENGED IN SECURITY COUNCIL
4642nd Meeting (AM & PM)
REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
IS CHALLENGED IN SECURITY COUNCIL
Neighbouring Countries, Denying Allegations by Expert Panel,
Call for More Evidence; Others Stress Serious Effects on Peace Process
Representatives of Uganda, Rwanda and other Governments named in the Final Report of the Panel of Experts on exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo disputed its allegations as the Security Council considered, in a day-long meeting today, the situation in that country, following up a
24 October meeting at which the report was presented.
In his introduction of the report at that meeting, panel’s Chairman, Mahmoud Kassem, had called attention to the entrenchment of so-called “elite networks” of exploitation in areas under the control of the various parties to the conflict, despite diplomatic progress. He had emphasized the necessity of addressing such economic issues for any peace to be sustainable. The Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had stressed implementation of recommendations of all the panel’s recommendations to help end the suffering of his people, and called for withdrawal of foreign forces, particularly those of Rwanda and Uganda, along with reparations and the prosecution of aggressors. [For further information on that meeting, see Press Release SC/7747 of 24 October.]
At today’s meeting, the representative of Rwanda totally rejected the report’s accusations against his country. He expressed, in particular, shock that the report could maintain that Rwanda Defence Forces entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo for merely economic reasons, knowing well the violent results of the incursions of Interahamwe and Ex-Forces Armées de Rwanda (Ex-FAR) in the provinces of Rwanda that bordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 1996 onwards, as well as the history of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath.
Peace and the rule of law were the objectives of the Rwanda forces, not the pursuit of wealth, he said.
The Foreign Minister of Uganda said the report also ignored the fact that his country had become involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a result of genuine security concerns. The report did contain a number of positive elements, however, such as the affirmation that neither his Government nor any of its companies was involved in the illegal exploitation, and that an embargo or moratorium on exports of natural resources would not be constructive. On the
other hand, he said, the concept of “elite networks” was fundamentally invalid in the case of Uganda, which he said had withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, except for one battalion that remained at the request of the Secretary-General.
The representatives of South Africa and Zimbabwe also disputed many of the panel’s allegations. South Africa’s representative said he was disappointed at the methodology used by the panel to gather its information, and the conclusions and recommendations it submitted. He urged the Council to require the panel to further investigate and substantiate its allegations and recommendations.
Some other representatives, while generally supporting the panel’s work, said that individuals and countries mentioned in the report should be able to respond to allegations, and that more evidence should be disclosed. Singapore’s representative said due process must be observed, and, therefore, a response period was needed before any recommended restrictions were put in place. The purpose should not be to point fingers but to find a way to stop the illegal exploitation and allow the Democratic Republic of the Congo to move forward.
At the end of today’s meeting, the Chairman of the expert panel, Mr. Kassem, responded in detail to various speakers’ criticisms of the report. He said he appealed to all the parties of the conflict to join hands and construct a new era for peace, security and economic transparency. He hoped the Council would take the right decisions towards that end.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of the following Council members: France, Norway, Russian Federation, Mauritius, Syria, Guinea, Ireland, Cameroon, United Kingdom, Mexico, Colombia, Bulgaria, United States and China.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Denmark (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries), Belgium, Canada, Oman and Angola.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and was suspended at 1:10 p.m. Resuming at 1:10 p.m., it adjourned at 5:40 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Discussion began at the Council's 4634th meeting on 24 October, during which the final 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 (document S/2002/1146) was introduced by the Panel's Chairman Mahmoud Kassem. The Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Leonard She Okitundu, also spoke. As a request had been made that more time be allowed for the study of the report, discussion was postponed.
[For background information and summary of the report, see Press Release SC/7547 of 24 October.]
JAMES WAPAKABULO, Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, said prospects for peace in the Great Lakes region seemed greater than ever before. Since 2001, his country had extended maximum cooperation with United Nations panels during their visits to Kampala. Uganda had established the Porter Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations against Ugandan military officers, individuals and companies in connection with the illegal exploitation of natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had the judicial powers of the High Court. He would keep the Council advised on whatever measures it would take in the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.
The final report of the Panel of Experts contained a number of positive elements, such as confirmation of the fact that neither his Government nor any of its companies was involved in illegal exploitation, and that an embargo or moratorium on exports of natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo “would not be a viable means of helping the situation of the country's Government, citizens or the natural environment”. However, the report completely ignored Uganda’s legitimate security concerns, which had been the reason Uganda had become involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said the alleged existence of "elite networks" said to be responsible for conflicts over natural resources was fundamentally flawed and invalid in the case of Uganda. The assumption that "RCD-KML" and "MLC" were mere facades and militias in the so-called Ugandan-controlled area was wrong. Uganda had withdrawn from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, except for one battalion in Bunia at the request of the Secretary-General, and under the Luanda Agreement. The panel had not established a link between the Ugandan actors cited and the alleged elite networks in the so-called “Ugandan-controlled area”.
He said the methods of the panel had not demonstrated capacity to sift through deliberate falsehoods, war propaganda and political intrigue. Contrary to its mandate, the panel had elected in most cases to overlook the requirement for the inclusion of comments and reactions from States and actors cited in the report.
On allegations that the presence of the Uganda defence force (UPDF) in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was the cause of the instability in that area, designed to create conditions for the continued illegal exploitation of that country's resources, he said his Government had never trained any personal militias, as had been alleged. He said Uganda was drilling for oil and prospecting for minerals in Ituri, and did not want war in its neighbourhood.
The specific inference that the Uganda force was running militia groups, and that it operated through intimidation, was totally untrue. He remained convinced that the Council should put priority emphasis on the speedy implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and the supporting agreements of Pretoria and Luanda. The speedy implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, repatriation and resettlement remained key to peace and security in the Great Lakes region.
He said the proposed international conference on peace, security and sustainable development should take place under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union, soon after establishment of a transitional Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a ceasefire in Burundi. He called upon the countries cited in the final report, including the "end-user" countries, to establish independent judicial commissions of inquiry to investigate allegations of illegal exploitation, and to recommend appropriate actions. The Council should strengthen its support for implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, support subregional/regional integration in the framework of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and strengthen cooperation between the Council, the African Union and subregional security mechanisms. The Council should also allow for adequate deployment of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in Ituri, as the UPDF would withdraw from Bunia by 15 December.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said he was disappointed at the content of the panel's report, the methodology it used to gather its information, and the conclusions and recommendations it submitted. He urged the Council to require the panel to further investigate and substantiate its allegations and recommendations. Indeed, the report contradicted the aims and intentions of the Council which, when establishing subsidiary bodies to follow up its work, must follow clearly established guidelines. Those should include close cooperation and consultations with governments. It was not acceptable, for example, for a panel expert to be given the opportunity to meet with government authorities without sharing information on matters of concern to the governments involved.
He said his Government met several times with the panel, which expected South African authorities to conduct further investigations, and undertake any necessary steps, but with little or no information. A reading of the panel's report showed that it had in its possession much information that could have been of assistance to further investigations. However, the panel chose not to divulge that information, except to use it as supposed evidence in its report. For example, on 14 June his Government was asked by the panel to provide a "list of all South African, and South African registered companies operating in or with the Democratic Republic of the Congo". The South African authorities raised their serious concerns about the panel's queries regarding South African companies operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, without any indication as to their participation in the illegal exploitation of that country's natural resources.
Continuing, he said South Africa had underlined the fact that unsubstantiated queries by the panel about the activities of companies operating legally and “above-board” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be interpreted as casting unwarranted aspersions on their activities. The report's statements about South Africa, South African companies and South African individuals consequently did not appear to be substantiated by hard evidence. Nor had the panel distinguished between legal and illegal activities of companies in its report. Hopefully, the Council would take those concerns into account in its consideration of that report and of any new mandate given to the panel.
He asked the Council to provide clear and specific guidelines on the functioning, approach and operating standards of any future mechanisms it might decide to establish with regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. South Africa regarded that in a serious light, not only because of its imputations, but also because of the role it continued to play in achieving lasting peace, security, stability and prosperity for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its people.
He said that a sweeping statement in the panel’s report, the fundamental premise on which the Lusaka Agreement was based, namely, the security concerns of its parties, was dismissed. That misconception of the peace process raised questions about some of the other conclusions the Council was being asked to endorse.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LOJ (Denmark), for the European Union and associated countries, welcomed the panel’s report, saying the situation it described was most disturbing and that continuation of illegal economic activities would be a serious obstacle for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. According to the report, parties to that conflict at all levels, including national governments, took part in those illegal activities. The accused governments must be allowed to defend themselves in the Council, but if the accusations were true, the activities must be strongly condemned and stopped.
The focus, she said, must be on controlling the utilization of natural resources, for which securing the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was important, as was full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. The Union would closely examine recommendations of the report towards putting financial and technical measures in place, institutional reform and creation of a “peace dividend” for the region. The Union echoed the call for governments of countries where entities involved in illegal exploitation were based to ensure that those entities were made accountable, while assuring their right to defend themselves against accusations.
Governments should also urge private enterprises to adhere to guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for multinational enterprises, along with the Kimberley process for diamond certification. The European Union was ready to assist the Council in the restriction of certain business enterprises and individuals, if necessary.
She said all Congolese parties should reach an all-inclusive agreement on power-sharing and transitional institutions, agreeing that all rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be disarmed and all foreign forces withdrawn. In addition, the European Union supported the establishment of a monitoring mechanism, and was considering the call for an international conference in the region, standing ready to cooperate with the international and regional community for that purpose.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the report’s focus on the economic dimension in the search for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and supported, among other things, the panel’s suggestion that economic integration in the region should be subject of regional consultations with a view to the holding of a conference on peace, security and sustainable development in the Great Lakes region.
It was imperative, he said, that an end be put to the economic pillaging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to establish sustainable peace and democratic institutions there. Institutional reform in the country was crucial to allow the transitional Government to control the natural resources.
He said the issue of illegal exploitation required a structural approach. The Council should seek normative solutions to make legitimate exploitation in the region possible. A clearer definition of illegality was necessary. He regretted that the right to be heard had not been respected in the case of companies and individuals cited in the report and for whom sanctions had been proposed. The Kimberley process could serve as an example of a better approach. There were also other ways to deal with the problem. The establishment of a sanctions regime was a possibility, but it was essential that such a regime and other options would not have a negative impact on the peace process.
He said his Government had committed itself to solution of the problems raised by illegal exploitation in countries in conflict. Belgium had set up a Senate Commission on the situation in the Great Lakes region and was studying problems of illegal exploitation there. The Commission’s conclusions were expected by the end of the year. He was in favour of the panel’s recommendation to create a monitoring body to keep the Council informed of developments in the field and to make recommendations. That body should refine the list of individuals and companies referred to it, so they could be heard. It should also take into account the new situation caused by withdrawal of foreign troops in the region.
ANASTASE GASANA (Rwanda) said he totally rejected the report’s accusations against Rwanda and the Rwandese people, and was, in particular, shocked to see it stated that the Rwanda Defence Forces entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo for merely economic reasons. It did not take account of the results of the 1996 incursions of Interahamwe and Ex-Forces Armées de Rwanda (Ex-FAR) in the provinces of Rwanda that bordered the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The international community had been told, he said, not to enter those provinces because of massacres. The last straw had been the murder of a Rwandan mayor. The second phase of Rwandan involvement occurred after a massacre of school girls.
He asked how the international community could now ignore those and other atrocities, as well as the history of the genocide, and its aftermath, in which the Ex-FAR and the Interahamwe were given safe haven in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and rearmed. He cited, for documentation, the investigations indicated in the report published by the Security Council as document S/1998/1096. He said the pursuit of the perpetrators of the genocide did not mean the mining of coltan; the objectives of the Rwanda forces were peace and the rule of law, not the pursuit of wealth.
The new report, he said, added nothing to previous ones, whose allegations Rwanda had already discredited. It had even maintained, against MONUC, that Rwanda had not concluded the withdrawals when it had, in fact, done so. Denial of that fact only furthered instability in the region. The report was biased, politically motivated and unsubstantiated. The facts on which it claimed to be based were not presented.
He said his Government strongly supported efforts for peace in the region. However, it opposed a so-called monitoring body; such a body would paralyse economic development in the region, merely criminalizing trade there. Instead, legitimate trade must be promoted, but the panel did not even refer to the existing regional body that could perform such a task, the Great Lakes Economic Community. That body, along with other regional structures, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank Group could better work to stabilize trade in the region than the proposed monitoring body.
FUAD AL-HINAI (Oman) said he supported the idea that peace, which the Pretoria and Luanda Agreements were helping to achieve, would allow the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to exert authority over its territory, natural resources, and economic activities. He expressed reservations, however, with the final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the country.
Specifically, he said, he was disappointed by wrongful allegations made against Oryx Natural Resources, a private company funded by Arab Gulf countries and chaired by an Omani national. Such claims, including one suggesting that the company was a front for the Zimbabwe Defence forces, were based on false information. On the contrary, the company worked directly with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explore and legally exploit natural resources in a defined area. Furthermore, it employed 1,200 local people, and provided running water, schools, clinics and roads to a population of 100,000.
Claiming that the company's success had brought on envy and, thus, the malicious allegations of wrongdoing, he said his delegation had been unable to find any proof to back up those accusations. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was more qualified than any other party to determine the legitimacy of companies operating within its territory, appreciated the company's work. He concluded by calling upon the Council to protect the reputations of legitimate companies and close its file on Oryx Natural Resources.
MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said the final report deliberately mis-defined the nature and character of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by portraying the conflict as motivated by no more than the greedy desire of the African military to loot, plunder and profiteer from the country’s riches. The allied forces from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe had helped defend the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the invitation of that country, against being overrun by the forces of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. The report had repeated allegations that had been discounted in the past without offering any new evidence.
He said the current panel had fudged the distinction between legal and illegal exploitation. The panel’s new operational thesis of “elite network” shifted the focus of attention from the State to the individual. Apart from letting those States in violation of international law off the hook, that shift in paradigm demeaned the legitimate relations between Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It criminalized legitimate State-to-State relations between the two countries and, by extension, legitimate activities carried out by duly appointed State representatives.
He said he made no apologies for the close relations between his country and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If any activities pursued under legal frameworks were considered illegal, the panel would have to come up with a new definition of legality. He was dismayed at the continued use of the panel’s report to do “a hatchet job” on Zimbabwe. The final report had grudgingly revealed the identity of those behind the exploitation and illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s resources. They were the financiers and end-users of exploitation activities, based in western countries. Attention, however, had not focused on where it should rightly be, but was diverted to insignificant players. One might ask who really benefited from the exploitation of those resources and who the arms manufacturers and merchants were.
The panel had concluded that certain companies and individuals should be subject to sanctioning, but proposed to threaten those companies or individuals unequally on the basis of whether they were located in the OECD or non-OECD member countries. Thus the former group, who happened to be European, was deemed competent to censure erring companies, while the latter group was to be the subject of Council action. Paragraph 43 of the report was illustrative of the exploitative and unfair business practices perpetrated by some western and multinational companies present in Africa since the colonial era. Those practices persisted to this day, he said. If the panel was serious in promoting “ethical and transparent business practices” it would have paid greater attention to those nefarious practices rather than dangle a red herring before the Council.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) spoke of his country’s support for the expert panel and welcomed its report. He pointed to its clear view that there were many actors involved in the pillage, including officials in the Government and the military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo itself, and also foreign governments, individuals and companies. He said that many of the panel’s recommendations were very important and deserved careful consideration.
He said that in one instance, however, the process had been done a disservice, that is, when companies were named as violators of the OECD guidelines in Annex III. Their alleged violations, with few exceptions, were not specified or substantiated in the body of the report. In Canada, that had diverted attention from the other valuable findings of the report.
On the other hand, he said, the recommendation for a monitoring process was particularly significant. That body would provide a continuing point of contact to engage governments and other actors following up on the report. He urged the Council to take early action on the establishment of such a mechanism and the implementation of other recommendations in order to allow efforts towards peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to move forward with full and unbiased information on the economic factors involved.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said his country had initiated the creation of the panel to put an end to illegal exploitation, because such plundering was morally unacceptable and also because the plundering of the Congo had become one of the main engines of the conflict. That plundering could ruin all efforts to finally restore peace in the area. The panel had implicated all participants, such as non-invited forces, invited forces, rebel forces and members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government.
The message of the international community to those parties was clear: the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must not be used for any other purpose than for the benefits of the Congolese. A distinction between the various actors had to be made. Illegal exploitation meant any exploitation by entities that were not the legal government of the country. The plundering carried out by foreign forces, therefore, fell within that category and constituted violation of the country's sovereignty. However, measures by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were not inherently illegal. Illegal actions might have been undertaken by individuals, during the four years of the conflict, motivated by the will to enrich themselves personally, and such actions should be punished by the Government authorities. However, such a distinction should not prevent the Government from addressing any misbehaviour. Strengthening the rule of law and bringing all of Congo under its sway were decisive phases of battling illegal exploitation.
He said the Council wanted the plundering of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the conflict there, to end. There had to be a dialogue between those implicated and the panel. Each had the right to respond. The Secretary-General should publish a technical addendum containing the elements stated by all parties mentioned in the report. He was gratified by the positive approach of Uganda, which had created the Porter Commission. He also appreciated the Democratic Republic of the Congo prosecutor's response by initiating procedures regarding officials of that country who were mentioned in the report.
A reading of the report should encourage to re-read other panels’ reports, he said. In all of them, the same names of arms and commodity dealers recurred. Victor Boet, for instance, had appeared in the reports of the Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola panels, and even in reports on Afghanistan, with mention of links with Al Qaeda. He and others were already subject to Council sanctions, but those restrictions did not seem to have hampered their activities in the Congo. The time had come to think about an approach that would enable the Council to adopt a coherent line of action.
WEGGER CHRISTIAN STROMMEN (Norway), welcoming the report of the panel, said it seemed that a variety of actors was still engaged in the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s resources, despite the positive developments in the region. Such a contradiction could imply that some parties in the diplomatic process were not, in that case, negotiating in good faith. That situation must not be allowed. As part of the peace process, the resources of the country must be used for the benefit of its people in an equitable manner.
He said he agreed with the panel that an all-inclusive transitional government was the key to controlling the resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He advocated continued use of panels of experts. He would, however, like to see more inter-linkages between the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) reports and the reports of the panels of experts. He called on the Security Council to use all avenues to bring the exploitation to an end. Norway would support concrete measures towards that effect.
While it was important, he said, to hear the replies to the panel’s finding by countries mentioned in the report, he urged all countries in the region to continue the momentum towards peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that had occurred in the past few months by, among other factors, fully cooperating with efforts to end the illegal exploitation of natural resources.
ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said not everyone, himself included, agreed with the report’s conclusions and recommendations, but he acknowledged that the problem of illegal exploitation existed and had to be addressed. The report should not be the basis for action, but food for thought. The issue was directly linked to the continued bloodshed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, prospects for the ending of which had been encouraging. He was concerned about the scope of the plundering of natural resources in violation of the country’s sovereignty.
He said he questioned the recommendation to introduce restrictions on individuals and organizations accused of illegal exploitation. Combating economic crime was in the purview of States themselves, not in that of the Council. Establishment of blacklists by the Council would not put an end to the situation but could give rise to serious legal problems. It would be difficult to demonstrate that the activities mentioned established a threat to international peace and security -- the requirement for the imposition of sanctions.
The agreements of Luanda and Pretoria had established the necessary provisions to deal with illegal exploitation, he said. The success of the
inter-Congolese dialogue and the extension of the authority of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the territory could become a turning point by which the plundering of its resources would cease.
Political settlement of the conflict should be the priority of the Council, he said. On the proposal by Uganda for the dispatch of United Nations military contingents to the area from which Uganda would withdraw, he said the possibilities for such a mission were limited. Extension of the monitoring regime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, be it in the form of mandate expansion or new monitoring mechanisms, was a new factor that would require consideration by the Council. He asked how such an extension would impact the peace process.
When the Council meeting resumed this afternoon, BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said he favoured the policy of "name and shame" used by the panel, but such an approach should be based on concrete and verifiable evidence. Many companies, governments and individuals had disputed the findings of the report. It was not helpful if the panel used assumptions and exceptions, and it was important that all who were named in the report had an opportunity to refute allegations.
The fact that the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were being plundered brutally was now internationally recognized, he said. Those natural resources belonged to the Congolese people. He deplored the situation as described. The report had pointed to involvement of neighbouring States. He said he was concerned that the plundering continued; such illegal activities should be condemned. Countries involved should take measures to stop such activities. He said Mauritius was thinking of setting up a monitoring body to investigate the alleged activities.
He said the recommendation in the report on imposing restrictive measures on selected companies and individuals must be implemented only after governments had had an opportunity to respond to allegations. The peace process remained fragile, as illustrated by recent fighting in Ibura. Any Security Council measure leading to a hardening of positions could seriously hamper progress.
Full implementation of the Lusaka, Luanda and Pretoria agreements would curb illegal exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council should begin to think about how to deal with those who did not want voluntary disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement. An international conference, as proposed, could be beneficial only after peace had been established, and there was a strong government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Universal participation would make the Kimberley process a more effective process in the fight against illicit trade in rough diamonds.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said that given the difficulties, she appreciated the standard of work and candor of the report. The panel’s credibility had been recognized. The information provided by the panel was vital for a clear understanding for the situation and to stop the plundering. The responses of governments, individuals and companies named needed to be taken into account, however; that was to say that due process must be observed. A grace period was, therefore, needed before recommended restrictions were put in place. The purpose should not be to point fingers, but to find a way to stop the illegal exploitation and allow the Democratic Republic of the Congo to move forward.
A sustainable solution would require control by a government that was answerable to the people of the country, she said. A mechanism for transparent regional trade and cooperation would also be necessary. Until that was possible, international monitoring should continue. The fact that some of the same names from other expert panels showed up in this report showed that a coordinating mechanism was needed for all such efforts under the Council’s purview.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) called upon all parties to the conflict and the inter-Congolese dialogue to speedily implement the agreements reached, which would lead to the prosperity of the region and an end to the illegal exploitation of resources, after the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces. It would also begin the phase of reconstruction and disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement. The international community, international financial institutions and donor countries should pledge to assist the region in realizing sustainable development, and support the institutions of the African Union and NEPAD.
He was surprised by some content of the report, particularly by its lack of irrefutable evidence before alleging participation by some individuals and companies in the illegal exploitation. He noted political references to a certain number of companies in Africa and the Arab region. In his opinion, the report had nothing to do with the internal situation in African and Arab countries. Furthermore, the report had been based on information provided by informers, sometimes competitors, affecting the credibility of the panel.
The panel had proposed to prepare lists of companies against which restrictions should be raised, as well as a list of individuals who would be forbidden to travel and be subject to sanctions, he said. There was an urgent need to re-evaluate the entire content of the report. The full truth behind the illegal exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be reached, but that should be done through irrefutable proof. He reaffirmed the necessity for all parties to be committed to implementation of the provisions of all agreements reached. The only guarantee against illegal exploitation was the establishment of a strong government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He supported the idea that the Council would supply clear guidelines for any mechanism established in the future.
MAMADY TRAORE(Guinea) said the report had established the close link between the conflict and the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo resources, in violation of the country’s sovereignty. The Council must take the necessary steps regarding those responsible for the plunder.
Welcoming the withdrawal of foreign troops, he remained concerned about the existing elite networks. He supported an in-depth study of such networks and establishment of a monitoring body. With a view to mitigating the humanitarian impact of steps against companies involved, he supported providing resources to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He reiterated his support for an international conference on peace, security and sustainable development in the Great Lakes region. That initiative should be a priority, based on an integrated settlement of the conflict.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the Pretoria and Luanda agreements, building on the Lusaka process, offered the only way forward to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Progress achieved to date remained tenuous. The situation in Ituri remained grave. All parties to the agreements had an absolute duty to use their full influence to end military activities by all armed groups and must cooperate fully with MONUC. The process of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement must proceed with no impediments. The Council must play its part as it prepared to review the mandate of MONUC in support of the Pretoria agreement.
He said the panel report was a frightening assessment of what happened when greed and rapacity spiralled out of control, and feasted on the suffering of others. All sides must safeguard and strengthen the peace process. The recommendations of the panel to progress by a set of agreements or initiatives on reconstruction and sustainable development to address the economic dimensions of the Lusaka peace process and to provide incentives for continuing progress was persuasive. He strongly supported the convening of an international conference on peace, security and sustainable development in the region, as well as the proposal for a review by a special commission of all mining and forestry concessions and contracts signed since 1997.
He described as appropriate the recommendation that measures should also be aimed at making aid disbursements to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe conditional on their compliance with the relevant agreements in the Lusaka peace process, and on verifiable measures taken to halt illegal exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There was a clear need for disincentives against non-compliance, and also for fully safeguarding the interests of poor people dependent on development funding support.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a victim of its mineral wealth. It had been pillaged like no other country. The report gave rise to the most serious concern, within the context of progress in the withdrawals of foreign troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the speeding-up of the inter-Congolese dialogue. The positive recommendations of the report could assist with that progress, such as mechanisms for transparent regional trade, and an international conference.
The international community must assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo to reassert its authority over all its territory and its control of its resources. The strengthening of the mandate of MONUC should enable it to assist with such control and, in particular, to face the challenges in the northeast of the country. He appealed to the transit and destination countries of the wealth exploited from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take adequate steps to monitor or ban such activities, as appropriate. He supported also the creation of a monitoring body to follow up on the expert panel’s work.
ADAM THOMPSON (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said the priority of all must be ensuring that the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo benefited from their country’s natural resources. He urged all parties named in the report to investigate the allegations made and respond fully to them. He encouraged the panel to share information with companies and individuals named to allow them to carry out investigations and take the necessary actions.
Noting that the key parties named had also been named as supplying arms to armed groups, he called on all parties to stop supplying foreign armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the Government of Rwanda had given a detailed response to the report, he called on that country’s Government to respond constructively to the reports recommendations. Noting that, according to the report, some Rwandan army personnel remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said MONUC had established that Rwanda had complied with the agreement. He also called on the Government of Uganda to respond constructively to the report’s findings and looked forward to the results of the Porter Commission. He also called on Zimbabwe to respond to the report’s findings. In light of the detailed statement of that country, the Council would need to consider carefully the content of the report, including those findings regarding Zimbabwe.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the report was of great importance. The peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be a lasting one, and at the next stage of the process, full sovereignty must be restored to the country over its natural resources. In order to achieve that end, wide-reaching measures must be adopted and supported by the international community. The recommendations of the panel, for that reason, must be assessed with a full sense of responsibility and investigations of the allegations in the report must lead to a restoration of the rule of law in the matter.
The report contained material that could provide a standard for continued investigation, he said. The Council must, impartially, heed the comments made by the authorities of countries implicated, as part of that investigation. Then, the recommendations should be critically analysed for their appropriateness. But, only through restoration of the rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in total transparency would ensure that the Congolese would be the beneficiaries of their own resources. Dialogue involving the Council, the panel and the countries involved could point the way towards that end. International machinery must be created to assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo in further monitoring, and the Council must remain vigilant.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the report’s recommendations should not be overlooked by the Council. The Council was accustomed to dealing with situations of international peace and security, usually focused on military situations. The Council must have been somewhat startled when the report stated that the economic ambitions of some networks of power connected to criminal organizations were the best explanation for the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was very concerned that those criminal organizations would be encouraged by foreign agents in the country after withdrawal of foreign troops.
He said the Council must fortify the institutional capacities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Countries whose nationals and companies were denounced must take the necessary action to investigate the allegations in a reasonable time. The State nationality of an individual or a business could not be used to elude actions that the international community sought to apply. He supported the panel’s recommendation for compiling a list of individuals and companies who would be subjected to travel restrictions and access to commercial loans, because of their participation in illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he fully agreed with the statement by Denmark on behalf of the European Union, and welcomed the detailed, systematic analysis of the panel’s report. Ending the exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be a difficult task and the panel’s recommendations to that end should be taken into account. He agreed that companies harbouring individuals and companies involved in the illegal trade should shoulder their responsibilities, and regional organizations could use their influence as well.
He said the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was vital to progress in the matter. He welcomed the diplomatic progress achieved so far in the conflict, and said consolidation of peace required an international conference concerning the region. The objective should be the economic recovery of the area and the return of peace. The Council should preserve the capacity of monitoring as well, and he agreed with the idea of a permanent mechanism for such monitoring. His country pledged to work tirelessly on the issue.
RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) spoke of the toll exacted on the country and the region by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said the report of the independent Panel of Experts was convincing in the connection it made between the illegal money flows and the continued violence in the Great Lakes region, threatening the progress made in the peace process.
"Corruption thrives in darkness", he said. It took root behind doors closed to public and media scrutiny. By naming those involved and describing how they worked, the report had given the public the tools to pressure governments in the region to stop the looting. As a result of publicity, the Attorney General of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had opened investigations into each of the government and military officials named in the report. The Government was to be commended.
All States with officials, military leaders or business people named in the report were responsible for taking action to fully address the allegations. Where States had named special investigators or created special commissions, the commitment must be made to see the investigations through, no matter where the trail of corruption led. In Uganda, for example, the investigative commission must be given real authority to investigate, obtain evidence and follow the trails.
He referred to the use of illicit diamond sales to pay for that war, and said legally binding rules for a certification process should be in place by
1 January. All United Nations Members should respond to the panel's report, whether or not they were involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources. He encouraged States not named in the report to conduct investigations or cooperate with others, as the responsibility for governmental response to the report went beyond those in the region. His own Government had noted with concern that nine American companies had been identified. It would look into the allegations and take appropriate measures. And finally, the report clearly showed that further investigation was warranted, particularly since the illegal resource exploitation and unregulated weapons flows were problems found in a number of African States.
MARGARIDA ROSA DA SILVA IZATA (Angola) underlined that the report did not include Angola among the countries illegally extracting natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That report noted increasing activities of trafficking networks, allegedly supported by members of some governments. Those activities endangered the peace and national reconciliation process now under way in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said.
It was well known that Angolan and allied forces had gone to the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the invitation of its Government, without any benefit or material compensation to help the country face a difficult situation, she said. The legal status of forces invited by the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government to its territory should, therefore, not be confused with the activities of forces of countries that had not been invited and were undertaking illegal activities there. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had the right to sign agreements with other States in conformity with national and international laws. Nobody else had the right to rule over the Congolese Government and people, or to dictate how it should act. It was up to the Government and to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to determine their own destiny, who their allies and friends would be, as well as forms of cooperation.
Her country had already withdrawn its forces from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That decision had been taken jointly and bilaterally to facilitate pacification of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, respect for Council resolution and the Lusaka Agreement Commission, and fulfilment of the commitments reached in Pretoria and Luanda. That was the path to resolve the present crisis of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said.
The President of the Council, ZHANG YISHAN, speaking as the representative of China, said his country had always maintained that the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a violation of the sovereignty of that country.
Progress in the peace process, he said, should help resolve that complex problem, as the Government regained control. As far as Chinese companies were concerned, his country had investigated and found no illegal activities being engaged in by those parties. Legal trade should be differentiated from illegal trade in that regard.
Concluding Remarks by Chairman of Panel
In response to remarks made by delegates, the Chairman of the Panel of Experts, MAHMOUD KASSEM, said answers to most remarks and questions could be found in sufficient detail in the panel's report.
Regarding the reactions of Rwanda, he said the report should not be interpreted or read in a piecemeal fashion but be regarded as an integrated body. The panel’s findings were indicative of the changing nature of the conflict, including the role played by the remnants of Ex-FAR. Today’s situation was volatile and had been manipulated by many parties, clouding the peace process. Rwanda's Hutu armed groups no longer represented the same security threat of a few years ago. The panel had underscored the need for an effective solution to the proliferation of armed groups and had called for the implementation of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement programmes.
He was surprised by the reaction of South Africa, as its Government had not been directly implicated by the panel. The panel believed its recommendations were balanced and consistent with the goals of NEPAD.
Regarding Zimbabwe's remarks, he said Zimbabwe had actively contributed to prolonging the conflict. People involved in the exploitation had been part of the Zimbabwe army or had close links to it. According to testimony and documentation, various Zimbabwe network members had been implicated in: actively seeking military procurement contracts; violating European Union sanctions by facilitating sale of military equipment from European Union countries; negotiating arms purchases with foreign arms manufacturers; smuggling of commodities; and forcibly displacing populations and/or seizing lands containing minerals.
He said the panel deplored language used in the letter of Zimbabwe to the United Nations of 17 October, such as references to a "conspiracy" of the Council. The subject of that letter was a specific document mentioned in the report. However, information in that document had been corroborated by independent sources. Regarding allegations that the panel had not verified the letter with the Zimbabwe Government, he said efforts since 3 April to engage the Government or its Permanent Mission at the United Nations had not yielded any results. The panel was confident it had produced a detailed and rigorous report. It had based its findings on insider information and documentary evidence. If the Council so desired, samples of that evidence could be shown to the Council members.
As the report had indicated, certain companies had dealings with the elite network. Parties to the conflict were involved in the business of making war and making money from war. War economies had spawned hundreds of companies that would not exist were it not for war and corruption. Some of those companies operated legally and not outside the law, because the law was not enforced, but they were in contradiction of Council sanctions. Companies needed rules that defined what companies could not do. The panel had stressed the importance of the role of governments in that regard.
He invited Syria's representative to meet with the panel to discuss the veracity of some allegations he had directed at the panel. He affirmed that the panel had met with a large number of business people and representatives of companies referred to in the report, and had brought together enough evidence and compromising documentations affirming allegations in the report.
In order to halt exploitation of natural resources after withdrawal of foreign troops, he said five elements must be tackled simultaneously: disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement of foreign and Congolese armed groups in an effective programme; reconstructing and reforming State institutions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning with establishment of an all-inclusive transitional Government; reviewing contracts signed since 1997; adherence of enterprises to OECD guidelines or
similar guidelines; and establishment of a monitoring body to produce regular reports to the Council on exploitation of resources.
He appealed to all who sought a lasting settlement to the conflict to join hands and enter together into a genuinely new area where peace-building would be the order of the day. With regional cooperation and international support, the citizens of the entire region could enjoy peace and development. He was confident the Council would take the necessary decisions, in light of the panel’s
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