SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL RECENT EVENTS IN KIVUS HAD ‘PROFOUND IMPACT’ ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

26 November 2008
SC/9511

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL RECENT EVENTS IN KIVUS HAD ‘PROFOUND IMPACT’ ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

26 November 2008
Security Council
SC/9511
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6024th Meeting* (AM)

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

RECENT EVENTS IN KIVUS HAD ‘PROFOUND IMPACT’ ON UNITED NATIONS MISSION

Renewed Hostilities, Humanitarian Crisis, Displacements of 250,000 More

Form Backdrop for Council Debate on Duties, Duration of Peacekeeping Mandate

Recent events in the Kivus had had a “profound impact” on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in that country told the Security Council today, prompting debate on the Mission’s mandate set to expire at the end of the year.  The Council just authorized a temporary reinforcement of the Mission’s military strength by 3,000 troops last week to help stabilize the situation. 

Briefing the Council on the persistent and recently intensified crisis in the eastern portion of the country, Alan Doss said the current hostilities had displaced another 250,000 people, some of them for the second or third time.  He welcomed the recent intense and regional bilateral efforts to resolve the crisis, particularly emphasizing the establishment of a ceasefire in North Kivu.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olesegun Obasanjo, would return to the region at the end of the week to address the continuing presence of the armed Rwandan groups and follow up on the Nairobi communiqué.

Against that backdrop, MONUC was moving to boost its presence in North Kivu, where it was supporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance, he said.  While it was hoped that the Council’s authorization of military and police reinforcements for the Mission on 20 November would provide diplomatic space for a political solution, it was important to note they would not be on the ground for a few months, at best.  In the interim, he supported the deployment of a multinational force as “a bridging mechanism” until MONUC was fully reinforced.

During the ensuing debate, many delegations responded to the firm belief expressed by the Secretary-General in his fourth special report on the Mission (document S/2008/728) that, 10 years on, the Mission’s operational structure should be reconfigured.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium stressed that, on the eve of extending MONUC’s mandate, there was a need to consider how to maximize its functioning.  To that end, the discussions had to take the conflict’s underlying causes -- the nearly total lack of State authority and the abundant natural resources of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo -- into account. 

He said it was also important to consider the joint activities of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and MONUC and suggested that MONUC should move to the forefront in some operations directed against armed groups.  To alleviate civilian suffering in the short-term, MONUC should also act where it could and certainly when the lives of civilians were endangered.  In that context, it should act independently.

The representative of the Russian Federation, stressing that the Council must be extremely cautious regarding the idea to give United Nations peacekeepers responsibilities for “independent actions of force”, said the Mission had a sufficient set of competencies and the military component was receiving additional support.  Efforts by the Special Envoy were yielding results.  An optimum solution would be the implementation of a plan for disengagement of sides, and resolution through a summit between countries.  He called for making use of a wide set of legal, political and international instruments, among them bilateral negotiations and bringing to justice those responsible for crimes, among other things.

Affirming the need for intensive thinking on the present conflict to help the global community take measures to root out the chaos in his country, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the temporary increase in police and military personnel was important to strengthening MONUC’s capacity to protect the local populations from human rights violence.

Turning to the regional dynamics, he said that, even though relations with Rwanda had perhaps not yielded the hoped-for results, the recent talks had been instructive and showed “encouraging signs” for a possible exit from the crisis.  The right balance between the Rwandan claims and the concerns of his country had to be found.

Rwanda’s representative reaffirmed his country’s will to contribute to resolving the security problem in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.  However, a solution could come only from addressing the underlying causes of conflict, including of the hiring of child soldiers by those who exploited the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In that context, he said Security Council resolution 1804 (2008) remained “a dead letter”.  Instead, the solution to the problems would come about through the implementation of signed agreements.

Noting that the conflict could possibly expand to the wider region, Burkina Faso’s speaker expressed support for the action being taken at the international and subregional levels, saying it was crucial for capitals in the region –- namely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda –- to fulfil their obligations under the Nairobi process.  In the face of the humanitarian crisis, MONUC was the only bastion of protection for the civilians.  The Secretary-General had assured the Council that the Mission’s mandate was robust enough, but the Congolese army’s restraints did not allow it, alone, to implement a peaceful solution.  That fact should be considered in the debate over the Mission’s mandate.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Libya, France, United States, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Italy and Costa Rica.

The meeting, which began at 11:10 a.m., concluded at 12:40 p.m.

Background

For its consideration this morning of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Security Council had before it the fourth special report of the Secretary-General on the Mission (document S/2008/728). 

The Council also had before it a letter dated 31 October 2008 from the Secretary-General to the Council President (document S/2008/703), the annex of which –- from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations –- discusses reinforcements requested for the Mission.  (For background of that letter and annex, see Press Release SC/9503).

In the report, the Secretary-General states that the crisis in North Kivu has entered a critical phase and that the humanitarian toll on the civilian population has been immense.  He is deeply concerned that, if allowed to fester, the crisis will deepen ethnic conflicts in the eastern portion of the country.  In the current climate, the possibility of massacres of civilians cannot be ruled out.  Recent developments also have underlined the risk of a spillover of the conflict into the wider region.

He welcomes the intensified political efforts of recent weeks to resolve the crisis, including at the bilateral level between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  He urges Presidents Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame to spare no effort towards implementing the concrete proposals for confidence-building measures and cooperation between the two countries and normalizing relations.

He also welcomes the important role of regional and international actors in that regard, and appeals to all neighbouring countries that are in a position to do so, to use their moral authority on Laurent Nkunda [a former General in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the current leader of a rebel group operating in the province of North Kivu] to persuade him to fully respect a complete ceasefire, to return to the implementation of the Actes d’Engagement and to cease all military action, which has heretofore exacerbated a very critical humanitarian crisis in North Kivu.

Saying that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must take urgent action to establish clear chains of command and discipline within the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), while ensuring close cooperation and coordination with MONUC, the Secretary-General also urges the Government to work closely with its international partners to bring about accelerated and coordinated international action towards a security sector reform plan that adheres to international standards.

Noting the general acknowledgement that the situation in the eastern part of the country would be much worse without the Mission’s presence, he recommends that the Security Council extend MONUC’s mandate for an additional 12 months until 31 December 2009.  With the additional resources and its reconfigured posture, MONUC will focus on the priority task of protecting the civilian population in the eastern portion, where the authority of the State remains minimal.  In close coordination with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, the Mission will also support efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of the conflict.  Further, it will continue to provide comprehensive and coherent support to the Goma and Nairobi processes, thereby providing the essential political framework to address the problem of the Congres national pour la defense du people (CNDP) and Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).

The Secretary-General expresses his firm belief that the Security Council and the Secretariat should carefully review the Mission’s fundamental assumptions and objectives during the next mandate period, as after almost 10 years, MONUC’s structure requires review.  Its civilian activities and deployments should be closely assessed to ensure complementarity with other partners.

Briefing by Special Representative

ALAN DOSS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said recent fighting had displaced another 250,000 people, some of them for the second or third time, in the eastern portion of the country.  He welcomed the recent intense and regional bilateral efforts to resolve the crisis.  A ceasefire had been established, and several armed groups had pulled back to create a zone of separation between the various forces in the southern part of North Kivu.  Olesegun Obasanjo, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, would return to the region at the end of the week to address the continuing presence of the armed Rwandan groups there and follow up on the Nairobi communiqué.

Recent events had had a profound impact on MONUC, which was moving to boost its presence in North Kivu, where it was supporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance, he said.  A major reconfiguration effort for the Mission had been under way, including in the province itself.  He was grateful for the Council’s authorization of reinforcements, which, it was hoped, would provide diplomatic space for a political solution.  Yet, it was important to note that they would not be on the ground for a few months, at best.  He, therefore, supported the deployment of a multinational force as “a bridging mechanism” until MONUC was fully reinforced.

He deplored the recent attacks on civilians in areas overrun by conflict, stressing that those acts constituted war crimes and would be pursued.  He looked forward to a discussion with the Council on how to reconfigure MONUC.

Statements

ATOKI ILEKA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) referred first to a statement by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the annual conference of his party, on the duty to provide international assistance to any country in need.  In that statement, he had emphasised that, if the world continued to ignore the suffering of African nations, that would lead to anger, which, in turn, could lead to international instability.  He endorsed those remarks, and affirmed the need for intensive thinking on the present conflict, which would help the global community take measures to return the country to normalcy and root out chaos.

Some 5 million people had died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict -- “that was enough”, he said.  He wondered how far the world needed to continue on that path of horrors.  The request for a temporary increase in police and military personnel was important to strengthening MONUC’s capacity to protect the local populations from human rights violence.  The “warlord”, the head of such violence, continued to defy the international community, and had been named a war criminal.

There were other responsibilities, including regional ones, he explained.  Relations with Rwanda had not perhaps yielded the hoped-for results.  However, talks were instructive and showing “encouraging signs” for a possible exit from the crisis.  That meant finding a balance between the Rwandan claims and the concerns of his country.

Returning to Mr. Blair’s remarks, he asked why the global community continued to humiliate the “mosaic” of the people of Congo.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo needed peace to tackle other gigantic challenges.  He called for restoring a State that could protect the fundamental rights of its citizens.  It must be a State marked by peace, justice and prosperity.

KAREL DE GUCHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, urged the Security Council to be fully engaged in the crisis.  Beyond the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, the role of MONUC and the future impact of the reinforcements authorized under resolution 1843 (2008) was critical.  On the event of expanding its mandate, there was a need to debate how to maximize its functioning.

Stressing that the underlying causes of the conflict should be considered during the discussion, he said the crisis was fuelled by two ingredients:  the nearly total lack of State authority and the abundant natural resources of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It was also well-known that the Congolese army was in a lamentable state.  It was badly organized and led, and unable to extend its governance in many places in the east.  As a result, CNDP was filling that gap.  It was hard to see how, in the short-term, the Congolese army could form the sole tool by which State authority could be restored.  Indeed, it was important to consider the joint activities of FARDC and MONUC.  He was not suggesting that MONUC fight alone against those groups, but only that MONUC should move to the forefront in some operations directed against armed groups.  Better functioning was clearly needed, including taking over some actions, as it had done in the past.

Any effective strategy had to make the natural resources dimension a high priority, including the ways in which armed groups were financed, he said.  MONUC should also make maximum use to end illegal trafficking in weapons as well as of natural minerals like coltan and tin ore.  Tracing and certification mechanisms were needed, as the Congolese representatives had stated in Nairobi.

While the root causes of the conflict should be addressed, that would not alleviate civilian suffering in the short-term, he said.  MONUC had limited resources, but it had to act where it could and certainly when the lives of civilians were endangered.  In that context, it should act independently.  Where any doubts about the Mission’s mandate existed, they should be clarified.  Belgium would examine the needs drawn up by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and would support aerial transportation, as well as training needs.

KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) first highlighted her strong support for the Special Envoy, Mr. Obasanjo, explaining that her country was committed to helping him in any way.  His activities had already had a significant positive impact, particularly in helping to bring parties together.  She wished him every success, noting that he would again depart for the country, and called for giving him whatever support was necessary.

Second, she stressed the importance of the earliest possible deployment of the 3,000 additional personnel, as mandated by resolution 1843 (2008), however, the target of two months was a bit “too leisurely”.  With the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), it had been possible to get troops to Lebanon within weeks, and, similarly, the Democratic Republic of the Congo would also benefit from the earliest possible deployment.  The United Kingdom stood ready to find suitable troop-contributing countries, to help deployments, and it stood ready to contribute both equipment and personnel, notably on the command and intelligence sides.

MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said the many abuses in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were at a maximum and no human conscience could tolerate the current situation, which was fraught with danger.  Noting that the conflict could possibly expand to the wider region, he expressed support for the action being taken at the international and subregional levels, noting in particular the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and the representative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  To allow those efforts to move forward, the support of the international community was needed.  It was crucial for capitals in the region –- namely in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda –- to fulfil their obligations under the Nairobi process.  The Nairobi and Goma processes offered a credible foundation for the regional efforts.

He said that, in the face of the humanitarian crisis, MONUC was the only bastion to offer protection to the civilian population.  On that basis, Burkina Faso had supported resolution 1843 (2008) and its efforts to bolster the means of protection for civilians.  The Secretary-General had assured the Council that the Mission’s mandate was robust enough.  Yet, the Congolese army’s restraints did not allow it, alone, to implement a peaceful solution.  That fact and the questions it raised had to be considered in the debate over the Mission’s mandate.

IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI ( Libya) said the violence had created a difficult humanitarian situation.  Civilians were being raped and children were being recruited into armed groups.  He condemned such behaviour, stressing that those responsible, whether from the army or rebel forces, should be brought before a court of law.  At the same time, he commended the cooperation between MONUC and non-governmental organizations in the country.  He noticed increased numbers of internally displaced persons, owing to different confrontations between Congolese forces and CNDP, notably in the eastern part of the country.  The Security Council condemned such atrocities against civilians and the obstruction of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons.

What was happening was an ethnic conflict, he said, which had grown more complex by years without a solution, and the overlap of national and regional interests in an area rich in natural resources.  In that context, regretfully, differences between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo existed, with each blaming the other for the problems.  Even though he commended the mutual and reciprocal visits of Ministers of those countries, he regretted that direct meetings between the Presidents had not occurred at the last Nairobi Summit, a lost opportunity that would have helped settle the conflict.

He welcomed the Nairobi Summit’s joint communiqué and the initiation of a ceasefire to reach a political settlement to the crisis, whose roots were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Noting the 15 November meeting of the Special Envoy in Goma, he also welcomed the 18 November ceasefire, and withdrawal of some positions occupied by CNDP.  He hoped the Special Representative of the Secretary-General would make more progress towards sustainable peace.  He welcomed the appointment of Special Envoy Obasanjo, and hoped his efforts would help bring together the viewpoints of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

MONUC had a positive impact on the Congolese Army, and he said Libya supported the Government’s sovereignty over national resources and peoples.  He also appreciated Government efforts to implement national priorities, and noted that MONUC also had tried to implement some of its objectives as outlined in the Nairobi agreement.  Regretfully, owing to the recent hostilities, efforts had been halted to provide stability.  That situation made implementation of MONUC’s responsibilities difficult, and he hoped that the Mission, with additional forces, could undertake its duties.  It must be clear:  protection of civilians was among the responsibilities of the national forces and Government.

In closing, he said he hoped the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda would work to solve the conflict.  That would require support from neighbouring countries.  There would be no military solution to that problem.  He supported renewal of MONUC’s mandate until 31 December 2009, particularly for the eastern part of the country.

JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said that, without the presence of MONUC, the situation on the ground would most certainly be worse.  After 10 years, the Mission’s mandate needed clarification.  While it was the most significant United Nations peacekeeping operation, the problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were colossal.  He fully supported the efforts of former Nigerian President Obasanjo, who, in his role as Special Envoy, was working to involve the countries of the Great Lakes region.

Calling yesterday’s testimony of non-governmental organizations “overwhelming”, he stressed that crimes had been perpetrated by all sides.  Sexual abuse, child recruitment and looting had been widespread.  MONUC’s presence needed to be boosted near the internally displaced persons camps and, in some cases, within the camps.  Further, those perpetrating crimes against the population should be held personally responsible for their actions.

Beyond civilian protection, MONUC’s second priority should be the disarmament and demobilization of armed groups, he said.  The link between the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and MONUC should be clarified in terms of actions against illegal armed groups;MONUC should be able to act on its own against those groups.  At the same time, however, it did not have the means to act as a substitute for the armed forces.

He underlined that the presence of natural resources was one reason for the persistence of conflict.  Until now, the actions of the international community had been insufficient in addressing that issue.  MONUC should make use of its deployment to prevent the illicit trafficking of goods and resources that benefited armed groups.  The Mission should also work with the Congolese Government and the international community to reconfigure its mandate.  Although MONUC’s efforts in the eastern part of the country had to be addressed, it should not ignore its other activities elsewhere in the country.  His delegation would draw up a draft resolution to that end. 

ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said her country was deeply concerned at recent fighting which threatened to destabilize the region.  She welcomed the adoption of resolution 1843 (2008), which provided for additional forces for MONUC, and appreciated MONUC’s work to protect civilians displaced since the renewed fighting began in August, and she urged the forces’ rapid deployment.  Through the African Contingency Operations, Training and Assistance Programme, the United States was supporting countries by providing equipment and training, and it could support other African nations.  It was imperative that all supported Mr. Doss and MONUC in their efforts to restore stability in the east.

Second, she reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict in the east.  Welcoming the talks between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, she fully supported Special Envoy Obasanjo, and urged full cooperation with him, in line with existing agreements.

LA YIFAN (China), noting that his country had been closely following the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he was pleased to note the signs of recent improvements there.  Most groups were observing the ceasefire.  China appreciated the good offices of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy.  He encouraged the countries in the region to seize the opportunity of easing tensions to cooperate in moving towards a resolution.

Stressing that the conflict had a number of root causes, he said the attainment of peace required the efforts of all parties.  He appealed to all parties concerned to launch dialogue and negotiations to move the region towards peace.  At a time when United Nations peacekeeping was under great strain, the Council had elected to reinforce MONUC’s forces.  That action was a testimony to the concerns of the Organization, as well as the international community regarding the conflict.  In principle, China agreed to the Secretary-General’s recommendation to renew the Mission’s mandate, and he urged the Council to start discussions to that effect. 

BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) remained concerned that, despite attempts to achieve peace, efforts to stabilize the situation had witnessed significant setbacks.  The resumed fighting since August was of particular concern, as it displaced populations and threatened United Nations staff.  The gravity of the situation, which included rape and torture, called for urgent action.  He supported the MONUC reconfiguration process, and, thus, would support the overall review of its mandate to strengthen rules of engagement.

In the long run, he said, adding more peacekeepers would not solve the root causes of conflict, and he called for addressing those underlying causes.  A political strategy was needed, with help from the Security Council and influential Member States of the region.  He welcomed the appointment of Mr. Obasanjo as the Special Envoy, particularly as his focus to build confidence among all stakeholders would contribute to resolving some of the conflict’s root causes.

Highlighting other urgent tasks, he said all efforts must be made to protect civilians, provide immediate access to humanitarian assistance, implement MONUC’s mandate and lay the ground for peaceful negotiations among all stakeholders.  His delegation stood ready to help implement those tasks.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said his country also held the view that there was no military solution to the current conflict.  All parties should be urged to adhere to the framework for resolving the conflict under the Goma and Nairobi processes.  The presence of armed groups in the east was a problem that should be urgently addressed, and MONUC should continue to support the disarmament and demobilization of those groups.  The various refugee issues and their potential spillover could create problems for neighbouring countries, and the fact that fighting and instability could cross the border threatened regional stability.  The cross-border issues should be addressed within the existing framework.

He said Indonesia supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the Mission’s mandate, as well as the suggestion that its structure be reviewed.  The protection of civilians should be the main focus of the next mandate.  MONUC should use all available means to protect the local population.  Hopefully, the recently authorized reinforcements would strengthen its capacities in that regard.  Beyond the Kivus, the Council should also be vigilant in protecting the rest of the country, guarding against the creation of any security vacuum that might destabilize other areas.

HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) was deeply concerned at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly as the conflict had assumed regional dimensions.  He was concerned at violations targeting civilians, including women and children.  He commended Belgium for yesterday’s meeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during which concerns had been expressed about child recruitment and gender-based violence.

Turning to the Nairobi framework, he said the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda should take joint measures to search for a political solution to the conflict.  He urged renouncing violence and seriously reviving the Goma process.  He meanwhile commended good efforts made by the Secretary-General, the European Union and African leaders to search for solutions.  He welcomed the Nairobi statement and the appointment of the Special Envoy to help revive both the Nairobi and Goma processes.

Continuing, he noted MONUC’s efforts to control recent fighting and protect civilians, but also acknowledged there was room for improvement.  The Mission should better implement its responsibilities to protect civilians, particularly after its reinforcement.  Further, it should strive for improved coordination to ensure successful implementation of its mandate, particularly protecting civilians in the eastern part of the State.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) stressed that a political solution with the support of all regional stakeholders was needed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Yesterday’s briefing by non-governmental organizations had indicated the dire nature of the current humanitarian crisis.  Moving forward, the Council had to put its weight behind the office of the Special Envoy.

He said that, as the Council considered the extension of MONUC’s mandate, as well as the Mission’s future structure, it should respond to the expectations of the people of the Kivus, who were aware of MONUC’s restraints but wondered why its actions missed the goal of effectively protecting them.  The Council should reverse that perception by reiterating that the Mission’s primary objective was to protect the civilian population.  The forthcoming resolution should be clear in that regard.  Underlining the Secretary-General’s report, he said it should also be made clear that the perpetrators of alleged war crimes would be held accountable.  Further, MONUC should be tasked with a stronger role in creating a credible national army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while also preserving its role as a United Nations peacekeeping force.

IGOR N. SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) supported a policy of diplomatic efforts to stabilize the situation in the east.  It was important to prevent further escalation of tensions.  Military means for resolving conflict did not exist.  He urged the return of parties to achieve the Goma and Nairobi agreements, and also called for cessation of hostilities and a retreat to 14 August positions.

Continuing, he said the collective efforts of countries in the Great Lakes region were needed, as was a climate of trust between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Efforts by the Special Envoy were yielding results.  An optimum solution would be the implementation of a plan for disengagement of sides, and resolution through a summit between countries.  He called for making use of a wide set of legal, political and international instruments.  In that context, he discussed bilateral negotiations, peacekeeping, making use of the Mission’s mandate in full, bringing to justice those responsible for crimes, among other matters.

Key objectives included the establishment of a national army to ensure security in remote provinces, and security sector reform, he said.  On MONUC’s mandate, he said the Mission had a sufficient set of competencies.  The military component was receiving additional support.  Regarding the idea to give United Nations peacekeepers responsibilities for “independent actions of force”, he said the Security Council must be extremely cautious.  The Russian Federation was ready to work on a draft to extend the Mission’s mandate for another year.

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica), speaking in his national capacity, said yesterday’s meeting had afforded the Council members the chance to consider the humanitarian tragedy affecting the people of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In light of the crisis there, the Council had a responsibility to protect the women and girls, who suffered under the climate of impunity prevailing in the Kivus; the boys and girls, who were being forcibly recruited into armed groups; and the civilian population, which had been displaced by the conflict.  The Council had taken an initial step to authorize additional forces for MONUC.  Beyond strengthening the military, it should reconsider the configuration of the Mission on the ground.  His delegation was pleased to see in the Secretary-General’s report that MONUC would take actions to protect civilians; that had to be the Mission’s main priority.

He emphasized that further analysis should be given to how to address the problem of armed militias in the eastern portion of the country, including how the illegal trade in minerals and other resources were bolstering their operations.  Turning to the problems posed by the presence and actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) there, he noted the statements by the Ugandan rebel group’s leadership that it intended to sign a peace agreement before the end of the month, and he urged Joseph Kony to do so.  He also urged the Congolese authorities to urgently combat impunity in the Kivus.

JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said his country welcomed efforts of the Heads of State of the Great Lakes region and the concurrent conclusions of the 7 November meetings at Nairobi and of SADC.  Any solution to the security problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be based on firm political will and correct information about the reality in the eastern part of the country.  For correct information, the Security Council should ensure it received as complete information as possible.  It should avoid meetings that were too restrictive or gave the floor to those with a known anti-Rwandan position.  The dangers of such meetings included the circulation of disinformation and creation of a biased solution.

He said he wished to take the floor “in exercise of the right of reply” to provide the Council with correct information.  He reaffirmed Rwanda’s will to contribute to resolving the security problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  A solution could come only from addressing the underlying causes of conflict, including of the hiring of child soldiers by those who exploited the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In that context, he noted Security Council resolution 1804 (2008), which remained “a dead letter”.  The solution to the problems would come about through the implementation of signed agreements.

At the same time, he was gratified by actions under way between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as actions by countries in the Great Lakes region, by MONUC, the Special Representative and the Special Envoy.  He was also pleased by international efforts to find a solution to the present situation.

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*     The 6023rd Meeting was closed.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.