|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6297th Meeting* (AM)
Success of Democratic Republic of Congo Peace Process Depends on Economic Recovery,
Reconstruction, Effective Presence of State Institutions, Security Council Told
Head of Mission Says First Stage of Drawdown – 2,000 Troops - Recommended,
But Exit Strategy Must Be Shaped, Implemented So Last Decade’s Gains Not Compromised
The sustainability of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would depend on the success of the efforts to stimulate recovery and reconstruction and to ensure the effective presence and authority of the State, as well as consolidation of democratic structures, the Head of the United Nations Mission in that country told the Security Council today, and warned that “endemic poverty, lack of employment for demobilized combatants, the competition for economic resources and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees are all potential sources of tension and violence.”
“These issues are the key to consolidating the peace in the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], not only in the East,” Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) said as he briefed the Council, stressing that that was the reason why the Mission needed to be re-shaped to enhance the United Nations capacity to assist the Government to address those challenges during and after an eventual drawdown.
He said that President Joseph Kabila, while emphasizing the need for the country to rely on its own capabilities, had presented a timetable for MONUC’s drawdown to be completed by June 2011. In acknowledgement of that vision, the Secretary-General had recommended in his report (document S/2010/164) that the first stage of the drawdown should be initiated before 30 June 2010, followed by a review of the security situation in areas of the Mission’s operation.
Such a review would focus on progress on military operations against armed groups; deployment of security forces to assume MONUC protection tasks; and establishment of State authority in areas free of armed groups. The reviews would be the trigger for the planning of subsequent phases of the drawdown. “[D]uring the Council’s forthcoming visit to the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], I am sure that you will engage with the Government in order to determine how the drawdown can be shaped and implemented without compromising the achievements of the last decade,” he said, while noting that the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, in meetings with president Kabila and other senior Congolese Government officials, had urged a prudent approach to the drawdown.
Regarding the military dimensions of security sector reform, he said the Government had made it clear that it wished to largely rely on bilateral aid to build up the army’s capabilities, but had also indicated that it would welcome MONUC’s assistance to train and deploy three military police battalions and capacity-building for military justice, which would further enhance MONUC’s ongoing protection work.
He went on to note that MONUC should also progressively shift its focus and structure towards post-conflict stabilization and consolidation, based on an expanded partnership with the United Nations country team. The Integrated Strategic Framework, which was currently being discussed with the Government, was intended as a road map to help the United Nations move in that direction, in line with Congolese priorities.
Continuing, he said that President Kabila had expressed his firm intention to hold elections next year. The legislature was currently working on the legislation needed to prepare for those elections, he said, adding that the adoption of such laws, in particular concerning the delineation of local constituencies and the National Elections Commission, was urgent, in order to adhere to the constitutional calendar.
Reporting on the Mission’s activities regarding the three essential tasks set out in resolution 1906 adopted on 23 December 2009 -- protection of the civilian population; disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration of armed Congolese and foreign groups; and support for the Government in security sector reform -- Mr. Doss said that progress had been made, although not consistently across the three areas.
In order to enhance efforts to protect civilians, MONUC had deployed 87 Joint Protection Teams, including 22 since the beginning of the year. Additional military bases had been established in the Kivus and the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas of Province Orientale, bringing their number to 73. Deployment was guided by the Rapid Response and Early Warning Cell, which analysed and anticipated threats in order to prevent them from materializing.
MONUC had provided assistance to 18 battalions carrying out operations against the Forces Démocratiques de Libération de Rwanda (FDLR), he said. Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) officers had been screened on their history of human rights violations, and they reported directly to the North and South Kivu operations commanders of operation “Amani Leo”. FARDC had taken measures to curb indiscipline and to fight impunity and had initiated some 42 trials last year, condemning at least 25 officers and soldiers. Discipline, however, was likely to remain a constant problem as long as structural problems of the Congolese army, such as delays in salary payments, insufficient supplies, and low level of training of integrated military personnel, were not resolved.
He said that the FDLR suffered from steady erosion as a result of military pressure from the FARDC and outreach from the MONUC disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration teams. The FDLR leadership, however, remained at large and the group was still carrying out violent reprisals against civilians, as well as abductions. Elements of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) had continued to maintain parallel administrative structures and tax collection in Masisi territory.
The LRA attacks in Orientale province remained a serious concern, he said. Although the number of LRA combatants had been significantly reduced, the extraordinary brutality of the LRA and the practice of turning abductees into new fighters continued to destabilize the territories concerned. As long as LRA commanders remained at large and were able to operate across borders in three countries, the group would continue to pose a serious protection challenge. The Governments of the countries affected, therefore, needed to work closely together, including through real-time intelligence sharing, enhanced air mobility and special force operations.
He said that small-scale rebel activity continued in southern Ituri. In the north-west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an unanticipated challenge had emerged late last year, when a long-simmering ethnic conflict over fishing rights in northern Equateur had escalated, with a rebel attack on the provincial capital, Mbandaka, on Easter Sunday. Although the attack had been repelled, the capacity of the national security forces to respond to such threats in remote areas was still limited, because of capacity constraints. The Mission must, therefore, be prepared to offer logistic support, if requested, to counter armed threats and contain conflicts with the potential of escalating.
Turning to security sector reform, he said some progress had been made in police training and deployment along the main axes in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in army training by several bilateral partners. Key decisions had also been made concerning establishment of garrisons in that region of the country, and, additionally, work was progressing on three sites in South Kivu and would soon start in North Kivu. “These are important steps, but additional, harmonized efforts will be required to help build the capabilities the Government needs to fully ensure the protection of the population,” he said.
In line with the mandate given the Mission under Council resolution 1906, it had established an Ambassadors Forum in Kinshasa to facilitate a regular dialogue among partners with the Government on various aspects of security sector reform, while emphasizing that the Government must engage its international partners in a strategic dialogue based on the army reform plan developed by the military authorities. That would ensure a nucleus of well-trained forces that would take over MONUC’s residual security responsibilities as its own forces left the country. “We have also encouraged the Government to develop a national security policy and to build the capabilities for national security coordination including the oversight of the various components of the national security architectures,” he added.
Finally, he said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was preparing to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its independence. Since its inception, the United Nations had been a partner and friend of the Congo, and he was certain that relationship would continue as the country entered into a new era of sovereign independence.
The meeting started at 10:05 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:35 a.m.
The Council had before it the thirty-first report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2010/164), which concludes that the sustained improvement in the security situation in 8 of the country’s 11 provinces provided a sound basis for devising a responsible exit strategy for the peacekeeping mission.
In the report, however, the Secretary-General disagrees with the Congolese Government’s proposed date of August 2011 for the final withdrawal of the 11-year-old force, which he says has helped restore a measure of stability and democratic process to a country torn apart by years of civil war.
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has made notable progress, considering the formidable challenges it has overcome during the past 15 years,” the Secretary-General says, recommending that the mission be extended for another year from its current expiry date of 31 May. He proposes that the Council immediately authorize a drawdown of 2,000 troops by 30 June from the more stable, mainly western and central provinces.
He also highlights the “significant challenges” still facing the national Government, including continued fighting with rebels in the Kivu provinces in the east, weak Government institutions, the urgent need for training and reform in the national army and police, and socio-economic hardship in urban areas, compounded by the global financial crisis, that remains a source of potential instability in the entire country.
The Secretary-General says he fully respects the Government’s vision regarding the full exercise of its sovereignty and the need to empower national institutions and build their capacity to assume responsibility for the tasks that MONUC is currently performing.
He adds, however, that a responsible exit strategy for the military component of the Mission must be “anchored on building sustainable capacities for the rule of law and security institutions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular to consolidate the full exercise of the country’s sovereignty.”
“I am convinced that it should be possible to devise a MONUC strategy and conduct a drawdown process in a manner that both advances the realization of the aspirations and vision of the Government and avoids the risk of reversals that could trigger renewed instability,” he writes.
Under the Secretary-General’s proposal, the June drawdown would cover eight provinces, with the remaining troops concentrated in North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale provinces. At the same time, joint reviews would be held with the Government, beginning in early September, on the modalities and timelines for the successive drawdown phases, including “essential” joint agreement on specific benchmarks for measuring progress towards accomplishing agreed urgent tasks.
These tasks include successful completion of the ongoing military operations against rebel groups in the east, deployment of national army battalions adequately trained and equipped by bilateral partners to progressively take over MONUC’s security role, and the establishment of State authority through the deployment of police, territorial administration, and rule of law institutions, in areas freed from armed groups. In reconfiguring MONUC’s mandate, he recommends that the protection of civilians remain at the top of the Mission’s priorities.
Regarding the Government’s request that MONUC train and equip 20 national police battalions, it has been assessed that the task could be completed in three years, with the forming of three battalions in the first year, eight in the second year, and nine in the third. The Secretary-General proposes in the next mandate period that MONUC contribute to the training and development of three military police battalions. A total of 75 police trainers would be required and their deployment could be accommodated within the Mission’s authorized police strength.
Reviewing the past year, he notes that the Hutu-dominated militia known as the Forces Démocratiques de Libération de Rwanda (FDLR) continued to conduct reprisal attacks against civilians, while elements of the national security institutions continued to be responsible for serious human rights violations.
Following charges last year of human rights abuses, including rape, by national army elements, MONUC screened and cleared the commanders of 18 battalions to participate in joint operations against rebels in the so-called Kivus and receive logistical support including air transportation, fuel, medical evacuation, and food rations, according to the report.
In Orientale province, attacks against civilians by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group, continued and military operations targeting LRA in the Democratic Republic of the Congo made little progress, he notes.
Among positive developments, the Secretary-General cites the rapprochement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, the end of another rebellion by the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), the launch of military operations against FDLR and LRA, and the increased rate of voluntary disarmament and demobilization by some FDLR elements which “opened unique possibilities to address the presence of armed groups in the eastern part of the country”.
At the same time, he notes the significant challenges relating to the continued presence of FDLR and LRA, including large-scale humanitarian needs and the persistence of serious human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence by FDLR, LRA, and elements of the Congolese Army. He also notes continuing illegal exploitation of natural resources and inter-communal tensions.
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* The 6294th through 6296th Meetings were closed.