Any Peace Accord between Democratic Republic of Congo, Armed Group Must Not Allow Amnesty for War Crimes, Security Council Told

21 October 2013
SC/11153

Any Peace Accord between Democratic Republic of Congo, Armed Group Must Not Allow Amnesty for War Crimes, Security Council Told

21 October 2013
Security Council
SC/11153
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

7046th Meeting (AM)

Any Peace Accord between Democratic Republic of Congo, Armed Group

Must not Allow Amnesty for War Crimes, Security Council Told

Agreed on Most Issues, Parties Will Reconvene to Overcome Outstanding Differences

Building on the momentum created during their latest round of talks in Kampala, Uganda, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the 23 March Movement (M23) armed group needed to reach a peace accord based on the principles of sustainability and accountability, and must not allow amnesty for the perpetrators of war crimes, or crimes against humanity, the Security Council heard today.

Briefing the Council via video link from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, said the parties had concurred on most of the proposed text, with an agreement to reconvene and overcome their differences on the issues of amnesty, integration, disengagement and security arrangements.  There was no “perfect agreement”, she pointed out.  Even with the best possible accord, there was no certainty that peace would last.  The talks were not meant to address all the root causes of the conflict, but if an agreement were to be reached, it would have immediate value in ending the fighting and paving the way to implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.

She said that her proposed “sequenced political approach” was built around six priorities, including support for the Kampala Dialogue.  As well, she would work to rebuild trust among regional countries, and support the development of an action plan for the implementation of Framework commitments, among other actions.  Finally, she would work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and regional Governments to alleviate the living conditions of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), briefed from Entebbe, Uganda, saying his main role in the process had been to pledge the Mission’s support for a peace agreement that would enable it to move closer to fulfilling its mandate of disbanding M23 and protect civilians.  However, the success of any agreement would depend on the goodwill of the parties, he said, stressing that overall responsibility for implementing it lay with them.  In addition, MONUSCO must be better aligned with its mandate in order to support all six objectives of the Framework, including the restoration of State authority and the protection of civilians.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo urged neighbouring States to change their “policies, behaviour and attitude”, reminding them of their commitments not to interfere in the internal affairs of other States or support armed groups, and to respect their sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Describing his country’s humanitarian situation as fragile and alarming, he said the security situation was volatile in many areas of its eastern region because of both local and foreign “spoilers”.

The Congolese Government would not cooperate with any forces that had killed, raped and looted public or private resources, he emphasized.  Nonetheless, military force alone would not resolve a complex situation; the solution would include dialogue among all internal and external parties.  Thus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was committed to the Kampala talks, he said, adding that the Government had worked to fulfil its obligations vis-à-vis the tasks identified 11 years ago.

The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and ended at 11:35 a.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Council members had before them the reports of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region (document S/2013/569), and on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2013/581).

Briefings

MARTIN KOBLER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said extensive discussions with the Congolese Government had resulted in the latter sending a high-level delegation to the Kampala peace talks, during which he and Special Envoy Mary Robinson had tried to instil a sense of urgency in the parties, given the “unique momentum”.  The objective was to close the Kampala talks with a comprehensive agreement between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the 23 March Movement (M23) armed group which would end the rebellion, disband M23 and allow its transformation into a political movement within the limits of the Constitution and laws of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Yet, despite the best efforts, that could not be achieved.  He said his main role in the process was to pledge the support of MONUSCO to any peace agreement, as such an agreement would move the Mission closer to fulfilling its mandate to disband M23 and protect civilians.

He emphasized that, in that process, he was careful not to be complicit in an imperfect agreement, and not to side with any party.  A fair agreement would provide a permanent basis for sustainable peace.  The success of a peace agreement would depend on the goodwill of the parties, he said, stressing that the overall responsibility of implementing it should lie with them.  MONUSCO, although not a party to any agreement emerging from Kampala, had a central role in supporting the phases of the peace process, with its potential role subject to the Security Council’s approval.  Noting that there had been agreement on most of the paragraphs under discussion in Kampala, he expressed hope that the parties would resolve the outstanding issues.

Regardless of the progress in Kampala, however, the situation on the ground remained volatile, with considerable military build-up on both sides, he said.  Furthermore, M23 had fired twice on unarmed United Nations helicopters and peacekeepers.  While condemning the attacks, he had decided not to retaliate — according to the rules of engagement — for the sake of building an environment for peace.  In the face of growing M23 attacks, the Joint Verification Mission had been expanded, but that mission had had to be aborted owing to the obstacles that M23 continued to pose.  The group had strengthened its position on the frontlines in south Goma, where refugees were being constrained to settle and young men recruited for training.  Noting that M23 had sheltered combatants mainly recruited on Rwandan territory, he called for an end to external involvement.

In order to build a viable political settlement, it was important to boost confidence among the parties, as well as between MONUSCO and Rwanda, describing Rwanda’s acknowledgement that peace was better than conflict as encouraging.  He urged the Security Council to support a swift end to the Kampala talks, pointing out that other groups terrorizing the people also represented a grave threat to security and State authority.  Stressing that MONUSCO must be better aligned with its mandate in order to support all six objectives of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, he said the Mission had identified drivers of change.

The authority of the State must be restored and civilians must be protected, he stressed.  The military posture of the force must adapted to new realities, and security sector reform, especially relating to the army, was critical.  Greater visibility of national commitments under the Framework Agreement was needed, as were efforts to stimulate regional cooperation.  In addition, it was important to foster the electoral process under way and ensure that it remained on track.  There must be zero tolerance for sexual terrorism and child recruitment.  He outlined his intention to restructure MONUSCO along three lines, to include a strengthened operational presence in the east; reconsider the Mission’s presence in areas not affected by armed conflict; and to recognize that the future of the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo belonged to the country team.

MARY ROBINSON, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, briefed the Council via video link from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, saying she had arrived there after four days in Kampala, where she had led a team of envoys from the United Nations, African Union, United States and European Union to the latest round of dialogue between M23 and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The envoys had arrived in Kampala following reports of a military build-up around Goma and areas held by M23.  The situation underscored the urgency of reaching a political agreement to prevent an escalation of regional tensions.

Discussing the Kampala Dialogue, she said negotiations had gained speed on 18 October.  A day later, the parties had reached consensus on most of the articles of the draft agreement:  prisoner release; the end of M23 as a rebel movement and its possible establishment as a political party; the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons; the matter of extorted and looted properties during M23’s occupation of Goma in November 2012; the establishment of a national reconciliation commission; governance and socioeconomic reforms; implementation of partially or un-implemented provisions of the 23 March 2009 peace agreement; and the Kampala Agreement’s implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

She said the parties had found it difficult to agree on amnesty, disarmament and integration of M23.  While several articles discussed had been similar to those of the 2009 peace agreement between the Congolese authorities and the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple rebels, the process carried some of the limits of the 2002 peace agreement, notably vis-à-vis provisions that could be interpreted as general commitments.  Nonetheless, the Kampala Agreement should be based on the principles of sustainability, accountability, and no amnesty for the perpetrators of crimes against humanity or war crimes.  “I believe it is the big picture that we should have in mind,” she said, including the fact that pressure on M23 and determination to draw lessons from the 2009 peace process had resulted in a principled approach to negotiating the provisions on amnesty and integration.

In the draft under consideration, amnesty and integration would be granted to all M23 members for all acts of war and insurrection covering the period 1 April 2012 to the date of the Agreement’s signature.  However, exceptions would befor those indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of genocide or gross violations of human rights, including sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers.  The integration of commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and M23 troops would be conditioned on their swearing allegiance to the State and Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their unconditional commitment to serve anywhere in the country.

She went on to say that the parties had agreed to reconvene in an effort to overcome their differences on the issues of amnesty, integration, disengagement and security arrangements.  “The conclusion of the Kampala Dialogue will pave the way for the end of the conflict in the eastern [ Democratic Republic of the Congo],” she said, stressing that there was no “perfect agreement” or certainty that, even with the best possible accord, peace would last.  The talks were not meant to address all the root causes of the conflict; but if an agreement were to be reached, it would have immediate value in ending the fighting, and pave the way for progress in collective efforts to implement commitments made under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.

Turning to that Framework, she said that during the national dialogue opened on 7 September and ended on 5 October, a list of recommendations had been developed focusing on the six reform areas.  At the regional level, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region had met in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, on 7 October, agreeing on the modalities to strengthen security mechanisms.  Those mechanisms were useful confidence-building tools and essential to advancing regional security efforts.

She said that, going forward, her priorities would focus on the road map that would guide her engagement in the coming months.  The Regional Oversight Mechanism had tasked its Technical Support Committee to prepare an action plan to implement the Framework, for which she would propose modalities for monitoring and evaluating.  In addition, she would follow up with the Committee on the establishment of a multi-donor trust fund to support implementation of regional priority programmes, as well as engage with international partners with a view to finalizing benchmarks.

A proposed “sequenced political approach” was built around six priorities, including support for the Kampala Dialogue, she continued, adding that she would work to rebuild trust among regional countries, including participating with Governments to bolster the ongoing peace process.  She would also support the development of an action plan for the implementation of Framework commitments, which would include engaging with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on follow-up actions to the national dialogue.

With regional Governments, she said that she would focus on measures to enable the reduction and strength of armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  She also would coordinate international support for the implementation of the Framework agenda — a shared responsibility requiring unity of purpose.  Finally, she would work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and regional Governments to alleviate the conditions of refugees and internally displaced persons.

PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) urged regional States to implement their commitments, as well as change their “policies, behaviour and attitude”.  He recalled their commitments to not interfere in the domestic affairs of other States, to not support armed groups, and to respect States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Without peace, no progress could be achieved.  Without a minimum of security for people and their property, there would be no development.

His country had lost more than 6 million citizens in two decades of war, he said.  Millions of children had been unable to attend school, 3 million people had been forced to abandon their homes, and women had been infected by HIV/AIDS, malaria or sexually transmitted diseases.  “This list is by no means exhaustive,” he noted.

Calling the humanitarian situation fragile and alarming, he said people in Goma and Rutshuru lived in fear.  In breach of resolution 2098 (2013), M23 – with outside assistance — had attacked his country’s armed forces.  The security situation was volatile in many areas of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo because of both national and foreign “spoilers”, including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), Forces démocratiques alliées-Armée nationale de libération de l’Ouganda and Mai Mai, among others.

He went on to say that no country in the Great Lakes region had done as much as his to work for the creation of an Intervention Brigade, which had an offensive mandate to neutralize those “spoilers”.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo would not cooperate with any forces that had killed, raped and looted public or private resources.  He hoped to see all relevant States trust the Intervention Brigade, whose duty was to securitize border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours to the east.  Strengthening its operational capacities through the provision of helicopters and unarmed drones was essential for his country to defend itself from M23 attacks.

Nonetheless, military force alone would not resolve a complex situation, he said, noting that the solution would include dialogue among all internal and external parties.  His country was committed to the Kampala talks and had worked to fulfil its obligations vis-à-vis tasks identified 11 years ago, including restructuring of the armed forces and police, re-opening military academies, the training of special forces and making operational the Rapid Response Force.

In the east, he said, the national police force and the court system had strengthened their capacities to gradually take control of the situation in Goma.  Results from public finance reform results were bearing fruit, with measures being implemented to improve the business climate.  The Government had also carried out a review of its poverty-reduction strategy to ensure that growth was more inclusive.

At the political level, he continued, the coordination of the National Framework Agreement had been entrusted to an experienced person from the opposition.  The priority was to ensure best possible conditions for local, municipal, provincial, senatorial and provincial gubernatorial elections.  Further, national talks had taken place to determine the ways and means to strengthen national cohesion.

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