Japan will have the presidency of the Council in April. It will be a busy month, with several important events planned.
Three open debates were expected at press time: on post conflict peacebuilding; on Council working methods; and on the Middle East (on the occasion of the monthly briefing). The open debate on peacebuilding will be chaired by Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. Other member states’ foreign ministers have been invited to participate. A debate on Haiti also seemed likely.
Also in April, in the week of 19 April, the Council will be travelling to Africa with a primary focus on the DRC. The itinerary will include the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Council is due to receive in April Secretary-General’s reports on small arms and on Kosovo, and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the assassination of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto. At press time it was unclear whether the reports would be taken up in the course of the month.
There are likely to be several briefings on:
• the Development Fund for Iraq, most likely by the UN controller;
• the Secretary-General’s report on MONUC, probably by the Special Representative for the Secretary-General, Alan Doss;
• women, and peace and security by the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, Rachel Mayanja;
• sexual violence in conflict by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Margot Wallström; and
• the Council trip to Africa by Permanent Representatives leading on the different parts of the trip.
Some briefings are expected in consultations on:
• UN support for AU peacekeeping;
• the developments related to the request by the Government of Chad to withdraw the operation there, MINURCAT;
• Cote d’Ivoire, by the chairperson of the Sanctions Committee; and
• Lebanon, by Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559 Terje Rød-Larsen.
Consultations are also likely to be held on:
• Sudan, prior to the renewal of the peacekeeping operation there, UNMIS;
Formal sessions to adopt resolutions are expected on:
• the renewal of the mandate of UNMIS in Sudan; and
• the mandate renewal for MINURSO in Western Sahara.
Important matters pending include:
• A quarterly report on ISAF in Afghanistan was circulated on 19 January 2010. This report covered the period 1 August to 31 October 2009. The previous report had been released in June 2009, covering August 2008 to January 2009. However, there does not appear to be any report covering the period from February through July 2009.
• Reports from the Kosovo Force (KFOR) have disappeared. The last one available covers the period from 1 to 31 July 2008.
• The Secretary-General is yet to report to the Council on Kenya as requested in a February 2008 presidential statement (S/PRST/2008/4).
• The December 2004 report by the Secretary-General on human rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire, requested in a May 2004 presidential statement (S/PRST/2004/17), has still not been made public. Also on Côte d’Ivoire, the December 2005 report by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has not been published.
• The Secretary-General has failed to reenergise his Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Genocide (it has not met since 2008).
• In a presidential statement on Darfur in July 2008 (S/PRST/2008/27) the Council noted the UN investigation underway into the 8 July 2008 attack against UNAMID peacekeepers. The Council has not followed up this investigation.
• The Council has yet to address the Secretary-General’s summary of the report of the UN Board of Inquiry into incidents involving UN facilities and personnel in Gaza between 27 December and 19 January, submitted to it on 4 May 2009 (S/2009/250).
• UNAMI reports on human rights in Iraq, in the past produced every two to three months, have decreased in their frequency and regularity. The last report, released in December 2009, covered the period from 1 January to 30 June 2009.
• The Council requested the Secretariat on 21 November 2006 (S/2006/928) to update the index to Council notes and statements on working methods. This has not been published.
• The latest report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team, issued on 25 August 2008, still awaits Council consideration (S/2008/582).
• The Secretary-General continues to delay responding to the mandate to assist with the delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially Sheb’a Farms, in accordance with resolution 1701.
• The 2005 World Summit requested that the Security Council consider reforms for the Military Staff Committee. This has yet to be addressed.
• Iran: On 4 March the chair of the 1737 Committee on Iran sanctions, Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan, informed the Council that from 11 December 2009 to 4 March, the Committee had received a response from one of the two states requested to provide additional information on previous reported violations of the sanctions regime. The Committee approved an additional notice urging states to be especially alert for additional violations. (S/PV.6280 and SC/9873)
• Guinea-Bissau: On 5 March the Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba, introduced the Secretary-General’s report (S/2010/106) on Guinea-Bissau (S/PV.6281). The Council subsequently issued a press statement (SC/9875) welcoming the progress being made in peace consolidation in the country and reaffirming the critical importance of security sector reforms in the country.
• Middle East: Speaking to the press on 5 March the president of the Security Council expressed Council “concern at the current tense situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem”. He also said “they urged all sides to show restraint and avoid provocative acts; they stressed that peaceful dialogue was the only way forward and looked forward to an early resumption of negotiations.” On 24 March the Secretary-General briefed the Council on the 19 March meeting of the Quartet in Moscow, his own visit to the region and his intention to attend the Arab League Summit in Libya in late March (S.PV/6292). The Quartet welcomed proximity talks towards resuming direct negotiations leading to a negotiated settlement within two years; reaffirmed that unilateral action would not be recognised by the international community; underscored that Jerusalem is a permanent status issue and the Quartet’s intent to monitor developments and consider additional steps as may be required; and expressed concern regarding Gaza.
• Liberia: On 10 March the Council was briefed in private consultations by the Head of the UN Mission in Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the country (S/2010/88).
• Somalia: On 10 March the Somalia Monitoring Group briefed the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee on its report (S/2010/91). Subsequently, Council members met in closed consultations on 16 March to hear a briefing by the Committee’s chairman, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller. Heller said in a statement to the press following the consultations that there was general consensus among Council members in support of the idea to establish an independent investigation of the Monitoring Group’s allegations regarding diversion of World Food Programme (WFP) aid to insurgents. On 19 March the Council adopted resolution 1916 extending the mandate of the Monitoring Group for another 12 months with the addition of three new members. It also decided that the assets freeze provisions of resolution 1844 would not apply to funds “necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance in Somalia” and requested the UN humanitarian aid coordinator for Somalia to report to the Council every 120 days. On 24 March the Sanctions Committee met with representatives of WFP and the Somali government. At press time the Committee was scheduled to meet again on 30 March to continue discussions on the Monitoring Group’s report.
• ICJ: On 18 March, following the announcement that Shi Jiuyong (China) would resign as a judge of the International Court of Justice on 28 May, the Council decided in resolution 1914 that the election to fill his vacancy will take place on 29 June 2010. (S/PV.6284 and SC/9883)
• ICTY: In response to a request (S/2010/133) from the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia the Council on 18 March adopted resolution 1915 authorising the Tribunal to temporarily exceed the maximum number of ad litem judges allowed by its statute. (S/PV.6286 and SC/9884)
• Sierra Leone: On 22 March Michael von der Schulenburg, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General to Sierra Leone, briefed the Council (S/PV.6291) on the fourth report of the Secretary-General on Sierra Leone (S/2010/135).
• Afghanistan: The Council met (S/PV.6290) on 22 March and renewed the mandate for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for one year to 23 March 2011 (S/RES/1917). The mandate was expanded to provide technical assistance for the parliamentary elections expected in September. The resolution also stated that UNAMA and its special representative would continue to lead international civilian efforts in Afghanistan. This includes promoting, as co-chair of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, more coherent support by the international community; strengthening cooperation with the International Security Assistance Force and the NATO civilian representative; providing political outreach, as well as good offices to support at the request of the Afghan government for the implementation of Afghan-led reconciliation and reintegration programmes; and playing a central coordinating role in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Resolution 1917 also requested that UNAMA assist the Afghan government to assume Afghan leadership of the country, including by supporting the Kabul conference to be held later this year. On 18 March the Council held an open debate (S/PV.6287) on Afghanistan where it was briefed by Under-Secretary General Alain Le Roy.
• Myanmar: On 24 March the Council received a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar, on recent developments in Myanmar. Among the areas covered were the rejection of the appeal by Aung San Suu Kyi against her sentence, the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, and the publication of the five new electoral laws. On 26 March the Secretary-General met with the Group of Friends on Myanmar.
• Burundi: On 25 March the Secretary-General appointed Charles Petrie as the new Head of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi. Petrie will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator, Resident Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator.
• Terrorism: On 29 March the Council issued a press statement condemning the twin subway bombings in Moscow that killed dozens of people and was read out by Ambassador Emanuel Issoze-Ngondet of Gabon, reaffirming “that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security”.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Expected Council Action
A Council mission to the DRC is planned for 17-20 April before the Council takes decisions on the future of MONUC. The MONUC mandate expires on 31 May. (The mission will also visit Rwanda and Uganda.) The Secretary-General’s report and recommendations are due 1 April and MONUC’s head, Alan Doss, will brief the Council on 13 April. Consultations on key messages to be delivered during the mission are expected following the briefing. The Council mission comes at a particularly difficult time in terms of the future of DRC and the role of the UN. Many Council members seem determined to push back against premature downsizing of the mission.
The Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, is expected to visit the DRC at the same time as the Council.
Key Recent Developments
MONUC and the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) launched joint operations on 26 February under Operation Amani Leo to protect civilians and to eliminate the threat of the Rwanda Hutu rebel Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and other armed groups in North and South Kivu provinces. On 11 March the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) General Amuli Bahigwa reported 271 FDLR members had been killed or captured. A further 135 dependents had been passed to the MONUC disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR) programme and 189 weapons recovered.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees identified 444 protection incidents— including extortion, forced labour, arbitrary arrests and looting—in South Kivu in February, representing a 246 percent increase over January. The main perpetrators were government security forces.
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels reportedly killed at least 11 civilians and eight troops during attacks in Orientale Province between 11 and 14 March. This followed a reduction in LRA violence in February, with seven attacks recorded versus 26 attacks in January. Rudia II, the FARDC-led operation against the LRA in cooperation with the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces and with logistical support from MONUC, continues.
On 5 and 18 March, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy briefed the Council in closed sessions on the outcome of his 2-3 March visit to the DRC and discussions with President Joseph Kabila about the future of MONUC. (The government had proposed MONUC’s immediate drawdown and exit by August 2011.) The Council was told that one option was to draw down MONUC forces in the west of the DRC and to focus on the east of the country where the violence is ongoing. A first batch of up to 2,000 troops could withdraw from the west by 30 June 2010. Le Roy said it was premature to contemplate withdrawal from the east. He stressed that there is a commitment between the UN and DRC which needed to be honoured. More time was needed for critical tasks to be completed in the east. He suggested that after June, MONUC troops should concentrate on North and South Kivu, Orientale and Maniema provinces. Discussions are ongoing between the government and MONUC on the withdrawal issue.
On 17 February the Director of the Africa II Division in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Raisedon Zenenga briefed Council experts in a closed session on the outcomes of the DPKO-led technical assessment mission to the DRC. Council members were reportedly told that DRC was proposing an initial troop withdrawal by end of June and thereafter MONUC and the government would consider the next phase of withdrawals in September 2010 and March 2011. For its part the UN wanted MONUC’s withdrawal to be benchmarked against critical tasks rather than a fixed timeline. The government and the UN had reportedly made some progress on three of these critical tasks: completion of military operations in the east; the raising of a force to replace MONUC in the east; and restoration of state authority in the east. It seems the government is not seeking MONUC’s support to train FARDC troops, looking instead to partner with bilateral donors. It also seems that the future role of the UN in security sector reform is unclear with the government reluctant for MONUC to play a coordinating role.
On 23 March an Arria-formula meeting, titled “Support to institutional capacity building in the DRC: challenges of consolidating rule of law and security sector reform,” was held at the expert level. The EU Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Roland Van de Geer, and three NGOs active in the DRC made presentations to Council members. All presenters agreed a more coordinated and collaborative plan for security sector reform involving the DRC, UN and its international partners was urgently needed. Van de Geer said the DRC was not ready for MONUC to leave by 2011 and a humanitarian disaster was likely if withdrawal occurred in this timeframe.
Human Rights Related Developments
The situation in the DRC was considered repeatedly during the Human Rights Council (HRC) March session. Four reports were submitted and on 26 March the HRC adopted a resolution on the situation of human rights in the DRC and the strengthening of technical cooperation and consultative services. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, reported on her visit to the DRC from 21 May to 3 June 2009. She recommended that the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC publicly condemn the killing of human rights defenders, as well as all other serious human rights violations against them, and increase its staffing and financial capacity to ensure the continued existence of the protection unit. On 18 March the HRC adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review on the DRC. The DRC’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Luzolo Bambi Lessa, told the HRC his government had adopted 124 recommendations made during the Review. Eleven recommendations were, however, unacceptable. These involved mainly calls to cooperate with the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute soldiers of the FARDC suspected of serious human rights abuses or crimes and to establish an independent mechanism to take measures against security force members responsible for serious human rights violations. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, in her report stated that human rights improvements in the DRC have been limited and human rights violations continued to be perpetrated by the FARDC, the Congolese National Police and armed groups. In addition, the DRC government had made very little progress in implementing previous recommendations, and implementation of many of these recommendations remains beyond the capacity of the DRC government. Pillay suggested an interactive process between the government and her office to address the more than 1,000 recommendations yet to be implemented. The second joint report on the DRC by the seven thematic rapporteurs appointed by the HRC was also presented. Key concerns remain impunity and the presence of perpetrators of serious violations in the security forces. Reform efforts have been undermined by the lack of will on behalf of the government to implement the “zero tolerance” policy, the report concluded.
A key issue is how to respond responsibly but sensitively to Kinshasa’s call for an August 2011 MONUC withdrawal, given the acute security, human rights and stability issues. A related issue is whether to accept a withdrawal plan based on a fixed timeline or one in response to realities on the ground and MONUC’s ability to fulfil its protection of civilians role as it downsizes.
A second issue is how to manage the tension which has arisen because of domestic political sensitivities in the DRC between host country consent for the UN role in DRC, and the underlying compact which always exists between host countries and the Council.
A third issue for the Council is better understanding the role the DRC would like to see the UN playing in the future given the government’s dislike of MONUC’s proposed Integrated Strategic Framework for engagement in the DRC over the next three years.
A fourth and related issue is whether the absence of a clearly articulated peacebuilding limb for the UN presence in DRC has become part of the problem and whether there is now a need to give higher priority to a common peacebuilding strategy led by the UN to coordinate among international partners and the DRC government on big picture peacebuilding issues, including security sector reform.
There seems to be broad consensus that the DRC government will not be capable by 2011 of ensuring security in the east. The ongoing presence of the FDLR in the east and the support generated by their overseas networks remain problems.
Continuing human rights violations committed by elements of the FARDC, the culture of impunity, the maintenance of command and control structures by former rebels absorbed into the FARDC and the involvement of the FARDC in resource extraction and distribution networks continue to be impediments to effective security sector reform.
The activities of the LRA in eastern DRC remain a problem.
One option is for Council members to use their visit to the DRC to underline their view that a withdrawal based on the achievement of critical tasks is essential rather than a fixed timetable. (The outcome of these discussions would then have a direct impact on the options available for reconfiguring MONUC.)
A second and additional option might be to insist that, in return for a firm commitment by DRC that withdrawal would be based on realistic criteria, some sort of immediate reduction in MONUC’s troop level could occur in June as a public response to the government’s request.
A third and linked option is to intensify MONUC’s peacekeeping mandate on operations in the east and perhaps to recast the mandate into two parts so that there is one part focusing on the UN mission delivery of integrated peacebuilding tasks in the country as a whole and a second part dealing with the military dimension but limited solely to the east of the country.
A fourth option is to reinforce this new kind of profile with a new name for the Mission (and perhaps new leadership).
Most Council members agree that a responsible withdrawal of MONUC should be on the basis of the mandate being achieved and not based on a fixed deadline. Members seem confident a compromise can be found with the government on a more flexible timeline for withdrawal. China seems reluctant to oppose the DRC government’s position.
Some members insist that the Council has not yet agreed to any downsizing withdrawal of 2,000 troops by 30 June and would not support that option unless there is a reasonable compromise on the larger issue of long-term withdrawal.
Members do not yet have a good sense of what the government hopes the UN might be able to deliver in terms of its wider role in the country. Members are therefore waiting for the outcome of their discussions with the government in April before committing to elements of MONUC’s new configuration and mandate. Some members are also pursuing bilateral discussions with the government.