Congo Watch: DRC: Update Report on the Security Council Mission to Africa

Thursday, May 28, 2009

DRC: Update Report on the Security Council Mission to Africa

How strange that urgent news reports have quietened down to such an extent that I have not needed to file any reports here at Congo Watch since 8 May.

Email just in from UN Security Council announcing that on 28 May the Council is expecting a briefing on the recent mission by Council members to four African countries:
The visit to the AU in Addis Ababa was led jointly by UK Ambassador John Sawers and Ugandan Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda, both of whom also co-led the visit to Rwanda. The visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) took place under the leadership of French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert while US Ambassador Susan Rice led the visit to Liberia. All four permanent representatives are expected to participate in briefing the Council.
Excerpt from Update Report on the Security Council Mission to Africa dated 27 May:
On 28 May the Council is expecting a briefing on the recent mission by Council members to Africa. The five-day, four-country trip had four leaders who led or co-led the delegation at different destinations.

The 16 May visit to Addis Ababa, whose main focus was enhancing the UN partnership with the African Union on issues of common interest to the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), was led jointly by the UK Ambassador John Sawers and the Ugandan Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda. They also co-led the 17 May visit to Rwanda.

The 18-19 May visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) took place under the leadership of French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert.

US Ambassador Susan Rice led the 20 May visit to Liberia.

All four permanent representatives are expected to participate in briefing the Council. [...]

DRC
The two day trip to the DRC began in Goma, in the North Kivu region of the country. In addition to expressing the Council’s overall support for the Rwanda-Congolese rapprochement, the goals of the trip included: a better grasp of the functioning of the largest UN peacekeeping operation, MONUC (UN Mission in the DRC); a briefing on the prospects for MONUC’s strengthening in the immediate future (some 3,000 personnel are expected by June or July); plans for MONUC’s eventual drawdown (expected by 2011); an update on the joint operations (Kimia II and Rubia II) undertaken by MONUC and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) against FDLR and the Lord’s Resistance Army, respectively.

While in Goma Council members met with victims of sexual violence and travelled by helicopter to a displaced persons camp at Kiwanja, where they also visited a headquarters for the operation Kimia II.

Council members explored possible ways to improve the protection of civilians’ aspect of MONUC’s mandate and raised concerns about reports of abuses of civilians perpetrated by remnants of the rebel forces as well as FARDC. (The FARDC has absorbed former rebel combatants. Resolution 1856 called on the Congolese leadership to create a vetting mechanism “to take into account when they select candidates for official positions, including key posts in the armed forces, national police and other security services, the candidates’ past actions in terms of respect for international humanitarian law and human rights.” Civil society representatives who met Council members in Goma reported that several known perpetrators have not been screened out. The DRC Group of Experts in its 14 May report recommended that “the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo implement a vetting mechanism to screen the human rights records of FARDC officers within the wider context of security sector reform.”)

In its meetings with top DRC leaders, including the prime minister and the president, the delegation brought up five specific names of former rebel commanders who had been absorbed into the FARDC despite their documented abuses against civilian population. MONUC had first brought the names to the DRC judicial authorities’ attention in early 2008, in letters sent by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The delegation received assurances that the matter will be addressed.

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