Security Council SC/7064
4323rd Meeting (AM) 30 May 2001
Several Speakers Express Concern over Burundi Situation
The timely and important visit of the Security Council mission to the Great Lakes region had served to consolidate the recent momentum for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council today as it considered the Council mission s report on that visit.
While the Democratic Republic of the Congo presented an immense operational, administrative and logistical challenge to any outside mission, we are, however, now faced with a genuine window of opportunity for peace and security . In the near future, the parties would be finalizing plans for the withdrawal of all foreign troops as well as for disarmament, demobilization, reintegration (DDR) and repatriation or resettlement of armed groups. The planning for all those operations had already begun, and must be incorporated into the overall planning for phase III of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
There had been a change in the political climate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General stated. Recently we have seen progress in the inter-Congolese dialogue, which is an indispensable element of the peace process , he noted. The humanitarian situation, however, was still one of the urgent remaining challenges. Frankly speaking, he said, current international support for humanitarian activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is unacceptably low, with only 20 per cent of the 2001 Consolidated Appeal for $139. 4million being funded .
In introducing the mission s report, the representative of France also underscored the feeling that there was a true window of opportunity to move towards peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that throughout the region there was the feeling of weariness and the realization that fighting did not make sense. He stressed that, with respect to last year s Council mission, the atmosphere between the parties and the United Nations was completely different and more positive. The role of the United Nations in the region was to help the parties to implement their commitments, not to impose peace.
The mission had achieved results in the military sphere, he said, and there had also been progress in the inter-Congolese dialogue. In the economic field, a
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4323rd Meeting (AM) 30 May 2001
number of small quick-impact projects had been announced in areas where MONUC was deployed, as well as the reopening of the country’s river network to humanitarian and commercial traffic. In the area of human rights and humanitarian rights, progress had been made as well.
He was concerned about the impasse in which Burundi found itself, he said. The mission had met with the President, political parties and leaders of two armed groups and with former President Mandela, and had told leaders of the two armed groups that there would be no military solution. A deadline would be given to the two groups to return to negotiations, after which heads of States in the region could decide on what measures to take. To address concerns about the refugee problem, the mission had suggested establishing a Tanzanian/Burundian commission to find practical ways to reduce tension. Ways had to be found to allow President Mandela to work better together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said disengagement and demobilization must be speeded up to stop the suffering of the Congolese people. The Council must stand by its resolutions and force the parties to comply with their various provisions. What would happen if the parties did not withdraw by the set time-limit?Would the Council risk issuing another statement of good intent and in the process lose its credibility, or would the Council enforce its directives?
The representative of Burundi said some rebel groups in his country regarded the ceasefire as the lowest priority in their plans and still hoped there could be a military solution. The Council must demand that the armed groups and the countries that supported them cooperate with the Government in seeking a security solution along the border areas. His Government supported sanctions against some armed groups and their supporters, and proposed that the next meeting with the armed groups on 3 June should be set as a deadline for cooperation. Waiting longer would spoil any hope for reaching peace, he said.
Uganda s representative said his country s withdrawal exercise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was progressing according to schedule. Last Friday, the Uganda People s Defence Force completed its troop withdrawal from the north-eastern Congolese town of Isiro. The second phase of complete withdrawal of that force started yesterday from Gemena.
Regarding allegations made about his country s misappropriation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said his Government had taken that issue seriously. An independent-Judiciary Commission of Inquiry had been appointed on 23 May to investigate the allegations. That Commission would investigate the allegations in an open and transparent manner, and report to the Government for appropriate action.
The representative of Jamaica expressed disappointment that some delegations, in this morning s debate, had used this important milestone in the peace process to be belligerent rather than advance the process. Negotiations had come too far for parties to be hurling verbal darts at each other. No party to the conflict
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or any country should be allowed to create obstacles or hinder the progress of peace. The international community must deal with any negative responses firmly and unequivocally, he said.
The United Kingdom s representative emphasized that the peace process was one for the whole Great Lakes region, and that the international community was not going to invest, in the widest sense of the word, in the process as long as one country tried to advance its own interests at the expense of another.
He said he was depressed about the situation in Burundi. No party, including the Government, was really contributing to the peace process. Those entities, too, would have to remember that there was no point in the continuation of armed force.
Many delegations stressed that there was now a window of opportunity for the peace process, but the representative of Singapore said that windows of opportunity were often fragile and fleeting and always existed in areas of doom and gloom. It was therefore important that positive results should be maintained and developed. There was no doubt that a lot depended on the action of the signatories. A symbiotic relationship was necessary, where positive action by the parties would lead to positive responses from the Council. He hoped the positive accomplishments of this Council mission would not be fleeting.
The representatives of Rwanda, South Africa and Namibia also spoke, as did representatives of Council members Bangladesh, Tunisia, Ukraine, China, Russian Federation, Colombia, Norway, Mali, Mauritius, Ireland and the United States.
The meeting, which started at 11:05 a. m. , was suspended at 1:13 p. m. and reconvened at 3:35 p. m. It adjourned at 4:55 p. m.
The Security Council had before it the report of the Council mission to the Great Lakes region, 15-26 May (document S/2001/521).
The mission, consisting of Jean-David Levitte (France), Wang Yingfan (China), Alfonso Valdivieso (Colombia), David Cooney (Ireland), Curtis A. Ward (Jamaica), Moctar Ouane (Mali), Anund Priyay Neewoor (Mauritius), Kishore Mahbubani (Singapore), Othman Jerandi (Tunisia), Valery P. Kuchinsky (Ukraine), Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom), and Cameron R. Hume (United States), had visited Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kinshasa, Luanda, Lusaka, Bujumbara, Dar es Salaam, Kigali and Kampala.
It had met with Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jos Eduardo dos Santos, President of Angola, Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, Frederick Chiluba, President of Zambia, Pierre Buyoya, President of Burundi, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda. It had also met with the facilitator in the Burundi conflict, former President Nelson Mandela, and the neutral facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue, former President Ketumile Masire, as well as with leaders of Congolese groups and civil society, leaders of Burundian groups and signatories of the Arusha Agreement.
On the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council mission found much that was encouraging. “For the first time since the outbreak of the conflict”, says the report, outlines of a solution appeared to be taking shape. “The ceasefire had continued to hold over the past four months, and disengagement of the belligerents forces had been accomplished. The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) had been able to deploy guard units and military observers to their designated locations. The attitude of the Congolese people suggested that the country was eager to move forward towards national reconciliation, democratization and development with respect for human rights. The implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, however, would remain difficult in practice as long as the sequencing of the disengagement and withdrawal of forces was viewed subjectively by the parties, according to the report.
The mission recommended that the Council be prepared to consider approving a transition to Phase III of the activities of MONUC. There was an imperative need to demilitarize the city of Kisangani without further delay. The persistent presence of Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) forces in the town was a violation of Council resolution 1304 (2000). The disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation or resettlement of armed groups was key to ending the conflict. If the withdrawal of all foreign forces was achieved in accordance with the present draft plan, the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement would have achieved substantial completion in its military aspects.
Progress made during the mission s visit in the preparations for the inter-Congolese dialogue was encouraging. The Council might wish to confirm that the dialogue should proceed in all parts of the country as speedily as possible, and not be delayed by unnecessary linkages or conditionalities connected to the military aspects of the Lusaka process. The mission considered it indispensable for the return to peace to be accompanied by an increase in economic activity, which the international community should mobilize to assist.
Illegitimate exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be brought to a halt, according to the mission s report. All parties concerned should cooperate with the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mission called for full respect for human rights by all the parties, and for an immediate cessation of the use of child soldiers. It recommended that the Council consider the deployment of additional human rights observers. War criminals must be held accountable without impunity, the report states.
The report adds that there would be a durable peace only if all the countries of the region succeed in defining for themselves the rules by which to promote security and development. At the appropriate time, an international conference on the Great Lakes region would permit a close and continuous examination of those questions, as well as helping to attract donor contributions.
Regarding the situation in Burundi, the mission was struck by the complexity and intractability of the situation in that country, and its serious potential for large-scale violence. The regional heads of State should remain involved, and ways should be found of encouraging dialogue between the Government and the Front national de lib ration (FNL). Strengthening of the Regional Peace Initiative would also be desirable. Urgent attention should be paid to the situation along the border between the United Republic of Tanzania and Burundi, which could ignite a serious deterioration in the crisis.
The report states further that the Council should consider establishment of a permanent negotiating mechanism involving the Representative of the Secretary-General in Bujumbura. The tragedy in Burundi was closely linked with that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Movements of rebel fighters from the Congo eastwards in order to evade demobilization might aggravate the Burundi crisis. No action that damages Burundi could truly assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council will continue to support a global solution that can assist in restoring peace to both countries, and to the entire Great Lakes region.
Background on MONUC
Following the 1994 massacres in Rwanda and the establishment of a new government there, some 1. 2 million Rwandese Hutus — including some who had taken part in the genocide — fled to Kivu province in eastern Zaire, an area partly inhabited by ethnic Tutsis. There, a rebellion started in 1996, pitting Zairean Tutsis, led by Laurent D sir Kabila, against the pro-Hutu army of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire/Congo (ADFL), aided by Rwanda and Uganda, took Kinshasa, the capital, in 1997, and established the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civil war resulted in more than 450,000 refugees and internally displaced people.
In 1998, a rebellion against the Kabila Government started in Kivu, and within weeks the rebels had seized large areas of the country. Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe promised and provided President Kabila with military support. Despite the recapture of several towns and halting of a rebel advance on Kinshasa, the rebels maintained their grip on the eastern regions. The rebel movement, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), was supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The Security Council called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign forces, and urged States not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs. Uganda signed a peace agreement with the Kabila Government in April 1999. In May, the RCD split into two factions.
Efforts by the Secretary-General, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led in July 1999 to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. Signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, it provided for an end of hostilities and for the holding of an inter-Congolese dialogue. The “Lusaka Agreement” included provisions for the normalization of the situation along the border; the control of illicit arms trafficking and infiltration of armed groups; the holding of a national dialogue; and the establishment of a mechanism for disarming militias and armed groups. It also provided for a Joint Military Commission composed of two representatives from each party under a neutral chairman appointed by the OAU. The two rebel factions signed the agreement in August. To help implement the agreement, the Council authorized the deployment of 90 United Nations military liaison officers to strategic areas in the country and to the capitals of the signatory States.
To maintain liaison with the parties, assist in implementing the agreement and monitor security conditions, the Security Council in November established the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), incorporating the personnel it had authorized earlier on. In February 2000, the Council expanded the size and mandate of the Mission, which was to monitor implementation of the ceasefire, support disarmament and demobilization, and provide support to the facilitator of the national dialogue. The Council authorized the use of force by MONUC to protect United Nations personnel and civilians under imminent threat of violence, and made the deployment of the Mission to its authorized strength of 5,500 contingent on adequate access, security and cooperation. Continued fighting has prevented full deployment.
In January 2001, President Laurent Kabila was killed. The Security Council met formally four times in February to discuss the changing situation in the country. Laurent Kabila s son, Joseph, assumed the presidency and in February, at separate meetings, both he and Rwandan President Paul Kagame addressed the Council. It seemed the impasse might be broken. The Secretary-General proposed an updated concept of MONUC operations to monitor and verify ceasefire and disengagement plans, and, on 22 February, the Council adopted a resolution endorsing this new concept and calling for rapid implementation of disengagement plans. Reports in late February and early March were received of withdrawals of Ugandan and Rwandan troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic.
Introduction of Mission Report
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), introducing the mission s report, underscored the feeling that, for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there was a true window of opportunity to move towards peace, and that throughout the region there was the feeling of wariness and the realization that fighting did not make sense. He stressed that, with respect to last year s mission, the atmosphere between the parties and the United Nations was completely different and more positive. The role of the United Nations in the region was to help the parties to implement their commitments by sending observers with the contingence to secure safety of the observers. It was not a matter of imposing peace.
The mission had achieved results in the military sphere. The ceasefire had been holding for four months, and the next stage was disengagement. The Political Committee and the Council had obtained a firm announcement that the Front de lib ration du Congo (FLC) forces will withdraw to agreed positions. Without conditions, it was decided that humanitarian observers would be sent throughout the Congo to improve the human rights and humanitarian situation.
Ministers and heads of States had reaffirmed their common objective of total withdrawal of all foreign forces. The withdrawal of several thousand Zimbabwean troops had been confirmed. In three weeks, all Ugandan forces would have left the Congo territory, with some exceptions. Disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation or resettlement of so-called negative forces were not in line with the Lusaka Agreement at the time of the mission. Burundi groups had left with their arms, transporting war materiel. Rwanda had seen incursions along its border.
Progress in the inter-Congolese political dialogue was also important, and meetings with Mr. Masire, the neutral facilitator, had been very encouraging. A date for preparatory dialogue had been set for 16 July. Representatives of
Mr. Masire would travel to 11 provinces to prepare the dialogue. Another encouraging element was that President Kabila had announced abolition of the decree banning political parties.
In the economic field, a number of small quick-impact projects had been announced in areas where MONUC was deployed, as well as the reopening of the country’s river network to humanitarian and commercial traffic. He said there would also be progress in the area of human rights and humanitarian rights. The mission had encouraged non-governmental organization and religious leaders to publicize discovered massacres. Beyond that, the mission had stated that the time for impunity must come to an end.
He said the Ugandan army needed help in leaving the Congolese territory. Ugandan troops in Kisangani should be helped to leave by plane. Kisangani was not yet demilitarized, because RDC forces were still present, making it difficult for the Ugandan troops to use the airport.
In respect to moving forward to Phase III, he said the ceiling of 5,537 personnel seemed to be enough. Detailed plans had to be provided, though. The MONUC should help the facilitators for the national dialogue to move throughout the country. A difficult point was the provisional administration of evacuated zones. He was afraid that in some eastern areas withdrawal would lead to security risks, even though it was up to the Congolese parties to guarantee security in the zones under their control.
The announced devaluation of the currency had thrown the economy into turbulence, and he was concerned for social stability. Looting of national resources must be stopped. A project had been proposed for a conference of all States concerned. The idea had been well received, but it had been stressed that peace had to be achieved in every country before such a conference could be held.
He was also concerned about the impasse in which Burundi found itself. The mission had met with the President, political parties and leaders of two armed groups and with former President Mandela, and had told leaders of the two armed groups that there would be no military solution. A deadline would be given to the two groups to return to negotiations, after which heads of States in the region could decide on what measures to take.
Burundi s President was concerned about returnees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and about refugee camps which were a starting point for operations carried out by Burundi groups. Th