Security Council SC/7071
4327th Meeting (AM & PM) 13 June 2001
The Secretary-General s recommendation to extend the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was intended to demonstrate the Security Council s commitment to the Mission and resolution of the conflict in the Great Lakes region, Jean-Marie Gu henno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, told the Council today.
As the Council met to consider the eighth report of the Secretary-General on MONUC, Mr. Gu henno, who was presenting the report, said the proposed extension of the Mission was also designed to facilitate the recruitment of civilian staff of the necessary high quality by ensuring greater continuity.
He went on to say that the function of many of the proposed civilian staff would be to gather as much information as possible on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, through its public information operations, MONUC would explain to the Congolese parties and people what it and the broader international community were doing in the country. The human rights, humanitarian and child protection personnel would also have a great deal to do in terms of helping to improve the quality of life of the Congolese people.
Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, also addressed the Council this morning. There is an urgent need for a plan of action to address the grave situation of war-affected children in the Democratic Republic , he said. “Their protection and rehabilitation must become a national and political priority, and should figure prominently on the agenda of the inter-Congolese dialogue and the peace process in general. “
The massive recruitment and use of children as child soldiers in the Democratic Republic had become a plague, he said. He therefore proposed:a complete stop to all recruitment and participation in armed groups and forces of young persons below the age of 18; the establishment of a mechanism to monitor and report on the application of the above commitment; the organization of a major public awareness campaign to sensitize the military, civil society and local communities; the undertaking of joint visits by MONUC, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and military authorities to military camps and barracks; and the establishment of the necessary structures for demobilization, rehabilitation, reception and reintegration of child soldiers. Those recommendations had been accepted by all political and military leaders in the Democratic Republic, he noted.
Security Council – 1a – Press Release SC/7071
4327th Meeting (AM & PM) 13 June 2001
Leonard She Okitundu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said there had been delays to disengagement because of the continuing refusal of one party to the Lusaka process to act in compliance with the Kampala plans and the Harare sub-plan. The party had been ordered by the Council to disengage by 1 June, but that had not happened. That was a violation of the provisions of Council resolution 1341 (2001) of 22February. If the relevant provisions of that resolution were not applied or heeded, the Council had the duty to respond vigorously.
During the debate that ensued, speakers acknowledged the cautious optimism about developments in the country as expressed in the report of the Secretary-General. They noted, however, that the improvements seen were far from irreversible and that all efforts should be made by the parties to fully comply with the Lusaka Agreements.
Stressing the important role to be played by MONUC, speakers supported the extension of the Mission’s mandate proposed by the Secretary-General, as well as other of his recommendations. They emphasized that everything possible must be done to address the grave humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic, and that the international community and financial institutions should provide support to efforts aimed at reconstruction. They also stressed the importance, for regional peace, of bringing peace to Burundi.
Statements were made by the representatives of France, Ukraine, Jamaica, China, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Mauritius, Singapore, United States, Ireland, Tunisia, Norway, Mali, Colombia, Sweden (for the European Union and associated States), Namibia, Egypt, Japan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Bangladesh.
H di Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, also spoke.
The meeting was called to order at 10:54 a. m. It was suspended at 1:20p. m. , resumed at 3:10 p. m. and adjourned at 4:39 p. m.
When the Security Council meets this morning, it will have before it the eighth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document S/2001/572).
The report reflects developments since the Secretary-General s seventh report on MONUC of 17 April 2001 (document S/2001/373).
According to the report, in its resolution 1332 (2000) of 14 December 2000, the Council extended the mandate of MONUC until 15 June 2001. yes”> By its resolution 1341 (2001), the Council demanded that the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement implement fully the Kampala plan and the Harare sub-plans for disengagement and redeployment of forces without reservations in the 14-day period stipulated in the Harare Agreement, starting from 15 March 2001. It also urged the parties to the Lusaka Agreement to prepare and adopt, not later than 15 May 2001, in close liaison with MONUC, a precise plan and schedule. That plan and schedule, in accordance with the Lusaka Agreement, would lead to the completion of the orderly withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council also urged the parties to the conflict, in close liaison with the Mission, to prepare, also by 15 May, prioritized plans for the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration (DDR), repatriation or resettlement of all armed groups referred to in the Lusaka Agreement. The present report is submitted in accordance with the above resolutions and reflects developments since the Secretary-General’s seventh report on MONUC of 17 April 2001 (document S/2001/373).
The Secretary-General states that he shares the same cautious optimism as the Security Council mission that visited the Great Lakes region from 15 to 26 May about the immediate future of the Lusaka peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also feels the same sense of foreboding with respect to the precarious situation in Burundi, which is closely linked to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the Secretary-General, while there is continued adherence to the ceasefire, reports of the eastward movement of armed elements and their recent incursions into Rwanda, Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania are particularly disturbing. There is speculation that the armed groups are moving out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to evade participation in the DDR, repatriation or resettlement programmes, for which the parties and MONUC will now intensify their planning.
There can be no lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, continues the Secretary-General, without a comprehensive settlement of the situation in Burundi. Like the Council Mission to the region, he, therefore, urges the heads of State of the countries concerned to continue jointly to seek ways to remove their differences and reinforce areas of cooperation.
The Secretary-General is heartened by the recent visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Harare to meet with the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe. He is also encouraged by indications that the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda may soon be ready to meet. It would be particularly important for President Kabila and President Kagame to remain in close touch, especially over the question of armed group activity in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this connection, any influence the regional heads of State can bring to bear on the armed groups, including the Burundian groups, to refrain from violence, can only be helpful.
While welcoming the continuing cooperation by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with MONUC, the Secretary-General calls on the rebel movements to extend the same cooperation. The substantial compliance of the parties with the Harare disengagement plan, as monitored and verified by MONUC military observers, is also a matter for encouragement. He notes, however, the reluctance of the Front de Lib ration du Congo (FLC) to disengage its forces in Equateur Province. Although Jean-Pierre Bemba of the FLC has taken some initial steps to fulfil the undertaking he made to the Security Council mission on 25 May to pull back on 1 June, his disengagement is by no means complete.
The MONUC, says the Secretary-General, will continue to monitor FLC disengagement until it is fully accomplished. The MONUC will also dispatch military observers and civilian personnel as necessary to monitor any indications that the civilian population may be at risk once Mr. Bemba s forces have withdrawn. The Government also has a particular responsibility to cooperate in this respect by continuing to ensure the necessary discipline in its armed forces in Equateur Province and elsewhere.
The Secretary-General states that the plans drawn up by the Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee, in consultation with MONUC, for the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the DDR, repatriation or resettlement of armed groups do not constitute a sufficient basis for further action by the United Nations at this point. Without significant additional detailed information, the Secretariat cannot draw up, nor can he recommend to the Council, specific adjustments to the mandate and the force structure of MONUC. The Secretary-General, therefore, aligns himself with the strong request of the Council mission to the parties to provide, as soon as possible, the detailed information required.
Nevertheless, though incomplete, the substantial progress made in the disengagement of forces — phase II of MONUC deployment — demands an appropriate follow-up. It is also necessary to build on the DDR, repatriation or resettlement of armed groups. He, therefore, recommends that the Council authorize a transition to the third phase of MONUC deployment. During this transitional phase, the Mission would continue to monitor the completion of the disengagement and verification phase
The Secretary-General states that the transitional stage MONUC is about to enter will lead, if the parties continue to honour their commitments, to the full range of activities, with their associated problems and risks, envisaged for the third phase. That is likely to require a significantly larger force. Even for this transitional stage, he recommends that it will be necessary to considerably expand the civilian components of MONUC (including a new civilian police component), as well as its logistical capabilities.
The Secretary-General says it should be recognized that MONUC and the United Nations will be engaged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for some considerable time to come. It would be prudent to plan for the longer term, and to begin now to provide the Mission with the resources it will need. He recommends that the Council extend the mandate of MONUC for a period of 12 months, until 15 June 2002. In doing so, the Council will be signalling its commitment to the peace process and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a view to stabilizing the situation in the subregion. In the context of the reporting obligations required of him by the Council, he would expect to revert during that period with recommendations for full entry into phase III when he considers the time to be ripe.
The Secretary-General states that the announcement by Sir Ketumile Masire, the neutral facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, that a preparatory meeting for the dialogue is to begin on 16 July, is to be welcomed. The MONUC will continue to support the facilitator and looks forward to further developments in the conduct of the dialogue. The repeal, on 17 May, of Decree Law No. 194 banning political party activity is also a welcome step forward in this respect.
The Secretary-General adds that the announcement by the Council mission, during its visit to Mbandaka on 20 May, of the reopening of the Congo River, is of more than symbolic importance. Together with the proposed creation of a Congo River Basin Commission, which was proposed in April, it points the way to a revitalization of trade along the country’s main artery — the inland waterway system. The recent deployment at Mbandaka of the Uruguayan river unit will also contribute significantly to this process. The benefits to the city of Kinshasa, which has seen its food supplies dwindle as river traffic has been blocked by insecurity, should also soon be apparent. The MONUC intends to make increasing use of the river to supply its contingents, thus, easing its heavy dependence on expensive air transportation.
JEAN-MARIE GU HENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, said the Secretary-General s recommendation to extend the mandate of MONUC was intended to demonstrate the Security Council s commitment to the Mission and to the resolution of the conflict in the Great Lakes region. It was also designed to facilitate the recruitment of civilian staff of the necessary high quality by ensuring greater continuity.
He said the Secretary-General also requested authorization from the Council for a transition to the third phase of MONUC deployment, as the second phase – deployment to monitor and verify the disengagement of forces from the confrontation line – was now in the process of being accomplished. The Secretary-General was not at this time seeking to exceed the authorized troop strength of 5,537 which was approved by the Council in resolution 1291 (2000). It was, however, envisaged to continue to build up the military contingent of MONUC within that figure.
The demilitarization of Kisangani was demanded by the Council in its resolution 1304 (2001). The MONUC would continue to insist that the Rassemblement Congolais pour la D mocratie (RCD) withdraw its forces from that city. To that end, the Mission s military planners were prepared to assist the RCD to draw up plans for an orderly withdrawal of forces. At the same time, MONUC was very much aware of the political, military and symbolic importance of Kisangani, as well as of the potential fragility of the economic and security situation there. A precipitous withdrawal of the RCD military forces could, therefore, provoke major civil unrest, with potential adverse implications for the peace process.
He said that in keeping with its expectations that the local authorities would retain responsibility for civil administration and the maintenance of law and order, MONUC had no objection to the RCD remaining as the de facto civil authority in Kisangani. Accordingly, it was vital for local stability to ensure, prior to the withdrawal of RCD military forces, that the local police had adequate capacity to maintain law and order after their departure. Though MONUC was prepared to build up its military strength for its own security, it had no intention of assuming law-and-order functions in Kisangani.
The Secretary-General, he continued, envisaged a major expansion of the civilian components of MONUC. So far, in view of the daunting logistical problems of deployment, the vast majority of the civilian staff of the operation had been administrative and logistical personnel. As we contemplate entry into phase III, it will be necessary to expand other civilian operations of the mission, including the political, human rights, humanitarian, child protection and public information staff. The Secretary-General also believed that it was very important to include the nucleus of a civilian police component in MONUC for the first time.
He went on to say that the function of many of the proposed civilian staff would be to gather as much information as possible on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, through its public information operations, MONUC would explain to the Congolese parties and people what it and the broader international community were doing in the country. The human rights, humanitarian and child protection personnel would also have a great deal to do in terms of helping to improve the quality of life of the Congolese people. It should also be noted that the risks could increase, in what had become a widespread climate of impunity and lawlessness in many parts of the country.
He said that during its recent mission the Council became aware of the economic aspects of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the role that MONUC could play in improving the economic situation. While this was not usually a feature of peacekeeping operations, its importance in this case could not be over-stressed. The reopening of the Congo river system was of central significance, politically, economically and militarily. A barge loaded with vehicles, bulk fuel and water containers was due to arrive in Mbandaka on 16 June, accompanied by two Uruguayan fast patrol boats with 14 military personnel aboard. Another barge, loaded with fuel for MONUC, was today at Lisala between Mbandaka and Kisangani.
We have noted with concern , he said, the reported statement of a senior RCD official that the rebel group might block the MONUC fuel convoy before it reached Kisangani unless the Mission investigated allegations of ceasefire violations committed by government forces. The RCD also claimed that the reopening of the river would only benefit President Joseph Kabila and facilitate infiltration.
Needless to say , he continued, we do not accept this interpretation and continue to favour the opening of the river system as the most important single step that can be taken to promote economic recovery of the country, to enable the Congolese people to re-establish contacts, to reinforce the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, not least, to enable MONUC to support its own contingents throughout the country in a way that would be cheaper and more easily sustainable. The Force Commander of MONUC, General Diallo, was taking that issue up today with the RCD as a matter of urgency.
Since the report was completed, there had been a few developments that warranted attention. Among those were allegations from the RCD that the FLC had allegedly occupied positions vacated by the RCD. The MONUC intended to investigate those allegations, and had taken the matter up with the Government. In addition, President Bongo of Gabon, speaking on the withdrawal of foreign forces, had insisted on the distinction between invaders and invited forces . Beni was also reported to be the scene of clashes between Mayi-Mayi militia and the FLC.
He said MONUC was about to enter a particularly demanding phase of its activities. The continued support of the Council would send a convincing signal to the parties that the United Nations was prepared to do what it could to assist them in their efforts to restore peace, security and prosperity to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
OLARA Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said he had recently concluded a 10-day mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assess the impact of the wars on children. He had been able to visit different parts of the country, including the provincial cities of Goma, Bukavu, Bunia, Kisangani and Kananga. He had also visited Kinshasa, where he had met with President Joseph Kabila.
The direct and indirect impact of the war had taken a very heavy toll on children, in a country where 50 per cent of the population of 49 million were children under 16. He noted that the vast majority of the 2 million people displaced by the war were children and women. Hundreds of thousands of children suffered or died from severe malnutrition and preventable diseases because of conditions created by the wars.
He also pointed out that in the past 10 years infant mortality had doubled and more than half of the children of school-going age were not in school. The incidence of child labour, child prostitution and street children had sharply increased. He also drew the Council s attention to the particular and silent trauma of girls exposed to sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and forced concubinage by soldiers of various affiliations. Everywhere he went, he added, he had received consistent reports of massive recruitment and use of child soldiers.
There is an urgent need for a plan of action to address the grave situation of war-affected children in the Democratic Republic , he said. Their protection and rehabilitation must become a national and political priority, and should figure prominently on the agenda of the inter-Congolese dialogue and the peace process, in general.
Turning to the subject of MONUC, he said the arrival of the military contingent and military observers had had a striking impact on the local populations. Their sheer presence was bringing much-needed confidence and reassurance for the local populations, allowing them to begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives:their facilitation of and engagement with humanitarian activities; and their association with the protection of children. He strongly recommended the expansion of those elements of MONUC s role.
He said the primary responsibility for ensuring the well-being of the children and, therefore, the future of the country rested with the Congolese leaders. He also appealed to the international community to reach out to the Congolese children.