posted on THU 21 FEB 2013 4:03 PM
Briefing and Consultations on the DRC Mission Report

Tomorrow (22 February), the Security Council is set to be briefed by Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), on the Secretary-General’s latest periodical report on MONUSCO of 15 February (S/2013/96). The briefing will be followed by consultations.

The security situation, MONUSCO’s current and future responses to security threats and the Secretary-General’s regional efforts are likely to be the main focus of the discussion. However, given that Council meetings on the DRC in recent months have focused entirely on the security situation in eastern DRC and possible solutions, some Council members might wish to discuss other aspects of MONUSCO activities as highlighted in the report.

The Secretary-General’s report provides updates on the security situation, including the effects of the M23 offensive and other rebel groups’ activities. The report also includes two thematic annexes, one on the strategic review of MONUSCO’s stabilisation strategy, the other on the efforts to transfer some of MONUSCO’s tasks to members of the UN country team. The report also provides information on a revised International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy to be implemented during the next five years.

Among the Secretary-General’s conclusions is that despite instability in eastern DRC, there has been progress in other areas, including on-going measures to transfer responsibility for MONUSCO’s tasks to the UN country team in areas not affected by armed conflict, underlining the intent to eventually withdraw the mission from those areas and to maximise the use of resources.

Another area of the report that may be of interest to Council members is information on the Secretary-General’s intent to conduct a thorough assessment of the timing, conditions and requirements for holding credible, transparent and democratic provincial and local elections and the role of MONUSCO in these elections. He has indicated that a full summary of the status of the electoral process will be provided in the next regular report to the Council.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that on 24 February, the Secretary-General is set to sign a political framework agreement for the DRC along with 11 countries of the region. This comes after a signing ceremony scheduled for 28 January was cancelled at the last minute as some countries were not willing to sign the document. The general agreement will commit the DRC to enhancing the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process and countries in the region would agree not to assist rebel groups operating in the DRC. It contains agreement on the appointment of a Special UN Envoy to facilitate and monitor its implementation. The new agreement is also expected to refer to the establishment of a peace enforcement force in the eastern DRC under a revised MONUSCO mandate.

This peace enforcement force was first suggested by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to monitor the DRC-Rwanda border area. It seems the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are ready to deploy their troops to form a new international force in the region. The P3 and other Council members appear to be of the opinion that such a force should be established under the mandate of MONUSCO. While the signing of the 24 February agreement suggests convergences with SADC on the forces’ incorporation into MONUSCO, there may still be some differences among members over the command and control structure of the force between the Secretary-General and the regional actors.

The Council has yet to receive the report it requested in a presidential statement of 19 October 2012 (S/PRST/2012/22) and in resolution 2076 of 20 November 2012 on options for improving MONUSCO’s ability to implement its mandate. The report is expected to be comprehensive in addressing not only MONUSCO’s possible troop reinforcement, but also its reorganisation in terms of resources, assets and troop relocation. It is now expected that the Council will receive the report soon after the signing of the agreement, and before the Council’s next meeting on the DRC, scheduled for early March, which is to focus on MONUSCO’s reconfiguration in light of the report. It seems that serious discussions on changes to MONUSCO’s mandate will only begin after the Council receives the comprehensive special report.

Troop-contributing countries (TCCs) heard from Meece this afternoon during the regular TCC meeting on MONUSCO. It seems Meece was expected to cover security related developments and possible restructuring and reorganisation of MONUSCO’s deployment.

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