posted on Fri 18 Nov 2011 4:34 PM
Briefing on DRC and Sanctions Regime Resolution Negotiations

On Monday (21 November), Brazil’s Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti is scheduled to brief the Council as chair of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee. It appears that Viotti is likely to focus her briefing on the work of the Committee over the last year. During the briefing, it seems likely that Brazil will also ask the president of the Council to formally circulate the annual report of the Group of Experts. Council members have had an advanced copy of the report since late October. (The Sanctions Committee and the Group of Experts were established in 2004 by resolution 1533. The DRC sanctions as well as the Group of Experts’ mandate, which have been extended annually, expire on 30 November.)

Negotiations at the expert level on a draft resolution renewing the sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts for a further 12 months have begun and are expected to continue early next week. (There seems to be consensus among Council members on the need to renew both.) The Council is scheduled to adopt the new resolution on 29 November.

At this stage it seems the final resolution is likely to be similar to last year’s text (resolution 1952). While the Group of Experts’ report recommended possibly including additional criteria to the sanctions regime, pertaining to members of the Congolese Army involved in illegal exploitation of natural resources, it appears that none of the Council members are particularly keen to add new criteria at this stage.

One issue that has come up is whether the language on non-compliance with “due diligence guidelines” should be strengthened. In resolution 1952 the Council supported taking forward the recommendations of the Group of Experts on due diligence guidelines but did not make it obligatory. (These guidelines relate to importers and consumers of Congolese mineral products taking measures not to exacerbate, through their commercial actions, the conflict in eastern DRC.)

It appears that it might be difficult to get consensus on strengthening the language on non-compliance as some members with commercial interests in the DRC may be uncomfortable with more precise language. It appears that this issue came up during a meeting of the DRC Sanctions Committee this week on the final report of the Group of Experts, with one Council member expressing its reservations over information in the report related to compliance of the due diligence guidelines. For some members, at least keeping the same language contained in resolution 1952 appears to be essential.