posted on Mon 4 Mar 2013 4:30 PM
DRC Briefing by Secretary-General and Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (5 March), the Council will receive a briefing by the Secretary-General and then hold consultations on his 27 February Special Report (S/2013/119) on possible options and their implications for reinforcing the capability of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as requested in a 19 October 2012 presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/22) and resolution 2076 of 20 November 2012.

In the special report, as part of the strategy to address the threat posed by armed groups in the DRC, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council establish an “intervention brigade” under the command of MONUSCO and operating alongside it, tasked with preventing the expansion of armed groups, neutralising and disarming them.

The proposed force would include three infantry battalions and supporting units – two battalions formed by newly deployed Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops and one battalion deployed from exiting troops within MONUSCO (apparently South Africa has agreed to redeploy its MONUSCO peacekeepers for this purpose).

Also according to the report, the intervention brigade would be deployed within MONUSCO’s maximum authorised strength, which stands about 2,500 troops short at the moment. Finally, the report reiterates the efforts described in the Secretary-General’s latest periodic report on MONUSCO of 15 February (S/2013/96), 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.

In the meantime, media reports suggest that the DRC military and the M23 rebel group have renewed their fighting in North Kivu. DRC representatives will meet again in Kampala, Uganda on 15 March to continue discussions with M23 rebels.

On 24 February, the “Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the DRC and the Region” was signed in Addis Ababa by the DRC, Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, in the presence of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (The UN, the AU, SADC and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) are to act as guarantors of its implementation.) In his report, the Secretary-General indicates that in order to implement the Framework and coordinate international support for it, he will appoint a Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region (Council members were aware of this intention and are supportive of it).

As part of the agreement, the report notes the need for the DRC to implement security, government and structural reforms, and take steps towards democratisation, decentralisation and enhancing economic development and the rule of law, in order to establish state authority in North Kivu. It also asks the DRC to enhance the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process and for countries to cooperate by agreeing not to assist rebel groups operating in the DRC.

Most Council members, including the P3, are supportive of amending MONUSCO’s mandate to include the proposed intervention brigade. However, Council members still have questions about the Framework Agreement and the intervention brigade, such as its precise command and control structure, its relation to other MONUSCO units and further possible legal, financial and structural implications of its operation.

Guatemala and Pakistan, both troop contributors to MONUSCO, have expressed their concern about establishing a peace enforcement mandate within MONUSCO’s wider peacekeeping operations. They fear that enforcement operations taken by a brigade within MONUSCO will threaten the safety of the entire force, which is currently only involved in peacekeeping operations. Such concerns are likely to be raised tomorrow as well as at the troop contributing countries’ meeting on MONUSCO on Wednesday (6 March).

The Council is likely to start negotiations on a new mandate for MONUSCO soon after the briefing. The proposed draft resolution will address the establishment of the intervention brigade and possibly reconfigure MONUSCO’s mandate altogether, refocusing some of its efforts on eastern DRC, as recommended by the Secretary-General.

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