SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT,
Requests Six-Month Renewal for Expert Investigative Panel
NEW YORK, 19 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this evening strongly condemned the continued plundering of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which it said was perpetuating the conflict in the country, impeding economic development and exacerbating the suffering of the Congolese people.
In a statement read out by it President, Moctar Ouane (Mali), the Council also requested the Secretary-General to renew for six months the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the end of that period, the Panel should report to the Council, in addition to submitting an interim report after three months.
The Council stressed that no external parties, or groups or individuals under their control, should benefit from the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at that country’s expense; and that those natural resources should not serve as an incentive for any State, group or individual to prolong the conflict. It was also stressed that external parties, groups or individuals must not use the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to finance the conflict in the country. The Council further stressed that Congolese resources should be exploited legally and on a fair commercial basis so as to benefit the country and its people.
According to the statement the next reports of the Panel should include: an update of relevant data and analysis of further information from all relevant countries; an evaluation of the possible actions that could be taken by the Council, including those recommended by the Panel, in order to help end the plundering; recommendations on specific actions that the international community might take in support of the Government; and recommendations on possible steps that might be taken by transit countries, as well as end users, to contribute to ending the illegal exploitation.
The Council once again urged the governments named in the previous Panel report to conduct their own inquiries, cooperate fully with the Panel and to urgently take the necessary steps to end all illegal exploitation of Congolese natural resources, by their nationals or others under their control, and to inform the Council accordingly.
The meeting began at 6:26 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:34 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement PRST/2001/39 reads, as follows:
"The Security Council notes with concern that the plundering of the natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues unabated. The Security Council strongly condemns these activities, which are perpetuating the conflict in the country, impeding the economic development of the DRC and exacerbating the suffering of its people, and reaffirms the territorial integrity, political independence, and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including over its natural resources.
"The Security Council stresses that:
"The Security Council thanks the Expert Panel for its recommendations on the institutional, financial and technical aspects of the issue, and for its advice on possible measures to be imposed by the Security Council. It reaffirms its support to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, and reiterates its commitment to take any appropriate action to help put an end to the plundering of the resources of the DRC, in support of the peace process, once it has been established that such actions will have no serious and unmanageable negative impact on the disastrous humanitarian and economic situation of the country.
"The Security Council stresses the importance of continuing the monitoring of the situation regarding the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the DRC and the link between the exploitation of these natural resources in the DRC and the continuation of the conflict, in order to keep the necessary pressure to put an end to the illegal exploitation of the resources of the DRC, including the exploitation of human resources, at the expense of the Congolese people and of the peace process.
"Therefore, the Security Council, having heard the views expressed at its open debate on 14 December 2001, requests the Secretary-General to renew the mandate of the Expert Panel for a period of six months at the end of which the Expert Panel should report to the Council. The Panel should submit an interim report after three months.
"The next reports of the Panel should include the following elements:
"The Security Council stresses the importance of the Panel maintaining a high level of collaboration with all the Congolese players, governmental as well as non-governmental, throughout the national territory.
"The Security Council once again urges the Governments named in the previous reports to conduct their own inquiries, cooperate fully with the Expert Panel and take, on an urgent basis, the necessary steps to end all illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the DRC, by their nationals or others under their control, and inform the Council accordingly. The Security Council also calls on those countries that have not yet provided the panel with the requested information to do so as a matter of urgency."
The Council last met on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 14 December, when it was briefed by Mahmoud Kaseem, Chairman of the Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in that country on the addendum (document S/2001/1072) to the Panel's original report (document S/2001/357).
Mr. Kaseem stressed to the Council that the time had come to take decisive action to halt the exploitation of the resources in the Democratic Republic, which had become the means for sustaining the conflict. He further stressed that the implementation of the Experts’ recommendations and the implementation of the ceasefire should be seen as complementary. The results of the Panel’s findings highlighted the fact that the ceasefire agreement did not address the issue of the economic profits derived from the exploitation of natural resources.
In its report, the six-member Panel said that the effective collapse of State institutions and structures of the Democratic Republic had resulted in continuing and systematic exploitation of its natural resources by various predatory groups. The Panel stressed the need to formulate a plan of action to rebuild State institutions in the country, recommending that such action be linked to an international conference on peace and development in the Great Lakes region. It also called for a moratorium on the purchase and importing of precious products such as coltan, diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, timber and coffee originating in areas where foreign troops are present, as well as in territories under the control of rebel groups.
Mr. Kaseem also said that a lack of follow-up on the recommendations of the experts would send a message to traffickers and profiteers that they could continue their activities with impunity. He emphasized that a monitoring body would reduce the powerful incentive to continue the war, noting that in the Panel’s view a moratorium on selected products would not significantly impact the Congolese people.
He said the Council would have to decide whether a moratorium should be compulsory or voluntary. The Panel also underscored the importance of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration being undertaken by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and called for the parties concerned to assume the primary responsibility for dealing with security concerns, Mr. Kaseem said.
His statement was followed by an intensive debate, in which representatives of some 20 countries took part, including the Foreign Ministers of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, and an adviser to the President of Rwanda.
The Council had also met on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 9 November when it unanimously adopted resolution 1376 (2001). In that text, the Council expressed support for the launching of phase III of the deployment of MONUC and stressed the importance it attached to the deployment of that Mission in the east of the country.
The Council also expressed concern at the hostilities in areas in the eastern part of the country and called on the parties to cease any form of support to the armed groups. It affirmed that the implementation of phase III required the demilitarization of Kisangani; full restoration of freedom of movement for persons and goods between Kinshasa and Kisangani, and throughout the country; and full cooperation with MONUC military and logistical operations, as well as humanitarian, human rights and child-protection activities. The Council further affirmed that the implementation of phase III required the transmission to MONUC, as soon as possible, the information needed to plan its support for the total withdrawal of foreign troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
* *** *