SECURITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS WAY FORWARD
IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO,
HEARING 28 SPEAKERS
European Union’s Response to Appeal for Emergency Force Is Welcomed
NEW YORK, 18 July (UN Headquarters) -- Now was a decisive moment in the four-year-old peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council was told today as 28 speakers took the floor in a public meeting to consider the way ahead towards setting in motion the democratic process critical to peace and development in that country, and in the region.
On 30 May, the Council had authorized the establishment until 1 September of an Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia, stipulating that the Force was to contribute to the stabilization of the security and humanitarian situation there, and, if required, to participate in the protection of the population, United Nations personnel and the humanitarian presence in the town.
Speakers today welcomed the European Union’s decision to respond to that appeal and the leadership role played by France. Many warned, however, that the Force’s replacement must be done seamlessly and carefully. Some delegations called for an arms embargo in the eastern portion of the country, where the latest atrocities had been committed; many sought an end to the reign of impunity for perpetrators of violence. The establishment of a transitional government, four years after signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, was hailed as historic, although not all officials had been sworn in yet.
With a new mandate for United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) under consideration by the Council, in light of the 1 September departure of the Interim Force, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, stressed that, to dissuade further military action in Bunia, it was crucial to maintain the robust character of the force stationed there. The multinational force that had been sent to the Ituri province was already sending a strong signal to those undermining the peace efforts.
Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Amos Namanga Ngongi, said that Mr. Guéhenno had rightly focused on Ituri, which did not need just a short-term deployment of troops. He was encouraged by the Council’s intention, through the speedy adoption of a new text, to deploy a robust force to Ituri, with an appropriate mandate. With massive human rights abuses the main driving force for such deployments, he urged that that factor not be overlooked in the case of his country.
Hope had emerged, but concerns still existed, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said, as he urged the Council to adapt the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission there to allow it to transform itself into a vast multidisciplinary peacekeeping operation functioning across the entire national territory. The interim force had stabilized the security and emergency situation in Bunia, but that achievement would be futile if the Bangladesh contingent, which had begun its deployment, did not have a similar mandate and rules of engagement, as well as an overall strategy aimed at peace in the Ituri district.
Echoing the need for a robust mandate, Secretary-General and High Representative of the European Union for the common foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, said, “We must preserve what the European Union force has achieved”. For that reason, it was essential that a reinforced MONUC presence be deployed in Bunia within the planned time frame, with a mandate and rules of engagement similar to those of the interim force. He stressed that the force should be operational under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, under which the use of force is authorized.
The French representative cautioned that fighting had not ended in the Kivus and the current stability in Ituri was fragile. Nevertheless, the European Union’s “Operation Artemis”, led by France, had made it possible to avert a humanitarian tragedy. The Operation had also consolidated the political process under way in Kinshasa and demonstrated European commitment to the Great Lakes region. The movement of displaced persons back to Bunia would be encouraged by the Council’s adoption of the draft resolution under consideration.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Germany, Mexico, Guinea, Angola, United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Chile, Cameroon, China, Syria, Pakistan, Bulgaria, South Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Rwanda and Nepal. The representative of Spain, whose delegation holds the Council presidency for July, spoke in his national capacity. The representative of Italy introduced Mr. Solana.
The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and adjourned at 2:07 p.m.
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had before it the second special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in that country (documents S/2003/566 and Corr.1).
In his report, dated 27 May, the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) be extended for another year, until 30 June 2004, and that its authorized military strength be increased to 10,800 all ranks. He also recommends that the number of civilian police personnel be increased to 134 police officers.
(On 30 May, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1484 (2003), the Council had authorized the establishment until 1 September of an Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia, stipulating that the Force is to contribute to the stabilization of the security and humanitarian situation there, ensure protection of the airport and of internally displaced persons in the camps in Bunia, and, if required, to participate in the protection of the population, United Nations personnel and the humanitarian presence in the town.)
The Secretary-General now appeals to the Council in the present report to urgently approve the deployment of a task force to Bunia, as well as the concept of operations for a MONUC brigade-size force.
Given that such a deployment would not be possible before the end of July, even under the best of circumstances, leaving a dangerous interim gap in this highly volatile area, he, therefore, calls on the Council to urgently consider the rapid deployment to Bunia of a highly trained and well-equipped force, under the lead of a Member State, to provide security at the airport, as well as other vital installations in that town, and protect civilians, as a temporary bridging arrangement before the possible deployment of a reinforced United Nations presence. Such a deployment -- for a limited period of time -- should be authorized by the Council under Chapter VII of the Charter.
The report recalls that the United Nations has been requested to deploy a force to participate in the proposed multi-layered confidence-building security system to give confidence to transitional leaders in Kinshasa, as outlined in paragraphs 33 to 38 of the present report. The Secretary-General recommends that the Council agree to these requests by approving the proposed involvement of MONUC.
Paragraphs 33 to 38 describes security arrangements in Kinshasa and explain that, regarding the parties’ request for the deployment of a “neutral force”, it is considered that any international assistance provided by military units or police should come under MONUC’s command to avoid the presence of two separate peacekeeping missions operating in the same theatre under separate chains of command.
Thus, the following multi-layered confidence-building security system is being proposed: existing Congolese police structures would continue to carry out normal law and order functions in the city; the close protection corps, for a limited number of political leaders, would be reinforced by a newly formed integrated police unit; and a MONUC military contingent would be formed consisting of some 740 personnel.
Given the current situation of instability and violence, and in the context of the Ituri Pacification Commission and the All-Inclusive Agreement, there can be no justification for supplying weapons to any group, the Secretary-General says. He, therefore, recommends consideration of a possible arms embargo in Ituri, as well as in the Kivus, with an exemption for the equipment of members of the future integrated armed and police units.
He finds that moving beyond the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, in this new chapter, will require the comprehensive engagement and assistance of the United Nations and the international community. The magnitude of the challenges should not be underestimated: the country is still divided; military hostilities continue in the east; the population is traumatized by years of conflict; the country is poverty stricken; and State services and infrastructure are non-existent.
The MONUC is well, if not uniquely, placed to play a “central catalytic role” in assisting the parties through the transition, he says. For this reason, the Mission’s main focus should now shift to facilitating and assisting the transitional process, and that it should be reconfigured and augmented accordingly, with the immediate priority to assist in the establishment of the Transitional Government.
According to the report, among the challenges is the ongoing strife and humanitarian catastrophe in Ituri. Supporting the representative, interim administration, which was established on 14 April by the Ituri Pacification Commission, is the “only viable strategy” for achieving peace in this troubled area.
Uganda’s withdrawal from Ituri is welcome, but it and all other external actors must recognize their accountability for the actions of those armed groups they helped to create and must cease to supply them or give them succour, the report states.
The MONUC, through its enhanced presence backed up by the deployment of a brigade-size force, as described in this report, has a vital role to play in support of the “still fragile” Ituri political process. The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the Mission’s current limited presence in Ituri, especially in view of the immense gap between its capabilities and the high expectations of the population.
The international community has a collective responsibility to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Bunia, as well as the concept of operations for a MONUC brigade-size force, he says.
The report also urges that neighbouring States and any other actors concerned should refrain from interfering in the ongoing developments in Ituri. The Secretary-General calls on all those involved in the fighting -- RCD-Goma, various Mai-Mai groups and other local militias -- to cease hostilities immediately. Arms supplies and other military support to all groups should also cease without delay.
The Secretary-General also calls on donors to contribute to a special fund for local peacemaking to be used by his Special Representative. Resources provided to such a fund could be used as seed money to supplement MONUC quick-impact projects in support of grass-roots initiatives.
Equally important for the transition process is the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the Congolese armed and irregular forces, the report says. The Secretary-General proposes that MONUC’s mandate be expanded to assist the Transitional Government, at its request, to plan the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of Congolese combatants. He will revert to the Council in due course with any operational recommendations that may be necessary in this regard.
He says he is “appalled” by the egregious level of gross human rights violations that continue to be committed throughout the country, some of which have been documented extensively by MONUC. He appeals to the transitional Congolese leaders to make the protection of human rights one of the highest priorities of the new Transitional Government. The MONUC and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights will work closely with the transitional institutions in this regard.
The report highlights a number of key benchmarks that the parties must observe in the coming weeks to maintain momentum and demonstrate their commitment, including: the immediate cessation of hostilities and of inflammatory rhetoric and propaganda; the lifting of restrictions on the free movement of goods and people throughout the country; the liberalization of political activity in the areas under their control; the disbandment of armed groups or their transformation into political parties; and steps towards the establishment of the high command of the integrated national armed forces and the formation of an initial unit of integrated police.
The report further states that the illicit exploitation of natural resources had criminalized the conflict in some areas, making it all the more difficult to stop, as well as depriving the Congolese people of their heritage and livelihood. The Transitional Government must produce, in a transparent manner, a budget with provisions for key State services. To this end, the Government should be held accountable for the effective management of the country’s natural resources and necessary assistance should be provided towards this goal.
The corrigendum (document S/2003/566/Corr.1) contains the final sentence of paragraph 55 of the report. It concerns the pursuit by MONUC of a two-pronged approach: a) disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of foreign armed groups in the region of Kivus, and b) promoting local peace and reconciliation mechanisms.
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, focusing on Bunia, said the security situation remained calm but tense. Detailing the multinational force’s responses to the efforts of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) to undermine the weapons-free zone, he told the Council that the UPC had suffered some casualties and that several of its weapons had been destroyed. He also cited an incident in which MONUC had responded with fire after being fired upon. Despite those events, the humanitarian situation, although still a cause for concern, had improved.
He said several concrete measures had been taken to help the Ituri Interim Administration. They included human rights training, preparing an interim operation plan for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, training Ituri police, and establishing a trust fund, with donations from the United States and Germany, to assist the Administration. Because the most difficult task at hand was ending the culture of war and impunity in the region, he urged the international community to increase their support of the Ituri Interim Administration. He also said that, to dissuade further military action in Bunia, it would be crucial to maintain the robust character of the troops stationed there. That was also especially important, given the significant numbers of brand new weapons found in the area.
Declaring that the vicious cycle of impunity could, indeed, be broken, he said the mere presence of the multinational force was already sending a strong signal to those who were undermining peace efforts and engaging in destruction. With the cooperation of the European Union and other Member States, the challenges in Bunia could be successfully faced.
AMOS NAMANGA NGONGI, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said it was with great relief and great pleasure that yesterday, on 17 July, several former opposition leaders were formerly sworn in to posts in the new Government. That was a decisive moment in the four year-old peace process. That was also remarkable in light of the fact that Mr. Kabila’s announcement of 30 June had indicated that several developments threatened to delay the calendar for the new transitional Government, including the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD)’s unilateral decision on 10 July to partition three military regions.
He recalled another incident on 13 July, when the RCD ministerial delegations bound for Kinshasa had refused to board the plane dispatched by MONUC over a disagreement about the number of bodyguards. Such incidents had led to questions about the level of commitment of the RCD to participate in the transition process. Following those developments, a meeting had been convened on 13 July in support of the transition, at which the military partitions were rejected and the disagreements, such as the one over the number of bodyguards, were regretted. On 15 July, all parties, with the exception of the RCD, agreed on a formal distribution of the military regions. That distribution currently posed the biggest stumbling block, because the RCD contested that decision.
Following the assumption of duties by the new Foreign Minister on 7 July, the formal handover between incoming and outgoing ministers had taken place, he said. Representatives of all entities of the inter-Congolese dialogue now occupied ministerial positions in the transition Government. They would be formally sworn in shortly. Several challenges on the way towards completing the transition had remained, and Mr. Guéhenno had rightly focused on Ituri, which should not be regarded as needing just a short-term deployment of troops. He was encouraged to see the draft resolution, which contained wording that provided for the deployment of a robust force to Ituri, with an appropriate mandate. But, additional action must be taken to end the reign of impunity, not only in Ituri, but throughout the country.
He said that the main driving force for all of the Security Council’s deployments had been massive human rights abuses and grave humanitarian situations. Those driving forces in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should not be overlooked. In that country, conditions were more and more favourable for major humanitarian relief operations. The establishment of a transition Government four years after signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was an historic milestone. The international community had played a decisive role in pushing the parties to fulfil their commitments.
Stressing that those efforts should not be reduced, he said that all efforts made so far would be wasted if the Security Council did not maintain its active interest in moving that process forward. The formation of a transit Government was not the end of the reconciliation process, but only the beginning of a new chapter. As the Secretary-General stated in his second special report, immense challenges remained.
JAVIER SOLANA, Secretary-General and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, speaking after completing a mission to the Great Lakes region, said that, in response to the appeal, the Union had decided to deploy a multinational force in Bunia. That operation was a first for the Union, which had never before sent military units outside of Europe. Indeed, it had succeeded in stopping the massacres in Bunia and had helped to relaunch the stalled peace process in Kinshasa.
In fact, he said, that peace process, from the start, had been characterized by a major anomaly, namely, the coexistence of the political and military options. On the one hand, the hostile parties negotiated and signed ceasefire agreements, and, on the other hand, those same parties continued their military operations on the ground in the hope of achieving a military victory. That ambiguity had been perpetuated by “negative forces” present in all of the armed units, for whom maintenance of the status quo seemed more desirable than application of the peace agreement, resulting, as it would, in the loss of their personal power.
He said that those “negative forces” had done everything possible to defeat the peace process, but they had not succeeded, thanks to the determination of the Congolese people and their leaders who wanted peace, and thanks also to the resolve of the international community. The escalation of the Ituri crisis, however, offered those forces a further opportunity to put the peace process at risk. The rapid deployment of the European multinational force halted that dangerous downward spiral and made it possible to relaunch negotiations, which had been bogged down for weeks. The crucial step of concluding agreement on the headquarters of the armed forces had made possible the creation of a government of national unity and institutions of transition.
The European Union mission to Bunia was going well so far, he continued. The improvement of security conditions was obvious, and there were many very positive indicators, including that humanitarian organizations were able to travel outside Bunia to visit people they could not reach before. There was a regular influx of refugees into the city, and the Ituri interim administration was again able to conduct some of its activities. “We must preserve what the European Union force has achieved”, he urged. For that reason, it was essential that a reinforced MONUC presence be deployed in Bunia within the planned timeframe. That force should have a mandate and rules of engagement similar to those of the Union force, and be adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
He said that that force should have the necessary equipment and military resources to accomplish its mission and implement the mandate and rules of engagement. If the desire was to secure the region beyond the city limits, larger forces would have to be deployed. The present time was of crucial importance if further difficulties created by the departure of the European force were to be avoided.
Strong pressure should be brought to bear on the warlords, who were leading the militias, he continued. The Union resolutely backed the proposal for an embargo on arms destined for North and South Kivu and Ituri. It also intended to promote initiatives to prevent those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed in the country from escaping punishment.
The Union was determined to make use of all of its means to support the political process now under way, he said. It was further determined to continue backing the transitional process until elections were held. Throughout that period, the Union would make a substantial contribution to funding for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and development of the country in all areas, in line with the priorities to be set by the Government of National Unity. In that context, he announced the adoption on 9 July of a programme of strategic support amounting to 205 million euros.
Noting that the Union was in the process of examining arrangements for providing aid to support the independent electoral commission, he said that conducting a census on which future electoral lists would be based was immense in a country that was the size of a continent and lacked resources, infrastructures and communication links. That was why it was necessary to begin the operation immediately, even though elections would not be held for another two or three years. For the same reason, the logistical support of MONUC seemed indispensable. Here, too, the example of Mozambique, where the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) made its logistics and means of transport available to the national electoral commission, could serve as a precedent.
He said that progress in the peace process and its positive effects throughout the central African region made it possible to envisage a regional conference on the peace, security and development of the Great Lakes region. The Union had been calling for such a conference for many years. The holding of it clearly depended on consolidation of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Burundi, where, regrettably, the situation was still deteriorating. The conference, however, should remain a priority objective for all.
With the establishment of the Government of National Unity in Kinshasa, a window of opportunity had been opened for the Republic and the region as a whole, he said. The commitment of the international community, which had been able to speak with one voice and bring the necessary pressure to bear on the warring factions to defeat the resistance, must be maintained and reinforced now that the new Government was setting out on the difficult road of the transition towards elections. It was the Union’s intention to step up its efforts to give the new Congolese Government the political, economic and financial support it needed to successfully complete that process, put an end to the suffering of the Congolese people, and guide the country towards democracy.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and the entire Great Lakes region was worrying. Nevertheless, there were many positive developments, as well. Encouraged by the first steps towards peace, he said the peace process had to be strongly supported by the international community. He also said he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations to adjust the mandate of MONUC to better reflect altered realities in that country.
He emphasized that the problem of child soldiers should be accorded special significance in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. In that regard, he would examine ways of providing support to that task. He also expressed interest in hearing about initiatives of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, regarding child soldiers. He added that militia leaders must be held accountable for the recruitment of children.
He supported the two conclusions drawn by the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In that context, he told the Council that the first conclusion had been that the Office of the Prosecutor must monitor and assess efforts made by national authorities. The second was that the Prosecutor must cooperate with national jurisdictions and attempt to help State authorities fulfil their duty to investigate and prosecute at the national level.
Welcoming the imposition of an arms embargo on all rebel groups operating in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said such an embargo was essential for restricting the resources of the Congolese militias and protecting neighbouring States from rebel attacks emanating from the country. Coupled with a fight against the illegal export of natural resources from the country, such action could prove to be more effective than the isolated disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.
Criticizing the resolution at hand, he said he had hoped to see the establishment of an efficient monitoring regime and the imposition of punitive measures on those violating the embargo. He added that, if reports about continuing weapons deliveries by neighbouring States to the rebel groups were confirmed, his Government’s bilateral relations with those countries would be negatively affected.
CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said there was no doubt that the scale of the conflict, as well as the international community’s commitment to promote peace, had left their mark on the work of the Security Council. Ever attentive to developments on the ground, the Council had taken measures to make a constructive contribution, and it had supported the parties involved in their quest for solutions. The Council also recently had adopted resolution 1484 (2003), by which it had approved the deployment of a multinational force in Bunia, in response to the violent events, shook that region in May. Undoubtedly, the multinational force had stabilized the situation.
Meanwhile, he said, Council members had been working to define and strengthen MONUC’s mandate, with a view to giving it a robust mandate and accommodate the recommendations of the Secretary-General. The text that was now likely to be adopted in the next few days also included the importance of disarmament and demobilization in the peace process, as well as the creation of a domestic police force. Thus, members had included provisions to support the transition Government in those areas. He hailed the judicious decision to deploy 3,800 personnel to Bunia to replace the multinational force. The Council had also succeeded in maintaining dialogue with all concerned parties, and the progress made in the political arena was welcome. Still, many outstanding issues remained, particularly in the human rights sphere, which must be addressed by the new Government.
JEAN–MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) said fighting had not ended in the Kivus and the current stability in Ituri was fragile. Nevertheless, through its Artemis Operation, the European Union, led by France, had made it possible to avert a humanitarian tragedy. The Operation had also consolidated the political process under way in Kinshasa and demonstrated European commitment to the Great Lakes region. Noting the recent swearing in of four new vice-presidents to the transitional Government of National Unity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said it represented a step in the right direction.
He told the Council that people displaced by violence in Bunia were slowly returning to their town, partly because of strengthened institutions. That movement would be encouraged by the adoption of the draft resolution at hand, which would increase United Nations personnel, mainly in Ituri.
Stressing the importance of fortifying the unity, security, and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he also stated that combating impunity was of utmost importance for the return to normality in the country. Before concluding, he noted that the deployment of Operation Artemis in Bunia had been an important sign of cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations in the field of peacekeeping.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said that the holding of today’s meeting 10 days after the one devoted to the human rights situation in that country showed the shared concern and determination to find a rapid solution to that fratricidal conflict. A key date for the political development of that country was 30 June, when the official announcement of the members of the Transitional Government had been made, followed by the swearing in of the four vice-presidents. The swearing in of the other members was expected tomorrow. That event had been a demonstration of the political will of the Congolese people to put aside their differences and forge a harmonious nation.
Recalling a recent statement by President Kabila, he agreed that neither tribal nor ethnic considerations, nor political affinities or region factionalism, could win the day over the highest interest of the country. The road ahead was still a long one and fraught with hidden dangers. One challenge concerned the dismantling of armed groups. Effective implementation of a programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, with child soldiers as a priority, required adequate measures to stop the circulation of weapons. Also, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as reflected in the massacres, rapes and other abuses, must be redressed. There could be no peace in that country if impunity was tolerated, either overtly or covertly. The Council, therefore, must contribute to the establishment of the necessary institutional framework.
Clearly, he went on, the Council’s decision to send a multinational force to Bunia had been wise and effective. To consolidate that action and expand it throughout the territory, there should be a strengthening of MONUC troops by providing them with a more robust mandate. The draft resolution, which had already been negotiated at the expert level, should be adopted “very quickly”. That resolution would facilitate the transition under safe conditions and in a timely manner.
The illegal exploitation of natural resources was another highly significant aspect of the prevailing climate of violence, he said. The country had been subjected to systematic dismemberment, from which the economic profits had strengthened the influence of opposition movements. That illegal exploitation had further served to unravel the country’s social fabric and weaken its central authority. Reversing that trend was imperative.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that holding a meeting like the present one showed the great importance the international community attached to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Coming from a neighbouring country, he said he was particularly concerned with the situation and that his Government had done everything possible to end the political crisis. For example, it had sponsored the Luanda Agreement, which had established the basis of a settlement in the Ituri area.
Noting that the conflict had led to vile atrocities, such as the use of children as soldiers, he urged the international community to step up and offer decisive help to the country. Without outside support, it would be impossible to have sustainable peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Welcoming the establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity, he said it represented a commitment to peace, and he expressed hope that it would receive the support of the United Nations.
Declaring that the matter of human rights should be addressed as a national priority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he added that, while the international community should offer its assistance, the Congolese people had to seize this opportunity to move towards peace and normality.
JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) welcomed the inauguration yesterday of the Transitional Government and agreed that that had been an extremely vital step towards unifying the country, ending five years of war, and launching the country on a democratic path. The United States strongly supported the Transitional Government. Several important challenges confronted it, as it strove to re-establish security country-wide, to integrate its military and police, and to reform the economy and implement a two-year democratic transition. To succeed in those tasks, it was critical that government members work collaboratively and that States in the region cooperate to support that process, which sought to bring peace and stability to the Congolese people and their neighbours throughout the region.
He thanked the contributing countries to the multinational force, especially the French Government for playing the leading role in that regard. The efforts of the European Union to improve the security situation in Bunia had also been much appreciated, as troops there had been asked to carry out a dangerous, but important, mission. He appreciated their contribution to peace in the Congo, especially in the Ituri region. It was important now to lend “continuing support” to the fledgling Ituri administration, so that the citizens of that province could lead their lives in peace an tranquillity, rather than under the terror of rival militias.
ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said he welcomed the establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, he stressed that the Government’s intent to restore constitutional order throughout the whole country was not an easy task. The new leadership would have to draw up a plan of action, one that would include a timetable for elections and steps for the full restoration of State institutions. The plan would also have to address the restoration of police and armed forces, control over natural resources, the economy, and the normalization of relations with neighbouring States.
He noted that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was awash in weapons. In that regard, he called for a review of the disarmament programme. Specifically, he said the programme could not only rely on the voluntary turning in of arms. Instead, a new national army, with the help of MONUC and donor countries, could work to rectify the situation. Regarding international support, he said it was important that, during this historic and crucial period, the international community not weaken its support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After all, the country had “every right to count on our help”.
Referring to the eastern part of the country, he said a multinational force alone would not be able to establish lasting security in Ituri. Rather, it had to be accompanied by a strengthened United Nations presence. He added that, in Bunia, Ituri, and other regions, horrendous crimes had been committed against people. In that regard, the Council must not yield in punishing the perpetrators. He also stated that peace in the country depended on a stable regional climate. Thus, the security of inter-State borders needed to be addressed. Before concluding, he asked the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo if the Transitional Government would intend to take national measures to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that United Nations efforts in that country had been seamless and had depended very much on the work of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Headquarters team. The analysis presented this morning had rightly focused on the movement in the political context. The swearing in of the four vice-presidents had exemplified what the international community had been trying to achieve through implementation of the Lusaka Accord. During Council missions to that country and the region over the past four years, in all of the towns and villages beyond Kinshasa, members had been struck by the appeal to the United Nations and the international community of the Congolese people for peace.
In that connection, he said he hoped that officials in the new Government took up their responsibilities with political will, honour and honesty, and that they would repay the Congolese people for the time they had to wait for peace. That was something that should come out of today’s meeting –- those who had suffered so much for so many years still deserved international help. Ituri and Bunia were a big part of that and the multinational force had made a significant contribution. He was proud to be a European Union member, and praised it for its contribution and France for its leadership. A security vacuum, however, must not be allowed to open up after that force’s departure on 1 September.
He supported the full deployment of an increased MONUC brigade force, but that needed to be done on time and with the capability to ensure that the gap between the two forces was negligible, and that MONUC was visibly strong from day one. Threats to the present and future force must also be understood. The MONUC would be tested if it was believed to be a vulnerable force. He looked forward to discussing the way ahead with the Peacekeeping Department. The Council also had to ensure that those who committed crimes against the Congolese people were brought to account. He looked forward to adopting the draft soon, as that would increase MONUC’s ceiling. The chapter VII authority would deter violence. Like Germany and others, he supported the arms embargo referred to in the text and wished to see a monitoring panel established to help the Council oversee its implementation.
On the humanitarian situation, he agreed that conditions were now more favourable for major relief operations, but those needed to be well organized by the international community, with the Organization’s support. A regional conference was very necessary to construct the framework for the economic regeneration of the region, which should include structures for maintaining political and security stability. He regretted that, until now, not everyone had agreed that such a conference would be a good thing.
CRISTIÁN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said that, although the first steps towards peace were always the hardest, he was satisfied to note that a transitional constitution had been promulgated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that a Transitional Government, integrating various opposing factions, had been established. Stressing the importance of reforming the national police, judiciary, and armed forces, he maintained that the country should be able to count on international support.
Condemning gross human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and declaring that the perpetrators must be punished, he drew attention to the humanitarian situation in Bunia. Impressed by the courage of the town’s residents, he lauded, in particular, the bravery of the Chair of the Local Assembly in Bunia, who was the mother of five children. Before concluding, he stated that it was vital for the Council to adopt the draft resolution authorizing a new mandate for MONUC. He also stressed the need for a regional conference to develop a future strategy for the social and economic development of this part of Africa.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said there was no question that that situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a challenge to all -- to the international community, to Africa, and to the Congolese themselves. Those people wanted peace, development, and to benefit from their vast natural resources. Sadly, since independence, the history of the Congo had been marked by crises, which had constantly undermined that profound quest. All the major actors on the political scene in the country had the pressing task of living up to the hopes of their compatriots, who were caught up in a whirlwind of violence and living in unspeakable poverty. It was incumbent upon the political leaders to choose cooperation and dialogue over weapons.
He said that the promulgation of the constitution and the establishment on 30 June of the Transitional Government were among the significant milestones in achieving the objectives. He welcomed the setting up of the Government of Unity and Transition, and, in particular, the swearing in yesterday of the four vice-presidents. Certain members of the Government had not been sworn in, which was an indication of the still prevailing climate of mistrust. The parties taking part in the Government had a clear grasp of the historic importance of the process in which they were engaged. For its part, the international community was vigilantly monitoring the Congolese parties’ activities.
Commending the European Union and France for the quality and effectiveness of their contributions to the multinational force, he said that that had made it possible for the people of Ituri to return to some normalcy. The formation of the multinational force had been a clear example of what the international community should be doing to help contain a conflict and limit its humanitarian consequences and human rights violations. It was now important for the force’s replacement on 1 September to be done seamlessly and carefully, so that the security achievements could be sustained. There must be no security vacuum in Ituri, he stressed.
He called for a robust mandate for the new force, so as to give it the necessary means to act with the best possible effectiveness in emergency situations on the ground. Consensus had finally emerged to act on the draft resolution under Chapter VII. A strengthened mandate would make it possible for MONUC to tackle the peace process in Ituri, the Kivu provinces, and in Kinshasa. Consensus was also emerging in the Council for an arms embargo. Development questions should also be included in MONUC’s mandate, and a post at the level of a special representative should be assigned. Such a post, he pointed out, existed in the Mission in Sierra Leone.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said the Security Council’s meetings about the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed the importance it attached to that country’s crisis. Having visited there and personally witnessing the impact of the conflict, he was pleased to note that the peace process had significantly progressed over the past several months. For example, the establishment of the Transitional National Government had shown political reconciliation and a commitment to national peace and unity.
Stressing that a permanent solution depended on the efforts of the Congolese themselves, he urged them to overcome their differences and work together to implement peace agreements. The peace process, after all, was at a crucial stage. A vast country with many natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo needed economic, financial, and political support from the international community. In that regard, he urged the Council to adopt the draft resolution concerning the expansion of MONUC in the near future. In the meantime, his Government would continue to do its part by sending military and engineering personnel to the country, he said.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that the intervention of the European force to put an end to the killings in Bunia represented a new stage in easing the situation. He was particularly grateful to France for its leading role in that regard. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s proposals to make MONUC more robust. Thus, he supported the draft text prepared by the Council and looked forward to its speedy adoption, so that the modified mission could advance the peace process and leave no room for its reversal. Once and for all, an end must be put to the violence of all factions and their use of child soldiers. Echoing the views of previous speakers, he insisted that that violators of human rights and civil laws must not be allowed impunity.
As reaffirmed in many resolutions of the Council, he emphasized the decisive role of neighbouring countries in promoting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and bringing the process to its successful conclusion. He welcomed the steps taken by the European Union and the future steps outlined today. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was passing through an historic stage, as it moved from violence and conflict to peace and security, from destruction and chaos to reconstruction, justice and respect for human rights. He was confident that the international community, the United Nations, and the Security Council would support the Congolese people in that last phase of its journey.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a complex one, with such diverse themes as natural resources and ethnic hatred coming into play. He added that, although there had been no clear victors in this war, millions of innocent civilians had already been killed. He hoped that the establishment of a transitional Government, which was the culmination of long and painstaking negotiations, would lead to real political reform and help end the conflict in the eastern part of the country.
He stressed that it was up to the Congolese to end the fighting and make peace. Nevertheless, it was also important for the international community to support peace efforts at the national and local levels, especially in Ituri and the Kivus. A robust peacekeeping force was needed for true peace to take root and become sustainable. He said the French-led multinational force should be replaced with an expanded MONUC. In that regard, he supported the draft resolution, which was close to finalization.
He said a credible, effective, and implementable arms embargo, with an attached monitoring mechanism, must be imposed on all warring parties. It was especially important to monitor areas where resources and funds were being converted into arms. He also expressed support for the convening of a regional conference to address social and economic development. In that context, he emphasized that peace in the region would promote peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Noting that the Congolese people had suffered grievously, he said the humanitarian situation in the country should be addressed as an integral part of the conflict. Reading a passage from the novel Heart of Darkness, which said that men were capable of great evil, he declared that there could be no genuine peace except through justice. In that regard, he said it was necessary to punish human rights violators. He concluded by saying that, as a major contributor of peacekeeping forces and a member of the Council, his Government would do whatever it could to support the peace process.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that the deployment of the multinational force to Bunia had been one of the most courageous gestures undertaken by the European Union in the area of foreign policy. He had noted genuine pride in Mr. Solana’s remarks, which was highly justified. That gesture was made possible by the very courageous decision of the French authorities, and he thanked them for their efforts in Bunia.
As a member of the recent Council mission to Bunia, he said the efforts being made there should not only be welcomed, but highlighted, since that decision had been fully consonant with European and global public opinion regarding the intolerable horrors that had occurred in Ituri. That deployment had also set a good example of the positive aspects of globalization and had made possible significant progress in the political arena.
He said that the Transitional Government representatives had made clear their high level of commitment. The Security Council was fully playing its role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and should continue to do so. The draft resolution being prepared by the Council for a strengthened MONUC mandate was a very positive and important development, which he had supported from the outset. Hopefully, the text would be adopted as quickly as possible. He welcomed the provision for an arms embargo in the eastern portion of the country. A monitoring mechanism should also be established and sanctions provided for those who violated the embargo.
Clearly, the task facing the Government was “colossal”, he stressed. The holding of free and transparent elections throughout the territory was extremely important. The international community should do everything possible to see that perpetrators of violence were held accountable. Unfortunately, the conflict in the Congo, with its protracted nature, the ferocity of the warlords, and the huge expanse of national territory, had led to a situation in which violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law had taken on immense proportions; those could not be “passed over in silence”. The Council must be provided with all necessary means, including legal means, to implement that principle.
Council President INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking in his national capacity, said the swearing in of the Transitional Government’s new vice-presidents reflected a new positive phase. He also welcomed the efforts of Joseph Kabila to establish a new Chief of the Armed Forces. Turning to neighbouring countries, he said the efforts of Uganda and Rwanda to deter groups from engaging in violence were commendable. Nevertheless, there was still cause for concern in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In that context, he welcomed the efforts of the Artemis Operation and stressed that MONUC’s takeover of the multinational force’s duties must proceed in a seamless fashion, in order to keep the present momentum.
ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that MONUC had worked for the cause of peace and the restoration of dignity for his country. It had concluded the second phase of its operations and had contributed to the recent progress made in the peace process. In his country, hope had emerged, but concerns still existed. The transitional period, to conclude with the elections, would not be easy and should be supported, lest there be a collapse of the entire structure built by the Council and others. The multinational force had stabilized the security and emergency situation in Bunia, but that would be futile if the Bangladesh contingent, which had begun its deployment, did not have a similar mandate and rules of engagement, as well as an overall strategy aimed at peace in the Ituri district.
He said that the return to normalcy in the country depended, first and foremost, on the Congolese people themselves, whose leaders must demonstrate self-sacrifice and patriotism. President Kabila had provided full assurances that the difficulties would be overcome and that the window of opportunity for peace would not close. He had assured the Congolese that the transition would continue to make unimpeded progress. The international community and the Security Council must build on that transitional period. The Council must provide positive follow-up to the recommendations of the Secretary-General, in particular, by adapting MONUC’s mandate to allow it to transform itself into a vast multi-disciplinary peacekeeping operation functioning in the entire territory of the nation.
The international community must continue to assist the Government, particularly in implementing the Constitution, reforming the national army and police, preparing and holding the elections, as well as in promoting good governance and development, he said. All activities fuelling the war of aggression must be terminated. Programmes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must be resolutely implemented. The peace process in the country could only be concluded if the process of democratic transition under way in other countries of the Great Lakes region also advanced. For example, the elections to be held in a few weeks in Rwanda should be followed closely.
Regarding human rights, he stressed how important it was that justice be served for the Congolese victims of the numerous atrocities. The determination to unify the country by overcoming artificial differences should not sidestep justice. An end must be put to impunity, once and for all, as that was continuing to incite horrendous behaviour. His country must also be provided with solid institutions for the protection of human rights and an adequate judicial framework, in which criminals would be accountable for their actions.
GRAHAM MAITLAND (South Africa) welcomed the formation of the Transitional Government as a crucial step towards achieving lasting peace in the country. South Africa was honoured to have been able to assist in that process and remained ready to continue doing so. Urging all stakeholders in the peace process to implement the agreements they had signed, he added that there was no turning back. The strategy of talking peace and waging war at the same time must be abandoned.
The grave security and humanitarian situation in Ituri Province obliged the Council to give serious consideration to proposals to strengthen MONUC’s military presence in that part of the country, he continued. In addition to strengthening the numbers and capabilities of MONUC’s forces, the operation should be equipped with a Chapter VII mandate. The protection of civilians under imminent threat of armed attack should receive special emphasis. The departure of the Multinational Emergency Force, dispatched under Chapter VII, and deployment of MONUC’s second task force to Ituri, further raised important questions regarding the congruence of the two forces’ mandates.
While promoting a more robust mandate for MONUC, the Council would be remiss not to stress the responsibility of all Congolese stakeholders to ensure protection and promotion of human rights in the country, he said. In light of the new political developments, which afforded all stakeholders the opportunity to rejuvenate the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations proposing a more comprehensive approach to support the transitional phase in the country. Of particular importance was the need to support the security arrangements for the Transitional Government in Kinshasa, as well as the work of the Ituri Interim Administration.
In conclusion, he said that recent success in the peace process provided real opportunities to commence the urgent task of economic reconstruction in the country. The support of the international community in that task was of critical importance. South Africa stood ready to make its contribution to Congolese efforts to achieve peace and prosperity.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) called on all the Congolese parties to work together with MONUC to bring peace and stability to the country. Apart from the death and destruction resulting from the conflict, an enormous number of people had been displaced, thereby creating an acute humanitarian crisis.
The recent violence in eastern Congo had shocked the international community, and despite the Security Council’s calls, the fragile peace continued to be threatened. Noting “certain positive political developments” which included the formations of the Transitional Government and national army, he further urged the Council to act promptly on the Secretary-General’s recommendations to raise troop ceilings under MONUC and to provide a more robust mandate.
Bangladesh was ready to contribute to the reduction of conflicts on the African continent, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To that end, it had committed a mechanized infantry battalion of 1,050 troops to MONUC, he said.
The tragedy in the Congo had gone on for far too long and must be brought to a close, he said. The country must be put back as soon as possible on the track of peace and progress, and the international community had a responsibility in that regard.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said he supported the work being done by the Security Council and the Secretary-General to encourage the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also stressed that, to do their part, all internal political parties should respect the Lusaka Accords and other agreements. Declaring that the current challenges were difficult, he stressed that the Security Council had to adopt decisive measures to move the peace process forward. For its part, his Government had contributed troops to MONUC.
In order to promote peace, it was particularly important to focus on the following areas: support for the political process; protection for civilians and international rescue missions; monitoring of ceasefire agreements; withholding arms to military factions; effective monitoring of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; coordination of United Nations action in social development; and strengthening the capacity of national security institutions to protect external borders and natural resources.
He spoke of the close relationship between natural resources, the flow of arms, and fighting. In that context, he said the international community had to help stop illegal economic activities. Because unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo affected the stability of the entire Great Lakes region, it was necessary to take into account the needs of all the region’s countries and determine shared interests, based on good neighbourliness and mutually respected sovereignty. In that context, a regional conference, that would study peace-building in a comprehensive manner, would be helpful.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) commended the Council for its efforts to provide MONUC with a more robust mandate before the mandate of the multinational force ended on 1 September. A vacuum of authority in the region would harm the achievements made by the Ituri Interim Administration and threaten further activities of the recently established Transitional Government. MONUC’s support would remain crucial throughout the process leading to the holding of elections and the creation of a truly democratic government in the near future. Democracy was the basis for a consistent peace. The Secretary-General should be provided with all resources required to maintain the current trend. Brazil favoured a temporary arms embargo for the region and the establishment of a monitoring and inspection mechanism. The observance of international humanitarian law was a condition for peace and MONUC should be capable of providing a reasonably safe environment for humanitarian agencies to operate.
Renewed efforts were needed to ensure that impunity for those responsible for atrocities and crimes against humanity did not prevail, he said. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be provided with the necessary support and security to offer assistance and gather information on the ground. United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations should be involved in providing psychological help to victims and witnesses. Even some perpetrators of the violence deserved assistance, as was the case with child soldiers. He urged the international community to support the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Observatory on Human Rights.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that it was a matter of great urgency to stabilize the situation and avoid a humanitarian crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Japan appreciated the activities undertaken by MONUC and the multinational force dispatched under the leadership of the European Union under extremely difficult conditions. As the situation following the withdrawal of the multinational force in September was difficult to predict, it was important for the Council to promptly authorize the deployment of troops with an appropriate mandate in the Ituri region, thus, ensuring a smooth transition from one force to another.
Given the seriousness of the situation in the area of Bunia, the MONUC contingent deployed in the region required a sufficiently robust enforcement mandate, he said. At the same time, it was necessary to exercise caution. A strong enforcement mandate for providing security, under Chapter VII of the Charter, would risk changing the current peacekeeping practices and plunging the troops into very complicated situations. With certain parties not participating in the ceasefire agreement or peace accord, peacekeepers might be required to engage in combat, as if they were parties to the conflict. Such a mandate should be given to peacekeepers only in exceptional cases. The mandate should be clearly defined by the Council resolution to show under what conditions, and in which geographical areas, it would be exercised. It was also necessary to clearly define the rules of engagement.
While recognizing the need to strengthen MONUC to meet the needs in the eastern part of the country and prevent the spreading of the crisis, Japan considered it unrealistic to apply the same approach as the one applied in Ituri to the entire territory. Peace could not be consolidated by force through the foreign military presence of MONUC in as vast a country as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All the parties concerned needed to cooperate in the peace process of their own volition.
He added that once the arms embargo proposed by the Secretary-General was in place, it was important to ensure its effectiveness. He hoped that the Council would carefully consider necessary measures, particularly regarding the monitoring of implementation. Close cooperation was essential with the small arms and light weapons focal points, which had been established in the Great Lakes region. The Council should also consider taking effective measures to deal with the illicit exploitation of natural resources.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said it was a relief to see the new Transitional Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also expressed the hope that all obstacles confronting it, such as conflicts arising over the distribution of military command posts, would be eliminated. Highlighting the involvement of an Indonesian contingent in the peace process, he said it proved his Government’s commitment to peace in the region. He also lauded the positive work of MONUC.
Turning to violence and human rights violations, he said that such aberrations would only hinder development. He, therefore, urged the Security Council to establish without delay a National Human Rights Observatory and National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also insisted that perpetrators of violence be held responsible for their crimes.
LAURO L. BAJA, JR. (Philippines) said the international community had recently witnessed the swearing in of cabinet ministers comprising the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He wished all the Congolese parties success in their efforts to achieve genuine national reconciliation and encouraged them to maintain the 22-month timeframe for the Transitional Government to establish an elected government. The formation of the Transitional Government was a swift response to the Council’s recent mission to Central Africa. However, that was only a first step. Security in the Ituri region remained fragile. When the multinational force completed its mandate on 1 September, it was crucial that a security vacuum not emerge. He supported the Secretary-General’s proposal and looked forward to the early adoption of the draft resolution to address that concern.
While the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was complex and difficult, it was not insurmountable, he said. It was time to translate commitments made in the peace agreements into reality. Strengthening MONUC was only one of the measures to halt the fighting. He endorsed several initiatives to create a long-term peace process, including the convening of an international conference involving the countries of the Great Lakes region. An agreement of good neighbourliness must also be forged. He also welcomed the briefings last week on the investigations of specific incidents where gross violation of human rights had been committed. Every effort must be taken to bring the perpetrators of those acts to justice. Also, more concrete steps must be adopted to stop the pillaging of the country’s natural resources.
STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda) said the present meeting was taking place at a significant moment, namely, the establishment of the Transitional Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he voiced his full support for that Government. During the whole crisis, his Government had always drawn the attention of the international community to the importance of a national Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that would be able to extend its authority throughout the country.
Stressing that the new Government was not an end it itself, he said that, hopefully, it was a step towards a true and lasting peace. He also hoped that it would rally all Congolese to unite and respect their country’s laws. Calling on the new Government to shoulder responsibilities with respect to armed groups operating in its territory, he stated that he was committed to helping find solutions that would benefit the people of the region. He ended by saying his Government would fully cooperate with MONUC and would like to see the mission strengthened in accordance with its importance.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said the ethnic diversity and vast natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had, unfortunately, led to many problems. Expressing solidarity with the Congolese people, he pledged his Government’s full cooperation with peace efforts. Calling on the Council to enforce an arms embargo in the region, he said the international community must support peace efforts in the country. After all, a peaceful Democratic Republic of the Congo would be a boon to Africa and the whole world.
Expressing regret over the low number of international troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he told the Council that Nepal had done its part by deploying 19 military observers and headquarters staff to the country. His Government had also made a further commitment to send army engineers, and they were currently awaiting deployment to Bunia. In addition, if asked by the Council, his Government was prepared to contribute one infantry battalion to the mission.
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