Democratic Republic of the Congo - Security Council, 8813th meeting
Permanent Representative Highlights Kinshasa’s State-of-Siege Decree, Improved Neighbourly Ties, High-Profile Female Appointments
Following the confirmation of a new Government and the enactment of its programme of action for 2021-2023, efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must now coalesce around ending an upsurge of fighting in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today.
Bintou Keita, who is also the Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said the Government’s programme of action — adopted on 26 April — covers the protection of civilians, neutralization of armed groups, and importantly, a new programme to disarm, demobilize, reintegrate and stabilize former fighters.
She went on to outline efforts to establish a joint working group to support implementation of the Government’s plan of action. Launched on 5 July, its first task is to devise a plan for MONUSCO’s own transition, to be submitted to the Security Council in September, the success of which will depend on the mobilizing resources and the stability of the new ruling political coalition — l’Union Sacrée de la Nation.
Concerning security, she emphasized that said civilians in the east remain “under serious threat”, from bomb explosions in Beni, to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacks in North Kivu, to intercommunal tensions in Ituri and the Hauts Plateaux in South Kivu. With MONUSCO’s transition hinging on the return of peace to those areas, the Mission has a “robust posture”, she said, noting that the enhancement of its Force Intervention Brigade is “on track” following the deployment of the quick-reaction force from the United Republic of Tanzania in May.
She went on to cite meetings between the governors of South Kivu and those of neighbouring areas in Rwanda and Burundi, as part of an encouraging pattern of reduced political tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours. The state of siege declared in North Kivu and Ituri on 6 May, meanwhile, remains in effect following parliamentary approval for extensions, she said.
Appealing for the Council’s full support in finding non-military solutions to conflict in the east and agreeing on transition benchmarks to link the Government’s programme of action to an adjusted MONUSCO presence, she cautioned: “I believe that there is still much work to be done before MONUSCO can responsibly withdraw.”
Dovetailing with her briefing, Ritha Kibambe, Deputy Head of the Laboratory of Medical Biology at Ngaliema Clinic in Kinshasa, the capital, drew the Council’s attention to the particular challenges faced by women since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “Women have taken the fight to COVID-19, in spite of many prejudices and the fear of death,” she asserted, pointing out that, with schools closed, their care work has increased dramatically and girls’ education has been disrupted.
“If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we are duty-bound to learn from these crises,” she stressed, urging the Council to facilitate capacity-building in health systems and to bolster education systems with digital technology — for the women who are the “backbone of society in Africa”.
In the ensuing debate, delegates welcomed the formation of the new Government and its significant inclusion of women in the Cabinet. Several speakers condemned the intensifying unrest in the east, while some commended the Government’s prompt humanitarian response to increased needs. Kenya’s representative, speaking also for Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, called for enhanced joint planning and tactical operations, notably the deployment of intelligence and surveillance capabilities, urging the United Nations, as well as financial and technical partners, to bolster the institutional capacity needed to uphold the rule of law.
France’s representative, meanwhile, called for efforts to refocus MONUSCO on the eastern provinces, emphasizing that the Force Intervention Brigade must play its full part. Warning that those who carry out or participate in attacks against medical personnel may be listed and sanctioned by the Council, he said reforms must go hand in hand with MONUSCO’s transition.
The Russian Federation’s representative noted that illegal groups maintain significant military capacity, with the main threat posed by ADF. He added that it is disconcerting that the authorities are still unable to resolve the illegal exploitation of natural resources, used by armed groups to finance their activities, emphasizing that his delegation expects the Government will work to resolve border disputes, address intercommunal tensions and implement its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.
Addressing the Council’s concerns, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that, as part of ongoing efforts to normalize relations with neighbouring countries, the Government signed a protocol with Uganda in June relating to Ugandan members of ADF and transborder commerce, among other outstanding issues. He described the state-of-siege proclamation as an opportunity to eradicate “all negative forces”, emphasizing the President Félix Tshisekedi’s determination to advance the rule of law at the head of an administration that manages its borders and exerts the State’s authority across the country.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, India, Mexico, United States, Estonia, Norway, Viet Nam, United Kingdom and Ireland.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:42 a.m.