Delegates urged international partners to continue helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo implement its programme of action for 2021-2023, as the Security Council examined today the forthcoming mandate renewal for the United Nations peacekeeping operation in that country.
Presenting an overview of the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2021/987), Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said that as the country looks ahead to elections in 2023, all political stakeholders must focus on taking forward the key reforms needed to consolidate the hard-won stabilization gains and overcome the remaining challenges, particularly in eastern provinces.
Noting that on 30 November, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the Ugandan army began joint military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), she underscored the need to set up operational cooperation mechanisms to enable MONUSCO to continue its support for FARDC in protecting civilians and neutralizing armed groups. To that end, on 2 December, MONUSCO’s Force Commander went to Kampala to define the practical modalities of this tripartite coordination. On 7 December, the Force Commander will be in Kinshasa to meet with FARDC military leadership to continue this dialogue.
Turning to the implementation of the progressive, responsible and conditions-based drawdown of MONUSCO, she said the Mission, the United Nations country team and the Government continue to coordinate the operationalization of the joint transition plan presented last October to the Council. MONUSCO and the United Nations country team are employing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus approach in Tanganyika, where the security situation continues to improve. In anticipation of MONUSCO’s drawdown from the province by June 2022, the Mission’s senior leadership, together with officials of the United Nations entities, recently led field visits to jointly assess progress towards the implementation of the exit strategy and enhance coordination with provincial and local authorities.
Meanwhile, in the Kasai region, the United Nations system remains focused on continued efforts to sustain peacebuilding gains, following the withdrawal of MONUSCO, she said. The international community, represented by the Partners Coordination Group, has continued to show its commitment to a responsible and sustainable transition process. In October, the Group undertook a field visit to Kasai and Kasai Central provinces to review the implementation of nexus-related projects and the provincial coordination mechanisms.
Given the overall situation, she asked the Council to renew its support to MONUSCO and provide adequate resources to enable the Mission to fulfil its mandate for the benefit of the Congolese people.
Marie-Madeleine Kalala, women’s rights activist and member of the African Women Leaders Network, said that the issue regarding the appointment of the Independent National Electoral Commission is a matter of concern, as it is incomplete due to a lack of consensus with the opposition. It is essential for all stakeholders to agree on the process so that it can be truly consensual, transparent and peaceful.
Insecurity in the east of the country remains a scourge, she said, noting that people must “displace themselves” if they are not to be killed, and there continues to be pillaging of natural resources, complicity with multinational companies, massacres of populations and the rape of women. Women’s rights continue to be violated, she said, noting that in the Secretary-General’s report of 2021, such violations have increased by 131 per cent. The number of displaced people in the country has exceeded 5.7 million, of which 51 per cent are women.
On MONUSCO’s withdrawal, Congolese women, through the African Women Leaders Network, have been involved in the transition plan. The withdrawal of the Mission should be carried out while recognizing all the problems she has referred to today, as the security situation remains fragile. “Violence against women is a matter of concern throughout the country,” she said, noting that such aggression will delay development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Condemning the increase in hate speech and tribalism, she emphasized that “these backwards mindsets will not enable our country to develop and move forward.”
Abdou Abarry, Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also addressed the 15-member organ about the Committee’s work since his last briefing in October 2020.
In the ensuing discussion, France’s representative said the implementation of the Government’s programme of action for 2021-2023 will be essential to meeting measurable indicators to guide the reconfiguration of the United Nations presence. Support by international and regional partners will also need to increase to achieve the objectives set by MONUSCO’s transition plan.
The United Kingdom is keen to see further consolidation of MONUSCO’s presence in Ituri, and North and South Kivu, its delegate noted, expressing support for a gradual, sustainable withdrawal of MONUSCO, guided by an end state, rather than an end date.
Mexico’s representative recognized the role of the Congolese Government in its drafting and implementation of the transition plan and welcomed initiatives to establish a national transitional justice strategy. He also underscored the need for enhanced capacity-building to better address the threats posed by the deviation of small arms and light weapons, as well as improvised explosive devices. Ahead of MONUSCO’s mandate renewal, he called for the full involvement of national and local actors, as the transition process is complex.
Kenya’s representative, speaking also for Niger, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, welcomed Democratic Republic of the Congo President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts to ensure timely, inclusive, transparent, credible and peaceful elections in 2023 in line with the constitutional timelines. Urging the international community and financial donors to help the country strengthen its capacity of national security, justice and economic institutions, he also called for support for the Government’s programme of action. The Secretary-General should conduct a regular strategic review of MONUSCO, he said, expressing support for a renewal of the Mission’s mandate.
Viet Nam’s representative called for unity in bringing back stability in the country’s east as well as focusing on development, including through the implementation of the Government’s programme of action. Noting that peace and stability will continue to elude the people in the affected regions if the underlying causes of instability and violence are not fully addressed, he called for new and advanced strategies that will ensure the protection of civilians, restore State authority, deal with illegal activities relating to natural resources, promote reconciliation among communities and address hate speech.
The representative of the United States said sexual abuse in peacekeeping must end, pointing out that there had been 20 new allegations in the past year alone. Such cases undermine the Mission’s effectiveness and endanger the populations peacekeepers are meant to protect, she said, urging all countries to take prevention seriously and to hold those responsible for such acts accountable.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s representative said that the political situation is calm. At the national level, discussions have been dominated by the upcoming elections in 2023. At the regional level, the Head of State continues his contacts with other leaders to improve cooperation and has signed agreements with several countries in the economic and security spheres. Holding the presidency of the African Union, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has promoted the topic of “positive masculinity” to prevent violence against women and girls. The President is determined to continue to fight against armed forces in the eastern part of the country and has also decreed a state of siege, which remains in effect. On the progressive drawdown of MONUSCO, he said the withdrawal will be conducted in parallel with a temporary strengthening of the police component of the Mission. In September, the President requested the lifting of the requirement for his Government to provide prior notification to the Committee for any import of military equipment. The Government has also requested sanctions against mafia networks in transit and destination countries, he added.
Also speaking were the representatives of China, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, India and the Russian Federation.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:53 a.m.