Amid a deteriorating security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council today renewed the sanctions regime imposed on that country and extended until 1 August 2023 the mandate of the Group of Experts overseeing its implementation.
Adopting resolution 2641 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2641(2022)) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against with 5 abstentions (China, Russian Federation, Ghana, Gabon and Kenya), and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council decided to renew until 1 July 2023 the measures set out in paragraphs 1 to 6 of resolution 2293 (2016) related to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze. These measures require all States to refrain from, among other things, providing weapons to non-governmental entities operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
By the terms of today’s resolution, the Council decided that the measures referred to in paragraph 2 of the resolution shall apply to individuals and entities as designated by the Committee for involvement in the production, manufacture or use in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of improvised explosive devices, or in the commission, planning, ordering, aiding, abetting or otherwise assistance of attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with improvised explosive devices.
The Council also decided that the notification requirement set out in paragraph 5 of resolution 1807 (2008) shall no longer apply to supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, related technical assistance or training, and shipments of arms and related material for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, except in relation to items set forth in Annex A of the resolution, which remain subject to the applicable notification procedures.
It demanded that States ensure that all measures taken by them to implement this resolution comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law, as applicable. The Council also called for enhanced cooperation among all States, particularly those in the region, and the Group of experts, and requested the Group of Experts to provide to the Council a midterm report no later than 30 December 2022, and a final report no later than 15 June 2023, as well as submit monthly updates to the Committee.
Following the vote, Council members took the floor to express their views regarding the notification requirement, among other terms of the resolution, with some saying those requirements impeded the capacity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to limit armed groups, while others pointed to improvements in that regard.
Nicolas de Rivière (France), whose delegation served as the resolution’s main drafter, welcomed the adoption of the resolution and stressed that the Council must be able to sanction those responsible for the instability in the east of the country. The sanctions regime will now continue a new criterion for listing in order to fight against the increasing use of improvised explosive devices, he added. Noting the demands of the Democratic Republic of the Congo regarding the notification procedure for the provision of material and military assistance, he said the resolution does significantly lighten that procedure. Voicing regret that the resolution did not receive unanimous support, he expressed hope that the measures remaining in force will be developed in the future, stressing the importance in that regard of national efforts to combat trafficking and the spread of weapons.
Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana) said the current notification requirement continues to impede the capacity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to limit armed groups, as well as improve its ability to safeguard its internal security. It has not been entirely effective in curbing the problem of weapons proliferation within the country. Moreover, the notification requirement described in the resolution does not respond to the imperatives for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nor does it reflect the country’s sovereignty. In solidarity with that country’s Government, her delegation decided to abstain in the vote.
Edwige Koumby Missambo (Gabon), also noting her delegation’s abstention, said that the current notification obligation continues to curb the capacity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to promptly, effectively and efficiently counter the armed groups’ activities. “Halting operational capacities in the area of security of a State that is led by democratically elected authorities is tantamount to giving license to armed groups whose agenda is to foment terror and chaos among civilians,” she stressed. There should be a complete lifting of the notification obligation to allow the Congolese Armed Forces to defend their country. The international community must recalibrate its priorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to focus above all on the interests of the people, while respecting its sovereignty.
Gideon Kinuthia Ndung’u (Kenya) spotlighted the resolution’s modest positive step in lifting the notification requirement on supplies of non‑lethal military equipment intended solely for human and protective use and related tech assistance and training. However, the resolution falls short in addressing the appeal made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo for full lifting of the notification requirement on arms and the provision of assistance and training related to military activities. That requirement fails to recognize that the country has managed to register important milestones in strengthening its weapons and ammunition management system to ensure better control and protection of weapons in its possession. Because of that, his delegation abstained.
Anna M. Evstigneeva (Russian Federation), also noting her abstention, said Council sanctions should reflect the situation "on the ground" and facilitate the political process, while accounting for the views of the host country and countries in the region. Restrictions should be regularly reviewed and modified until they are completely lifted. Many Council sanctions regimes currently in effect now fail to reflect the situation on the ground, impede national Government plans in the area of State-building and the formation of effective armed forces and security structures. Many of those sanctions regimes persist merely for the purposes of exerting pressure, she added.
Zhang Jun (China) voiced regret that 18 years after the initial implementation of Council sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, armed groups in eastern part of the country remain rampant. Noting that Government’s repeated request for the lifting of the arms embargo on the country, he pointed to the deteriorating situation in the eastern part, with many civilian casualties and displacement caused by the 23 March Movement (M23) insurgency. Citing various reasons, including the resolution’s detrimental effect to the improvement of the Congolese security capacity, he said his delegation abstained in the vote. He expressed hope that the Democratic Republic of the Congo can enhance its management of weapons and ammunitions to gain greater confidence from Council members with respect to waiving the notification requirement in relation to its country.
Ronaldo Costa Filho (Brazil) expressed support for a broader clause on the humanitarian consequences of sanctions, noting that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian agencies have reported and argued that instances of overcompliance with measures from banks and financial institutions have made donations to humanitarian agencies and humanitarian assistance itself more difficult in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He expressed hope that Council members will address that concern in future negotiations and find constructive ways to reach consensus. Addressing concerns about the notification requirement related to military equipment, he noted that compromises from all sides had to be made, given the complexity of the issue, and he expressed hope that the Council will reach common ground on the matter.
Majid Mohammad Abdulrahman Mohammad Almutawa (United Arab Emirates) said his country, like other Member States, is committed to supporting all efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He expressed hope that the Council will be able to give greater consideration to the concerns expressed by Council members, including African members regarding the notification requirement. Points of view of the region are essential in the Council’s reaction to crises, particularly those that have cross-border influence. His delegation voted in favour of the resolution as it agrees with its objectives, he said.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:24 a.m.