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Briefing Security Council, Special Representative in Democratic Republic of Congo, Says Mission Moving Military, Police, Civilian Staff ‘Where People Need Us Most’

Security Council

7094th Meeting (AM)

Briefing Security Council, Special Representative in Democratic Republic of Congo,

Says Mission Moving Military, Police, Civilian Staff ‘Where People Need Us Most’

Special Envoy Mary Robinson Says 2013 Framework Agreement

‘Best Chance’ to Achieve Sustainable Peace, Development in Region

Commending peacekeepers’ recent efforts to quell violence and help national armed forces defeat the 23 March Movement (M23) insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the commander of the United Nations Mission there said today that this year it must be more agile and active in the strife-torn eastern part of the country.

“In order to meet the challenges of 2014, MONUSCO needs to adapt,” Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), told the Security Council during a briefing on the subject.

MONUSCO — tasked by the Council to protect civilians and humanitarian personnel while supporting Government-led efforts towards stabilization and peace consolidation — was moving military, police and civilian staff out of areas not affected by conflict, particularly Kinshasa and the country’s west, he said.  By July, two thirds of its substantive personnel would operate in the east, which required civil affairs officers, human rights experts, police officers, political analysts and engineers.

“We are going where the people need us most,” Mr. Kobler said.  In the west, MONUSCO’s “antenna offices” would perform reduced monitoring and reporting functions to ensure the Mission’s nationwide presence, while the United Nations country team would assume most programmatic tasks and responsibilities.

Mr. Kobler attributed last November’s surrender of the M23 armed group to the better-equipped national army, known as the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), and MONUSCO’s robust military engagement.

But credible reports showed that M23 had continued recruiting since it signed the Nairobi Declaration with Congolese officials in December, he said, calling on the Congolese Government to carry out that peace accord and speed up disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of M23 ex-combatants.  He also pressed neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda to prevent M23 elements from sheltering on training troops.  “We should tolerate no military re-emergence of the M23 […] no roll back of what has been achieved so far,” he said.

Moreover, more must be done to defeat the Allied Democratic Forces, which continued to terrorize civilians in the northeastern province of Ituri, he said, pointing to attacks in the town of Kamango in December 2013, which killed dozens of people.  With the help of MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade, order could be restored.

Mr. Kobler hailed Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s decision to make security sector reform a top priority in 2014, but warned that success depended on a change of mindset and a crackdown on misconduct and corruption within FADRC and the national police.  The Government should also designate a battalion to train the rapid reaction force at the Tactical Training Centre in Kisangani, and expedite reforms related to the rule of law, good governance and decentralization.

Further, legalizing and regulating the current exploitation of and trade in conflict minerals would substantially increase State revenue, he said.  Turning Goma into an economic hub by upgrading its airport and road infrastructure would prove decisive in trade and economic cooperation to the local community’s benefit.

Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, briefing the Council via video conference from Kinshasa, shared Mr. Kobler’s concern said that last month’s positive atmosphere had given way to renewed regional turbulence as conflicts raged in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in February 2013, remained the “best chance” to achieve sustainable peace and development in the region.  The accord obligated the Congolese Government to implement reforms and to take steps to establish State authority in the country’s east while mandating other countries in the region to not aid rebel groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she explained, calling on its signatories to expedite implementation of national and regional commitments.  Dialogue among the region’s leaders and confidence-building measures also were vital.

She also echoed Mr. Kobler’s call to step up security sector reform, and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former M23 combatants, as well as enactment of cross-border economic initiatives to foster regional economic integration.  The National Independent Electoral Commission, drawing on donor support, must carry out timely and credible local elections by year’s end.

She said that, during her visit, she had encouraged the Government to designate an interlocutor to interact and work with international partners, and to align the roles and responsibilities of the committee monitoring national consultations between the major political parties with that of the national mechanism set up to oversee implementation of national commitments.

Ms. Robinson said she would next attend the Heads of State Summit of the International Conference of the Great Lakes to brief member States, most of which were signatories of the Framework.  Participants would welcome Kenya and Sudan as new signatories to the pact and discuss a proposal to convene a private sector investment forum for the region.  She would also launch the Great Lakes Women’s Platform designed to bolster women’s role in advocating for the Framework and furthering its implementation.

In September, she noted, the region’s Heads of State had adopted regional benchmarks created by a technical support committee.  An action plan devised by that committee would be submitted for adoption at the Regional Oversight Mechanism’s meeting later this month.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.

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For information media. Not an official record.