The Congo Global Action Coalition sent a letter to US Secretary of State, Condeleeza Rice, on April 5 asking the the US offer continued support to the UN mission in the Congo (MONUC). The letter, found below, emphasizes the important role MONUC has played in helping make possible the recent democratic elections. Given the fragility of the situation in the DRC, it is imperative that MONUC be given the resources and political support to continue its mission of stabilization and protection of human rights. MONUC’s current mandate ends on April 15, 2007.
April 5, 2007
Dr. Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Re US Support for MONUC Post-transition Mandate
Dear Secretary Rice:
As members of the Congo Global Action coalition – a collection ofhumanitarian, human rights, environmental and faith-based organizations, students, Congolese Diaspora and grassroots organizations making up half a million people we write to you today to urge US support to the Congolese people by maintaining a substantial and effective peacekeeping force in the DRC.
The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUC, played an instrumental role in helping the Congolese people with the first democratic elections in the Congo since 1960. MONUC has reduced fighting and organized violence, and increased humanitarian access and freedom of movement for the population. As the DRC still faces major security and governance challenges – as demonstrated by recent fighting in Kinshasa, and continued intermittent fighting, killings, rapes, and pillaging – now is not the time to downsize MONUC or weaken its mandate.
Under UN Security Council resolution 1742, MONUCs mandate was extended until April 15, 2007. During this interim review period, the Secretary General recently completed the twenty-third report on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We agree with many of the Secretary Generals recommendations and urge the USG to approve the following elements of MONUCs post-transition mandate:
Building a stable security environment
- MONUC will remain at its current authorized strength of 17,030 peacekeepers, 760 military observers, 391 police advisers, and six FPU until at least December 31, 2007 and until the security and political conditions significantly improve. This is critical especially in Ituri, the Kivus and Katanga where the majority of intermittent fighting between armed groups continues.
- MONUC will conduct short-term training of integrated brigades on conduct of joint operations, including human rights training.This is the first step to a comprehensive human rights training program for the integrated Congolese army which is needed to reduce the incidents of violence against the most vulnerable populations, especially gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and violence against children.
- MONUC will assist the Congolese Government in strengthening democratic institutions and processes and will play a role in promoting good governance and accountability. It is important to support the nascent democratic processes and institutions by working with the Congolese government to protect and enhance the achievements of the peace process and advancing good governance practices in state institutions.
Reforming the Security Sector
- MONUC will support an assessment team to establish benchmarks, most importantly on security sector reform, and report back to Security Council in November, 2007. Benchmarks for the security sector reform must include military, policing and judiciary reform involving donors and relevant Congolese actors.
Protecting human rights
- MONUC will continue monitoring human rights abuses, strengthen national and civil society capacity in the area of human rights, ensure those responsible for serious human rights violations are brought to justice, and assist the Congolese Government in ending impunity. In order to move forward with reconciliation perpetrators of serious crimes, beginning with the worst offenders, must be brought to justice.
- MONUC will prioritize stabilizing the security situation and protecting civilians as core elements of its Chapter VII mandate.Protection of civilians is crucial as summary executions, mass arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and torture of civilians, beatings and widespread rape continue to be committed, mainly by security service personnel.
Unfortunately, the Secretary Generals report did not emphasize enough the following critical elements of MONUCs post-transition mandate:
- MONUC should help promote dialogue with Congos neighbors and support the implementation of joint polices and regional agreements, notably in relation to the challenges of Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration (DDRRR) of foreign armed groups.
- MONUC should work with the World Bank and Donors to improve the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process, especially in reintegrating Congolese combatants, many of who are disgruntled and causing unrest in the country.DDR programs should be part of a wider program benefiting host communities in order to reduce conflict potential at the village level since members of host communities tend to live in greater poverty than demobilized combatants.
- MONUC should provide strategic and operational support, where possible, to the Congolese government who must have the political will to combat the illicit exploitation of natural resources and violations of the arms embargo.
As the Secretary Generals report highlights, the key to restoration and consolidation of peace in the DRC is progress in the security sector reform. An exit strategy for MONUC must be linked to demonstrable progress beginning with a clear reduction in the levels of abuses committed by the security forces themselves, and the basic ability of the military, police, and judicial sectors to defend civilians from internal and external threats.
Without this appropriate sequencing of MONUCs scale down, the international community will imperil the fragile peace and progress towards post-conflict recovery that has been achieved over the past few years.
Africa Faith and Justice Network
Centre De Reflexion Du Katanga
Claremont Students for Peace and Justice
Coalition Pluralist des Patriotes Congolais (COPPAC)
Congolese Lobby for Peace, Democracy, Human Rights and Development
En Avant Congo
Friends of the Congo
Initiatives Femmes-Enfants et Development
International Rescue Committee
Open Society Policy Center
Pole Pole Foundation
Run for Congo Women
The Bayindo Group SA
United Hope Africa
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
CC: Kristin Silverberg, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Ellen Sauerbrey, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration