DRC - EP 4

Duration: 28-May-2010 to Present

The relationship between the UN and DRC changed following the SG’s report of 30 March 2010, indicating that the DRC had made considerable progress over the preceding fifteen years and was moving into a period of domestic consolidation and peacebuilding (S/2010/164).At the insistence of the Congolese Government, MONUC was replaced by MONUSCO (the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on 1 July 2010.

Throughout the course of the episode, the DRC has faced military challenges from armed groups operating in eastern DRC, with varying degrees of foreign backing. These groups have committed significant human rights abuses and used access to natural resources to support their activities. In early 2011, the LRA resumed hostilities (operating from territories outside the DRC and the scope of the UN sanctions). In April 2012, a mutiny within the DRC army led by Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese rebel on the ICC list for crimes against humanity, led to the emergence of the March 23 Movement (M23). The group claimed that the DRC had failed to live up to the terms of the March 23, 2009 agreement (between CNDP and the DRC integrating CNDP forces into the DRC army). The conflict escalated throughout the year, culminating in the November 2012 temporary occupation of Goma and strategic mineral rich regions of eastern Congo. Successive Group of Expert reports contended that the M23 fighters were backed by the government of Rwanda (and to a lesser extent, Uganda). Over 1000 Rwandan troops went into the DRC during the Goma operation. In February 2013, an agreement facilitated by Mary Robinson, then serving as the UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, was reached among 11 neighboring countries in a commitment to halt support for armed groups operating in the Congo. Yet, the relationship between Rwanda and the M23 in particular continued to be a challenge and, as a member of the Security Council in 2013 and 2014, Rwanda blocked additional listings of the M23 by the Sanctions Committee.

Shortly after the agreement among neighboring countries was signed, the Security Council unanimously passed resolution 2098 (28 March 2013) which created a specialized “intervention brigade” to strengthen MONUSCO in its efforts to control the activities of rebel groups in the eastern DRC and support the reestablishment of state authority in rebel-controlled areas. This was the first time a peacekeeping operation had the explicit (and exceptional) authorization to engage in offensive military operations. An offensive from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC or DRC army) forced the M23 to retreat, and at the end of 2013, the group declared an end to its military operations and agreed to demobilize.

Although MONUSCO and the DRC army controlled much of the territory and all the main roads in the eastern part of the country, other rebel groups emerged and many still remain active in the region. In January 2014, elements of the M23 began to regroup under a new banner and MONUSCO and the DRC army started to conduct offensive operations against other rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR, a Hutu rebel group), the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF, an Islamist rebel group in North Kivu), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the Patriotic Resistance Front of Ituri (FRPI, from the Ngiti ethnic group in Orientale Province). The Sanctions Committee added the ADF to the sanctions list on 30 June 2014 for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including the recruitment of child soldiers, and attacks on MONUSCO peacekeepers.

The FDLR increasingly became the main focus of MONUSCO and DRC army in 2014, and the group was given an ultimatum to surrender by the end of the year. Although a small number (300) of FDLR combatants surrendered by January 2015, a Presidential statement of the Council indicated that renewed military action was needed to neutralize the group (S/PRST/2015/1).

Maintaining a productive working relationship between MONUSCO and the government became a challenge in 2015. MONUSCO refused to work with DRC army generals who were accused of major human rights violations, which is one reason why the army operated independently from MONUSCO in operations against the FDLR. Although the army operation against the FDLR in May 2016 disrupted channels of financing, led to the surrender of 1000 FDLR fighters, and a temporary retreat from some positions, the FDLR’s military capacity remained intact, and there were questions about the effectiveness of the army operations.

MONUSCO and the DRC army signed a memorandum of understanding and resumed cooperation in February 2016, a development that appeared to affect the situation on the ground favorably. The FDLR remained the largest armed group operating in the eastern DRC, but the ADF showed signs of fracturing, and there was less activity from the LRA, as it moved its operations into South Sudan and the CAR. There was a noticeable increase in criminal activity associated with access to conflict finances from gold and rare metals, however. By the end of 2016, the FDLR was seriously weakened by military action and the ADF activity appeared to be limited to the Beni territory of North Kivu, across the border from Uganda.

The fragmentation of armed groups operating in the eastern provinces continued into 2017. While they remained a threat to civilian populations residing in the area, the Group of Experts reported that non-state armed groups had become more decentralized and reliant on networks, particularly with foreign-based groups. By the end of 2017, while the FDLR continued to weaken, there were reports of new ADF recruitment from Uganda and new local armed groups began to emerge, some coalescing into larger groups. By 2018, one of these groups, the Nduma defense du Congo – Rénové (NDC-R), led by a sanctioned individual, increased the amount of territory under its control and employed forms of taxation on the local population to support its activities.

Legal referrals to the ICC have been important throughout the episode. In July 2012, Thomas Lubanga, founder and former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and a key player in the Ituri conflict (1999-2007), became the first person convicted by the International Criminal Court. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for using child soldiers in his rebel army in 2002 and 2003. The chief of operations of the military wing of the UPC, Bosco Ntaganda, went on trial before the International Criminal Court in August 2015, accused of war crimes including the rape of child soldiers by his own rebel army. The ICC’s Appeals Chamber’s June 2018 acquittal of Jean-Pierre Bemba for his 2016 conviction for war crimes contributed to domestic political uncertainty following his return to DRC prior to the 2018 election, but his attempt to run in the Presidential election was thwarted by the country's electoral commission.

Political uncertainty over President Kabila’s interest in staying in office for a third term after the 2016 conclusion of his second term led to protests from opposition groups that began in 2015 and continued until the election was finally held on 30 December 2018. Kabila’s choice to succeed him was defeated and one of the opposition candidates, Felix Tshisekedi, won a plurality with 38.6% of the vote. Although there were some charges of electoral irregularity, the results were accepted domestically and recognized by the AU and countries in the region. Following his election, President Tshisekedi embarked on an effort to strengthen relations with DRC’s eastern neighbors, addressing long-standing concerns about external intervention from Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.

An October 2019 FARDC offensive against the ADF led to reprisals by the group against civilians, leading to further internal displacement and a backlash of protests directed against MONUSCO for its failure to protect civilians. According to the Secretary-General’s report of June 2020, the ADF continues to pose a significant security threat, particularly in Ituri Province and parts of South Kivu (S/2020/554). FDLR attacks have increased, and the NDC-R remains active. In the past two years, the Group of Experts reported that additional conflict groups have emerged, including the Rwanda-based CNRD (Conseil national pour la renouveau et la démocratie (CNDR), RNC (the armed branch of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC, also known as “P5”), and the Mai-Mai Malaika. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that more than 1300 deaths had occurred from conflicts in the eastern provinces in the eight months preceding June 2020, a situation that is compounded by an even greater number of deaths (1500) from Ebola outbreaks in the region. There is currently concern about the effects of COVID-19.

Discussions about the progressive transition of MONUSCO, with benchmarks for its withdrawal, have been underway for several years. Its current mandate expires in December 2020, but a strategic review of the operation called for in UNSCR 2463 (2019) recommended not ending the mission until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

The Sanctions Committee placed renewed emphasis on the challenges associated with the “illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources” following its 2019 visit to the country. Group of Experts reports indicate that although problems persist with illegal gold and mineral exports (most notably of tin, tungsten and tantalum), there has been some progress in traceability and due diligence concerning minerals following the enhanced enforcement measures first recommended in 2015. The DRC achieved EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) certification in 2014, but gold and metals smuggling to support armed groups continues to firms in Rwanda and Uganda, at times with the complicity of corrupt FARDC commanders. Violations of the arms embargo are common, but are mostly related to non-reporting of arms deliveries to government forces according to the most recent GoE report.


Coerce

Coerce non-integrated parties (FDLR, ADF, LRA and others) to stop fighting and committing human rights abuses and to engage in the peacebuilding process.

Constrain

Constrain the ability of rebel forces to engage in hostilities and to exploit natural resources within the DRC and neighboring countries.

Signal

Signal support for the government to rebel factions and regional actors.


Mandatory

Ongoing arms imports embargo on non-governmental entities, travel ban, and asset freeze.


Current and maximum number of designees during the episode: 36 individuals and 9 entities (5 firms, 3 rebel groups, and 1 NGO).


Potential scope of impact

Medium

UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.


Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period (between 1 year and 17 months) and renewed periodically. Sanctions Committee and Group of Experts in place. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated. Enforcement authorities specified, PKO has enforcement role.


Coercion

Ineffective

Policy outcome

Although the M23 was militarily defeated in 2013, other rebel groups (the ADF, FDLR, NDC-R) have continued to engage in violence, commit human rights violations, and remain a threat to DRC territorial integrity.

Sanctions contribution

Due to weak implementation by neighboring states, sanctions have had a minor role in determining this outcome. Military engagement, including by MONUSCO’s intervention brigade, diplomatic initiatives, and ICC prosecutions were more significant policy instruments used by the Council.

Constraint

Ineffective

Policy outcome

The ongoing activity of rebel groups in the eastern part of the country indicated the continued availability of arms and access to conflict resources. Forms of local taxation to support armed groups' operation were also evident.

Sanctions contribution

Territorial control by rebel groups, particularly when supported by neighboring countries, has been most significant for maintaining access to resources that fuel the conflict, although there has been some progress reported with the implementation of the EITI process and OECD recommendations on mineral certification.

Signaling

Mixed

Policy outcome

There is some indication that external support of rebel groups has been stigmatized and neighboring states have reduced their level of direct support for intervention in eastern DRC.

Sanctions contribution

Sanctions reinforced regional diplomatic initiatives, but the establishment of MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade signaled stronger support for the government, and the diplomatic offensive by President Tshisekedi is also significant.

Overall

Ineffective

Strengthening of authoritarian rule, resource diversion, increase in international regulatory capacity in different issue domains, increase in corruption and criminality.


28-05-2010

Procedural

  • Extends MONUC mandate (until 30.06.2011) and changes its title to MONUSCO.
  • Authorizes MONUSCO deployment, specifies its mandate (including monitoring of arms imports embargo implementation) and decreases its personnel (until 30.06.2011).

29-11-2010

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and UNSCR 1807 and 1857 financial asset freeze and travel ban (1 year).
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (1 year).

Procedural

  • Extends Group of Experts mandate (1 year).
  • Sets sanctions review (1 year).
  • Calls for MS reporting.

29-11-2011

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and UNSCR 1807 and 1857 financial asset freeze and travel ban (1 year).
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (1 year).

Procedural

  • Extends Group of Experts mandate (1 year).
  • Sets sanctions review (1 year).

20-11-2012

Substantive

  • Condemns the M23 and its attacks.
  • Expresses intention to consider additional targeted sanctions (based on UNSCR 1857 designation criteria) against M23 leadership and those providing external support to M23 or acting in sanctions violation.

28-11-2012

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and UNSCR 1807 and 1857 financial asset freeze and travel ban (until 01.02.2014).
  • Adds humanitarian, religious, peace, national reconciliation, regional stability, transit of individuals returning to state of their nationality or participating in efforts to bring justice to perpetrators of human rights and international humanitarian law violations, and judicial process travel ban exemptions.
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.02.2014).
  • Delineates designation criteria.

Procedural

  • Extends Group of Experts mandate (until 01.02.2014).
  • Sets sanctions review (by 01.02.2014).

30-01-2014

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and UNSCR 1807 and 1857 financial asset freeze and travel ban (1 year).
  • Adds arms imports embargo exemption for supply of arms and related material, as well as assistance, advice or training for or by AU-Regional Task Force.
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (1 year).
  • Delineates designation criteria.

Procedural

  • Extends Group of Experts mandate (1 year).
  • Sets sanctions review (1 year).

29-01-2015

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2016)
  • Specifies MONUSCO and African Union-Regional Task Force arms imports embargo exemptions
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2016)
  • Delineates designation criteria
  • Encourages MS efforts to end illicit trade in natural resources, esp. in the gold sector, cutting off financing for armed groups and criminal networks

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2016)
  • Sets sanctions review (by 01.07.2016)
  • Calls for MS reporting

23-06-2016

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2017)
  • Specifies MONUSCO, African Union-Regional Task Force, protective clothing for UN, media, humanitarian, and development workers, notified non-lethal equipment for humanitarian and protective use, and other approved arms and related materiel arms imports embargo exemptions
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2017)
  • Delineates designation criteria

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2017)
  • Sets sanctions review (by 01.07.2017)
  • Calls for MS reporting

21-06-2017

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2018)
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2018)
  • Expands sanctions designation criteria by attacks against MONUSCO peacekeepers and UN personnel
  • Calls on all MS to assist DRC, ICGLR, and Great Lakes region states to develop a responsible minerals trade

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2018), requesting its re-establishment
  • Sets sanctions review (by 01.07.2018)
  • Calls for MS reporting

29-06-2018

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2019)
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2019)

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2019), requesting its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting

26-06-2019

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2020)
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2020)

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2020), requesting its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting

25-06-2020

Substantive

  • Renews UNSCR 1807 arms imports embargo and financial asset freeze and UNSCR 1807 and 2078 travel ban (until 01.07.2021)
  • Renews UNSCR 1807 provisions for aircraft operation and strengthened custom controls (until 01.07.2021)

Procedural

  • Extends and modifies Group of Experts mandate (until 01.08.2020), requesting its re-establishment
  • Calls for MS reporting