Strengthening Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
September 21, 2004
Re: Strengthening Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dear United Nations Security Council Members:
Recent events indicate that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) runs the risk of sliding back into war.
During the country’s five-year civil war between 1998 and 2003, epidemiological surveys by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have demonstrated that more than 3.3 million people have already died, making it the world’s deadliest conflict for more than 50 years.
In spite of the current power-sharing agreement, the east of the country has continued to be the scene of recurrent fighting. During this most recent conflict, the UN peacekeeping force of 10,500 has shown to be both inadequate and ill equipped. The effects of the unrest have also exacerbated regional tensions creating new streams of refugees in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. Refugees in neighboring countries continue to live under the threat of attack, as evidenced by the Gatumba massacre of 160 Congolese Tutsis on August 13.
There is a significant risk that these recent events could undermine the relative progress, both politically and in the humanitarian realm, which has been made in the country after the 2003 peace accords.
We support United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s August 16, 2004 Special Report to the Security Council (S/2004/650) urging that action be taken to improve security; increase access for humanitarian aid; and support the transitional government to strengthen regional relations.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should:
• Authorize an increase in DRC’s peacekeeping mission’s (MONUC) military strength to a total of 23,900, which includes furnishing them with the necessary equipment and technical training to improve their capacity, intelligence and surveillance. Furthermore, developed countries should contribute more troops and resources to MONUC as they currently represent only one-half percent of the total.
• Approve a stronger MONUC mandate that includes the authorization to respond robustly to any attack or threat of attack, including, if necessary, in a pre-emptive manner. MONUC must also decentralize control to field/regional commanders so they can respond rapidly and effectively.
• Ensure that MONUC’s DDRR (disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, and reintegration) program is improved (i.e., a shift from voluntary to mandatory disarmament) so that disarmament and repatriation truly can be achieved.
• Strengthen MONUC’s mandate to control the borders with Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi and directly enforce the arms embargo, as well as fully control all airports in Eastern DRC to ensure that no arms are flown in.
• Reinforce MONUC’s mandate to crack down on illegal exploitation of natural resources, which continues to fuel the conflict.
• Encourage the International Committee in Support of the Transition (CIAT) to arrive at a consensus on how to better guide the Transitional Government to coordinate with MONUC and show a united willingness to improve regional relations, especially with Rwanda.
International Rescue Committee