DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO ASSERTS RIGHT
Day-Long Security Council Meeting on Panel Report Hears
The Foreign Minister said problems related to border insecurity and instability in the Great Lakes region could not justify occupation of almost half of the Congolese territory. The spectacle of two foreign armies crossing the border and fighting in a third country over resources that did not belong to either was unprecedented.
The Chairman of the Expert Panel, Mahmoud Kaseem, introducing the addendum, said the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations and the implementation of the ceasefire should be seen as complementary. Failure to follow up on the recommendations would send a message to traffickers and profiteers that they could continue their activities with impunity. A monitoring body would reduce the powerful incentive to continue the war. A moratorium on selected products would not significantly impact the Congolese people.
A number of countries directly or indirectly related to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and mentioned in the Panel’s report, participated in the day-long Council discussion. Several said they were or had been in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the express invitation of the Government of that country.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania said allegations that his Government had not cooperated with the Panel were not true. He denied that his country's Central Bank was a clearinghouse for exports and transit goods. The United Republic of Tanzania had international obligations to serve its landlocked neighbours in terms of import/export trade. Unsubstantiated accusations such as those contained in the report undermined his country's efforts towards peace in the region.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda said he was pleased that the addendum reflected a more balanced approach than previous reports. Among its serious problems, however, were unsubstantiated allegations that senior officers of the Uganda People’s Defence Force had continued to exploit the Democratic Republic of the Congo's resources. The Force was, on the contrary, very disciplined. Furthermore, since the Force’s withdrawal from North Kisangani and Kilomoto had been verified by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), it was gross prejudice to allege that the Force was still involved in gold and diamond mining activities there.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe said the Information Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had himself rejected any suggestion that Angola, Namibia or Zimbabwe were looting the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the Information Minister, those countries "came to our rescue in this war of aggression". He had gone on to say that in the process of inviting those countries, legitimate agreements for business ventures had been signed.
The Panel had shown courage in identifying the foreign parties and their Congolese proxies who were illegally exploiting the wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the representative of the United States told the Council. He said the Panel should recommend specific actions that could be implemented through existing international organizations and United Nations agencies. A targeted moratorium banning the import of natural resources from foreign and rebel-held areas of the Democratic Republic would likely be unenforceable and might have a negative impact on the Congolese people themselves. It would be more effective to address export controls on natural resources through existing international mechanisms. A review of concession agreements was also better undertaken by organizations that already had the expertise needed. It was not necessary to create new, duplicative mechanisms.
At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the Panel of Experts responded to comments made by representatives of Zimbabwe, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Rwanda, France, Norway, Ireland, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Singapore, Tunisia, Colombia, China, Mali, South Africa, Canada, Belgium (for the European Union and associated States), Angola, Burundi, Nigeria, Zambia, Namibia and Japan.
The meeting began at 10:23 a.m. and was suspended at 2:30 pm. It resumed at 7:02 p.m. and adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council transmitting the addendum to the report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2001/1072).
In June 2000, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish the Panel to follow up on reports and collect information on all activities of illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including in violation of the sovereignty of that country. The Panel was also mandated to research and analyse the links between the exploitation of the natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the continuation of the conflict.
The Panel's first report, issued on 12 April 2001 (document S/2001/357), states that illegal exploitation of the mineral and forest resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was in the form of mass-scale looting, as well as systematic and systemic exploitation which required planning and organization. Key individual actors, on the one hand, including top army commanders and businessmen, and government structures, on the other, have been the engines of that systematic and systemic exploitation. The report names functionaries, companies, banks and individuals involved in the exploitation.
Bilateral and multilateral donors and certain neighbouring and distant countries have passively facilitated the exploitation and thereby the continuation of the conflict. In particular, the experts question the role of the World Bank.
The Panel recommended, among other measures, that the Council declare: a temporary embargo on the import/export of coltan, pyrochlore, cassiterite, timber, gold and diamonds from and to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, until their involvement in the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is made clear; an immediate embargo on weapons and military materiel to the rebel groups, and extending that embargo to the States that supported those groups. The Panel also recommended that the Council: request the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to consider suspending their support to the budgets of Rwanda and Uganda until the end of the conflict; and strongly urge all Member States to freeze the financial assets of the companies or individuals who continued to participate in the illegal exploitation. Individuals, religious groups and companies whose properties had been damaged, looted or expropriated by Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian armed forces and their allies should be compensated by the States concerned.
The Panel further recommended that the Council consider establishing an international mechanism to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in economic criminal activities, and companies and government officials whose economic and financial activities directly or indirectly harm powerless people and weak economies. The Council should also consider establishing a permanent mechanism that would investigate the illicit trafficking of natural resources in armed conflicts so as to monitor the cases that are already subject to the investigation of other panels, such as those of Angola and Sierra Leone.
On 3 May 2001, the Council requested the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of the Panel for a final period of three months, at the end of which the Panel would update the relevant data and analysis of further information, including on the activities of countries and other actors for which data were not made available earlier; a response to the comments and reactions of the States and actors cited in the report of the Panel; and an evaluation of the situation at the end of the extension of the mandate of the Panel.
In the addendum, the Panel states that it could not compel testimony and thus relied on information voluntarily provided. Information was not forthcoming from South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Information was finally received, but with considerable delay, from Angola.
The Panel emphasizes that the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been one of systematic abuse of its natural and human resources. This exploitation has been backed by brute force and directed to the benefit of a powerful few. As the country's resources were plundered and mismanaged, an informal economy based on barter, smuggling and fraudulent trade in commodities thrived, becoming the sole means of survival for much of the population. The result was that the country was reduced to one of the poorest and debt-ridden States by the early 1990s.
According to the Panel, the ceasefire has held along the confrontation line among the parties, and efforts towards reconciliation and reunification moved forward. Nevertheless, the systematic exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues unabated. Without a resolution of the broader conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, the exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the country will not end. A fundamental reason for the continuing exploitation is the effective collapse of all State institutions and structures of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, making it vulnerable in the extreme. To redress this condition, it is important to rebuild the State institutions through a sustained approach over many years, and with the full assistance of the international community.
Stressing that there is a clear link between the continuation of the conflict and the exploitation of natural resources, the Panel states that the military operations and presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of all sides have been transformed into self-financing activities. Contrary to its strong protestations, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has allowed some foreign companies to continue to exploit resources in rebel-occupied areas without renouncing or cancelling any concessions. The actual sources for financing the war effort by all parties in the conflict, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, remain shrouded in mystery. No clear answer was given by anyone the Panel questioned, and it was evident that there was much to conceal and not make public.
To enable the Democratic Republic of the Congo to have effective control over its territory and to protect its natural resources from illicit activities, the Panel recommends that the international community assist in formulating a plan of action to rebuild State institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This should be linked to the convening of an international conference on peace and development in the Great Lakes region. The Panel also recommends that all concessions, commercial agreements and contracts signed during the era of Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001) and subsequently in the rebel-held areas, including those signed secretly and under duress, should be reviewed and revised to correct the irregularities. The renegotiation process should be conducted under the auspices of a special body to be created by the Security Council. This will enhance efforts to rebuild and reconstruct the country.
Further, the Panel recommends that the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) should accelerate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in order to reduce the security concerns expressed by a number of States in the region, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to a level that makes it possible for the countries concerned to negotiate among themselves the modalities of securing their borders without infringing upon the sovereignty of any State.
With regard to financial and technical aspects, the Panel recommends that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the other international donors may consider submitting to the Security Council their assessment of the role of their assistance in helping to finance the continuation of the conflict and the maintenance of the status quo in the Great Lakes region.
In line with its earlier recommendations, the Panel recommends that a moratorium be declared for a specific period of time banning the purchase and importing of precious products such as coltan, diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, timber and coffee originating in areas where foreign troops are present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in territories under the control of rebel groups. During the period of the moratorium, countries directly or indirectly involved in the conflict -- in particular, transit countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania -- should pass laws to investigate and prosecute the illicit traffickers of the high-value products from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the same period, all technical measures under consideration should be finalized, such as the standardization of certificates of production, harmonization of tax regimes and verification regulations, compilation of analyses of diamond production and trade statistics.
The Panel goes on to say that the Security Council may consider the imposition of sanctions. The timing of such sanctions would depend, however, on the evolution of the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as developments in the Great Lakes region. Pending any action that the Security Council may decide to take, there should be a monitoring and follow-up mechanism to report on a regular basis to the Council on whether progress has been made in exploitation activities and other issues under consideration by the Council, prior to a decision on sanctions.
MAHMOUD KASEEM, Chairman of the Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, introduced the addendum to the Panel’s report. He said the Panel had never lost sight of the need to integrate its work into the broader thrust of the peace process. The implementation of the Expert’s recommendations and the implementation of the ceasefire should be seen as complementary. The results of the Panel’s findings highlighted the fact that the ceasefire agreement did not address the issue of the economic profits derived from the exploitation of the natural resources.
He said a lack of follow-up on the recommendations of the Experts would send a message to traffickers and profiteers that they could continue their activities with impunity. A monitoring body would reduce the powerful incentive to continue the war. The Panel believed that a moratorium on selected products would not significantly impact the Congolese people. The Council would have to decide whether a moratorium should be compulsory or voluntary. A mandatory moratorium could be enacted under Chapter VII.
He said the Panel had recommended that the international community assist the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the area of institutional reforms. It was imperative to make progress in establishing the rule of law and constitutional authority. With the help of the international community, the renegotiation of all commercial agreements, concessions and joint ventures should be considered an integral part of the peace process. That measure should be viewed as complementary to a moratorium. The timing and modality must be determined in consultation with the Government.
The Panel underscored the importance of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration being undertaken by MONUC, he said. It called for the parties concerned to assume the primary responsibility for dealing with security concerns. The suffering exacted by the war had been enormous and it continued to mount. The time had come to take decisive action to halt the exploitation of the resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had become the means for sustaining the conflict.
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, addressing the issue of the inter-Congolese dialogue, said it had been decided that the total number of participants should be reduced, but that there should be greater diversity among the representatives. Each group could bring in members from the Diaspora. For the peace process to succeed, there must be an orderly withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan forces. They presented an obvious risk in the form of the resumption of widespread fighting. An informal meeting of the inter-Congolese dialogue decided to meet later to take up those matters. The participants in the informal dialogue had agreed on the necessity of abiding by the agreements of the Abuja meeting. It demonstrated that when Congolese met among themselves, without interference, they were always able to achieve progress.
Regarding the addendum to the report of the Expert Panel, he said that the Government had the right to invite help when it was attacked by outside forces. . The Government had the right to self-defence to protect its sovereignty. The addendum confirmed the conclusions of the original report that the pillaging and illegal exploitation of mineral resources of the Democratic Republic continued and was a major issue in the war. Problems related to border insecurity and instability in the Great Lakes region could not justify occupation of almost half of the Congolese territory. His Government agreed that military, business and criminal traffickers, which led to criminal activities in the Democratic Republic, should be targeted.
He welcomed the Experts’ emphasis on the exploitation of human resources and said that those people who resisted the exploitation were sometimes massacred. The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a humanitarian disaster. Over 3 million people had died directly or indirectly because of the war. The event of two foreign armies crossing the border and fighting in a third country over resources that did not belong to either was unprecedented. He called on the international community to help protect the many animals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were being exterminated as a result of the conflict. He said that of the original 11,000 hippopotami in the country, 1,000 remained.
His Government was determined to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity and to implement the peace process. It was looking for ways and means to help the people enjoy fundamental freedoms and human rights and supported the full respect for human rights and full participation by the people in the Government. With assistance from the Bretton Woods institutions, the Government was working on a new policy to develop the private sector. To foster transparency, the Government had begun auditing public enterprises. It was up to the Council to break the link between the continuation of the war and the exploitation of resources. On the other hand, there must be a link between the cessation of hostilities and economic recovery.
The Council should enact measures for an embargo on products that were being pillaged from the Democratic Republic of the Republic. It should implement all the recommendations made by the Panel of Experts and speed up the deployment of MONUC. One party refused to demilitarize Kisangani and measures must be imposed on them. The international community should freeze the assets of those involved in the plundering. The Democratic Republic must be given some kind of financial compensation from those guilty of plundering, directly and indirectly. Moreover, action should be taken against the authors of the plundering.
JAMES WAPAKABULO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, said that his country supported the Panel of Experts and had extended maximum cooperation during two investigative visits. He was pleased that the addendum to the report reflected a more balanced approach, acknowledged the reasons for Uganda's legitimate involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and correctly depicted certain rebel groups as terrorist organizations. It also confirmed that neither the Government nor any of its companies were involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and recognized Uganda's compliance with international agreements and Council resolutions. He reiterated his call for adequate MONUC deployments in Buta and Bunia.
He said there were, however, a number of serious problems with the addendum. Evidence needed to be provided, for example, to substantiate the allegation that senior Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officers continued to have networks for the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic. Evidence given to the United Nations panel, based on its record and administrative codes, demonstrated that the force was, on the contrary, very disciplined.
In addition, it was not true that the Ugandan Government denied transit of timber from the Democratic Republic since 1998, he said. Detailed data was provided by the Revenue Authority in August and September of this year. He pointed out that, in participating in the Transit Transport Authority, Uganda had committed itself to ensuring smooth transit traffic through its territory that included harmonized documentation procedures. Furthermore, since the UPDF's withdrawal from North Kisangani and Kilomoto had been verified by MONUC, it was gross prejudice to allege that the Force was still involved in gold and diamond mining activities there. Finally, there was a serious omission in the addendum, because it ignored the need to acknowledge a mistake had been made, by the previous panel, in damaging the integrity of President Museveni and the Department of Forestry in Kampala.
Regarding future action, he said an international conference on peace and development in the Great Lakes should be convened only after the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement on the Democratic Republic and the Arusha agreement on Burundi, so as to not divert attention from their implementation. On the issue of a moratorium on the purchase of certain products from the Democratic Republic, the Security Council should move cautiously so as not to harm small farmers, miners and missionary groups. It was also premature to renegotiate concessions and commercial agreements in the Democratic Republic before a transitional Government was established. It was the urgent implementation of the Lusaka Agreement and the creation of viable State institutions that would guarantee against the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic’s resources. Security Council activity should focus on those issues.
ABDULKADEER SHAREEF, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, reiterated his country's support for work of the Panel of Experts. Enumerating senior government officials who met with the Panel when it visited his capital, he said the ensuing discussions were cordial and frank. Hence, allegations of the lack of adequate cooperation and hostility alleged by the addendum to the report of the Panel were not true.
In that addendum, he said, his country was further accused of facilitating traffic in diamonds, timber and coltan. The Central Bank dealt with fiscal and macroeconomic management; it was not a clearing-house for exports and transit goods. It, therefore, did not deal in diamonds. Diamonds were exported legally by licensed dealers, as acknowledged in previous United Nations documents. Furthermore, the addendum makes no evidence available to investigate the allegations.
Regarding timber, he was surprised that the Panel did not share so-called evidence of shipments transported through his country. In the matter of coltan, it was not true that the Government vehemently denied that such material had ever been exported from the port of Dar-es-Salaam. However, information on a shipment of 13 July 2001 was inaccurate; evidence concerning it would be appreciated. His country, he said, had international obligations to serve its landlocked neighbours for import/export trade. It, therefore, expected the Panel to provide evidence to question the authenticity of documents provided by inspection companies and other countries.
Further, he strongly denied that Mayi Mayi rebel groups had the kind of presence in his country, alleged in the report. Again, there was not a tinge of evidence presented. His country continued to play a neutral role in the Democratic Republic conflict. In the same vein, his country did not serve as a conduit for rebel arms in that conflict. The United Republic of Tanzania had been playing a leading role in the quest for peace and security in the Democratic Republic, being an architect of the Lusaka Accord. Accusations such as those contained in the report undermine its efforts towards peace in the Great Lakes region.
PATRICK MAZIMHAKA, Advisor to President of Rwanda, said his Government had already responded to the Council in a letter dated 7 December (document S/2001/1161. Nevertheless he wished to state that the Panel had not fully established the links between the exploitation of Congolese natural resources and the Rwandan Patriotic Army. His Government, however, recognized that the Panel had made recommendations in the right direction that pointed to a positive and constructive approach to the problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Everything must be done to give that country control over its territory and its natural resources. His Government also endorsed the view that without a resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic there would also be no end to the exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
His country supported the Lusaka Agreement, he said. Disarmament of the Interahamwe ex-FAR would certainly lead to the withdrawal of Rwandan forces, but as long as the former existed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there would always be a link between that and the deployment of Rwandan forces. Also, the ex-FAR had been incorporated into the Congolese armed forces, while Kinshasa was providing support to elements that wished to wage war against his country. Many of the members of the forces hostile to his country were indictable criminals who were enjoying the hospitality of the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said the continued low-key war in Katanga and Kivu was possible because of support from the Government in Kinshasa. The conflicts as a whole -- and not just elements of it -- must be ended. The front line had now shifted eastward towards the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. He stressed, however, that the war was not being transferred east. It had begun in the East where the ex-FAR had waged war against Rwanda. That objective had not changed. Forces hostile to his country had taken advantage of the heavy disengagement by Rwandan forces to begin penetration back to the East, where they had begun. The Rwandan Government was, therefore, calling for the expeditious deployment of MONUC. The mission and the Joint Military Commission (JMC) should monitor and report the movement of armed groups, since they were the ones responsible for the continuation of the armed conflict. The Council should also make recommendations to Kinshasa to stop giving assistance to those forces such as Armee pour la liberation du Rwanda (ALIR).
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the exhaustive study prompted certain conclusions. It was manifest that the plundering, which was formerly believed to be a consequence of the conflict, had become one of the driving forces of the conflict. There were, however, some positive signs. The issue was being taken increasingly seriously by the parties themselves. He was encouraged by the inter-Congolese dialogue in Abuja. The Council had decided on the deployment of phase III of MONUC. Angola, Uganda and Zimbabwe had begun to withdraw their troops and Namibia had completed its withdrawal. But, much remained to be done.
He said the continued exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not compatible with the peace process. As long as some had the choice of continuing with their profitable activity, there was little hope of peace. He agreed that MONUC must be strengthened and that the inter-Congolese dialogue must succeed. The link between pillaging and the armed forces must be broken. Illegal exploitation continued unabated. If the peace process was to make headway, that activity must be ended.
He said serious consideration must be given to the Panel’s report and consequential measures taken. The international community must take a role to induce the parties to implement the Peace Agreement. The Council could contribute to the settlement of the issue and the implementation of the peace process. He supported the renewal of the Panel’s mandate for a further six months. It would help to identify and prepare for the steps that must be taken. Some issues needed further clarification, such as the implementation of a mandatory moratorium, the materials to which it would apply and what impact it would have on the humanitarian situation. The Council must not forget who the chief victims of the illegal activity were -- the Congolese people. It was a strange irony that the extraordinary wealth of the country should be used to inflict suffering on its people.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) noted with regret that the systematic exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued unabated. Unfortunately, a large number of States and non-State actors continued to be involved in such activity. Moreover, the parties apparent toleration of controlled military confrontation was worrisome. To the extent that the main motive for the continuation of the conflict was the exploitation of the resources, as indicated by the Panel, there was indeed reason to question whether the parties were negotiating in good faith. Against that background, the prospects for reaching peace in the foreseeable future might be equally questioned.
He urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other parties to participate actively and constructively in the inter-Congolese dialogue, as a matter of top priority. At the institutional level, he identified the need for a plan of action for the building of proper State institutions in the Democratic Republic. The building of such institutions could only be done from a comprehensive and long-term perspective.
He said his country supported the regional approach that the United Nations and other organizations had taken to the conflict. Problems must have regional solutions and the current approach was, therefore, very appropriate. The suggestion by the Expert Panel that international financial institutions and donors examine whether their assistance contributed to the continuation of the conflict might be a very important exercise. It could ensure that such institutions and donors contributed effectively to the intended purposes, including limiting and ending the conflict in the Great Lakes region. He urged all countries to cooperate constructively with the Panel, and with other United Nations bodies or agencies when invited to do so. Norway also supported an extension of the panel’s mandate, in order to keep a close eye on the issue.
GERARD CORR (Ireland), aligning himself with a statement to be made by the representative of Belgium on behalf of the European Union, said the exploitation of human resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the most profoundly disturbing aspect of the complex situation in the region. A clear signal must be sent to all those involved in such activities that the Council was not prepared to see individuals, groups and States benefit from the resources of the Democratic Republic at the expense, very often in shocking human terms, of the country's population.
Bearing in mind the primary objective of supporting the Lusaka peace process, he said, it would be valuable for the Panel to look at steps that the Council might take to curb and control exploitation linked to the continuation of the conflict. That should include precise recommendations, where possible, and an assessment of the humanitarian and social impact of such steps. The Panel should report back in six months.
He said it was clear that ending foreign exploitation of Congolese resources would not be sufficient to ensure the country's people and Government would benefit from their resources. All concessions, commercial agreements and contracts signed since 1997 should be reviewed and revised to ensure that the revenue from those resources was put to the use of the country and its people, rather than to lining the pockets of just a few.
MIGNONETTE PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that for the past two years, her Government had emphasized the economic underpinnings of conflicts in Africa. The continued illegal exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo fueled the conflict and exacerbated the suffering of the Congolese people. The Panel report demonstrated the link between the exploitation of the resources and the conflict in the Democratic Republic. Despite progress, the exploitation continued unabated. That activity could not be condoned. She stressed that the human exploitation could not be ignored in the Council’s considerations.
To end the conflict, she said, the underlying causes must be addressed. Careful consideration must be given to the Panel’s recommendations. There must be an emphasis on institution-building and establishing the rule of law. Some steps had been taken. Those measures, if carefully implemented, could augur well for the State. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were critical to reduce the security concerns expressed by a number of the parties. The need for MONUC to be deployed throughout country, especially in the East, was also critical.
Continuing, she said all the concessions, contracts and joint ventures signed between 1997 and 2001 should be reviewed. She supported the imposition of a moratorium as a part of a comprehensive mechanism. A moratorium should be targeted at those countries and groups in the regions who were involved in the illegal exploitation, but also at the end users. Most importantly, the people of the Congo must benefit from the use of their resources. The period of the extension of the Panel should be used to further refine the conclusion of the report. The situation in the Democratic Republic could only be solved through a regional approach. The Lusaka Agreement provided the only current framework through which that could be addressed.
MUNSHI FAIZ AHMAD (Bangladesh) said his Government would have supported immediate implementation of some of the Panel’s recommendations, in particular a mandatory moratorium on the import of high value commodities from the territories under the control of rebel movements or foreign forces. He agreed, however, that the Council should take a decision after a thorough study of certain factors, including humanitarian consequences of the measures. The review of all concessions, commercial agreements and contracts would be an effective measure to cut off links between the exploitation of resources and the war. His Government was aware of the argument that such a measure could best be undertaken by the new political dispensation, following the successful conclusion of the inter-Congolese dialogue. Should such a step be necessary, and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was in agreement, Bangladesh would support setting up a body under the auspices of the Council for that purpose. He hoped that the parties would cooperate with the Council so as to avert the imposition of sanctions.
He said the Council should revisit some of the recommendations contained in the original report, in particular with regard to the mineral trade, financial transactions, an arms embargo, military cooperation and compensation. The moratorium on high value commodities, when decided, should ideally extend to those areas. All concerned, including transit countries, and countries receiving legally exploited resources, had a moral obligation to join the moratorium.
He said the Council should extend the mandate of the Panel to complete the unfinished task. The Panel had been unable to fully investigate the reaction and complaints of those named in the original report. The Panel also needed to examine the feasibility and possible impact of proposed measures. The Panel would be best placed for monitoring and follow-up procedures.
JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the report of the Expert Panel was comprehensive and the conclusions had clearly demonstrated the existence of an unhealthy link between the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the illegal exploitation of that country’s natural resources.
He said the findings of the Panel’s first report and the addendum complemented each other and should, therefore, be studied together. Any conclusions and recommendations by the Council should be based on considerations of both documents. He also called on those countries involved in the illegal exploitation of Congolese natural resources and the conflict to take the necessary action to cease such activities. His country welcomed the establishment of investigative commissions in some States to look closely at the matter. If the conflict in the Democratic Republic was not resolved, it would impossible to halt the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Once the peace process was completed, the Government of the Democratic Republic would be in a position to exercise full authority over its territory and command over its resources.
He said any review of contracts, as suggested by the Panel, must take into account that some contracts were made by the legitimate Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Any action could, then, only take place after full implementation of the Lusaka process and with the participation and agreement of the Congolese Government. He said that any future action by the Council should not obstruct the peace process, but rather move it forward. He called for a robust deployment of MONUC, especially along the eastern border of the Democratic Republic. The Council should also assist in creating the necessary condition to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign forces.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) noted the Panel's analysis of the degree to which the exploitation of natural resources constituted the motivation behind the activities of specific actors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the extent to which the exploitation provided the means to sustaining the conflict. It was of great concern to Ukraine that the exploitation was continuing for the benefit of the powerful few, at the expense of the miserable many.
Supporting the Panel's recommendation on the establishment of a monitoring mechanism, he said it might be considered in the context of the proposal tabled in the Council on the extension of the Panel's mandate. At a later stage, it might be considered in the larger context of the similar recommendations made by other panels with regard to the establishment of a permanent monitoring mechanism within the United Nations Secretariat.
He said the illegal exploitation of Congolese resources should be regarded in the larger context of the peace process and its key aspects: full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement and relevant Council resolutions; disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, resettlement and relocation; the withdrawal of foreign forces; and the inter-Congolese dialogue. The Panel's report and its addendum were essential impetus to the implementation by the parties of their commitments in the framework of the Lusaka Agreement and relevant Council resolutions.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said the presence of the ministers in the Council today gave a clear signal that their Governments were taking the work of the Panel and the Council seriously. The Council’s goal must be to move forward the Lusaka peace process. The approach thus far had been to tackle the obstacles to the peace process one by one, in an even-handed way. The Council had to ensure that the exploitation did not continue to be a factor in harming the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The only solution was to end the conflict and establish an effective government throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said opportunistic and destructive pillaging must be brought to an end. The parties needed to change the environment in which the exploitation flourished. Dialogue must continue and deepen between the Congolese and with its neighbours, especially Rwanda. The United Kingdom supported the continuation of the Panel’s work. It was clear from today’s discussion that it was entirely necessary.
JAMES B. CUNNIGHAM (United States) said the Panel had shown courage in identifying the foreign parties and their Congolese proxies who were illegally exploiting the wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, prolonging the conflict and hindering the implementation of the Lusaka peace process. The very fact of the Panel’s existence and its work in documenting the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had had a beneficial effect on the peace process. The report had made it clear that the parties themselves had the means to end the conflict, if they had the will to do so. He welcomed the pledges several of the countries had made to investigate allegations concerning their nationals. But, several governments had refused to cooperate fully with the Panel.
He expressed concern over the Panel’s conclusion that Zimbabwe was the most active of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s allies involved in the exploitation of its resources and that that relationship had been used by Zimbabwean officials for personal enrichment. The Council must continue to let those who were responsible for the theft of the Democratic Republic’s wealth know that it was aware of their crimes and would continue to bring them to the world’s attention and seek to assist in ending that plunder. For that reason, his Government supported the extension of the Panel’s mandate.
He said the Panel should recommend specific actions that the international community, regional States and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo could take, working through existing international organizations and United Nations agencies to address the issues in the addendum. He expressed doubt about a moratorium banning the import of gold, timber, coffee and other natural resources from foreign and rebel-held areas of the Democratic Republic. Such a targeted moratorium on resources from specific areas of the Democratic Republic would likely be unenforceable, because of the difficulties in tracking those kinds of commodities. It was also likely to have a negative impact on the Congolese people themselves. It might be more effective to address export controls on natural resources through existing international mechanisms.
He supported the call for a United Nations review of the concession agreements, but that review should be undertaken by organizations that already had the expertise needed. It was not necessary to create new, duplicative mechanisms to undertake those tasks. The World Bank and the IMF were best positioned to undertake a review of the existing contracts for resource exploitation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other entities, as part of renewed assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said the pursuit of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s natural wealth was not the initial cause of the conflict in the country and the Great Lakes region, but the pursuit of that wealth was a reason many parties wanted the conflict to continue. Those parties knew that if the Lusaka Agreement was implemented, their days of plundering the wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would end. The goal must be full implementation of the Agreement. It was now up to the leaders of the States and groups identified in the reports to demonstrate the courage and will to end that shameful exploitation and allow the Lusaka peace process to bring peace to the Great lakes region.
ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said he was disturbed by information that the large-scale plundering of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was continuing. There was a need to draw up effective measures to halt that practice. He, thus, supported extending the mandate of the Panel for another six months.
He agreed with the main conclusion in the report that the situation, vis-à-vis Congolese national resources, had come about through the collapse of State structures. The authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be helped to establish effective State authority throughout the country. He also supported the suggestion that MONUC should facilitate the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic. The underlying problem was the armed conflict, which had only recently shown some movement towards a settlement. Ending that conflict must, therefore, be a priority of the Council.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said there was clear-cut consensus on the plundering of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- such practices must stop. The view of the ministers who had spoken today must also be taken into account.
The Council mow must respond effectively to the work of the Panel, he said. Several Panels had been set up over time and it was now necessary for the best practices to be transferred. He also believed that the views expressed today should be taken into consideration in the preparation of the presidential statement that would be read out. The paradox was that there were incentives for conflict, and not peace. Ending the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo meant thinking about how to remove the incentives.
MOHAMED SALAH TEKAYA (Tunisia) said the peace process needed to be strengthened further, so that it would reach the stage of no return. He urged the Congolese parties to continue their efforts for a successful outcome to the inter-Congolese dialogue.
He said the addendum confirmed that systematic exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s wealth continued. The Council had a special responsibility and must carefully study the recommendations and conclusions of the experts. It should consider the recommendations and implement them, so that they had the desired impact. That should be done in parallel with efforts to establish sovereignty throughout the territory. The primary objective of the Council was to end the war. It must help the parties to implement Council resolutions. He supported the extension of the Panel’s mandate. He attached great importance to ending the exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and called for a complete withdrawal of all foreign forces.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said all illegal exploitation of Congolese natural resources must stop. The international community must also assist in rebuilding the national institutions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said it was also right to "name and shame" those involved in the illegal activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Further, the Council could not remain indifferent to the many tragedies that were taking place in certain parts of Africa.
Additional measures needed to be taken to address the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, lending his delegation's support to the recommendation to extend the Panel's mandate for another six months. He also recommended that the international arms and munitions traders should be "announced and denounced". Progress in the inter-Congolese dialogue was also critical.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the addendum had attracted the attention not just of the Council, but also of the parties concerned and it had already made a difference. At the same time, the Council must not underestimate the grave nature of the exploitation of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It must take measures to stop the plundering.
The Panel’s recommendations would help the Council in its consideration of the situation, he said. He stressed, however, that the illegal exploitation of resources was but one aspect of the conflict. He favoured extension of the Panel’s mandate.
The President of the Council, MOCTAR OUANE (Mali), speaking in his national capacity, recalled his Government’s position of principle, which condemned all illegal exploitation of natural resources of a sovereign State. The Panel had established that the exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo fueled the conflict. The question now was what to do about it. The Panel’s mandate should be extended, not only to keep the Council informed, but to give it time to reflect on the measures that it should take. He agreed that the Panel should do more work on the impact of a moratorium, particularly with regard to humanitarian aspects.
I.S.G. MUDENGE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, said it was both a misnomer and a travesty of justice to try and pass off the document before the Council as an addendum to the April report of the United Nations Panel of Experts. In the addendum the difference between a legal and illegal business transaction had been abandoned. The Committee had abandoned its terms of reference in pursuit of a new agenda of its own, or perhaps someone else's. Reacting to the report, the Information Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kikaya Bin Karubi, rejected any suggestion that Angola, Namibia or Zimbabwe were looting the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As Mr. Bin Karubi had said: "These were countries that came to our rescue in this war of aggression. Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia are here at the request of the Government and people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo". The Congolese Minister had gone on to say that in the process of that invitation, legitimate agreements to enter into business ventures had been signed -- the same kind that existed throughout the world. Mr. Bin Karubi had further stated that "on the other hand, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi invaded our country and are looting the resources of the Congo and at the same time killing our people". The Congolese Information Minister had also said that Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia could not, therefore, be put on par with Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda.
Mr. Mudenge said that the present report also cast a slur and doubt on the legality and authority of governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1997. That offensive misadventure led the Panel into treacherous waters. By blurring the difference between legality and illegality, the document abandoned the Council terms "invited" and "uninvited" countries and settled for the term "allies," or what it referred to in places as "the Kinshasa Government". The connotations of that phrase were subversive.
He said the relationship between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, in particular, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in general was a good example of integration and southern African cooperation. Who else was better qualified to pronounce on the legality of the economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo than the President of the latter, himself. But, of course, to the Panel, it seemed that Mr. Kabila was only the President of the Government in Kinshasa, and not of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It was unacceptable for the present report to refer to the legitimate Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the "Government in Kinshasa". That language was an apologia for the invasion of the country. "We find it unacceptable that a United Nations document should serve as a propaganda mouthpiece for positions which are intolerable and have since been largely abandoned by their progenitors." As a former Chairman of the Political Committee charged with the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, he appealed to the United Nations to expunge from all its documents such language, which had been rejected by the Political Committee as undermining the peace process. It was unacceptable that a United Nations panel should be so insensitive on such an important issue, unless of course there was another agenda.
He said there was only one Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which, in the exercise of its right to self-defence, invited the SADC countries to come to its assistance in fending off aggression against its territory. At a properly constituted extraordinary meeting of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee (ISDSC) of the SADC Organ on Politics and Defence and Security, there was recognition that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a SADC member Sate, had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda. The meeting unanimously recommended that SADC countries in a position to do so should immediately go to the assistance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Subsequently, he went on to say, the SADC Committee, chaired by former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, in a communiqué commended the Governments of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe for providing troops to assist the Government and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo defeat the illegal attempts by rebels and their allies to capture Kinshasa and other strategic areas. He said the legitimacy of Zimbabwe's military intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had further been recognized and accepted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Council in its resolutions 1234 (1999) and 1304 (2000), among others.
To avoid any doubt he reiterated his country's readiness to pull out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in accordance with the provisions of the Lusaka Agreement, and whenever requested by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Any of those conditions were sufficient to cause an immediate and total withdrawal of his country's troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The meeting suspended at 2:30 p.m.
When the Council resumed, DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said he wished to clarify statements contained in the addendum to the report of the Expert Panel. He wanted to put the record straight so that "we can rebuild confidence and trust among the Congolese people". He said his Government felt compelled to express its concern at the Panel’s assertion that it had received less than the fullest cooperation from South Africa. Such a claim was simply inconsistent with the facts. As the Council knew, it had never been alleged at any time that the Government of South Africa was in any way implicated in wrongdoings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet a number of allegations had been made against South African citizens, or entities operating within his country’s territory; many of those cases had been investigated by his country’s law enforcement forces.
He said the Panel was, on every occasion, afforded both access to and complete cooperation from Government representatives, including law enforcement representatives, and most recently on 10 and 12 September. In addition, his Government had transmitted detailed reports in April and September, in response to questions raised by the Panel. It had also continued to investigate, and collect information on subjects raised by the Panel in its second questionnaire dated 20 September.
To further its own investigations, he went on, South Africa had also requested additional informational from the Panel in October. He was therefore surprised at the claims by the Panel that there was "credible" information implicating individuals or entities in the use of South African territory and facilities to conduct illicit commercial activities involving Congolese natural resources.
That information, he continued, was neither mentioned nor shared as evidence during the Panel’s meetings with South African authorities. His country already had in place a comprehensive framework that covered illicit activities of the nature specified. It was not lacking in legislation, but in credible information and evidence. It stood to reason that his Government’s ability to investigate and initiate legal proceedings against alleged offenders was dependent on obtaining information. His delegation therefore wished to advise the Panel to be more willing to exchange detailed information with Member States. Any perceived unwillingness to do so constituted a serious impediment to the Panel’s mandate. It was also the understanding of his Government that it was never the intention of the relevant Council resolutions to prohibit all trade with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said it was important that the Panel complete its work. It had presented an alarming picture of the extent of the exploitation throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said his Government reiterated its condemnation of any individuals or group that continued to illegally exploit the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and furthered the conflict in that country. If the parties refused to cooperate, then the Council must apply stronger measures. The Panel’s mandate must make it possible to verify its findings and make recommendation on how the international community could contribute to bringing an end to the illegal activity without increasing the suffering of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It would be a step further towards the return to peace in the country and in the region.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking for the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Liechtenstein, said the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was initially political and security related in nature, was becoming a struggle for wealth. The parties involved had an interest in perpetuating it with the economic dimension as the guiding force. The rush for lucre was in part determining the fate of the Congolese people and they were the victims of their country’s natural resources instead of the beneficiaries. That situation was further complicating efforts to restore peace. The profit motive was therefore one of the key features to be considered when resolving the conflict.
He said the European Union condemned the plundering of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It had to stop, and the primary responsibility lay with the parties themselves. The international community, for its part, must take action and establish control mechanisms and appropriate measures to counter contraband. Finding adequate methods to combat exploitation was, however, no simple matter. Today’s meeting was one step in the process of consideration and analysis that must be pursued and the recommendations of the Panel provided fuel for that consideration. The Panel’s mandate had to be renewed, to maintain the very useful control its activities had provided for up until now.
In determining the follow-up it intended to give to the current Panel report, the Council must be guided by certain fundamental objectives. The follow-up must contribute to the dynamics of the Lusaka process and thus form a part of the overall framework for seeking a political solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Secondly, the fate of the Congolese people must be at the centre of all concerns. He noted that the Panel was considering a moratorium on certain resources. "We believe that we have to make sure that the few resources still effectively in the hands of the Congolese people are not taken away from them, and that any restrictive measures should be carefully targeted against those responsible for the plundering", he said.
He said the Panel report also mentioned a reconstruction plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That was also the objective of the European Union, which was still fully prepared to mobilize considerable resources, depending on the concrete progress made in different parts of the peace process. The Union fully shared the concern of the Panel of Experts regarding the role that international aid might play in funding the continuation of the conflict. The contingency demanded a responsible approach by donors.
JOAQUIM BELO MANGUEIRA (Angola) said the report contained matters of particular concern to his Government. The Panel recognized that the presence of Angola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was due to strategic reasons and that Angola was the only country that did not receive a significant compensation for its military action in that country. That reflected the recognition of Angola’s policy, which was based on, among other things, the defence of its sovereignty and national borders and on the respect for the sovereignty of other States.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a sovereign and independent country and had the capacity to sign agreements with other States in accordance with its national law and with international law, he said. His Government could not support recommendations contained in the addendum regarding the revision of concessions, trade agreements and other agreements signed between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other States.
Such recommendations constituted interference in the internal affairs of that country, he said. Only the concerned States had the power to review those agreements according to public international law, particularly the Vienna Convention on the Treaty Law of May 1969. The Panel’s recommendations should formulate concrete measures designed to end the illegal exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They should not liken those countries that had voluntarily signed agreements with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to those which illegally explored the natural resources of that country without the authorization of its Government.
MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said his Government would continue to give support and cooperation to the Expert Panel. He welcomed the conclusions in the current report that removed the suspicion that his country was exploiting the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the report stated, the Panel had found no evidence. The conclusion had also spelled out the reason for the presence of the Burundi army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- to defend itself from attacks launched by rebels in South Kivu and Katanga. That validated what his Government had always said and what those with good faith already knew.
While his Government was satisfied with the conclusions of the Panel, his delegation was concerned by information on assistance that was being given to armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. The Panel stated that it had received reliable information that Zimbabwe was supporting the FDD rebel forces in Burundi and supplying them with weapons. The rebels were also being trained by the Zimbabwean defence forces in areas where cobalt exploitation was taking place and where Zimbabwe had interests.
He said the Panel report also said that officers and non-commissioned officers were being trained, and that in exchange the rebel forces were fighting daily as mercenaries alongside the Mai Mai. His Government pointed out that this was not the first time a report requested by the United Nations had reported the destabilization of his country by a coalition of negative forces. He called on the Council to follow-up on the conclusions of its missions of inquiry. The reports of those missions should lead to consistent action. His Government also wished to negotiate a ceasefire with the FDD and FNL forces and to seek a way to bring peace back to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and the whole Great Lakes region.
T.D. HART (Nigeria) said the debate provided the opportunity to exchange views on exploitation of mineral resources legitimately belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it related to the prolongation of ethnic conflicts in the Great Lakes region. Most African countries endowed with natural resources such as gold, diamonds or oil had suffered a similar fate, in that the wealth had been illegally exploited to the disadvantage of the countries and people. The Panel's report had established a link between exploitation of resources and the continuation of conflicts, as splinter rebel groups had emerged to struggle for control of resources in the Democratic Republic, and then some neighbouring countries supported the various rebel groups in hopes of winning concessions to exploit the resources.
He said revelations in the report about the stated roles of Zimbabwe and Rwanda in the Congo were of concern because of their possible effect on security concerns of Rwanda and Burundi and the potential effect of prolonging the war. If confirmed, the developments would not be in the collective interest of peace for the Democratic Republic, whose problems were multifaceted and could not be dealt with in isolation. The solution should take into account the larger problems of peace and security in the entire Great Lakes region, and the Security Council should address the question urgently.
Concerted efforts should be made to reassure neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi of their security, he said. Only by such collective action could smuggling of mineral resources along the porous borders be checked. As the report suggested, the region's countries should put controls and legal mechanisms in place to address the smuggling. Also, the Bretton Woods institutions and international donors should help rebuild the region's economy by injecting investible funds for infrastructure and general development. As soon as possible, the Panel should submit to the Council a comprehensive programme for financing development in the region.
Further, he said a moratorium should be declared for a period of time to ban the purchase and import of precious products, such as coltan, diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, timber and coffee, from areas with a foreign troop presence in the Democratic Republic. That would be in addition to standardizing certificates of origin from those areas. Finally, sanctions should be imposed on any country violating the resolution on exploiting mineral resources in the Democratic Republic.
MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said his delegation was extremely disappointed with the comments on his country in the addendum to the report of the Panel of Experts, which made serious and unsubstantiated allegations against his country. It had, for example, alleged that "Zambia did not have the capacity to exert much control over the refugee camps in its territory, where training activities had been conducted for incursions carried out from Zambian territory". His country adhered religiously to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees. The supervision, administration and management of refugee camps was the responsibility of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), while the host country provided the security for refugees and citizens alike. Zambia currently hosted more than 270,000 refugees in two settlements and four camps under the supervision of the UNHCR. If it were true that military training was being conducted in those camps, as the Panel alleged, then the conclusion would be that it was being done with the full knowledge of UNHCR.
He said that unfortunately the arrival of civilian refugees was often accompanied by entry into his country of armed elements and ex-combatants. That posed a very serious threat to the security of the local population and the civilian refugees themselves. To counter that, his Government, in collaboration with UNHCR, separated those identified as ex-combatants and sent them to Ukwimi refugee camp. That camp was currently holding 2,278 ex-combatants who were being screened by the National Eligibility Committee in collaboration with the UNHCR. That information was available from both his Government and the UNHCR. The Panel could easily have obtained such information had they asked for it.
He said his country was also shocked to note that the Panel reported that there was a lack of cooperation from the Zambian Government. Zambia had always supported and cooperated with the Panels sent by the Council and other United Nations bodies. "We have facilitated their smooth operation in the country and also ensured that all impediments in their work were removed", he said. Panels were free to go wherever they wanted and to see whoever and whatever they wanted to see. His delegation was convinced that the mandate given to the Panel was a noble one that been given in good faith. It was therefore disturbed and insulted by the unjustifiable accusations. The Government of Zambia was therefore challenging the Panel to substantiate its allegations. If it failed to do so, his country demanded a retraction and an apology.
GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said his country had supported the Panel and had cooperated with it. However, the naked aggression against the Democratic Republic by Uganda and Rwanda had continued with impunity, in defiance of Security Council resolutions. The Panel itself had reported that the economies of Rwanda and Uganda had benefited financially from the crisis while the Democratic Republic had simply relied on its income from its natural resources to defend itself, as any sovereign State had the right to do. Those transactions had been conducted in line with well-established trade practices.
The usefulness of the Panel report could be improved and it did give rise to some misgivings, he said. For one thing, the Panel had proved illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic's resources by Uganda and Rwanda. It could have used the same type of information to prove other countries were not benefiting from such activity. A wider perspective on commercial transactions for exploiting the Democratic Republic's resources, by involvement of countries outside Africa, would have been enlightening.
Finally, he said there was an incorrect reference in the addendum to the personal decision by Namibia's President Nujoma. Decisions of the Republic of Namibia were taken in line with procedures in its Constitution; those had been respected when the decision referred to had been made.
He said the report had identified the link between the invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the plundering of its resources and the continuation of conflict. The Security Council should insure that those who had invaded withdrew immediately, even if the Council had to adopt further measures. Those measures should provide for the payment of reparations and compensation to the Democratic Republic by invading countries.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said his country had been participating in the discussion of the Kimberley process, which addressed the problem of conflict diamonds, and through which the international community had learned valuable lessons regarding the curtailment of illicit exploitation of natural resources for conflict prevention while protecting the legitimate exploitation of natural resources for the promotion of development.
He said producing and importing countries must acknowledge their responsibility and commit themselves to breaking the circle of conflict and illicit exploitation. That consciousness of responsibility would provide an environment in which the international community would be encouraged to take voluntary initiatives to stop the illicit trade. With the end of the conflict in sight, it was crucial to protect legitimate trade in primary commodities in support of efforts for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As pointed out in the Panel's addendum, he said, items that were illicitly exploited and traded in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were not confined to coltan and diamonds, but also included gold, copper, cobalt and timber. The relationship between the illicit exploitation of natural resources and the protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be considered in the wider context of consolidating peace throughout the region. That would require a comprehensive and integrated approach.
Mr. KASEEM, Chairman of the Expert Panel, responded to the statement of the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe that Zimbabwe was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of its defence agreement with that country. Mr. Kaseem said Zimbabwe’s initial involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was under the pretext of the SADEC mutual defence agreement. Was its presence there today an enactment of the defense agreement or had it evolved into something else? he asked. If it was a burden on Zimbabwe’s limited resources, why did it continue to stay, and why were there no troop reductions? Zimbabwe’s commercial activities were based on arrangements with the Government in Kinshasa. Whether or not it was legal was another question. Were they legal under Congolese law and did the nature of those commercial activities reflect commonly accepted commercial ties? And did the gain realized by Zimbabwe reflect the size of Zimbabwe’s modest investment? The answer to those questions, he said, was no.
Would Zimbabwe’s commercial activity be negatively affected if it had no military presence in the country, he asked. Did it ensure that Zimbabwe’s military presence endured in order to protect the commercial activity? The answer was yes, he said. If there was no problem, why did the Government not cooperate with the Panel? The fear of transparency was a clear reflection of the nature of the activity.
With regard to the United Republic of Tanzania, he said, the Panel did not understand why that Government showed such hostility to it. The low-level officials who were sent to meet with the Panel were actively discouraged from cooperating. Further investigations showed that certain individuals working at the Central Bank had actively marketed Democratic Republic of the Congo diamonds from the premises of the Bank.
He said he had not intended to respond to the representative of Zambia, who had said his Government had cooperated by providing transportation to the Panel. In fact, it was the United Nations that provided for all the needs of the Panel. With regard to cooperation, even information that was available in the media was not given to the Panel. Junior officials sent to meet the Panel indicated that they were not authorized to disclose any information. Regarding the Panel’s meeting with the President of Zambia, he said that when the Panel arrived in Zambia it learned that the President had unilaterally cancelled the meeting. Only when the Panel complained about the lack of cooperation was the meeting with the President hastily rearranged.
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