21 March 2003
Security Council Welcomes Agreement on Transitional Arrangements in Democratic Republic of Congo, Adopting Resolution 1468 (2003)
Also Requests Increased Presence for UN Mission in Ituri Region, Site of Weeks of Violence, Recent Ceasefire
NEW YORK, 20 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today welcomed the 6 March agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on arrangements aimed at forming a transitional government and called for the establishment of that government as soon as possible, while, at the same time, requesting an increased presence for the United Nations mission in the Ituri area in the north-east of the country, the site of weeks of escalating violence brought to a halt by a ceasefire just two days ago.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1468 (2003), the Council condemned the massacres and other human rights violations perpetrated in the country, particularly sexual violence against women and girls as a tool of warfare, and atrocities perpetrated in the Ituri area. It demanded that all the parties to the conflict, particularly in that area, ensure the security of civilian populations and grant to the United Nations mission and to humanitarian organizations full and unimpeded access to the populations in need.
Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to increase the number of personnel in the United Nations mission's human rights component to assist and enhance the capacity of the Congolese parties to investigate all the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights perpetrated on the territory of the country since the beginning of the conflict in 1998.
In addition, the Council requested the mission to provide further support and assistance to humanitarian efforts, as well as to facilitate the formation of the Ituri Pacification Commission and assist it with its work. The Council also demanded that all governments in the Great Lakes region immediately cease military and financial support to all the parties engaged in armed conflict in the Ituri region, and reiterated that all foreign troops must be withdrawn from Congolese territory. In that connection, it called on Uganda to complete the withdrawal of all its troops without further delay, and expressed concern that the Government's commitment to withdraw by 20 March had not been met.
The meeting began at 1:26 p.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m.
The full text of Council resolution 1468 (2003) reads, as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its previous resolutions and statements by its President regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
"Expressing its full support for the efforts of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its appreciation of his report on the situation in Ituri (S/2003/216) and recalling the previous report on the situation in Kisangani (S/2002/764),
"Welcoming the thirteenth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (S/2003/211),
"Commending the Government of Angola for its efforts in ensuring the implementation, by the parties, of the Luanda Agreement of 6 September 2002, which establishes the basis for a settlement in the Ituri area, and expressing its gratitude to the Government of Angola for their readiness to continue these efforts,
"Commending also the Government of South Africa for its role in cooperation with the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to help the Congolese parties reach an agreement on the transitional arrangements,
"Commending the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and their teams for helping steer the negotiations in Pretoria to a successful conclusion,
"Determining that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to pose a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"1. Welcomes the agreement reached by the Congolese parties in Pretoria on 6 March 2003 on the transitional arrangements, commends the Congolese parties, whose responsibility it is to implement fully the commitments they have taken, for their efforts in settling the outstanding issues, and calls on them to establish as soon as possible the transitional government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and stresses that any effort to undermine or delay its establishment would be unacceptable;
"2. Condemns the massacres and other systematic violations of International Humanitarian Law and human rights perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular sexual violence against women and girls as a tool of warfare and atrocities perpetrated in the Ituri area by the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie/National (RCD/N) troops, as well as the acts of violence recently perpetrated by the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) forces, and reiterates that there will be no impunity for such acts and that the perpetrators will be held accountable;
"3. Stresses that the military officers whose names are mentioned in the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in connection with serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights should be brought to justice, through further investigation, and if warranted by that investigation, held accountable through a credible judicial process;
"4. Calls upon the Congolese parties, when selecting individuals for key posts in the transitional government, to take into account the commitment and record of those individuals with regard to respect for International Humanitarian Law and human rights and the promotion of the well-being of all the Congolese;
"5. Strongly encourages the Congolese parties forming the transitional government to establish as soon as possible a Peace and Reconciliation Commission charged with determining responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, as set forth in the resolutions adopted in the framework of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City in April 2002;
"6. Reiterates that all parties claiming a role in the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must demonstrate their respect for human rights, international humanitarian law, as well as the security and well-being of civilian populations and emphasizes that the transitional government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will have to restore law and order and respect for human rights, and end impunity, across the entire country;
"7. Requests the Secretary-General to increase the number of personnel in MONUC's human rights component to assist and enhance, in accordance with its current mandate, the capacity of the Congolese parties to investigate all the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights perpetrated on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the beginning of the conflict in August 1998, and requests also the Secretary-General, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to make recommendations to the Council on other ways to help the transitional government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo address the issue of impunity;
"8. Expresses its deep concern over the heavy fighting in Bunia, demands that all parties to the conflict in Ituri immediately cease the hostilities and that all parties sign an unconditional ceasefire agreement, stresses that they must cooperate with MONUC to set up without further delay the Ituri Pacification Commission, and also stresses that the necessary steps must be taken to restore public order in Bunia, in accordance with the agreements reached among Congolese parties and within the framework of the Ituri Pacification Commission;
"9. Requests the Secretary-General to increase MONUC's presence in the Ituri area, as security conditions permit, in particular military observers and human rights personnel, to monitor developments on the ground, including the use of airfields in the Ituri area, and also requests MONUC to provide further support and assistance to humanitarian efforts, as well as to facilitate the formation of the Ituri Pacification Commission and assist the work of this commission as consistent with MONUC's current mandate, in consultation with all the Congolese parties to the conflict;
"10. Encourages MONUC's efforts to consult with the relevant parties on possible options for addressing the immediate security situation in the Ituri area and requests that MONUC keep the Council informed of its efforts in this regard;
"11. Demands that all governments in the Great Lakes region immediately cease military and financial support to all the parties engaged in armed conflict in the Ituri region, stresses the need for all Congolese parties, including the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to respect their commitments under the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, as well as the Kampala plan and the Harare sub-plans for disengagement and redeployment, and reiterates that all foreign troops must be withdrawn from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
"12. Calls on the Government of Uganda to complete the withdrawal of all its troops without further delay and, in this regard, expresses its concern that that Government's commitment to withdraw by 20 March 2003 has not been met, and, concerned also at the statement of 14 March 2003 issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Rwanda, calls on the Government of Rwanda not to return any forces to the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and stresses that any renewal of strengthening of foreign military presence on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be unacceptable and would undermine the progress achieved thus far in the peace process;
"13. Expresses its deep concern at the rising tensions between Rwanda and Uganda and their proxies on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and stresses that the governments of these two countries must take steps to build mutual confidence, must settle their concerns through peaceful means, and without any interference in Congolese affairs, and must refrain from any action that could undermine the peace process;
"14. Demands also that all the parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in particular in Ituri, ensure the security of civilian populations and grant to MONUC and to humanitarian organizations full and unimpeded access to the populations in need;
"15. Reiterates its demand expressed in its resolution 1460 that all parties to the conflict provide information without delay on steps they have taken to halt their recruitment or use of children in armed conflict in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, as well as its demands with regard to the protection of children contained in its resolutions 1261, 1314, 1379 and 1460;
"16. Recalls its demand that full and unimpeded access be granted to MONUC and the Third Party Verification Mechanism so that it could verify the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement of 30 July 2002 and investigate the allegations on the presence of Rwandan troops in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as allegations of support by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the armed groups in the east of the country, reiterates that both would be unacceptable and would undermine the continuation of the peace process, and stresses that any ongoing military activity in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has a detrimental effect on MONUC's operations of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration or resettlement (DDRRR) of armed groups;
"17. Requests that MONUC report as soon as possible to the Council on the results of its investigations referred to in paragraph 16;
"18. Expresses its support to the broad orientations set out by the Secretary- General in paragraph 59 of his last report on the role of MONUC in support of the peace process, and expresses its intention to consider his recommendations in this regard;
"19. Reiterates its full support for MONUC and the efforts it continues to deploy to help the parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region advance their peace process and stresses the importance of MONUC moving forward with its phase III deployment in accordance with resolution 1445;
"20. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the thirteenth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), dated 21 February (document S/2003/211), which describes developments since the last report of 18 October 2002 and provides initial observations on the future role of MONUC.
The signing of the All-Inclusive Agreement in Pretoria in December 2002 was an important step towards national reconciliation and peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, states the report. Congolese leaders, however, have not yet taken the steps required to implement it and to establish the transitional mechanisms. Moreover, they continue to engage in military confrontation on the ground. It is hoped that all parties will cooperate to resolve the remaining issues, convene expeditiously the final session of the inter-Congolese dialogue, ratify the All-Inclusive Agreement, and adopt the transitional constitution.
The report stresses the need to respect the territorial integrity of the country. Despite the declared withdrawal of most of the foreign forces and the commencement of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration, the military situation on the ground, particularly in the Ituri region and the Kivus, continues to be volatile. Of concern are the widespread suspicions of continuing political and military involvement in the eastern part of the country, including by neighbouring States.
In seeking to verify the increasing number of reports on the presence of foreign forces, MONUC has been hampered by security conditions on the ground, the report continues. All those with influence on the authorities and armed groups that control those areas must press them to allow the Mission unimpeded access, as the verification of allegations is key to defusing rising tensions in the region. In addition, support to Congolese armed groups operating in the eastern part of the country must cease.
The Mission, states the report, has made progress in the voluntary repatriation of foreign, armed groups. The first significant numbers of foreign combatants have been voluntarily disarmed, demobilized and repatriated to Rwanda. The MONUC has taken further steps to shift the focus of its operations towards the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In that connection, the necessary
preparations are under way for the deployment of the first MONUC Task Force, which will enable the Mission to begin effective disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration operations in the eastern part of the country.
Since the last report, over 100,000 persons in the north-east around Beni have been displaced as a result of major military offensives in which horrendous human rights abuses have been perpetrated. Some Congolese leaders have recently been implicated in some of those abuses. That impunity must end. In addition, the outrageous pattern of deliberate violence and abuse of females and children by armed elements has continued.
With its substantial human and logistics resources, MONUC -- in cooperation with other international partners -- could make a major contribution in assisting the transitional Government to carry out its commitments. The Secretary-General suggests, in that regard, that the efforts of the United Nations to support the transitional arrangements be led by his Special Representative, Amos Namanga Ngongi. That would enable MONUC to provide coordinated and integrated assistance to the parties during the transition period.
The MONUC would, at the same time, continue to expand its current observation and peacemaking efforts, particularly in the eastern part of the country. At the operational level, MONUC is also well placed to help create conditions conducive to the holding of free and fair elections. Among those, the following may be key: security sector reform in which the Mission's expertise in disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration could be extended to the disarmament of Congolese combatants and coordination of the activities of bilateral donors; rule of law, including the creation of the national civilian police; and technical assistance for the elections.
The MONUC will explore those areas further with the transitional Government and international community. The Secretary-General will then submit the necessary recommendations to the Council.
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