Press Release SC/6791 - 20000126
The Security Council this afternoon expressed its determination to support implementation of the July 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its intention to act promptly along the lines recommended by the Secretary-General in his report to the Council.
In a statement read at the conclusion of the resumed meeting devoted to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council President, Richard Holbrooke (United States), said that the Council had begun consideration of a resolution authorizing the expansion of the current mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and expressed its intention to consider at the appropriate time an additional phase of United Nations deployment and further action. The Council also supported the establishment of a coordinated structure and co-located headquarters for MONUC and the Joint Military Commission, which was established under the terms of the Lusaka Agreement. The Council called on all signatories to the Lusaka Agreement to provide assurances of safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel.
Expressing its appreciation to the African heads of State and to Foreign Ministers from all over the world who participated in its meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 24 January 2000, the Council urged all the parties to the Lusaka Agreement to build on the momentum of that meeting, as well as the Maputo Summit of 16 January and the 18 January Harare meeting of the Political Committee, also established under the Agreement. The Council also underlined the importance of a revised calendar for full implementation of the Agreement.
The Council also stressed the importance of the inter-Congolese national dialogue and affirmed that it must be an open, inclusive and democratic process conducted independently by the Congolese people under the established facilitation by the former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire. The Council recognized that disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration were among the fundamental objectives of the Lusaka Agreement and underlined that a credible plan for such objectives must be based on an agreed and comprehensive set of principles.
The Security Council further expressed its serious concern over the humanitarian situation in the country and urged Member States and donor organizations to provide the necessary funds to carry out safe and unhindered humanitarian operations there. It also called on all concerned to halt the illicit flow of arms into the region.
Statements were made by the representatives of the Netherlands, China, Jamaica, Ukraine, Malaysia, Russian Federation and Portugal (on behalf of the European Union).
The meeting began at 12:10 p.m.and adjourned at 1:15 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to resume its consideration of the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council had before it the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Organization Mission in that country (MONUC) (document S/2000/30), which was established by Council resolution 1279 (1999) of 30 November 1999. (For details of the report, see Press Release SC/6789 of 24 January.)
The Council President, RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States), thanked those Member States which, in the interest of time factors, had opted not to speak and said that the printed copies of their speeches would be circulated at the meeting.
ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said the "month of Africa" was an auspicious start to the new century. He was impressed by the attendance of so many heads of State, and believed that boded well for the future of the troubled region. A thought-provoking report of the Secretary-General before the Council made it clear that there was no alternative to the Lusaka Agreement. It was, therefore, distressing that the Agreement was being systematically violated. He urged the signatories to end all military action in violation of the Agreement.
Priority attention must be given to improving the disappointing performance of the Joint Military Commission, he continued. The Netherlands supported the body financially, and international financial support for it was such that lack of resources could not be said to be an obstacle to its playing a key role. It must meet more frequently to monitor ceasefire violations. A permanent secretariat should be considered. He called on all parties to renew efforts to improve its effectiveness.
Inside the Democratic Republic a new political arrangement was needed, he said, and it should include the development of a stable and democratic state structures to address power-sharing and multi-ethnicity.
The Interahamwe and the ex-Rwandan Armed Forces were a key threat to the Lusaka Agreement, he said. Their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration were crucial steps in the peace process, and monumental tasks, as well. Restoration of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic would have to go hand in hand with accommodation of the legitimate security needs of its neighbours.
He supported the dispatch of 500 observers as proposed by the Secretary- General, despite the risk, if adequate protection could be provided, he said. The Council must "get it right" this time, and Ambassador Holbrooke's efforts to bring the United States Congress on board would be crucial to finding the resources required. His Government called on all United Nations Member States to refrain from arms exports to the Great Lakes region and suggested the Secretary-General report back to the Council on the means to address the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic's resources, which helped to continue the conflict.
QIN HUASUN (China) said China welcomed the participation of the African heads of State and others in the consultation. To help the Democratic Republic's people was a serious challenge. China had repeatedly appealed for the United Nations to commit resources to resolve the conflict. Mediation efforts had been undertaken resulting in the Ceasefire Agreement, but regrettably it had not been observed or implemented. The United Nations mission had not been put in place.
His Government found the Secretary-General's report gratifying, he said. He proposed that troops and observers be sent, and hoped the Council would take full advantage of the current opportunity to move promptly. He also supported the Presidential Statement and hoped it would be a new start.
The sovereignty and integrity of the country must be respected and safeguarded, he stressed. The Lusaka Agreement should be implemented fully and scrupulously. Timely deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation was an essential guarantee for resolving the conflict. The mission should have an appropriate mandate. That would test the Council's will and determination. All-inclusive dialogue was essential, but that required a stable external environment. The appointment of the facilitator was welcome.
Reduction of poverty was fundamental to lasting stability in the country and the region, he added. Thus, China supported the proposed conference on the Great Lakes region. The road to peace would not be smooth, but as long as opportunities were seized and all sides honoured their commitments, peace would come in the not-too-distant future.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) joined previous speakers in welcoming the high level of the meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her delegation recognized only too well the difficulties that must be overcome to achieve a durable peace, but it was necessary to use the best efforts to put an end to the misery of the people there. She was heartened by the expressions of hope and pledges of political will by the African leaders in their statements before the Council.
It was vital to create conditions for lasting peace, based on the full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, she continued. Peace must include: secure borders; respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; and full enjoyment of natural resources. She called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and said that the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Democratic Republic must take place. Her Government supported the pursuit of a national inter-Congolese dialogue, which was an indispensable step towards national reconciliation and peace and stability in the country.
The heightened military activity of "armed groups" and the danger of large-scale violence among ethnic groups continued to be a cause of concern, she said. Those who believed they had a legitimate right to petition for justice and full participation in the political governance of the Democratic Republic should do so at the bargaining table. Her delegation was deeply disturbed by the worsening humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic, as well as the refugees situation. She called on the parties to the conflict to respect the civilian and humanitarian nature of the refugee camps and urged the international community to respond favourably to the United Nations Consolidated Appeal for 2000.
In order to ensure protection of children, it was necessary to act before the fragile Ceasefire Agreement further eroded, she said. Inaction on the part of the Security Council could result in continued loss of life, a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and a reversal of the progress already achieved. Recommendations of the Secretary-General should be speedily acted upon. The Joint Military Commission had a crucial role to play, and should be established on a permanent basis. Jamaica supported the expansion of MONUC and believed that collective action was the best approach to address the complex situation in the Great Lakes region. Her country also supported the holding of an international conference on peace and security in that region.
Before giving the floor to the next speaker, President of the Council Mr. HOLBROOKE (United States) announced that Japan was joining other speakers who decided to circulate their statements on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, it wanted it announced that Japan was prepared to contribute $300,000 in support of the Lusaka process, which, together with its previous contributions, would amount to the total of half a million United States dollars.
VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said that nothing was more convincing of the conclusion that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the major challenge facing Africa than the unprecedented high profile of the Council meeting. His Government would support any endeavour that could bring the world closer to achieving success there. The Lusaka Agreement represented the most viable basis for the resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ukraine was gravely concerned over the further deterioration of the military and security situation in the Democratic Republic and the violations of the ceasefire there, as well as the humanitarian crisis in the region. He strongly supported the call for the renewed commitment of the parties to the Lusaka Agreement and was encouraged by the declaration of the heads of State from the region on the matter. Such strengthened commitment was an essential prerequisite for vigorous international action in support of the Lusaka Agreement and allocation of significant resources by the international community.
At the same time, he strongly believed that any further hesitation on the part of the Council in speeding up the United Nations deployment in the Democratic Republic would produce a negative effect on the peace efforts. The Security Council should take prompt action on the recommendations of the Secretary-General in that regard. The deployment of the United Nations military observers would leave no excuses for further delays in the implementation of the Agreement.
The parties to the Agreement should pay special attention to putting an end to the presence of foreign troops in the Democratic Republic, which was inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, he said. His country was also concerned by reports on the illegal exploitation of the economic resources of the country. Another problem that dangerously affected the security in Central Africa was the question of armed groups in the Democratic Republic. It was urgent that a comprehensive disarmament and demobilization process be launched. His country supported the initiative of the French Government to convene an international conference for the Great Lakes region to address all the root causes of the current conflict.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said six months had passed since Lusaka, but the situation had not improved. The accord was still fragile. He agreed with the Secretary-General's assessment that the Lusaka Agreement was the best hope for peace, and believed that peace and stability rested on its implementation. Malaysia joined the call for all parties to uphold it and for the Joint Military Commission to be used more effectively.
The conflict in the Democratic Republic could not be resolved without cooperation of all signatories to the Lusaka Agreement, he said. He commended them for their good judgement in signing the Agreement and urged them to employ greater political will to make it work.
As the parties were reminded of their obligations, the Council should also remind itself of its responsibilities, he said. It should make good its promises to act promptly and to deploy a full-fledged mission in the Democratic Republic. Otherwise, its failure would have wide ramifications. The authority of the Council was in question, and that would be a litmus test of its commitment to Africa. Further delay would unravel the Agreement. He welcomed the Secretary-General's report and agreed fully that any force should be large and adequately mandated. The unresolved question of who would be responsible for disarmament must also be addressed.
He supported the Secretary-General's proposed initial deployment of peacekeepers to support the military observers, but would like to see a more substantial presence follow up that deployment. Continued support from the international community would be contingent on a renewed commitment to peace from the signatories to the Lusaka Agreement and he, therefore, called on them to recommit forthwith.
The conflict had external and internal dimensions, he added. Final resolution would have to take the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all other States' legitimate security concerns into account. The Joint Military Commission was crucial, and the Council should support moves to give it enforcement authority. He reiterated Malaysia's support for an international conference, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations to lay the foundations for regional cooperation.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the Lusaka Agreement would be the real basis for the conflict's resolution. The Russian Federation attached great importance to close cooperation between the organizations involved in seeking a solution to it. He welcomed the appointment of the Secretary- General's special representatives for the Great Lakes region and for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Primary responsibility for observing the ceasefire and for the other Lusaka commitments lay with the parties, he said. He was sorry to see that, despite positive shifts, there had been no withdrawal of uninvited forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The humanitarian situation was dramatic and national dialogue had not yet begun, he said. He hoped the facilitator would be able to get the process moving. He supported further expansion of international efforts, such as the deployment of United Nations personnel timed to the rate of progress towards peace, and including a large-scale peacekeeping operation. However, for that to happen the ceasefire must actually be working, the political will to resolve the conflict must exist, and there must be security for international personnel.
Because of the complex nature of the conflict, a settlement would also be complex, he said. A key element would be seeking the right political solution for the whole region. Strengthening cooperation was, thus, important and he believed mechanisms for ensuring such cooperation should be established, in the context of the Lusaka Agreement, on a bilateral and a regional basis, with broad international support. Thus, the proposal for a conference on the Great Lakes region was constructive. His Government would continue to provide support for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it would study the possibility of its involvement in an international humanitarian action.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, welcomed the initiative of the Security Council Presidency to focus discussions during the month of January on Africa and welcomed the presence of African leaders at the important meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That demonstrated the existence of the political will in the region and in the world to advance peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wider Great Lakes region. Peace was achievable only if it had a firm foundation and such a foundation was provided by the Lusaka Agreement. The presence of the leaders of the signatory countries presented a critical opportunity for the parties to demonstrate their adherence to the Lusaka Agreement.
The essential institutions and channels that would form the framework for implementing Lusaka must be established, he continued. In that connection, the Joint Military Commission had a crucial role to play, and he encouraged efforts towards its integration with MONUC. He hoped to see progress towards disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the militia groups currently operating in the region. This week it was also necessary to consider the means to achieve that purpose. The European Union was prepared to support the national dialogue in the Democratic Republic. Funding from the Union would be available to assist it as soon as the parties themselves showed their firm readiness to initiate the process, which should start at an early date.
The United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, had a crucial role to play in the peace process, he said. The Union intended to provide the support needed to ensure the success of MONUC and the peacekeeping presence in the Democratic Republic. Settlement of the conflict should be considered in the regional framework, and the European Union supported the convening of an international conference to address its root causes. He encouraged the OAU and the African countries concerned to begin preparatory work as soon as the main elements of the Lusaka Agreement had been implemented.
He said that the Union remained deeply concerned by the suffering of the civilian population and the great number of refugees and internally displaced persons. It reiterated the importance it attached to the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, particularly regarding the protection of children and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child combatants.
Mr. HOLBROOKE (United States), President of the Council, then read the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2000/2:
"The Security Council expresses its appreciation to the heads of State of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and to the Foreign Ministers of Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, Canada and the United States, the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie of France, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, and the Minister of Armed Forces of Mali, who participated in its meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 24 January 2000. The Council also expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the representative of the Chairman of the OAU, and the OAU- nominated Facilitator of the Congolese National Dialogue. Their presence and their statements attest to their renewed commitment to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (S/1999/815) and to the search for a durable peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. Their presence in New York also reinforces the progress made at the Maputo Summit of 16 January 2000 and the Harare meeting of the Political Committee of 18 January 2000. The Council expects that this progress will continue at the next Political Committee Meeting and Summit of the Signatories to the Agreement.
"The Security Council urges all the parties to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement to build on the momentum of these meetings in order to create and sustain the climate necessary for the full implementation of the Agreement. It underlines the importance of a revised implementation calendar for the full and effective implementation of the tasks in the Agreement.
"The Security Council reaffirms the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including over its natural resources, in accordance with the principles of the Charters of the United Nations and the OAU. In this regard, it reiterates its call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in accordance with the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. The Council reaffirms its support for the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and also reaffirms its resolutions 1234 (1999) of 9 April 1999, 1258 (1999) of 6 August 1999, 1273 (1999) of 5 November 1999 and 1279 (1999) of 30 November 1999.
"The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 17 January 2000 (S/2000/30). The Council expresses its determination to support the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. Accordingly, it has now begun consideration of a resolution authorizing the expansion of the present mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) along the lines recommended by the Secretary-General in that report. It expresses its intention to act promptly on this basis. It also expresses its intention to consider at the appropriate time preparations for an additional phase of United Nations deployment and further action. It welcomes the statements by the heads of State and delegation in support of the proposals of the Secretary-General. The Council welcomes the arrival of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expresses its support for his efforts, and urges all parties to provide him with the assistance and cooperation he will require to carry out his functions.
"The Security Council supports the establishment of a coordinated MONUC/Joint Military Commission (JMC) structure with co-located headquarters and joint support arrangements. The Council believes this is a vital step in enhancing the ability of the United Nations to support the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. In this regard, the Council urges Member States and donor organizations to continue to provide assistance to the JMC.
"The Security Council underlines the absolute necessity of security and access for United Nations personnel deployed in support of the Lusaka process, and stresses that such a climate of cooperation is an essential prerequisite for the successful implementation of the mandate of MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council calls on all signatories to the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement to provide assurances of safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel, and in this regard attaches importance to the statement by the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the security of MONUC and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
"The Security Council stresses the importance of the National Dialogue as called for in the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, and affirms that it must be an open, inclusive and democratic process conducted independently by the Congolese people under the established Facilitation. It further affirms that the National Dialogue is the best means for all Congolese parties to address the political future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The Security Council strongly supports the designation of the former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, as the Facilitator of the National Dialogue as provided for by the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, and calls on Member States to provide full financial and other support to his efforts and the process as a whole. The Council welcomes the declared readiness of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to begin the National Dialogue, and to guarantee the security of all participants.
"The Security Council stresses the need for the continued operation of United Nations and other agencies' humanitarian relief operations and human rights promotion and monitoring under acceptable conditions of security, freedom of movement, and access to affected areas. The Council expresses its serious concern over the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as the shortfall in responses to the United Nations consolidated humanitarian appeal. It therefore urges Member States and donor organizations to make available the necessary funds to carry out urgent humanitarian operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The Security Council expresses its concern that the presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of non-signatory armed groups that have yet to be demobilized constitutes a threat to the Lusaka process. The Council recognizes that disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and reintegration (DDRR) are among the fundamental objectives of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. The Council underlines that a credible plan for DDRR must be based on an agreed and comprehensive set of principles.
"The Security Council expresses deep concern over the illicit flow of arms into the region, and calls upon all concerned to halt such flows.
"The Security Council values the continuing leadership of the peace process by the President of Zambia and the vital contribution of the Southern African Development Community through its Chairman, the President of Mozambique. It also expresses its appreciation to the current Chairman of the OAU, the President of Algeria, and to the Secretary-General of the OAU for the Organization's vital role in the Lusaka process. It urges them to continue their essential efforts in close cooperation with the Security Council and the Secretary-General."