US Advocates Stricter Rules for Regional Forces in DR Congo at UN Session – The Ankole Times

US Advocates Stricter Rules for Regional Forces in DR Congo at UN Session

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

In a United Nations Security Council session, the United States urged the international community to back its efforts to impose stricter rules on the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The move comes as the U.S. aims to avoid repeating the mistakes of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco) and to establish robust safeguards to prevent human rights violations by troops.

The EACRF may depart from the DRC by December 8, following Kinshasa’s decision not to renew their mandate. However, the United States insists that the new regulations should be adhered to by any future forces deployed in the DRC.

During the UN Security Council session, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, appealed to Council members not to endorse increased Monusco support for the EACRF without appropriate safeguards. She emphasized the importance of these safeguards to maintain and improve the already perilous security situation in the DRC.

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Monusco, which has been present in the DRC since 1999, has faced allegations of violations, including rape and sexual exploitation. Recently, it expelled South African soldiers for their involvement in sexual exploitation. Critics argue that the UN’s reliance on troop contributors to penalize their own soldiers creates a gap that enables troops to evade accountability for their actions.

However, the departure of these missions from the DRC could leave a security vacuum in the region. Huang Xia, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, has expressed concern about escalating tensions between Rwanda and the DRC, both of which have accused each other of supporting rebel activities.

Xia’s report noted the absence of significant progress in addressing security concerns in the eastern part of the DRC. Notably, there has been renewed conflict between the M23 rebels and the Wazalendo self-defense group in the North Kivu region. This fighting could potentially move closer to the borders of Rwanda and Uganda.

In addition, Rwanda and the DRC have not made progress in de-escalating tensions as agreed in the Luanda Process. The M23 and FDLR, two key rebel groups, continue to be a source of tension between the two countries, with each accusing the other of supporting these groups. The breakdown of both the Luanda and Nairobi Processes has further complicated the situation.

Representatives at the UN Security Council meeting called for dialogue and confidence-building between Rwanda and the DRC. They stressed the need to adhere to the cardinal principles of the Framework Agreement, which includes refraining from supporting armed groups, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighboring states, and not harboring individuals accused of crimes and violations of international law.

However, representatives from both Rwanda and the DRC expressed their concerns and disagreements. The DRC representative refuted allegations linking the Congolese army to the FDLR and expressed readiness to participate in efforts to eradicate the FDLR. Rwanda’s representative accused the DRC of lacking the political will to reduce the threat posed by foreign armed groups.

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