Analysis of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (October 2018)

By Kata Lucas

Covering the period from 29 June to 28 September 2018, the report covers key developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and describes progress regarding the implementation of the mandate of MONUSCO pursuant to resolution 2409 (2018).

Overview

The Secretary-General reports on major developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the period from 29 June to 28 September 2018 pursuant resolution 2409 (2018).  The report describes progress in the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The report provides an overview of political developments, including the electoral process and implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016 (S/2018/786), outlines progress in adjustments to the Mission’s priorities, including the mission’s approach to the protection of civilians, and provides information on the performance of MONUSCO uniformed personnel.

The report references issues of women, peace and security (WPS) on numerous occasions in the context of elections, human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), protection of civilians, and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). References are overly focused on women’s protection concerns, whereas references to women’s participation are limited to references in the context of electoral preparations, with no explicit reference to women’s or women’s organizations participation in the protection and prevention of violence. The report is consistent with the previous report of July (S/2018/655). However, the current report improves with a robust and detailed-oriented discussion of MONUSCO’s efforts to address and respond to SEA. [1]S/2018/822, paras. 67, 68, 69 Regrettably, consistent with the previous report, the report does not consistently integrate sex and age-disaggregated data, and does not provide a gender analysis in reporting. Moreover, both reports remain silent on gender in the context of humanitarian assistance. Reporting on issues of WPS continues to fall short of the mission’s mandate, notably in the context of reporting on human rights violations, protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance.

Analysis by Issue Area

Elections

The Secretary-General includes information on the mission’s efforts to foster women’s participation as voters and candidates, as well as women’s protection concerns in the context of election processes. First, the Secretary-General reports that 2,256 women or 12 percent of candidates in the provincial legislative elections are women. [2]S/2018/882, para. 7 Second, MONUSCO supported young urban women in spreading the “principles of peaceful communication” among young people in vulnerable neighborhoods in Kinshasa and eastern DRC, in an effort to prevent possible violent clashes with the police and army before, during or after elections; 694 women and 330 men were trained. [3]S/2018/882, para. 71 Third, MONUSCO hosted weekly meetings with 22 female politicians affiliated with different political parties and civil society, to exchange views on the opportunities for and the challenges of being candidates and on how to help to mobilize voters and win seats. [4]S/2018/882, para. 72 In the observations, the Secretary-General expresses regret regarding the low number of female candidates, despite commitments by stakeholders to promote the active participation of women in the political and electoral process”. [5]S/2018/882,  para. 75

The Secretary-General should continue this positive trend in reporting, notably striking a balance between discussing women’s participation and protection concerns in the context of election preparations reflective of several provisions in resolution 2122 (2013). [6]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP 4, OP. 8 Future reporting should follow-up on the aforementioned efforts, and also include a gender analysis on the impacts of MONUSCO’s engagement with young women and female politicians pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). The Secretary-General’s acknowledgment of the low number of candidates points to the disconnect in the commitments of stakeholders and the reality on the ground. In this regard, the Secretary-General should continue to draw attention to this disconnect, and emphasize the importance of women’s participation and the protection women’s rights in the context of elections, recognizing the links between women’s participation and protection to sustainable and inclusive peace and security pursuant to resolution 1325 (2000) and 2122 (2013). [7]S/RES/1325, OP. 1 S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 4, OP. 7, OP. 8

Human Rights

The Secretary-General reports on human rights abuses and violations against women twice in the report: providing the number of female victims of abductions by Mai-Mai groups in the Tanganyika province and the number of women victims of extrajudicial killings and summary executions, as well as women that have been illegally deprived of their freedom by state agents and/or armed groups. [8]S/2018/882, paras. 22, 31 The report also references the number of human rights violations linked to restrictions on fundamental freedoms and political rights, which have been committed primarily against civil society activists and members of political parties. [9]S/2018/882, para. 32 Reporting should be improved to contain sex and age-disaggregated on human rights violations in all geographic areas, as well as a gender analysis of the human rights situation pursuant resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). Presently, the inclusion of data on human rights abuses is inconsistent and no analysis is provided, thus providing the Council with an incomplete, and largely gender-blind picture of the human rights situation.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

The Secretary-General reports on crimes of SGBV against civilians on three occasions, providing sex and age-disaggregated in two instances. [10]S/RES/822, para. 38 and 40: SADD is provided, para. 18: SViC is broadly reported The Secretary-General also provides detailed reporting on the efforts of MONUSCO to respond and address sexual violence in two paragraphs of the report. First, MONUSCO informed the government of investigations of acts of sexual violence committed by a coalition of Mai-Mai Raia Mutomboki combatants in Shabunda territory in April 2018, noting that while some survivors received medical care, the holistic response was insufficient. In response, MONUSCO supported the Panzi Foundation to provide medical, psychosocial, and legal assistance, and the mission continued its advocacy efforts for the opening of a judicial investigation. [11]S/RES/822, para. 38 Second, MONUSCO continued to collaborate with the Government on the implementation of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) action plan against sexual violence, providing training to FARDC commanders in several regions, including the signing of a declaration of commitment by 66 FARDC commanders to combat sexual violence in their ranks. [12]S/RES/822, para. 39 Additionally, the report indicates that the action plan against sexual violence of the Congolese National Police was finalized and submitted for signature to the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. [13]S/RES/822, para. 39

In the future, the Secretary-General should strive to consistently provide sex and age-disaggregated in all reporting on SGBV and also provide a gender analysis in reporting pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [14]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 1, OP. 2, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 4 The integration of a gender lens in reporting on SGBV is also reflective of the mission’s mandate, which “requests MONUSCO to accelerate the coordinated implementation of monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in conflict”. [15]S/RES/2409 (2018), OP. 36(i)(b) Such provisions will paint a gender-informed picture of violence against civilians, providing a foundation to enhance the Council’s decision-making from a feminist perspective and better ensure compliance with the WPS provisions in mission’s mandate.

Protection of Civilians

In the context of protection of civilians, the Secretary-General broadly reports that MONUSCO conducted several long-range patrols to protect civilians, including women, and in the context of the deployment of two Joint Protection Team missions, MONUSCO engaged with local authorities and civil society to promote peaceful cohabitation between communities. [16]S/2018/822, para. 51, 53 In the future, the Secretary-General should include information on the integration of gender considerations in the design, planning, and implementation of civilian protection, including reporting on the engagement of women protection advisers (WPAs). Pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013), reporting should also include sex and age-disaggregated data and a gender analysis of civilian protection. These improvements should be plausible given the presence of WPAs and the mission’s mandate, which stipulates that MONUSCO is to integrate gender as a crosscutting issue and assist the government to ensure women’s participation, involvement and representation across areas, including the protection of civilians. [17]S/RES/2409 (2018), OP. 39

The Mission’s Accountability Framework

The Secretary-General reports that MONUSCO continues to make progress in improving and monitoring its gender responsiveness, through the use of a gender markers accountability framework and provides one example in this regard. The report also notes that three quarters of the mission’s offices have outlined concrete ways to measure the extent to which peace and security initiatives consider the needs of women and men. [18]S/2018/882, para. 70 The Secretary-General should continue to monitor the mission’s progress in this regard and provide context-specific examples, as the consideration of women and men’s diverse needs in the planning and implementation activities is crucial to responding and addressing the gendered dimensions of conflict pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013 and 2242 (2015).

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

The Secretary-General provides significant detail on mission’s efforts to respond to and address SEA, largely reflective of provisions in resolution 2242 (2015). [19]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 10 The report provides an update on the mission’s engagement with communities exposed to sexual exploitation and those at risk, including efforts to raise awareness, introduce reporting mechanisms, and build the capacity of communities to identify and process complaints. [20]S/2018/882, para. 67, 68, 69 In regards to MONUSCO personnel, the Secretary-General reports that efforts to prevent SEA focused on direct interaction with and support for troop-contributing countries, including monitoring the behavior of personnel, deterrent activities by military police patrols, and distribution of pocket cards on the prevention. [21]S/2018/882, para. 68 The Secretary-General reports that MONUSCO started to use a measurement of force effectiveness process to assess the performance of its troops, this assessment criteria includes SEA. [22]S/2018/882, para. 63 The Secretary-General should continue this positive trend and also inform the Council via reporting on the number of allegations, status, and outcome of any investigations pursuant to resolution 2242 (2015). [23]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 9

References

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