As NGOs working in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we remain very concerned by the grave humanitarian situation that continues to severely affect the civilian population, characterized by persistent high levels of violence, human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Renewed fighting between M23 and FARDC around Goma this month highlights the significant and continuing insecurity faced by communities.
We are writing to you on the occasion of your recent visit to eastern DRC and your upcoming trip to the AU summit in Addis Ababa.
Specifically we ask for your leadership in:
- Calling upon the eleven state signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) to ensure that governments in the region fulfill their commitments and work with your Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Ms Mary Robinson, to put in place strong accountability mechanisms to address the root causes of the recurrent cycles of violence in eastern DRC;
- Ensuring that the operations of the new MONUSCO Intervention Brigade, the establishment of which is authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 2098, are clearly linked to the realization of the PSCF. This should include encouraging the UN Security Council to seriously consider suspension of the Brigade if it does not perform well or if the Congolese government does not make sufficient progress in implementing its PSCF commitments, particularly the development of a national security sector reform map;
- Ensuring that the Brigade is part of a broad, comprehensive approach to achieve long-term peace and stability and ensuring that planning and conduct of the Brigade’s operations prioritize mitigation of harm to civilians, making every effort to reduce and monitor human rights violations, including of Congolese armed forces operating alongside the Brigade. Whilst it is hoped that the Brigade will contribute to a lasting reduction in insecurity, it comes with a high level of risk to the civilian population which must be mitigated as far as possible;
- Supporting the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes to continue her engagement with local and international NGOs on the development of a platform for civil society, as discussed in the “Framework of Hope”. This should enable groups to understand, actively participate in and hold their respective governments fully accountable for the commitments made under the PSCF;
- Urging the Congolese government to take concrete action to put in place a fully independent national oversight mechanism to oversee the implementation of its commitments outlined in the PSCF. This should involve local level dialogue to address the local causes of conflict and community grievances, as well as comprehensive Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) options for combatants, irrespective of nationality. DDR plans currently in development should be swiftly realized, operationalized as soon as possible and integrated with MONUSCO’s military planning.
We thank you in advance for all your efforts.
Sent on behalf of the signatories by Frank Williams, Director and United Nations Representative, World Vision International, New York