Report of the Secretary-General:
On the Implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region
Date: 29 September 2017
Period: 10 March- 15 September
Prepared by Anne Lescure
Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2348 (2017), the Security Council requested a report on the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Region. Resolution 2348 (2017) demands that all armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence; and calls upon the Government of the DRC to uphold its national commitments to Security Sector Reform (SSR) and to implement of its national Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Programme in order to best contribute to stabilisation efforts in the region. Specifically, it requests MONUSCO to take fully into account gender considerations as a crosscutting issue throughout its mandate and to assist the Government of the DRC in ensuring the participation, involvement and representation of women at all levels.
The report highlights four major challenges to peace and security in the region: (i) the increasing activities of armed groups, especially in the DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR), (ii) stalled political processes across the region, and in Burundi and the DRC in particular, (iii) the regional humanitarian crisis, and (iv) tensions around electoral processes in the DRC and Kenya. Secondly, the report underscores the progress achieved by the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and his Office to strengthen the oversight mechanisms of the Framework, support the neutralisation of negative forces, promote peaceful and credible elections and build confidence among leaders in the region. References to the role of women in the implementation of the Framework comprised their involvement in peace, political and development processes in the region. In this context, the Secretary-General encourages greater efforts to ensure the effective advancement of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the region, in coordination with the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
Of the 97 paragraphs in the report, only 5 (slightly over 5 percent) of them include reference to women and gender, with a majority of them referring to the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. Acknowledging that women’s organisations play critical roles in the implementation of the PSC Framework and highlighting the critical need for them to fully participate in the broader peace and development agenda for the Great Lakes region is crucial. The report however does not effectively nor specifically refers to the work of the Women’s Platform, and barely provides suggestions to better integrate women civil society organisations in regional policy-making. While the Women’s Platform aims to provide support to women’s groups that are active in PSC Framework monitoring and advocacy, in UNSCR 1325 regional and national action plan implementation, but also in combating violence against women and supporting women’s livelihoods and participation in development, the report fails to mention any of these efforts. Moreover, the Secretary-General missed on opportunities to refer to the participation of women in disarmament efforts and to the protection of women human rights defenders under the PSC Framework.
1. Grave Security Concerns
According to the report, persisting conflicts in CAR, South Sudan and in the DRC, as well as the political situation in Uganda and Burundi continue to destabilise the region. In South Sudan, the Secretary-General notes that the Lord Resistance’s Army (LRA) was responsible for multiple security incidents. In the DRC, armed groups have continued attacking security agents and institutions, and further engaged in illegal economic activities. In Uganda, intercommunal tensions near the border with the DRC continue to raise concern. In Burundi, the overall security situation remained relatively stable. During the reporting period, grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law were reported in the mentioned countries, where protracted conflicts and political crises have severely and negatively impacted civilians. The report however does not mention the conflicts’ disproportionate impact on women in the region beyond two cursory and gender-blind mentioning of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) committed by security forces and armed groups in DRC and South Sudan. The Secretary-General also missed an opportunity to further denounce the attacks of the Congolese government on women human rights defenders when mentioning an increase in violations of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly in the DRC.
2. Stalled Political Processes
The report draws a rather distressing picture of the regional political landscape. In the DRC, the Secretary-General remains deeply concerned at the growing political divisions between the Government and the Rassemblement opposition party. In line with previous reports on DRC (S/2017/712), it urgently calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to release the long-awaited electoral calendar and complete the voter’s registration process to effectively pave the way for the holding of peaceful elections as soon as possible, as per the 31 December 2016 agreement. It however makes no reference to the need to further include women’s groups in the preparation for the elections, and as candidates to the presidential, legislative and provincial elections. In Burundi while the security situation has somewhat improved, no significant progress have been achieved in advancing the inter-Burundian dialogue. Again in this context, the Secretary-General fails to mention the inclusion of women and women’s group in peace negotiations.
3. Dire Humanitarian Emergencies
The report is entirely gender-blind in its discussion of the humanitarian situation in the region. According to the report, with over 7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers, the humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region remains highly critical. Despite increasing needs, the Secretary-General notes that humanitarian budgets remain underfunded across the region, especially in the DRC where the $812.5 million appeal has so far attracted only 27 percent of funding. The Secretary-General appeals to the international community to support humanitarian action in the region, in order to help address the needs of, and find durable solutions for, refugees, IDPs and asylum seekers. The report however does not adopt a gender-specific analysis on humanitarian aid. Specifically, the report does not reflect the specific humanitarian and security challenges that displaced women face, including the prevalence of SGBV at IDP sites and in refugee camps.
4. High-Tension Electoral Cycles
While the Secretary-General welcomes ongoing efforts towards peaceful and credible elections in most countries, he remains highly concerned that disagreements over electoral processes in the region have led to political stability and violence. He calls on the Special Envoy to further engage stakeholders, including civil society groups and regional organisation on ways to address the root causes of election-related violence. He however fails to specify the critical importance of engaging with women civil society groups. In the context of the DRC elections, this entails a clear violation of Resolution 2348 (2017) which specifically urges for the full participation of women at all stages of the electoral process.
5. International cooperation and coordination
Lastly, the report delineates several cooperative efforts undertaken by the PSC countries and regional bodies to reinforce the functioning of the oversight mechanisms of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. These include the convening of a Technical Support Committee of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework whose field visit in DRC included Representatives of the Women’s Platform; and a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Women’s Platform, which focus on the participation of women in peace and dialogue processes. The report however remained imprecise about women’s role in peace processes and missed on the opportunity to highlight the role international cooperation can play in advancing women’s engagement in various projects, such as those suggested by the Great Lakes Initiative, including addressing forced displacement, improving social protection and access to health services, enhancing food security and supporting DDR programming
Future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming on both political participation and security concerns. The PSC Framework could be further reinforced by:
Ensuring effective and dynamic protection of women human rights defenders under threat of physical violence within the Framework;
Providing sex-disaggregated data on the effect of political and refugee crises on women IDPs and refugees to ensure that humanitarian assistance is effectively tailored to the varying needs of women;
Providing in-depth monitoring of the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework activities in supporting women’s organisations;
Including women civil society organisations in regional disarmament efforts;
Focusing on political solutions which include local actors, victims of war and civilians such as the women groups, youths, religious actors, local non-governmental organisations, and advocacy groups;
Including women in prevention efforts around electoral cycles, possibly on the model of the Women’s Situation Rooms;
Re-aligning the region’s financial and technical needs with MONUSCO’s budgetary allocations.