Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2014/453)

Monday, June 30, 2014
Congo (Brazzaville)
Report Analysis: 

The Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2014/453) was submitted to the Council on 30 June 2014. This report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fifth one on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This report includes information on the situation of children affected by the armed conflict and the grave violations against them. The report, which covers the period from January 2010 to December 2013, includes a series of recommendations to improve the protection of children in the DRC who, despite some improvement, continue to suffer grave violations and being recruited by all parties to the conflict particularly in the conflict-affected areas of North Kivu, South Kivu, Katanga and Orientale Province. The document is divided into the following sections: Introduction; Political and military developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Grave violations against children: incidents and trends; and Follow-up to the conclusions of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and to the previous recommendations of the Secretary-General.

This report touches on the protection aspect of WPS concerns, particularly in regards to sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated against children. The report references reports of widespread human rights violations, including mass rape and sexual violence (P. 11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43) and provides gender disaggregated data on the children that were recruited (P. 21, 23, 27, 28), detained (P.31) maimed (P. 33), killed (P. 34, 35, 36, 37), abducted (P.44) and were victims of sexual violence (P. 41, 42, 43). The report also discussed how local self-defense militias such as Raia Mutomboki in Shabunda, Kalehe, Walikele and Masisi territories launched offensives deliberately targeting FDLR civilian dependents, mostly women and children (P.9) and how mass rape was used as a weapon of war in the conflict in the eastern part of the country to intimidate communities, including in the context of the struggle for control of land and resources (P.38). Also, the report stated that some of the boys reported that many girls were associated with the groups but remained behind with the adult women for their security and were not taking part in the fighting (P. 28). Further, the report addressed how monitoring and reporting remained challenging during the this period, owing to a number of factors, including victims’ fear of reprisal, social stigmatization, the lack of safe and confidential assistance for victims and weak access to justice in the absence of State authority as well as the difficulty in identifying perpetrators and in distinguishing between gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence in areas affected by chronic instability also contributed to the difficulties of monitoring (P. 39).

Despite the numerous references to sexual violence against women and girls and the widespread use of gender-disaggregated data when referring to children, the report failed to reflect the gender of children in some situations such as the displaced, the accelerated integration into the national army of 12,000 elements from CNDP, PARECO and Mayi – Mayi groups. Further, the report did not provide a gender perspective on the following issues: attacks against civilians; lack of access to education and health services since schools and hospitals are being destroyed; humanitarian access to assistance and aid; and the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan approved on 26 December 2013. Finally, there was a missed opportunity to include a gender component in the training in child protection in situations of armed conflict that the MONUSCO peacekeepers received during the reporting period of time.

The MAP did not provide any specific recommendations on children and armed conflict, however the March 2014 MAP[1] did include some recommendations for the DRC in general which were not reflected in this report including: the provision of specific information on targeted attacks of any nature on women, including women human rights defenders; the impact of the humanitarian situation on women and girls; and consultation with women’s human rights organizations in all stabilization and peace consolidation; the MAP also called for explicit support for the broad range of women, peace and security concerns in the core functions of the MONUSCO mandate, e.g. ongoing support for the PSC Framework; security sector reform; DDR and DDRRR.

This current report is practically on par with the previous document S/2010/369 from 9 July 2010. However, it could be considered a slight improvement as there is more gender disaggregated data usage throughout most discussions of the impact of conflict on children. This Secretary- General report on MONUSCO addresses the most important developments in the DRC since the previous report from 5 March 2014 (S/2014/157) and it includes the implementation of the PSC Framework and the mandate of MONUSCO. The report is divided into the following sections: Introduction, Major developments; Implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Safety and security of United Nations personnel; Mission reconfiguration and road map for the transfer of tasks; and Observations. Among the main issues discussed in this report is the political preparations for the upcoming elections in 2015, the security sector reform, the implementation of the national stabilization and reconstruction programme, the progress in the decentralization process, and progress with international relations with Rwanda and Uganda. The main focus of this report resides in the implementation of MONUSCO’s mandate including advancement in regards to the protection of civilians, neutralizing of armed groups, SSR, DDR and DDRRR, human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law and the reconfiguration of the mission.

This Secretary-General report includes eight references :) to the Women, Peace and Security agenda with a heavy focus on protection concerns. The report addresses the protection of civilians and fighting sexual violence as part of the national stabilization and reconstruction programme (P. 14) including the fact that the government launched a three-month training course for 335 police officers, including a special police for the protection of women and children (P. 16) the construction of a separate block in Makala prison in Kinshasa to house women with infants (P. 61) and a pilot training project that benefited female police officers (P. 59). Furthermore, the report discusses serious human rights violations and abuses, including rape and abductions, particularly women, for refusing to take part in forced community labour imposed by FDLR, mass rape carried out by Mayi Mayi Simba and Mayi Mayi Manu elements (P. 69) the rape of at least 11 women by FARDC soldiers confirmed by MONUSCO (P.70), and 21 children (4 girls and 17 boys) being recruited into armed groups, also, UNESCO and other partners identified 233 (12 girls and 221 boys) who had escaped or been separated from armed forces (P. 73).

Despite the noteworthy mentions already described in the previous section, this report failed to provide a gender perspective on the following matters: preparations for elections and the required financial and structural reforms, responses to new humanitarian needs, expulsion of DRC citizens from Congo, return of displaced populations, use of mobile courts, creation of islands of stability, voter registry, FDLR combatants and their dependents, and CAR refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, the report did not always use gender disaggregated data, particularly on MONUSCO’s personnel. Finally, the report does not address women’s involvement on community focal points and community protection committees for MONUSCO’s early warning alerts and MONUSCO’s focus on the protection of civilians does not mention women’s specific protection needs or the need for gender-training for the rapid reaction force.

In comparison to the points expressed in the March 2014 MAP[1], this report’s record is inadequate as the MAP called for: specific information on targeted attacks of any nature on women, including women human rights defenders; the impact of the humanitarian situation on women and girls; strong support for women’s protection concerns, particularly protection against sexual and gender-based violence. It also called for support for women’s participation and empowerment throughout core elements of the mission, including explicit support in the mandate for senior gender advisers and the provision of basic health and psychosocial services for women. This report failed to include all the suggestions and was primarily focused on the protection of women.

This report is on par with the previous report S/2014/157, since both referenced women, peace and security issues on several occasions throughout the text but reflected only women’s protection concerns. Some of the issues that both reports addressed include: the investigation and prosecution of crimes of sexual violence. Both reports missed an opportunity to incorporate a gender perspective into humanitarian delivery and access and the specific needs of women and girls, particularly those who are displaced.

PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Democratic Republic of the Congo
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