The report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 3 May 2016 and was considered by the Committee on 13 May 2016.
While 2015 saw the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo — FARDC) in continuous military operations against both foreign and local armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, these groups continue to control territory and profit from natural resources. There was no large-scale rebellion against the Government, and many armed groups fragmented and decreased in troop strength, but the level of security for civilians in the eastern part of the country did not improve significantly. The Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo notes that the Government and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) signed a memorandum of understanding in February 2016 allowing for the resumption of collaboration between MONUSCO and FARDC.
Foreign armed groups from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda continued to operate in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda remain the largest armed group in the country, although seriously destabilized by operations carried out by FARDC and Mai Mai groups in 2015.
The Forces nationales de libération and the Front national burundais Tabara are smaller in number, but were some of the few armed groups that increased in size and strength in 2015 owing to the political situation in Burundi and to outside support. Their destabilizing effects on the country were minimal, however, because their operational objectives remained in their home country of Burundi.
The Allied Democratic Forces fractured into smaller groups, operating without a central chain of command. Some of the groups were involved in attacks on FARDC and the civilian population in Beni territory, including some of the killings. The Group found, however, that local militias and small bands of Kinyarwanda speakers were also involved, in some cases with support from particular FARDC officers.
The Lord’s Resistance Army was active primarily in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, but operated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the purpose of poaching elephants and trafficking ivory and continued to commit human rights abuses against civilians.
Many Congolese armed elements were involved in criminal networks and banditry rather than structured armed groups, which caused similar levels of insecurity, but is more difficult to combat with traditional military operations. The number of ex-combatants involved in armed criminal activities, such as kidnapping for ransom, demonstrates the necessity of improving demobilization and reintegration efforts.
With regard to natural resources, the Group focused its investigations primarily on gold, which provides the most significant financial benefit to armed groups. The Group found that some FARDC elements were extensively involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources, especially through the taxation of miners. Armed
groups also continue to generate significant revenue from the control, taxation or looting of natural resources, especially gold, but also tin, tantalum, tungsten, charcoal and timber.
One particular area of concern is the lack of a functioning traceability system for gold. Gold from non-validated mining sites, and therefore possibly benefiting armed groups, is laundered into the legitimate supply chain and, subsequently, into the international market. Exporters based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo regularly buy gold without knowing its actual origin and some exporters significantly underdeclare the volumes exported, with discrepancies of at least $174 million in 2015. While the Group welcomes positive steps by the authorities of the United Arab Emirates to interdict potential conflict gold smuggled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some loopholes for traffickers remain.
Armed groups had fewer opportunities to benefit from illegal involvement in the tin, tantalum and tungsten sector, as due diligence and traceability systems expanded to more mining sites. Challenges remain, however, including the continued involvement of some FARDC elements, the corruption of government officials and the smuggling and leakage of minerals from non-validated mining sites into the legitimate supply chain.
The Group notes that violations of international humanitarian law continue unabated. Armed groups were still using children in 2015 and early in 2016, and mass killings were carried out by a range of armed elements in both southern Lubero and Beni territory in North Kivu province.
In its continued monitoring of the arms embargo, the Group found that some Member States had exported materiel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo without notifying the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition, while the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo began implementing measures to mark the weaponry of its armed forces and prosecute those who illegally traffic materiel, the Group found that armed groups continued to benefit from leakage from government stocks.