Friday November 30, 2012
Security Council extends sanctions on DR Congo rebels, condemns latest attacks by M23

28 November 2012 – The Security Council today extended the arms embargo and other sanctions imposed against armed rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), while expressing its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23, the rebel fighters that recently occupied the eastern provincial capital of Goma.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council extended until 1 February 2014, the sanctions that were first introduced in 2003 as the DRC reached the end of a brutal civil war that engulfed the vast country on and off for five years and is estimated to have killed as many as five million people.

The sanctions comprise an arms embargo against armed groups that are not part of the Government’s integrated army or police units following the end of the civil war, and also a travel ban and asset freeze against individuals or entities that have violated the embargo or are otherwise designated.

The Council also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to renew the mandate of the group of experts monitoring these measures until 1 February 2014.

The resolution also contained strong condemnation of the M23 soldiers, who mutinied from the DRC national army in April, and which occupied Goma, the capital of North Kivu, last week after launching a new wave of attacks that have uprooted more than 140,000 civilians.

The Council demanded that the M23 and other armed groups “cease immediately all forms of violence and other destabilizing activities” and reiterated its demand that any and all outside support to the M23 stop without delay.

It also expressed its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions against the M23 leadership, those providing external support to the group, and those who violate the sanctions regime and the arms embargo.

Last night the Council was briefed in a closed-door session by Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous on the latest developments in eastern DRC.

Mr. Ban sent Ms. Malcorra to the region last week as his personal emissary to maintain contact and dialogue with key actors. With the agreement of the leaders of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, she met Sultani Makenga, the head of the M23’s military wing, to convey the Secretary-General’s concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation as well as reported human rights violations. She encouraged him to stop the fighting and pursue his objective through political dialogue and lay down the arms.

Mr. Ladsous told reporters after the Council session that there are “indications” that M23 elements were possibly starting to withdraw from Goma, but that these reports still needed to be confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) is still in control of the airport in Goma and continues daily patrols throughout the city.

MONUSCO reported today that there are signs that the M23 are preparing to withdraw from Goma, in accordance with terms of the communiqué from the weekend meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

“However, the Mission reports that there is not yet any major movement by M23 out of Goma,” UN spokesperson Eduardo del Buey told reporters, adding that the situation in the city is relatively calm.

The UN today dispatched its chief military adviser, General Babacar Gaye, to the Great Lakes region to discuss with stakeholders a number of issues that came out of the recent ICGLR meeting, such as the implementation of the 20-kilometre Neutral Zone to which the M23 is supposed to withdraw and the concept of the International Neutral Force.

Women’s role in advancing peace and security must be supported – UN officials

30 November 2012 – Top United Nations officials today highlighted the invaluable role of women’s organizations and civil society groups in preventing violence and resolving conflict, stressing that their contributions are vital to building a peaceful world and must be further supported.

“We need to ensure that women have opportunities to play their full role in peace and security,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, told a debate of the Security Council on women and peace and security.

She noted that wherever there is conflict, whether in Mali, Syria, the Middle East, or the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), “women must be part of the solution.”

Today’s debate, which was originally scheduled for late October but was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, marks the 12th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325, which called for women’s engagement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Meeting briefly in the wake of the storm, the Council issued a presidential statement on the issue, in which it called on the international community to give women’s civil society organizations a prominent role in the negotiation, planning and implementation of peace processes and post-conflict development programmes.

In his annual report on women, peace and security, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted measures that have improved coordination and accountability and highlights a growing number of inspiring examples of women, peace and security in action.

In countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Timor-Leste, Haiti, South Sudan, Liberia, Nepal and many others, women are leading innovative approaches to prevent conflict and violence and build peace in their communities.

Ms. Bachelet, who presented the report, highlighted what women’s groups in Mali are doing right now to contribute to non-violent solutions to the crisis in that country, which has been divided since rebels took control of the north earlier this year.

“In spite of their absence from official conflict resolution processes, women leaders in the North are using informal channels to call on the leaders of armed groups to participate in peace dialogues,” she noted.

“Just two weeks ago,” she added, “nearly 1,000 women leaders and members of civil society groups gathered in Bamako and delivered a common call for peace, expressing solidarity across ethnic and other divisions and recommended specific measures to protect women’s rights and prevent violence against women and children.”

Stressing the importance of “going the extra mile” to ensure that women can play their full role, Ms. Bachelet called on world leaders to provide determined leadership, dedicated resources and direct opportunities to enable women to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, delivering remarks on behalf of Mr. Ban, noted that the role of women’s organizations across the world in preventing violence, resolving conflict and building the foundations for peace is well known.

“Our challenge is to become more systematic in supporting and scaling up these initiatives and making the necessary links to formal peace processes,” he said.

Also highlighting the case of Mali, Mr. Eliasson noted the fact that the rights of women and girls are being curtailed in the northern part of the country shows how armed conflict affects women and men differently. “This means that women have to be part of the solution,” he said.

“Engaging women and promoting gender equality as part of our work for peace and security is a daily responsibility and an unfinished mission for all of us,” he added. “It is time for us to finally recognize the role and power of women to help us build a peaceful world.”

In his remarks to the event, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, said that UN peacekeeping missions have supported important progress in some areas, notably women’s political participation at local and national levels. In other areas, including the protection of women activists, more could be achieved.

He described how, a week ago, some 5,000 women flooded the main commercial avenue in Kinshasa, DRC’s capital, to protest the fall of the provincial city of Goma to the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group – the most massively organized non-violent protest in the country following the fall of the eastern city.

“However, women have not been given any political leverage in the regional negotiations aimed at bringing peace to the embattled eastern part of the country,” he added.

Mr. Ladsous emphasized that the key to removing the obstacles that impede women’s full participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is the active, systematic consultation with local actors and leaders, including women’s civil society organizations. “This is the only way to develop effective, context-specific and gender-aware solutions.”

In the lead-up to the Council’s debate, women activists and women’s organizations met with senior UN leadership in over 20 countries, facilitated by UN Women, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to discuss challenges and make their recommendations on issues relating to women and peace and security.





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