Frédéric Boyenga-Bofala
The End Of The Great Lakes Crisis

1
Demilitarization and complete disarmament
in Ituri and Kivu: a prerequisite for the total pacification of eastern Congo and the stabilization
of the Great Lakes region

The Congolese people want exactly the same things that all free peoples want: the end of terror, access to key services, the opportunity to realize their dreams and security that only the rule of law can provide. The greatest threat to such a future comes from the state of war that exists in eastern Congo, the massive presence of weapons, the proliferation of different armed groups and militias roaming certain regions and the inability of the Congolese government to implement a strategic plan designed to end the crisis.

It is certainly true that it is largely due to the work of MONUC that the dramatic situation in eastern Congo is now no longer quite what it was between October 1996 and 2003. This was the time when the rebellion caused, completely unhindered, utter devastation, the time when the eastern Congo was for all practical purposes no longer part of the Republic, the time of coordinated terror. But make no mistake: the relative peace that ensued following the introduction of a powerful MONUC presence lasted no longer than the time it takes to dream a sweet dream. Since then, violence has only changed its appearance. Eastern Congo is not secure and difficult days lie ahead. Violence continues and will continue to be part of Ituri and Kivu. Too many fundamental questions for the future of eastern Congo remain unanswered. Too many Congolese are still being kept away from the areas where they live, from their homes and are destitute. To summarize, at this time if hope has reason to be reborn in Ituri and Kivu, this hopes relies on foundations still under construction, whereas despair has a very solid foundation at the moment. The ability of paramilitary groups to cause harm has continued to increase   the horrific sexual abuse of women has become as easy as child's play, the supplying of weapons to armed groups has become the norm and illegal arms trafficking has become a highly lucrative commercial activity.

The risks of civil war and conflict escalation caused by persistent instability and insecurity in the eastern Congo and which neither military action that has been ongoing in Ituri under the auspices of the European Union for several years now nor the active support lent by the international community to the stabilisation process in eastern Congo have been able to curb, these risks are all out-of-control phenomena that we cannot remedy ourselves. These risks must be taken seriously into consideration.

In order to gain an idea of the situation that we need to achieve in Ituri and Kivu, or at least to gain an understanding of our proposed method for stopping the instability in eastern Congo in a responsible manner, it is important that we understand what is causing today's problems and instability to persist so stubbornly. And as reality shows, the persistent insecurity is caused or at least exacerbated by, among other things, the massive presence of weapons and their illicit trafficking, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region.

In fact, invaded and destabilised since 1996 by wars of aggression launched, either with or without any legitimate pretext, in pursuit of those responsible for the horrific genocide in Rwanda in 1994, who apparently regrouped since that time in the rebel movements operating in eastern Congo, my country alone, even today, suffers the entire weight of all the weapons accumulated for over a decade.

I invite all the historical partners of the Congo to pressure the Security Council to adopt a coercive resolution, on the basis of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, on the demilitarization and disarmament of Ituri and Kivu, as well as the establishment of a demilitarized zone extending 20 kilometres into Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan outwards from their borders with Congo.This resolution must require the active, frank and sincere collaboration of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda in a new United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes for the restoration and maintenance of peace in the Great Lakes region. The objective would be to develop, together with a decisive contribution from our historic partners and a UN mandate, a peace building in transition operation designed to achieve a definitive solution to the Congolese crisis and stabilise the Great Lakes region, under conditions that would not exclude the use of military force, but nevertheless would be part of a fundamentally peaceful situation.

I have already expressed a clear opinion in favour of a timetable of five years to carry out this new mission for the restoration and maintenance of peace, which will not be limited to just Ituri and Kivu. Ituri and Kivu is only the first and most critical phase of the operation. The second phase will involve Katanga and other areas, where one finds virtually the same problems involving weapons, albeit perhaps to a lesser degree.

During implementation of the first phase of the operation units of the Congolese Armed Forces will be stationed at the border between Kivu and Maniema, in order to prevent these armed groups from moving about and settling elsewhere, with the general objective being their eradication. And during the implementation of this Plan by the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes, our main concern will be the total pacification of eastern Congo and the safeguarding of regional equilibrium. We will therefore proceed with caution and determination.

The project may well be ambitious but we have no choice other than the elimination of weapons in this volatile region. Making this region a centre of economic development, a safe haven where people can live and move about freely and undisturbed, where economic activities have resumed and will be carried on in peace, will amount to a sacred victory for the free world and the United Nations as an organisation.

In fact, recognising that persistent insecurity is caused or at least exacerbated by, among other things, the massive presence of weapons and their illicit trafficking, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region.

Recognizing the threat that all weapons in circulation pose to peace and security in Ituri and Kivu, as well as the need to restore and maintain peace, to work for the total elimination of these weapons and the creation between the states concerned of a weapons-free zone;

Also recognizing that general control, balanced control of regional arms constitutes an objective within the overall stabilisation of the region;

Recognizing further the need to achieve the above objectives and to use for this purpose all legal means available, including the establishment of a close dialogue between the states of the region;

Bearing in mind the goal of restoring and maintaining peace and security in the region, as set out in the various resolutions of the Security Council, the goal of this plan is to identify ways and to implement a strategy designed to achieve this objective;

Believing that, to achieve the goal of restoring and maintaining peace, it is necessary to define the relevant actions and to adopt powerful measures, I invite the Security Council to adopt a resolution on demilitarization and disarmament in Ituri and Kivu and the establishment of a demilitarized zone between Congo and Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan.

I believe that the demilitarization and disarmament of Ituri and Kivu that I am proposing are consistent with the object of Chapter VII of the Charter as well as the practical modes of action it provides.

A. The demilitarization of the eastern DRC

The challenges facing the United Nations in terms of helping the Congo to restore order, rebuilding the devastated infrastructure in Ituri and Kivu and accelerating their return to normality are huge and require that all the measures taken are constructive and responsive to objective reality in the region. Eastern Congo must cease to be the sanctuary of the movements, groups and armed factions that roam the sub-region. Our goal is to make Ituri and Kivu an area devoid of weapons and unauthorized military activity, that is to say without any military presence other than units of the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes deployed for this purpose and of the FARDC, for a period of five years. Our mission is to disarm, disrupt, dismantle and defeat all the armed movements and organisations that roam the area. Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo must be demilitarized until such time as it is able to pacify itself. I believe that, although the demilitarization of the eastern DRC is without doubt difficult to achieve, it is a practical objective indispensable to the return of real peace and the implementation of a national renaissance. The pacification of the region and the resolution of the crisis can only be achieved by means of demilitarization and this implies among other actions, disarmament.

B. Disarmament and the recovery and destruction of all weapons and the dissolution of all movements, bands, forces, armed organisations and militias operating in the Congo

The chaos caused by terror that we are currently living through in eastern Congo will remain in place for as long as general, controlled disarmament is not achieved. The main thing to prevent is war: not only war between the states, but armed violence in all its forms. Those who have weapons will always be tempted to use them. For this reason, it is necessary to emphasise once again that there is in fact only one good regional policy that would preserve us from an escalation in violence: namely, one that would lead, by means of agreement to the general, controlled disarmament of all the rebel groups.

It would be wrong to forget, amidst the general euphoria that followed the victorious FARDC offensive against the M23, that the territory of the Republic is, and is likely to remain, a place of experimentation for both Congolese and foreign armed groups, a sanctuary for those armed movements that are spreading destruction throughout the entire sub-region; this will be so if disarmament, recovery and destruction of all the weapons in circulation are not carried out and, ultimately, if all of these rebel groups are not made to disband. The continued presence of these armed groups and paramilitary organisations, both domestic and foreign, is a serious threat to the peace, security, stability and development of the Great Lakes region in particular and all of East Africa in general. Moreover, their presence is prejudicial to the exercise of practical sovereignty by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. DRC, Rwanda and Uganda must prove their determination to rid themselves of all the rebel groups and militias lurking within their borders.

Foreign and Congolese armed groups inside Congolese borders are not only the enemies of the governments of their respective states, they mostly represent a present and major danger to the survival of the Congolese people; which is why the disarmament and dissolution of all the armed groups and militias roaming Ituri and Kivu must be achieved. The disarmament that we propose is part of our overall strategy for the restoration and preservation of peace and stability in eastern Congo. These are the conclusions of an investigation that we conducted with great care in Kivu and Ituri; whereby, in the meantime, a number of armed political movements have expressed their desire to join our organisation. We have a clear and specific goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat all the movements, organisations and armed militias in Kivu and Ituri and to prevent them reforming in the future in either of these regions. This is a goal that we must achieve. It is also a cause that could not be more righteous. We must conduct a targeted military campaign against the extremists who spread terror in Ituri and Kivu.For this reason, I propose that the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes should take vigorous action, including, where appropriate, the use of force, to the extent required for the immediate apprehension of all military and paramilitary personnel and foreign policy advisers or mercenaries not under the command of the United Nations; that it should take action against those rival factions which, by their attitude, prevent the achievement of the objective of the restoration of peace and also prevent the reconstruction of this blighted area; whereby some of those groups exercise de facto control over entire regions within Ituri and Kivu.

The resolution that we seek imposes an obligation on all armed groups to cooperate unconditionally with the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes. In this context they must deliver to the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes all their weapons, together with a statement indicating the location of all the weapons in their possession, with an indication of quantities and types. The resolution also impose an obligation on all civilians to return the weapons they are holding. We must therefore undertake the recovery by all means available of the weapons held by all the civilians living in the region. Finally, it is most urgent to dismantle and / or dissolve all the rebel groups that roam eastern Congo in exchange for an amnesty accompanied by a rehabilitation programme within the context of a treaty between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.

C. The establishment of a demilitarized zone between Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan

Another disarmament proposal: the establishment of a demilitarized zone between Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan A safety zone is not a bad idea. It even responds to the concern of some states, including Rwanda on the issue of a security guarantee. We will also create opportunity zones in the border regions designed to develop the local economy and bring hope to places ravaged by violence.

We will never see the end of violence in eastern Congo as long as armed groups are free to move across borders. Our objective is clear and precise: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat all the rebel groups and militias in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, and to prevent them from reforming in the future in any of these three countries. This is the goal that we must achieve. It is also a cause that could not be more righteous. To achieve these goals, we need a bigger, stronger and smarter strategy. One measure that would implement a security guarantee for the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda would consist in the setting up by means of a Security Council resolution of a demilitarized zone on both sides of the eastern border between the Congo and neighbouring states. The establishment of a demilitarized zone would be part of an overall strategy designed to prevent eastern Congo either remaining or again becoming a haven for armed movements.

The establishment of a demilitarized zone extending twenty kilometres inside Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan from their respective borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the organisation in this area of peacekeeping operations would also be part of our strategy, the aim of which is to stabilize eastern Congo and neighbouring areas. This safety zone will be established for a period of five years in accordance with the five-year plan, and therefore could only be removed by means of a new Security Council resolution.

Such an operation requires considerable skill and professionalism on the part of the officers and men of the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes, which is why we invite the Security Council to call, based on this resolution, on the five permanent members of the Security Council to assist the United Nations Mission with regard to the deployment of an International Task Force in support of the special brigade of the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes.

The units that form part of this International Task Force would be deployed in the DMZ. Their task will be to patrol the area. As part of this mission, they will be responsible for the prevention of border violations. They will achieve this by being present in the demilitarized zone and by carrying out monitoring activities; as well as by observing any hostile or potentially hostile actions undertaken from the territory of one state against that of another.

The International Task Force will report regularly to the United Nations Organization Mission for the Great Lakes or at least to the Security Council regarding the operations that it conducts in the area, doing so immediately if any serious violations of the zone or threats to peace arise.

The objective we are pursuing is to develop, together with a decisive contribution from our historic partners, an international peace building and transition operation designed to achieve a definitive solution to the crisis under conditions that would not exclude the use of force, but nevertheless would be part of a fundamentally peaceful situation.

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