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The Democratic Republic of the Congo

The information below on relevant human rights dimensions is provided ahead of a briefing by the Head of MONUSCO to the Security Council on 29 March 2023 and while a visit by Council members is taking place in the country. This note may also assist stakeholders in the Human Rights Council, as it will hold a dialogue on oral updates by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the team of international experts on the DRC on 30 March.

Key topics below

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  • SG statement on ceasefire (6 March 2023).

  • SG condemned attack on UN helicopter (5 March 2023). Peacekeepers were also killed in July 2022 during violent protests in which many civilians were killed.

  • President Tshisekedi expressed commitment to human rights at the HRC (27 February 2023).

  • ASG Brands Kehris expressed alarm at deteriorating situation (22 February 2023).

  • Amnesty International reported of armed attacks by Rwandan-backed M23 rebels (17 February 2023).

  • Special Rapporteur on IDPs requested to conduct a visit to the country (23 January 2023).

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights was concerned about resurging hate speech (1 November 2022).

  • HRC considered briefings and reports by MONUSCO, the Joint Human Rights Office and the Team of International Experts and extended the mandate of the latter (October 2022).

  • General information (from MONUSCO's previous report).

  • Women, peace and security (information from IEG meeting in November 2022 and MONUSCO's previous report).

  • Children and armed conflict (recommendations by the NGO Watchlist ahead of mandate renewal in December).

  • Security Council's adoption of resolution 2666 (20 December 2022): The US.

  • Security Council briefing by Head of MONUSCO (9 December 2022): France.

  • Human Rights Council meeting on the DRC (4 October 2022): The US.

  • Resolution 2666 of 20 December 2022, extending MONUSCO's mandate.


Relevant information for the Security Council to consider [1,047 words]

  1. On 6 March 2023, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General welcomed a ceasefire beginning on 7 March, but fighting had reportedly continued. The SG called for immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to the affected population, respect for international humanitarian law, and protection of civilians.

  2. On 5 March 2023, the SG strongly condemned an attack on a UN helicopter that killed a peacekeeper and injured another, recalling that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime under international law [as also stated in Security Council resolution 2666(2022), PP17]. To recall, in July, three peacekeepers were killed during violent demonstrations at MONUSCO's base in the North Kivu region. Amnesty International later on reported that "witnesses to the brutal crackdown have alleged that UN forces resorted to excessive use of force against demonstrators, including live ammunition." 36 people were killed and 170 others injured. The Deputy SRSG to the DRC, Mr. Kassim Diagne, had denied allegations that UN peacekeepers opened fire on protesters, yet committed to investigations.

  3. On 27 February, the President of the DRC, H.E. Mr. Félix Tshisekedi stated at the Human Rights Council that he has prioritized the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in his role and the government's actions. He noted taking measures such as closing all places of illegal and secret detention, releasing all political prisoners, liberalizing the space for peaceful protest and freedom of opinion and information, and unconditional return of political exiles.

  4. On 22 February 2023, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, expressed alarm at the deteriorating security situation in the east of the country, upon the conclusion of her visit in the country. Armed groups continue to engage in brutal attacks against civilians. She called to prioritize the protection of civilians in military responses. She appealed for support for the country’s transitional justice process. In its earlier report, the Team of International Experts regretted the inadequacy of the resources made available to the transitional justice process in the Kasai region [A/HRC/51/60, paras 88 and 104]. The ASG expressed her deep concern over the increased pressure on journalists and human rights defenders, particularly ahead of elections scheduled for December 2023. This had also been noted in an earlier report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office [A/HRC/51/61, para 70], with reference to unnecessary and disproportionate use of force to suppress demonstrations, arbitrary arrests and detention. The ASG urged the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that registration for elections is open and accessible to all, including for people forced to leave their homes due to violence.

  5. On 17 February 2023, Amnesty International reported that "Rwandan-backed M23 rebels summarily killed men and raped dozens of women in eastern DRC late November 2022. This constitutes war crimes and could constitute crimes against humanity. Rape survivors and others attacked are yet to receive adequate assistance."

  6. On 23 January 2023, the Special Rapporteur on independent displaced persons requested to conduct a visit to the country.

  7. On 1 November 2022, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Volker Türk, expressed concern about a resurgence in hate speech targeting people based on their ethnicity, as well as a rise in misinformation, disinformation and negative rhetoric against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

  8. On 7 October 2022, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 51/36 without a vote. It extended the mandate of the Team of International Experts by one year and requested OHCHR to provide technical assistance and report [OP36-43]. The resolution has a positive tone towards the Government, but it is worth noting some of the concerns expressed in the preambular. Those included the resurgence of violations of fundamental freedoms linked to restrictions on liberties, the worsening situation in detention centers, the use of hate speech and of incitement of hatred, and the cases of arbitrary arrest and of arbitrary detention of young people alleged to be “kulunas” (recalling that detention should under all circumstances remain an exception). The Council also recalled the need to guarantee the full exercise by Parliament of its mandate in a democratic system [PP12-16]. In addition, the Council encouraged the Government to submit its outstanding reports to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [OP21-22].

  9. On 4 October 2022, the Human Rights Council held a discussion on the DRC. The SRSG and Head of MONUSCO, Madame Bintou Keïta, congratulated the Government on continued improvement of its practices in the field of human rights and strengthening of legislation, including two laws on persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples. In comments echoed by OHCHR's representative, she called for a rapid implementation of transitional justice simultaneously with the program of disarmament, demobilization, community reintegration and stabilization (PDDRCS). A member of the Team of International Experts, Ms. Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum, said that thanks to the change of the mandate from an inquiry to a technical assistance approach, there was a huge level of cooperation from the Government and actors in the country. However, she noted that their mandate was focused on transitional justice, which limits their ability to speak about the human rights situation. The Team's report (A/HRC/51/60) contained several recommendations, including that victims’ needs for protection, immediate and other assistance, and reparation be taken into consideration at all stages of the transitional justice process [para 97]. OHCHR's Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, Mr. Christian Jorge Salazar Volkmann, reported a minor decrease (3%) in the number of violations in the 12 months until 31 May 2022. The majority of the violations and abuses were attributed to armed groups, whilst 44% were committed by State agents, mainly by members of the Armed Forces of the DRC and the Congolese National Police. He encouraged the Parliament to adopt the draft laws on the protection of human rights defenders, access to information and freedom of association and peaceful demonstration. To counter hate speech, he recommended to adopt and implement the proposed law on racism, tribalism and xenophobia. The report of the UN Joint Human Rights Office (A/HRC/51/61) included recommendation on a broad range of human rights concerns.


Information previously considered by the Security Council [357 words]

General information

  • MONUSCO's report (S/2022/892) covering the period of 17 September to 31 November noted a similar number of human rights violations as in the previous reporting period. However, documented violations related to restrictions of democratic space increased by 49% [paras 27 and 30]. In the report, the SG was extremely troubled by the rise in hate speech and incitement to violence targeting political actors, ethnic communities, journalists and civil society actors [para 86].

Women, peace and security

  • The Informal Expert Group on WPS met on 29 November 2022, receiving recommendations from UN Women ahead of the mandate renewal of MONUSCO in December. They heard encouraging information on women's current participation in the Nairobi process, peace efforts in eastern DRC and Government. However, conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in 2021 was higher than in any other country. In addition, displacement increased the risks and it was noted that women made up the majority of the IDP population, which is 5.6 million people in the DRC, more than in any other country in Africa.

  • MONUSCO reported working with UNDP, UN Women and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children to advance the national strategy for women’s political participation in democratic governance, initiated in 2018. Reporting continued CRSV, MONUSCO noted its provision of technical advice to the Congolese authorities on the development of legislation on the protection of victims and witnesses of CRSV, as well as a law on reparations for victims and the establishment of a reparations fund [paras 60 and 64-65].

Children and Armed Conflict

  • The NGO Watchlist on CAAC issued recommendations, following up on the data reported by MONUSCO [S/2022/892, paras 62-63] and the detailed conclusions of the Working Group on CAAC on 19 December 2022. Watchlist recommended inter alia to urge all armed groups to immediately cease recruiting and using children, and to engage with the UN to develop, sign, and implement action plans to end and prevent grave violations; encourage continued efforts to hold perpetrators of grave violations accountable; and reiterate that children associated with armed forces and groups (CAAFAG) should be treated primarily as victims and consistently handed over to civilian child protection actors.


Comments by Members of the Security Council [227 words]

  1. On 20 December 2022, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolutions 2666 and 2667. Members delivered statements. The US highlighted that resolution 2666 clearly maintained human rights as a priority task for MONUSCO, including monitoring and reporting. In contrast, Russia referred to the Blue Helmets’ duties in the areas of human rights monitoring and gender analysis as secondary to the main task, which is the maintenance of international peace and security. Further to that, China referred to human rights and sanctions monitoring as "major distractions", diluting MONUSCO’s resources and duplicating the work of other UN monitoring mechanisms.

  2. On 9 December 2022, the Security Council held a briefing with the SRSG and Head of MONUSCO. France said that the protection of human rights, the fight against hate speech and against impunity are the keys to lasting peace. The protection of children and the promotion of women and youth are levers for development. MONUSCO must continue to robustly protect civilians in conflict-affected provinces. To do so, its personnel must be protected from attacks and misinformation.

  3. On 4 October 2022, the Human Rights Council held a discussion on the DRC: The US expressed continued concern about restrictions on freedom of expression and reports of human rights violations and abuses under the so-called State of Siege, which they encouraged the Government to lift. A week earlier, Amnesty International had detailed similar concerns.


References in Security Council outcomes (not verbatim) [419 words]

  • On 20 December 2022, the Security Council adopted resolution 2666 without a vote. The resolution extended MONUSCO's mandate until 20 December 2023. The resolution defined the protection of civilians as MONUSCO's top priority and further stressed that all tasks should be implemented in a manner consistent with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms [OP24]. It authorized MONUSCO to monitor, report immediately to the Security Council, and follow-up on human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, on restrictions on political space and violence [OP25]. It further authorized MONUSCO to support for the 2023 electoral process; support the DRC judicial system and fight against impunity; protect UN personnel and assets; promote child protection; and mainstream gender considerations throughout its mandate [OP26-30]. The resolution also recalled that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians [PP4]. The resolution referred to the high levels of violations of human rights and IHL, as well as to hate speech, misinformation and disinformation fueling inter-communal violence [PP8]. It also called for the full participation of women and youth in all efforts [PP9]. The situation of IDPs and refugees was highlighted, calling for a solution in line with relevant obligations under international refugee law, IHL and IHRL [PP10]. The Council expressed grave concern over the high number of violations against children, with reference in particular to sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the recruitment of children [PP14]. It is notable that the operative section opened with a recognition of the importance of delivering on President Tshisekedi and his Government’s commitments to inter alia strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights and further political inclusiveness [OP1]. It also welcomed the commitments and actions to combat impunity in all areas, while urging the Government to hold accountable those responsible for violations of IHL or human rights, in particular those that may amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity [OP4-6]. The Council welcomed efforts made by the Government to combat and prevent sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations and urged it to continue to strengthen its efforts to combat impunity for it and to provide all necessary services and protection to survivors, victims and witnesses [OP7]. The Council welcomed the government's efforts to expedite the implementation of the Action Plan to End and Prevent the Recruitment and Use of Children and to ensure that children are not detained for their alleged association with armed groups and are handed over to child protection actors [OP8].


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