"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


the mysterious case of the misisng GoE report

Normally at this time of year, we have a plethora of new-to-us data about what's happened in the Congo over the last few months. That's because typically, in late May or early June, the United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC releases its interim report.  This has been the pattern of the last few years, though certainly there are always variations in when the report is released, and, of course, what it contains.

The Group of Experts (GoE) reports are well-known as among the best sources of information about conflict in the DRC. It is fastidiously researched and documented, usually having annexes containing incredibly valuable (and damning) data (eg, receipts for illicit mineral transactions, photos of destroyed villages, load lists for cargo planes carrying weapons).  The  members of the GoE really know their stuff, most live in the region while conducting research, and they have connections and usually manage to talk to members of most of the armed groups operating in the Kivus and beyond. The reports are not perfect, but they are generally about as good as data gets when it comes to the DRC.

This year, however, the GoE interim report has yet to be released. It's not because it isn't ready.   I've been trying to piece together why for the last couple of weeks. What follows seems not to be published anywhere, but is based on information from multiple reliable sources who are well positioned to know what's going on.  Take it as you will, and if you have better information, feel free to comment or to email me.

This year, the M23 rebellion broke out shortly before the usual deadline for publication of the GoE interim report. As is their charge, the GoE researched and traced the dynamics of the mutiny as they do every other conflict. As part of these efforts, the GoE prepared an annex detailing Rwandan involvement in the crisis. (Remember, Rwanda's alleged involvement in supporting M23 has been reported by a BBC journalist who claimed to have seen a leaked UN report (ahem) and by Human Rights Watch in recent weeks. The UN later denied that it has evidence for these claims.)  Rwanda reacted furiously to both reports and denies its involvement in the crisis.

And therein seems to lie the holdup on the GoE report's release. The Group wants the annex detailing Rwanda's alleged involvement to be published along with the rest of the report (which I am assured will be published one way or the other). Someone (or multiple someones) at the United Nations does not want the annex on Rwanda's involvement included.  I have no idea whether the leaked report that provoked so much controversy a couple of weeks ago is the annex or is about the annex, but by all reliable accounts, this is the key issue holding everything up.

It would be easy to speculate on the reasons that the publication of factual information about the M23 mutiny is somehow controversial; it would strain the relationship with Rwanda (which the UN needs to cooperate with on everything from housing Congolese refugees to running country-based programs to allowing MONUSCO staff to pass to Kigali airport without being harrassed), the powers that be might want more solid sourcing of information, it could be a number of issues.

Making things even more bizarre, the Security Council on Friday released a statement condemning the mutiny and calling for investigation into "credible reports" of outside groups funding the crisis.  As analyst Jason Stearns noted in a tweet on Saturday, why is the Security Council asking for an investigation while blocking the one the GoE already prepared for them?

If the motivation for withholding the annex is political, then it's easy to see why the GoE is fighting behind the scenes to include it; the GoE's mission has never been to bow to the political whims of anyone. Their purpose is to collect and analyze facts. If we've reached a day where facts are problematic for the United Nations, then we are in real trouble indeed.


Blogger Rich said...

Great stuff texas in africa -

Let's try and find that report then.

Is this a kind of veto on that report? Who has the power to veto the GeO report on the DRC?

From what you have revealed, I could not agree more agree more with the person who once said,

"La politique est un mécanisme qui sert à empêcher les gens de prendre part à ce qui les concerne directement." Paul Valery.

Keep up the good work

Saturday, June 16, 2012 11:29:00 AM

Blogger David Aronson said...

That's a great quote from Valery. Isn't he the one who also said that the law in its majesty forbids both paupers and princes from living under bridges?

Saturday, June 16, 2012 12:04:00 PM

Blogger Rich said...

That's him the french poet and critic

Saturday, June 16, 2012 3:04:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this with horror on your CSM blog:

"I sincerely doubt that Kigali believes a full-scale backing of the movement is in its interest; both countries have benefited and prospered under the 2009 rapprochement."

Please explain how both countries have "prospered" from the 2009 agreement?

I am a former member of a UN Group of Experts and I find that kind of reporting quite despicable.

Monday, June 18, 2012 12:01:00 PM

Blogger blaise said...

@ Laura
I won't be surprise that Suzan Rice is behind that. I still remember her and Albright in Kinshasa giving lecture about the "civil war" and how We were wrong to defend ourselves. It's funny that they want China and Russia to move El Assad but they befriend psychopaths like Kagame and Kabila. I want to scream every time I hear about Syria.
By the way, you were right to put that anonymous person into his place : he called us Kongo( what is contentious by himself) and hutu(for bantous: another insult).
I hope my brethren will understand once for all that :
- it should be left to impartial judges to determine who is congolese or not
- having 30,000 people in refugee camp for years without hope is a time bomb
- Kabila's father xenophobic call was for politic reasons not nationalistic ( he had himself a Tutsi mistress)
- the Fardc need to be reform and contribute to development , those band aid from integration or formation are short term gimmicks that will collapse unless the reform is made(salary,lodging, logistic, treatment,etc).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 12:42:00 PM


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