The time is right for making progress in promoting human rights and boosting economic recovery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to two reports released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The report of the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the DRC, Roberto Garretón, recommends that the parties to the Congolese conflict, political parties and civil society commit themselves to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, "avoiding pointless arguments and always keeping their eyes on the goal - the establishment of a democratic, participatory system." The Rapporteur urges the parties to cooperate with the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) by informing it of the presence of armed groups in order to disarm them, and to begin the demobilization of child soldiers.
Mr. Garretón also recommends that Congolese authorities restore the rule of law, return confiscated radio and television channels, refrain from taking action against the media, stop supporting the militia group Mai-Mai, draft laws giving effect to all the agreements reached at a recent National Human Rights Conference, and give precedence to international human rights norms over domestic law.
To the countries violating the territorial integrity of the DRC, the Rapporteur recommends they comply with the Security Council resolutions on withdrawing from the Congo and demilitarizing Kisangani, refrain from exploiting Congolese natural wealth and resources, and return the goods they have exploited illegally. The report also recommends that the RCD and MLC armed groups end all relations of cooperation with the armies violating the DRC's sovereignty, put an immediate end to actions that cause terror among the Congolese population, suspend action that presupposes the country's partition, and repeal all the measures already taken.
The second report, prepared by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on economic assistance to the DRC, says the opening-up advocated by the new authorities at both the political and economic levels, and with respect to human rights, offers a "real opportunity to end the crisis." Mr. Annan notes that the DRC has embarked on a series of stages recommended by the Bretton Woods institutions, but warns that the country's efforts lack funding due to the "wait-and-see attitude being maintained by most donors and other sources of financing."
The Secretary-General says the DRC should be helped in mobilizing resources to improve its image, promote peace and good governance, and implement quality macroeconomic programmes. He also calls for strengthening grass-roots communities to enable them to help end the crisis, particularly by resettling displaced persons, demobilizing and reintegrating ex-combatants, controlling HIV/AIDS, and rehabilitating basic social infrastructure.