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Security Council elects three officers of DR of Congo sanctions committee

Security Council elects three officers of DR of Congo sanctions committee

The United Nations Security Council has elected a chairman and two new vice chairpersons for its committee overseeing an arms embargo against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Following consultations, the 15 Council members Thursday elected as chairman Ambassador Abdallah Baali, the Permanent Representative of Algeria to the UN, and as vice-chairpersons unnamed representatives of Benin and the Philippines, with mandates lasting until the end of the year.

The arms sanctions aim to stop illegal weapons flows to the DRC and the illegal exploitation of its resources. The committee has fact-finding expert reports on the links between illegal enrichment, weapons purchases and the conflicts which have plagued much of the DRC until recently and continue sporadically in the eastern Ituri region and the Kivu provinces.

A Security Council resolution of 12 March repeated its condemnation of the illegal activities taking place mainly in the DRC's mining areas, despite an arms embargo imposed in July 2003, and repeated calls for governments to help end illegal trade in the country's resources. The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has been monitoring compliance with all related resolutions.

A panel of experts chaired by Mahmoud Kassem, a former Permanent Representative of Egypt to the UN, reported to the Council last October that it had drawn "the attention of companies to the disastrous situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the human tragedy occurring in conflict areas. The link between business activities in those areas and the continuation of hostilities was highlighted."

An earlier report made public in October 2002 recommended that financial restrictions be placed on 29 companies based in Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Travel bans and financial restrictions should be imposed on 54 individuals, it said.

In response to a Council recommendation in June 2000, former Côte d'Ivoire energy minister Safiatou Ba-N'Daw chaired an expert panel which reported on what it acknowledged was the limited information it could gather. In April 2001 she said the conflict had become a "win-win" situation for all belligerents and was then mainly about access to, control of and trade in coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold, as well as timber, coffee and ivory.