Noting that 65 per cent of countries emerging from war in Africa slipped back into conflict, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy said transition must be about acting quickly and effectively to build and consolidate peace by laying the foundation for addressing the causes of the conflict.Ms. Bellamy, who moderated the panel, said the challenges of transitions were complex and meeting them required more than humanitarian relief and development efforts, but a coherent strategy for creating stability and peace.The main elements characterizing such transitional situations were the emergence of an administration, the restoration of civil authority, overall stabilization, increased security and access, as well as increased hope for the end of conflict, said Ameerah Haq, of the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Recovery in the UN Development Programme (UNDP).Repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction (4Rs) are the cornerstone to the sustainable peaceful co-existence and return of those displace by conflict, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers stated.Echoing the need for approaches that promote long lasting peace, Ross Mountain of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in situations of transition, UN Country Teams must focus their priorities around goals such as normalizing the situation to enable full participation of the local population in the development process and identifying factors that could result in a conflict relapse.Focusing on the situation in Angola, Eric de Mul, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, said the move from a situation of emergency to one of development made life much more difficult in many ways. Many more partners got involved and structural problems – which could not be tackled within the context of prior humanitarian programmes – emerged making it evident that coordination only worked when it represented added value to its participants.Jacques Forster, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said transition periods should be understood as intermediate periods, where conflict had ended or was in remission. ICRC policy regarding assistance programmes was guided by the importance of adopting a participatory approach, strengthening local capacities, improving systems and addressing the psychological suffering of victims, among other factors, he added.Panellists also noted the need to focus more attention on natural disasters.Concluding the panel presentation, ECOSOC Vice-President Valery Kuchinsky reaffirmed that the UN was indispensable in implementing a transition from relief to development.
“The Security Council’s sanctions committee for the DRC has led the way in focusing on crimes of sexual violence,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, added in a news release. “I also welcome the designation of Lt. Col. Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Lugerero Runinga of M23 for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” she continued.On the last day of 2012, the Security Council’s so-called ‘1533 Committee’ added the FDLR and the M23 – as well as Lt. Col. Badege and Mr. Runinga – to its list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions. The Committee is named after the Council’s resolution 1533. Agreed on in 2004, the resolution deals with sanctions including an arms embargo which applies to non-governmental entities and individuals operating in DRC and which are not part of the Government’s integrated army or police units, as well as targeted travel and financial sanctions against individuals or entities that have violated the embargo or are otherwise designated.“I urge Member States to ensure the full implementation of the measures imposed by the Security Council, including the travel ban and asset freeze,” Ms. Bangura said. In the 1533 Committee’s decision to add the two entities to the sanctions list, it noted their involvement in violations of international law, including sexual violence, amongst other violations. In relation to Mr. Runinga, the Committee noted his leadership role in the M23, while Lt. Col. Badege was identified as a military leader.The problem of armed groups in the eastern DRC has been a long-running one for many years, displacing thousands of people and causing major humanitarian problems in the area. Made up primarily of ethnic Hutu fighters linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the FDLR has been active since late 1994, mainly in the country’s east. Meanwhile, the M23 – made up of former national army troops who mutinied in April and named after a 23 March 2009 peace agreement that they reportedly say has not been implemented – was active throughout 2012.M23 fighters occupied the Goma, the capital of the eastern province of North Kivu, in late November, after an advance that included clashes with the DRC armed forces, known by the French acronym FARDC.Amidst widespread condemnation and calls for their withdrawal, they pulled out from the city of one million after 11 days in accordance with requirements laid out by a regional inter-governmental organization – the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) – and monitored by some of the 1,500 peacekeepers in the city, stationed there by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). M23 representatives are currently reported to be in peace talks, taking place in Uganda, with the DRC Government.“I condemn reported acts of violence being committed in areas controlled by armed groups, including M23 and FDLR,” Ms. Bangura said. “These recent sanctions by the Security Council serve as a reminder and signal of intent that they will be held accountable for all acts of sexual violence committed in these zones.”The Special Representative also called for the ICGLR to assist the DRC authorities in preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence in the eastern DRC – in accordance with the 2010 Declaration of Heads of State and Government of Member States of the ICGLR on the Prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and the 2006 Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Girls.“The prevention of and response to the epidemic of sexual violence in DRC requires a new impetus and multiple partnerships – it is one of many crimes that is certain to be committed when conflict breaks out and families are vulnerable and displaced,” the UN official said. “Unfortunately, it is a scene that is bound to be repeated in the DRC unless we put an immediate end to it.” In addition, Ms. Bangura called on DRC’s Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon to immediately investigate and prosecute the recent conflict-related sexual violence crimes committed by the FARDC and other forces in Minova, located in South Kivu province, and in Munigi and Goma, located in North Kivu province, in November 2012. “I also urge the Prime Minister to fully implement the National Strategy to Combat Gender-Based Violence and develop an action plan for the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence committed by the security forces and armed groups in DRC,” she added.