Dies ist die englische Übersetzung des Interviews mit Monusco-Chef Martin Kobler, das der Autor dieses Blogs und taz-Korrespondentin Simone Schlindwein am 18. September in Berlin führten. http://www.taz.de/!123996/
Martin Kobler took up his post as head of MONUSCO and Special Repesentative of the UN Secretary General in mid-August. Dominic Johnson and Simone Schlindwein met him on 18 September in Berlin. This interview appeared on taz.de on 19 September and in a slightly shorter version in the print edition of taz.die tageszeitung on the same day.
taz: Mr Kobler, you have been leading the largest UN mission in the world for five weeks now. What is the most important thing to you about it?
Martin Kobler: Oour main duty is the protection of the civilian population. We have influence here to realise the values of the UN charta – you can afford to be be radical when child soldiers or sexual violence is concerned. I call these mass rapes “sexual terrorism”. There can be no tolerance here, first and foremost as far as the Congolese army is concerned. There is a human rights check for units we work with. There is permanent observation and acccompaniment, no mistake. Whoever rapes a woman must be brought to justice.
Do you the trust the government to implement this?
We are in permanent contact with the governement to achieve this. I have a positive impression of the army leadership, that it’s in their interest to follow up such things. I am satisfied with the readiness of the government to implement “zero tolerance”. It’s difficult on the ground because it (the government) doesn’t control some areas. But UN resolution 2098 charges us with re-establishing state authority in the East.
Why are there so many armed groups in Eastern Congo?
The government must, with the help of the international community, create conditions so that everyone, including minorities, feels at home in the country. The roots of the conflicts must be fought in order to remove legitimacy from the armed groups. The other thing is not to tolerate certain kinds of behaviour. The Congo has the right and the duty to exercise state authority. But this also means a more active and robust attitude by the international community.
The UN has been in Congo for 14 years now. What will change with you at the helm?
Monusco is more lively than some national administrations. Resolution 2098 brought a new dynanism. But the civilian part is not adequately set up in Eastern Congo. Kinshasa is far away. I am trying to base the main part of the civilian structures in Goma. One of my deputies will be transferred to Goma.
With the new intervention brigade, is Congo a test case for more active UN peacekeeping?
The mandate is the same, there are just different instruments. This is based on the analysis that after 14 years UN activity may have stabilised the situation but there is still cohabitation with armed groups. The important thing is to re-establish state aurthority.
How do you do that?
Military and political means are not mutually exclusive. The M23 attacked Goma and we got serious in protecting the civilian population on the side of the Congolese army. I was in Goma myself, I was at the frontline, I saw the missiles which came down on Goma. Now Goma is beyond the reach of the missiles. But we do want a political solution. We don’t want to fight! We want the Congolese state to regain its monopoly of violence, in every square metre of its territory. We have the military means to do that. We will fight if necessary. Our mandate is clear: Protecting the population. I get reports of atrocities and rapes on my desk every day. It can’t go on like this.
And beyond military means?
We are now working on the creation of “islands of stability” together with the government. The idea: when an area is “liberated”, the government – not the UN – must build up the state. We provide help. There are six elements: prosecutors, judges, schools, police, security, healthcare, public works. The area is secured by the Congolese army with our help.
This has been tried in the past. And now it’s supposed to work?
I think it will work now. The UN in Congo has been much criticised for its inactivity, and we do have to question ourselves critically in this regard. I sense a change of mood in the population and the government, and in the international community. I am confident that reconstruction will now happen. And we will defend the civilian population robustly.
Is the new intervention brigade FIB big enough for that with 3000 men?
We have 19.000 blue helmets. That’s quite a lot – and not a lot at the same time. The brigade is not a magic weapon. In Goma we all worked together. The question is not how big the brigade is but how it works together with the army. A UN helicopter landing somewhere and a militia commander coming and wanting to inspect the helicopter – we can’t have that! We now have new instruments with combat helicopters and artillery and drones, which we didn’t have before. A third of the FIB troops are still not here and the drones aren’t here yet either, but then we will be complete.
What kind of political pressure can you put on Congo’s government so that it plays its part?
The power of the word of the international community, and the five special envoys. But I deplore that Germany and the EU want to disengage from security sector reform. That is a wrong signal. Reforming the security secor is an absolute priority. Congolese intervention forces need to be built which act according to international human rights standards. That’s important. I hope that the EU will revise its decision.
What do you say to the criticism of Congolese who say that their government is not legitimate?
The Congo is a sovereign state. I a fundamentally opposed to waiting for the next elections. I have proposed a three-way partnership. First with the Congolese people to whom our loyalty is primarily directed. And of course with the current government which we assist but which we also accompany in a critical spirit: If there is something to criticise I don’t hesitate to do so. And the third element is partnership with the international community.
What does “partnership with the people” mean?
When people come to a UN base and look for protection, we open the doors and fulfil our mandate to protect them. I will make sure that we take the protection of civilians more seriously than we have perhaps done these last 14 years.