The Secretary is scheduled to meet with Congolese president Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kinshasa and Kigali, respectively. There is no shortage of topics to discuss in these meetings.
Secretary Ban will also be visiting the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, or MONUC, no doubt attempting to drum up support from troop contributing countries for the mission (our blog has noted the current dilapidated state of U.N. Peacekeeping as well as the fact that MONUC is still looking for the 3,000 additional troops approved by the Security Council in November).
Ban’s aides are reportedly hopeful that the trip will urge governments to prioritize civilian protection, and provide an opportunity to showcase the Secretary’s own commitment to peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in challenging contexts such as Congo and Sudan. The civilian protection imperative—both by national governments and by U.N. peacekeeping missions—is faltering in both Congo and Sudan. Here’s to hoping that more public support from the Secretary could encourage U.N. member states to redouble their efforts to support the peacekeeping missions and increase their pressure on the Congolese and Sudanese governments to prioritize civilian protection.
While in South Africa, Secretary Ban issued a veiled warning to President Mugabe, saying that the octogenarian dictator’s “sincerity” in implementing the new unity government in Zimbabwe will shape future international aid to the ailing country. This is the right approach for the Secretary to adopt, as Mugabe is clearly demonstrating his intentions to continue his destructive policies per usual even as the unity government struggles to get off the ground.