On 24 January, the UN Security Council’s ‘Month of Africa’ debate reached its climax with a day-long meeting on the situation in the DRC. The meeting was addressed by no less than seven African heads of state, nine ministers and the secretaries- general of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) attempted to assess the impact of the initiative launched by US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in his capacity as President of the Council for January 2000, through an interview with the UN Secretary-General. According to Annan:
"The ‘Month of Africa’ in the Security Council has had tremendous impact on the world’s consciousness - and conscience. More than that, I believe it has served as a genuine catalyst to explore possible solutions to some of the major problems that the region faces, from the conflicts in Burundi, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the impact of AIDS and the plight of refugees and displaced persons."
In practical terms, the Secretary-General stated that the Council meeting on Angola had reinforced its view on the root causes of the conflict and the need to advocate for a political settlement. It also provided information on the ability of UNITA rebels to circumvent arms and diamond sanctions and it awaited further recommendations from Amb. Robert Fowler of Canada, chairperson of the Security Council Sanctions Committee, on how to strengthen the sanctions regime.
Mark Malan, Institute for Security Studies