From New York to Singapore, hundreds of major news organizations, including the New York Times, the BBC, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the Voice of America utilized the worst possible news cycle to announce that they were in receipt of a "leaked" United Nations Report detailing:
" Arms shipments or suspected shipments to the DRC from Spain, North
Korea, Ukraine, Iran, Libya, China, Belgium, Tanzania, the British
Virgin Islands and others;
" Roman Catholic and Spanish networks of support to the FDLR and other rebel groups;
" Recruitment of soldiers from Rwandan refugee camps;
" Violations of international humanitarian law;
" Impediments in the disarmament process;
" Wanted war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda's parallel military operations;
" Recruitment of child solders;
" Obstruction of humanitarian access in eastern DRC; and
" Linkage between the exploitation of natural resources and the financing of illegal armed groups which reach all the way to Dubai and North Korea and include the purchase of a Boeing 727 aircraft originating at the Opa-Locka Executive Airport in Florida.
The Security Council was scheduled to take up discussion of the final report on November 25, and when it appeared the report might be altered or scuttled, it was "leaked" (released) to every news organization on the planet. Considering that the United States, China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and rotating member Uganda are all on the Security Council and all have been implicated in the report, it is no wonder the report was disseminated by rogues before it was dissected. Sources say China is especially eager to edit and delay the report and has demanded that it be translated into five additional languages before its "official" release.
The "leak" turned into a tsunami as hundreds of news organizations declared an exclusive on this "new" information.
The prose has been prolific about this report, which has flooded news desks the world over. Consider this, from the New York Times, which offered no in depth analysis of a nearly identical Interim Report, published last May.
The lengthy report, which has not been made public but was provided to The New York Times, details a vast, rebel-driven criminal network in eastern Congo with tentacles touching Spanish charities, Ukrainian arms dealers, corrupt African officials and even secretive North Korean weapons shipments.
The final document IS lengthy, 58 pages plus an Annex, all single spaced and containing an almost indecipherable data mother-load of individual's names, places, dates, serial numbers, and ship's manifests, many of which are in violation of international law and United Nations mandates and sanctions on arms trade and smuggling.
The problem is that there is nothing entirely new in the report other than the deluge of specific names of countries and individuals who appear to be complicit in the ongoing humanitarian tragedy known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Interim Report, penned by the same panel of experts whose names appear on the "leaked" report, was made very public, and largely ignored by the international press. It is anyone's guess why this final paper chase has been seized as a revelation.
Perhaps it is the covert nature by which it was distributed to the international press corps that got everyone excited. This is sad and unfortunate, because if the press had seized the opportunity to begin investigations last May, the world would be that much closer to understanding the scope of international involvement in the slaughter of innocents in DRC.
Human Rights groups, including OXFAM and Human Rights Watch have been relentless in presenting the humanitarian crisis engendered by the joint Rwanda/Congo operations which began in January 2009. But, this crisis has its roots in international exploitation of ethnic conflicts that go back over 100 years.
In a well-reported July investigation, Global Witness reported that western mineral firms helped to fuel violence in the DRC. Global Witness names the same companies and countries mentioned in the "leaked" report. Belgium (Trademet, Traxys, SDE, STI and Specialty Metals), Thailand's Smelting and Refining Company, which is owned by the British company, AMC; the Malaysian Smelting Corporation, Berhad, China's African Ventures Ltd., India's Met Trade India Ltd. and Russia's Eurosib Logistics (JSC) are all part of the equation of non-documented transfers of mineral wealth.
Al Jazeera has also been all over this story and the resulting humanitarian crisis. The innocent are relentlessly punished while international coffers grow fat.
The US press has not done its homework. If they had, they would note that this report is an extension (December 2008 Security Council resolution 1857) of the mandate of the Group of Experts. The goal was to expand the investigation in order to expose individuals and countries supporting the armed groups currently operating with impunity through arms trades and illegal sales of natural resources.
The final report gains even more importance with the realization that the deployment of the UN peacekeeping forces (MONUC) in the region ends on December 31 as stated in Security Council Resolution 1856.
Now that the press has had a field day with this "leak," one has to wonder how much in-depth analysis will result. You cannot fight a war without weapons, and the money used to purchase the weapons must originate somewhere.
The inventory of the weapons caches is extraordinary and includes UZI-submachine guns, hand grenades, AK-47s, 107 mm rockets, 82 mm mortar bombs, uncountable rounds of 12.7 machine gun ammunition and other arsenals.