As an international organization, the United Nations remains one of the most important and active organizations promoting world peace and stability. Since its inception in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War, the UN, through its numerous bodies has been on the forefront in advocating and advancing peace in different nations across the world. One of the most outstanding of the UN bodies is monusco, a body that has had occupancy in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. DRC has particularly been one of the countries with the longest monusco occupancy having started in 1999 to date. Monusco’s mandate in its first formation in 1999 as MONUC, has been as an observer and peacekeeping mission, as part of the wider UN’s mandate as keeper of world peace. Noteworthy however is the fact that even with its current mission in Congo (DRC), MONUSCO has remained steadfast and dedicated in its mandate, even as it has failed in its success in other areas. The situation in DRC is one of the most testing for the UN, important however is the fact that the organization remains committed to its mission. Engagement with the Rebel groups and protection of the people from abuse of human rights on other atrocities has so far earned MONUSCO favor from numerous nations over its work. Although it has worked to bring peace in the country, the idea has remained elusive. The UN however in its current trajectory is more likely than not to achieve success with the country.
The Rwandese genocide in 1994 and the settlement of Hutus in the Kivu region of DRC marks the first steps towards the establishment of MONUSCO. About 1 million of the Hutus settled in the Kivu region of Kivu, fleeing the genocide in Rwanda to settle in the DRC, formerly known as Congo. With this settlement, the Hutus along with ethnic Zairians led by Laurent Kabila began an insurgence against the forces of the Zairian president Mobutu Sese Seko in 1996. This officially marked the beginning of the Congolese resurgence, with Kabila’s forces receiving assistance from Rwanda and Uganda. By 1997, these forces had taken over Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, renaming the country the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With installation of Kabila as the president, resurgence began in 1998 against the Kabila’s government. The rebellions began in Kivu regions, and the rebels seized the majority of the country. External help was promised by Zimbabwe, Chad, Angola, and Namibia towards the forces of Kabila, while Rwanda and Uganda supported the rebel movement. This marked the establishment of MONUSCO, initially known as MONUC (United Nations Organization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), with the UN’s Security Council calling for a ceasefire and the exit of foreign troops, urging the foreign states from meddling in DRC’s internal affairs. Known as resolution 1279, the Ceasefire Agreement reaffirmed the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of the DRC and all the countries in the region, and therefore the need for DRC to take care of internal affairs without the interference by the neighboring countries.
The 1999 agreement agreed on the disengagement of the forces involved as well as maintenance of cooperation among the parties involved. This was in addition to the supervision of the implementation of the agreement along with the Mission’s other expanded tasks. With changes in the country, such as the assassination of Kabila, the country’s first general elections and ascension to power of Joseph Kabila, it was necessary for MONUC to change, given the changing nature of the DRC. The Security Council, in 2010, therefore renamed MONUC to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The purpose of the rechristening was a reflection of the new phase of the country following the successful general elections.
The new mission, therefore, expanded the role of MONUSCO. The first among the resolutions was the reaffirming of the mission’s commitment to “sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. This was in addition to the acknowledgement of the progress made thus far in the country as well as the consideration of the challenges the mission and the DRC had to overcome in the previous years, as well as those it has to overcome in the coming years.
The rechristening of MONUC to MONUSCO came with an expended mandate of the mission. Thus, no longer was the mission only an intermediary and advocate for a ceasefire, it had observation and supervision mandates among other responsibilities following the 2010 and 2012 resolutions. One of the methods with which the mission is carrying out its duties is through two of its most important component; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR).
The program involves the disarmament of the former rebels and transfer of these rebels to their former countries of origin, where through a multi-country disarmament program; these rebels are reintegrated into the society within their countries of origin. The disarmament program is trained on foreign armed elements and their families, considering that the rebels hail from a diverse set of countries outside the DRC. By resettlement, MONUSCO has been able to reduce the number of foreign armed rebels fighting against the duly elected government of President Kabisa. So far, MONUSCO, through the DDR program, which has been redesigned to DDRRR, the mission has been able to resettle more than 20,000 families.
The program had targeted forced allied to foreign countries, which include Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Angola. All these rebels were associated with a rebel movement fighting against the government back home. The DDR and DDRRR programs were therefore designed as means through which these rebels can find a safe haven back home and are reintegrated into their communities after the long years of fighting in Congo.
One of the most fascinating and intriguing ideas of the program is the idea of an eligibility process. So far, the success of the program is dependent on the recipient countries, which have an established criterion under which former rebels can be reintegrated into the society. Such criterion, while necessary, impedes the process. Among the Burundian criterion for acceptance of a former rebel include surrender of arms and ammunition, being a Burundian national and affiliation to a particular rebel group under a commanding officer. This is in addition to the demonstration of basic military training. The result of such eligibility criteria is discrimination, especially against those who do not have most of those qualities, yet are genuinely nationals of the countries they want to resettle in.
Further, the intricacies of the integration process call for ironing out of many issues, which have remained unsolved, and the result has been transfer of conflict from one country to another. The current war in Uganda, for example, which has the Lord’s Resistance Army battling with Museveni’s government, continues to have rebels move from DRC to Uganda under the DDR program. Additionally, although rebels from other countries have been offered a chance out of DRC through DDR, most have remained in the country given that some were born and have lived in the country for long and do not therefore see the need to move to their country of origin. MONUC’s figures for the repatriated have Rwandans, Burundians, and Ugandans. Among these, the Rwandan ex-combatants and civilians form 66 percent of the total repatriated, Burundi has 2 percent, while Uganda accounts for the remaining 31 percent of the repatriated.
The DDRRR program, as a component of MONUSCO, is mandated with the task of catering for the groups of former rebels who have not been repatriated to their former countries and local rebels who have surrendered. While an unknown number of rebels have returned to their countries out of their own volition and through their own means, more than 7000 rebels remain demobilized. Moving from war into civilian life is among the most challenging features of DDRRR program given that continued war and war crimes affect the rebels under rehabilitation. Even more is that the announcement of the withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission more than ever affected the process of the program, given the worries and cynicism that the announcement received.
Part of the activities in the mission has involved the issues of gender and protection of women from sexual and other types of violence. The mission’s budget has factored the inclusion of women in Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration, as well as support for women in elections. In this context, the mission has increased the number of sexual violence victims getting assistance in addition to the adoption of a code of conduct on the prevention of sexual violence. In this sense, therefore, the mission has also increased the number of both women and men who have been disarmed.
The streamlining of gender issues and inclusion within the mission’s mandate has received approval from both the international community and the staff of the mission. Through a survey on the level of success of the inclusion of gender issues, 68 percent of the missions’ staff considered that the gender perspective within the mission’s operation was indeed effective. Further, 78 percent of the same staff considered that there was a streamlining of the gender perspective within the Mission’s resource planning and budgeting.
The issue of gender has particularly received a lot of attention, given the vulnerability of women and children within the war-torn region. The exposure to violence and the risk such exposure poses on the women, especially in them being more susceptible to sexual violence and rape prompted the establishment of Gender Unit as well as reporting on gender issues through a dedicated section. The unit has a total of 12 staff with presence in Kinshasa, Goma, Bunia and Kisangani, with a number of mandates within the general framework of MONUSCO.
Among the mandates of the Gender Unit, include guaranteeing that a gender perspective is incorporated into the rules and operations of MONUSCO within DRC. The essence of this is to ensure the protection of the human rights of both women and children, and that, even as the Mission carries out its mandate, the casualties of war, who are largely women and children, are taken into consideration. The second mandate of the Gender Unit is “to work with civil society and Government in ensuring the active participation of women in the peace process and post conflict reconstruction”. In so doing, the reconstruction and the peace process will be a wholesome activity incorporating all the members of the society in laying out the foundations for a united DRC after the conflict.
The Unit’s mandate additionally seeks to promote research with the intention of guiding the Mission’s strategies, in relation to its other mandate of promoting communication and sensitization activities in reverence of gender issues both within and without the mission. The focal point of all these mandates are the women, for which the Units hopes to support in career development, women mobility and ascertaining the nomination of women to management development programs. These are all on the premise of how disadvantaged, vulnerable and distraught women are always left in situations of strife.
The extension of the success of the mission has also included strides in the protection of civilians, as part of its mandate. This has especially been necessary following the ‘dramatic standoff in late 2008 between rebels and the Congolese army in the province of North Kivu, in which both sides deliberately killed civilians’. This was possible under the Resolution 1856 reached in 2008 in which MONUSCO’s troops are required to protect civilians. The result of the resolution was the successful protection of civilians, in which MONUSCO troops assisted FARDC in dismantling a rebel militia. However, this was a mistake on the side of MONUSCO given the deterioration of the state of human rights in North and South Kivu following the intervention.
While the resolution exposed MONOSCO to legal risks following the intervention, the next resolution (Resolution 1906) set stricter rules for the joint operation by the Congolese army and MONUSCO. Although this was for the protection of human rights, it encouraged the unilateral operation by the Congolese army, which has resulted in even more violation of human rights.
Fears for violation of human rights are however even more heightened, in light of the UN’s new mandate and resolution in dealing with the conflict in Congo. The new resolution on the establishment of a more aggressive force adopted in by the UN in 2013 paints a grim picture for the neutrality and the supposedly peaceful stance that the Mission has stood for. Known as the Intervention Brigade, and stationed within MONUSCO, “this offensive combat force is designed to break the persistent cycles of violence in DRC and protect civilians by carrying out targeted operations to neutralize rebel forces”. This new approach is a double-edged sword, which while improving the protection of civilians by putting off rebel attacks through a show of power; it dissuades the public, region and international opinion of the Mission as a peaceful and peacekeeping operation. Additionally, it raises many risks and challenges for the Mission within the country.
The current directive authorises the mediating troops to use force in their quest for restoration of peace, as provided for by Chapter VII. Therefore, under the guise of protecting civilian life, the peacekeepers are allowed by their mandate to use military force. There is however contention for such provisions aside from the international community and the public, but from troop contributors. The idea is that by using force, it is ostensibly an act of invasion by the troop contributors, which may have negative repercussions on the home front of these contributors. Deploying such an offensive, in essence, therefore, “makes the UN a party in the conflict, which many member states fear taints the UN’s neutrality with future consequences for peacekeeping operation worldwide”.
What is inevitable is that with a display of military muscle, reprisals by the rebels against civilian are bound to occur. In retaliation, MONUSCO troops will need to undertake decisive action against such incursions. This poses risks to civilians in DRC, as many may become casualties in the event of such exchanges. The display and use of force moreover goes against the peaceful aim of the organisation in its formation at the end of the Second World War. The employment of force for MONUSCO is therefore only subjected to cases of extremities, particularly as finality. However, the current presence and the acceptance of the UN under the Intervention Brigade, while seen reason enough to deter the rebels, only works to agitate them to attack civilians. By mandating and encouraging the use of force, far against the goal of the UN, MONUSCO (and UN), are seen as breaching the impartiality principle, and with it, losing the confidence of the international community of its ability to bring lasting peace in DR Congo.
Forceful measures additionally put political strain between the warring groups (the sitting power and the rebels). Specifically, by acting in perceived assistance of the Congolese army, MONUSCO in essence only acts to disrupt the political equilibrium between the conflicting groups. The danger of this is that while the rebels may concede defeated under the concerted efforts of the Congolese army and the Intervention Brigade, the peace achieved may be short lived—only recurring after the withdrawal of the troops. In essence, the UN will have failed in its quest to find lasting peace in the country.
Moreover, the success of the Brigade may also be short-lived, pushing away the rebels and preventing violence only within the year of its placement. Even more catastrophic for the UN will be its outright intervention in the war, given the weakness of the DRC army in supporting MONUSCO. Yet the intervention Brigade in its current form is loosely attached to any political process, and therefore only works as a military intervention, which does not attract any of the concerned parties to the negotiation table to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
One of the saddening happenings of the Mission is its inability to involve the neighbouring and regional countries, economic and regional cooperation organisations in finding a lasting political solution to the war. Most of UN’s involvement of the neighbouring countries has largely been in troops’ donation. What the UN fails to accept is the fact that in trying to find a solution, it is important that it involve the national actors (the government and the rebels), as well as the regional powers. It is important to state that the strife in the country cannot be addressed exclusively within the country’s borders. It is in order that the UN realises that rebels within the country get constant backing from the country’s neighbours, and therefore the need to involve them. In the absence of such an elaborate process, the intervention will ultimately be a futile exercise.
MONUSCO, as a Mission in the war-torn DRC has so far performed in a number of its mandates as stipulated within its mandate. The Mission faces a daunting task, having been deployed in a challenging conflict environment and facing a huge share of both human and material shortage. Additionally, the Mission has, within its stipulated mandate, an intricate multidimensional focus spread across an excess of 40 tasks, which include the protection of the population, disarmament and reintegration, as well as reinstating state authority. The huge responsibility almost overwhelms the Mission, and although its highest priority remains as protecting civilians, the language of the mandate is hugely vague. There is need therefore to not only narrow on the mandate of the Mission, if it is to achieve considerable success in Congo, as well as disambiguation of the language used in its mandate. Even more is the fact that the solution to the conflict must not only come from within the borders of DRC, but also involve the neighbouring countries and regional powers, which are actively involved in the conflict. Additionally, within its mandate as a peacekeeper, the UN should ensure that a political process is in place, only then will a lasting peace solution be achieved under its stewardship.
Agencia Catalan de Cooperacio al Desenvolupament, DR Congo (DDRRR and NDDRP, DDR in Ituri, 2002-…..), ACCD, n.d.
Autesserre, S, The Trouble with the Congo. Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010
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Boutellis, A, ‘Can a post-Election Push for Security Reform Work in the DRC?’, The Global Observatory, April 26, 2012
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Clark, JN, ‘UN Peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Reflections on MONUSCO and Its Contradictory Mandate’, Journal of International Peacekeeping, vol. 15, no.3-4, 2011, pp. 363-383
Garrett, N, ‘Negotiated peace for extortion: The case of Walikale Territory in eastern DR Congo’, Journal of Eastern Africa Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1-21
International Peace Institute, Renewing MONUSCO’s Mandate: What Role Beyond the Elections? IPI, New York, 2007
MONUC, Monuc Determined to Assist Govt in Ending the Presence of Armed Groups in the Country, UNMIS, Kinshasa, 2007
Murthy, J, ‘Responsibility to Protect : lessons from South Kivu’, Forced Migration Review, vol. 28, 2007, pp.11-13
Neethling, T ‘From MONUC to MONUSCO and beyond: prospects for reconstruction, state-building and security governance in the DRC’, South African Journal of International Affairs, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp.23-41
Ogunrotifa, B, A ‘The factors behind success and the failures of United Nations Peacekeeping Missions: A Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, vol. 3, no. 4, 2012, pp. 914-929
Oldrich, B , ‘Wanted: A Mid-range theory of International Peacekeeping’, International Studies Review, vol.9, 2007, pp. 407-436
Reynaert, J, MONUC/MONUSCO and Civilian Protection in the Kivus, IPIS, Berlin, 2011
Steams, J, ‘The Politics of the Intervention Brigade from Pretoria to Kigali’, Congo Siasa, April 28, 2013
Swarbrick, P, ‘DDRRR: Political Dynamics and Linkages’, in M. Malan and J. Gomes Porto eds. Challenges of Peace Implementation. The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,ISS, Pretoria, 2003, pp. 163-175
Terrie, J, ‘The use of force in UN Peacekeeping: The experience of MONUC’, African Security Review, vol. 18 no. 1, 2009, pp.21-32
Turner, T, The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Zebooks, London, 2007
UN, MONUSCO Background, UN, 2014
UN, Resolution 1279, Security Council, 1999
UN, Resolution 1925 (2010), UN, 2010
UN, Resolution 2053(2012), Security Council, 2012
Weller, M, The Relativity of Humanitarian Neutrality and Impartiality, American Society of International Law, Washington, DC, 1997
Yamashita, Y, ‘Impartial use of force in UN Peacekeeping’, International Peacekeeping, vol. 15, no. 5, 2008, pp.615-630
 UN, MONUSCO Background, UN, 2014
 UN, Resolution 1925 (2010), UN, 2010
 UN, Resolution 1279, Security Council, 1999
 International Peace Institute, Renewing MONUSCO’s Mandate: What Role Beyond the Elections? IPI, New York, 2007
 UN, MONUSCO Background
 UN, Resolution 1925 (2010)
 UN, Resolution 2053(2012), Security Council, 2012
 JN Clark, ‘UN Peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Reflections on MONUSCO and Its Contradictory Mandate’, Journal of International Peacekeeping, vol. 15, no.3-4, 2011, pp. 363-383
 MONUC, Monuc Determined to Assist Govt in Ending the Presence of Armed Groups in
the Country, UNMIS, Kinshasa, 2007
P Swarbrick, “DDRRR: Political Dynamics and Linkages”, in M. Malan and J. Gomes Porto eds. Challenges of Peace Implementation. The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,ISS, Pretoria, 2003, pp. 163-175
 Agencia Catalan de Cooperacio al Desenvolupament, DR Congo (DDRRR and NDDRP, DDR in Ituri, 2002-…..), ACCD, n.d.
 T Neethling, ‘From MONUC to MONUSCO and beyond: prospects for reconstruction, state-building and security governance in the DRC’, South African Journal of International Affairs, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp.23-41
 UN Women, Evaluation of Gebder Mainstreaminh in United Nations Peacekeeping Activities (MONUC/MONUSCO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN Women, New York, 2012
 IPI, p.3
 Ibid, p.1
 J Murthy, ‘Responsibility to Protect : lessons from South Kivu’, Forced Migration Review, vol. 28, 2007, pp.11-13
 T Turner, The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Zebooks, London, 2007
 IPI, p.1
 S Autesserre, The Trouble with the Congo. Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010
 IPI, p.3
 J Reynaert, MONUC/MONUSCO and Civilian Protection in the Kivus, IPIS, Berlin, 2011
 J Terrie, ‘The use of force in UN Peacekeeping: The experience of MONUC’, African Security Review, vol. 18 no. 1, 2009, pp.21-32
 Y Yamashita, ‘Impartial use of force in UN Peacekeeping’, International Peacekeeping, vol. 15, no. 5, 2008, pp.615-630
 Reynaert, p. 13
 M Weller, The Relativity of Humanitarian Neutrality and Impartiality, American Society of International Law, Washington, DC, 1997
 Reynaert, p. 13
 A Boutellis, ‘Can a post-Election Push for Security Reform Work in the DRC?’, The Global Observatory, April 26, 2012
 IPI, p. 1
 SC Breus, ‘The impact of the responsibility to protect on peacekeeping’, Journal of Conflicts and Security Law, vol. 11, no.3, 2007, pp.429-464
 DS Blocq, ‘The fog of UN peacekeeping: Ethical Issues regarding the use of force to protect civilians in UN operations’, Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 5, no. 3, 2006, pp.201-213
 BA Ogunrotifa, ‘The factors behind success and the failures of United Nations Peacekeeping Missions: A Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, vol. 3, no. 4, 2012, pp. 914-929
 IPI, p.2
 B, Oldrich, ‘Wanted: A Mid-range theory of International Peacekeeping’, International Studies Review, vol.9, 2007, pp. 407-436
 J Steams, ‘The Politics of the Intervention Brigade from Pretoria to Kigali’, Congo Siasa, April 28, 2013
 IPI, p.2
 N Garrett, ‘Negotiated peace for extortion: The case of Walikale Territory in eastern DR Congo’, Journal of Eastern Africa Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1-21
 Reynaert, p. 21
 Ogunrotifa, p. 19
 Reynaert, p. 21