UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
In 1999 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1279 establishing the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo known by its French acronym, MONUC. In 2000, the Security Council expanded MONUC’s mandate by adopting resolution 1291, which tasked peacekeepers with overseeing the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement of 1999. The UN expanded the mission’s mandate again in 2004 by including Chapter VII of the UN Charter, enabling the mission to use force to protect civilians. In May 2010, resolution 1925 marked a new phase for the mission by changing the name to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). In 2011, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1991 which demanded that all armed groups cease all forms of violence and violation of human rights. Additionally, former U.S. Ambassador to the DRC, Roger A. Meece, became the head of mission in October 2011.
In June 2012, the Security Council renewed MONUSCO’s mandate by adopting resolution 2053, which emphasized security reform, consolidation of State authority and the eradication of violence in the eastern provinces. In September 2012, at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), leaders in the African Union and United Nations decided to immediately establish a 4000-strong neutral international force in an effort to bring stability to the region. In March 2013, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2098, authorizing an Intervention Brigade and extending the mission’s mandate until March 31, 2014.
The Mission’s mandate includes:
- Neutralizing armed groups through an Intervention Brigade
- Helping to establish a Rapid Reaction Force within the Congolese national army (FARDC), tasked with eventually taking over the responsibilities of the Intervention Brigade
- Deploying and maintaining a presence in volatile areas;
- Ensuring the protection of civilians and UN staff;
- Monitoring ceasefire agreements and cross-border movements of military forces and arms;
- Facilitating humanitarian assistance and the return of refugees;
- Assisting with protection and promotion of human rights;
- Coordinating mine removal activities;
- Supporting a national dialogue and promoting the political process;
- Supporting the government of the DRC in reforming the security sector
- Contributing to the security of Congolese institutions and protecting officials;
- Supporting the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants;
- Advising on essential legislation, including a constitution and laws dealing with the electoral process and security sector reform;
- Coordinating operations with the FARDC against armed groups;
- Training and mentoring the FARDC in human rights and humanitarian law in order to bolster security sector reform efforts.
- Actively seeking to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity through the cooperation of the International Criminal Court
In the wake of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, nearly 1.5 million Rwandans fled across the border and settled in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The majority of refugees were civilians, but Hutu militiamen responsible for the genocide also fled to the DRC fearing reprisals from Tutsis. When reports emerged that then President of the DRC, Joseph Mobutu, had allowed Hutu militias to rearm in eastern DRC, the Rwandan government threw its support behind Congolese rebel leader, Laurent Kabila, who was attempting to oust Mobutu.
Known as the African World War, eight nations participated in the five-year conflict to follow, which claimed the lives of over five million people through conflict and disease. By 1999, diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire succeeded, and the warring parties signed the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement calling for an end to the violence. In order to oversee the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, the UN Security Council authorized the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) to ensure the agreement was observed. By early 2000, the mandate was expanded and over 5,000 peacekeepers were deployed throughout the region. Read more || Hide text
Despite the presence of MONUC, conflict soon reemerged, and by 2001 the country was again at war. After almost two more years of fighting, the warring parties again reached the outlines of a peace agreement (the Global and Inclusive Agreement on Transition in the DR Congo) and plans were set for a transitional and then permanent national government. The current president, Joseph Kabila, was appointed to the position in 2001 after his father, President Laurent Kabila, was assassinated. Joseph Kabila was later elected by popular vote in 2006— the DRC’s first democratic election in 41 years—and then again 2011. Today, regional threats persist in the DRC’s mineral-rich eastern provinces (North and South Kivu, and Orientale Provinces). Eastern DRC’s mineral wealth, porous borders, and lingering ethnic tensions between combative militias continue to present challenges.
Several militant groups have taken up arms again and are competing for power. In November 2012, rebels from the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) occupied the city of Goma in the province of North Kivu. MONUSCO thwarted M23’s attempted takeover of the Goma airport and provided protection to civilians in its camps inside Goma during the occupation. The Mission also promoted order in the city following M23’s occupation, helping restore the police force in the city. After condemnation by the international community and the ICGLR, M23 announced it would withdraw from inside Goma, agreeing to talks with the DRC government in Kampala, Uganda. As these talks continue, MONUSCO is supporting the efforts of the Congolese national army (FARDC) to defeat and disarm the dozens of militias operating in eastern Congo. As early as January of this year, more than 2.6 million people have been internally displaced by the ongoing clashes with rebels, with close to 1.8 million in the Kivus alone. In addition, the DRC estimates that 110,000 Congolese are in Uganda, and another 40,000 and 63,000 are in Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania, respectively. In March 2013, Bosco Ntaganda, who led the M23 rebel movement that took over Goma in November 2012, turned himself into the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda. Ntaganda was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2006, charged with recruiting child soldiers, murder, ethnic persecution, sexual slavery and rape. He previously led the Rwandan Tutsi military group, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). The group was integrated into the Congolese national army in 2009, but Ntaganda and 600 soldiers from the group defected in April 2012, forming M23. Ntaganda is currently awaiting trial in the Hague.
How This Affects American Interests
- Promotes stability in the DRC. MONUSCO works to bring peace and stability and to monitor volatile areas by partnering with the Congolese government to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate former rebel combatants. Since 2007, MONUSCO has helped to demobilize over 33,000 child soldiers and reintegrate them into society. Since 2002, over 15,000 foreign rebel combatants have been repatriated back to their home countries. MONUSCO is helping strengthen the DRC’s national police forces by providing training. During the reporting period, the mission provided training for more than 1800 officers, including 124 women. It also removed 13,649 unexploded ordnances and 98,274 rounds small arms ammunition, and provided mine risk education training to 25,588 people.
- Pursues the LRA. In the DRC’s northeastern Orientale Province, the Haut and Bas-Ulele Districts continue to be plagued by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan militant group established in the late 1980s and led by Joseph Kony. In the 25 years since its inception, the LRA has displaced roughly two million people (341,000 in the Orientale Province alone), abducted over 66,000 children, and killed over 100,000 civilians. Although efforts are underway to defeat the LRA and great strides have been taken to reduce its impact, this group, comprised of less than 500 combatants, continues to attack and terrorize local communities in DRC, South Sudan, Uganda and Central African Republic. There are 1,200 peacekeepers based in Orientale Province, where MONUSCO conducts targeted military operations unilaterally as well as jointly with the FARDC with the aim of protecting civilians. Apprehending Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, as well as disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating former LRA soldiers, is a vital U.S. interest. In May 2010, President Obama signed a law authorizing the deployment of 100 combat-equipped U.S. soldiers to help regional partners, including MONUSCO, confront the LRA. In March 2012, the African Union launched a regional military operation to target the LRA, drawing troops from the DRC, Uganda, the Republic of South Sudan and the Central African Republic. In January 2013, Ugandan forces killed one of Kony’s top body guards. MONUSCO’s current mandate calls for strategic coordination and information-sharing with other UN missions in the region, to disarm, demobilize, repatriate, resettle and reintegrate LRA elements.
- Protects Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Currently, there are more than 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC; including approximately 1.8 million IDPs living in the North and South Kivu provinces. In particular, North Kivu, home to vast mineral reserves of tin, copper and coltan, continues to be the country’s most troubled province. Fighting in Goma in late 2012 led to the displacement of 140,000 people in North Kivu and 40,000 people in Minova, South Kivu. Ongoing violence by rebel groups, including the FDLR, M23 and the LRA, continues to pose the greatest risk to civilians. Most IDPs and returnees lack access to food, clean water, education and healthcare.
- Manages relations with neighboring states. Due to the country's size and the fact that it borders nine other nations, the DRC is crucial to maintaining stability and security in the Central Africa. Currently, there are 476,000 Congolese refugees displaced throughout the DRC’s nine neighboring countries. Together, MONUSCO and other UN entities are committed to helping secure lasting peace in the region by promoting voluntary repatriation and helping the Government of DRC develop a framework for integrating the remaining population and strengthening its porous borders. The United States recognizes that the DRC’s dominant position in central Africa means that lasting regional stability first requires stability in the DRC itself. To demonstrate its deep concern about the evidence implicating Rwanda in the arming of M23, in July 2012, the United States announced it was cutting $200,000 in military aid to Rwanda.
- Reestablishes state-controlled over resources. Rebel groups are able to provoke conflict due to financing through the illegal trade of the natural resources, in particular minerals. To address this, MONUSCO has partnered with the DRC government to construct five mineral trading centers in North and South Kivu. These centers will facilitate the tracking, control, and regulation of mineral trading. The establishment of these centers will not only help curb the financing of conflict, but will also help to bolster the central government’s control over the restive region. Furthermore, MONUSCO’s employment of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which enhances all forms of geographically referenced information, has led to improved aerial surveillance of rebel troop movements, and helps monitor the DRC’s forestry and mining industries. The DRC’s mining industry is infamous for its human rights abuses, causing consumers and countries such as the United States to reject the import of “conflict minerals.” Thanks to information technologies such as GIS, MONUSCO is working to increase transparency and improve labor standards in the sector. Mapping mining sites is also the first step towards ensuring revenue from the DRC’s abundant natural resources does not finance armed groups. Accordingly, the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank") emphasizes accountability and transparency by mandating that U.S. companies fully disclose the sources of their minerals originating in DRC, thereby negating the economic gains of armed groups in the area. This law aims to curb the ongoing conflict in DRC.
- Promotes economic growth. The U.S. government and MONUSCO are working together to stimulate economic growth in the DRC through agricultural and vocational programs. Thus far, six youth vocational schools have been constructed for students whose educations were interrupted by the conflict. The U.S. has provided $306 million in bilateral aid to promote economic reforms and transparency, and MONUSCO’s efforts directly benefit the U.S. by securing stability for an important American trading partner. In 2012, U.S.-Congo trade totaled $240 million, with the major U.S. import being minerals. The US and the DRC signed a bilateral debt agreement totaling $1.8 billion on April 26, 2011. The agreement, one of the largest bilateral debt agreements ever signed by the United States, cancels 100 percent of the DRC’s outstanding debt to the United States. This agreement illustrates the U.S. commitment to make the DRC a strong and stable partner in Africa. On March 20, 2011, USAID also launched a new five-year project to boost the production of staple crops, like cassava, corn, beans, cowpeas, and peanuts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The $32 million project, entitled “Food Production, Processing, and Marketing (FPPM)” will fund the development and distribution of improved varieties of cassava, as well as help to modernize farming practices across Kinshasa, Bandundu, and Bas-Congo provinces and thereby, make food cheaper and more available for the Congolese.
- Addresses Human Rights Abuses. Due to a recent report by MONUSCO and the United Nations Joint Human Rights Council (UNJHRC) documenting human rights violations perpetrated by Congoles forces in Kinshasa, MONUSCO began investigating claims of human rights violations throughout the DRC. In 2011, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1991 which demanded that all armed groups — in particular the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) — immediately cease all forms of violence and human rights abuses, including rape and other forms of sexual abuses against civilians, in particular women and children. MONUSCO also supported efforts to reduce impunity by helping to conduct mobile court hearing in West Kasai, enabling 81 backlogged cases to move forward. Between February and April 2012, the UNJHRC has trained 217 FARDC soldiers in Maniema on international law and human rights. Following Ntaganda’s mutiny in April, MONUSCO has played a continuing active role in protecting civilians in North Kivu while the FARDC pursues this war criminal responsible for numerous human rights abuses.
- Sexual and gender-based violence. Rape and sexual violence continue to be used as weapons of war against women in the DRC. UNICEF has confirmed that over 1,000 women are victims of rape per month, while the unconfirmed estimate is thought to be many times higher. Men are also victims of sexual violence and it is estimated that 23 percent of Congolese men will encounter some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. To mitigate the risk of sexual and gender based violence, MONUSCO is working to improve communication in and between refugee camps; to provide medical and psycho-social support services; to create specialized police units; and to train judges and lawyers to provide legal support for victims. In collaboration with other UN agencies, the Mission provided assistance to 2,193 victims in November 2012. UNDP is supporting MONUSCO’s efforts by providing appropriate equipment and training for its staff to “provid[e] support in improving the judicial treatment of sexual violence cases, as well as increasing the technical and legal capacities of judicial institutions."
- Vulnerable displaced persons. The protection of IDP’s, most notably in the North Kivu province of eastern DRC, continues to be a problem. Fighting in Goma in November 2013 led to the displacement of 140,000 in North Kivu, adding to the hundreds of thousands already displaced in the province. IDPs living in camps and those who have yet to resettle live under constant threat of attacks by armed groups, especially the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) as well as the more recent Tutsi-led M23 rebel group.
- Exploitation of resources. Exploitation of the DRC's rich minerals has funded insurgencies and fueled internal and regional insecurities. The Congolese government must work with its neighboring countries to improve the economic benefits from mineral extraction, which could serve both to help extend governance to war torn regions and deny militants a key source of financing. MONUSCO lacks the resources and equipment that it needs to carry out its wide-ranging mandate. The mission aims to provide security to eastern Congo, an area twice the size of California, with only 17, 273 troops. Authorization has been made for more helicopters, but, following India’s recall of its helicopter contingent, only South Africa has offered one helicopter to aid the mission. The lack of infrastructure and difficult geography of eastern DRC means that additional helicopters are essential for MONUSCO to fulfill its mandate. Of the existing MONUSCO troops only 5 percent are deployed in areas controlled by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group responsible for 20 percent of the displacement in the DRC.
*Updated April 2013