The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) stands ready to decide by year-end on the future of its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a statement issued by current UNSC chair, Brazil.
The relevant paragraph in a three-page statement reads: “The Security Council (SC) expresses its readiness to decide by the end of 2023 on the future of MONUSCO, its gradual, responsible and sustainable withdrawal and the concrete and realistic steps to be undertaken as a matter of priority to implement this withdrawal”.
It continues, encouraging President Felix Tshisekedi and the world body “in the framework” of the Joint Working Group comprising the DRC government, MONUSCO and the UN Country Team “to develop by November” a comprehensive disengagement plan and proposals starting with the progressive and orderly withdrawal of MONUSCO troops and a gradual reduction of MONUSCO staff. Other proposals will include defining practical modalities for the gradual transfer of tasks; development of an operational plan for implementing MONUSCO’s withdrawal and specification of MONUSCO transition tasks to be accomplished.
The UNSC statement “demands” an end to further advances by the Security Council-sanctioned M23 and “immediate and full implementation of commitments made on withdrawal from all occupied areas”.
The efforts of three African regional economic communities (RECs) – the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – were noted and welcomed as part of “harmonising existing peace initiatives”.
MONUSCO has been operational in the strife-torn central African country since July 2010 taking over from an earlier UN mission – MONUC.
South Africa is one of the top 10 troop contributing countries (TCCs) to MONUSCO with a battalion, currently 10 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, deployed as part of its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the only UN peacekeeping component authorised to use force in execution of its primary civilian protection task. Other SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements in DRC are an SA Army tactical intelligence unit, a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) air medical evacuation team, an infantry quick reaction force (QRF) attached to the FIB and an SA Air Force (SAAF) composite helicopter unit (CHU).