UN DRC mission extended but with reduced troop numbers


The Security Council passed a resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for another 12 months and endorsing recommendations made in the Secretary-General’s report on the strategic review of the mission.

Among recommendations contained in the strategic review of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the country (MONUSCO) the Council endorsed were those on transforming the force to become more efficient and effective in implementing its mandate and the Council fully endorsed them.

It also endorsed a recommendation to reduce the MONUSCO force by 2,000 troops, while maintaining an authorised troop ceiling. The intention was to make the troop reduction permanent but “significant progress” regarding the priorities of the force’s mandate would first be necessary, the resolution said.

Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen of SANDF Joint Operations said no instructions or information on possible withdrawal of South African elements had been received at the time of publication.

With regard to future reconfigurations of MONUSCO and its mandate, the Council decided consultations should take place between the DRC Government on the basis of the situation on the ground and progress on reduction of the threat posed by Congolese and foreign armed groups and the stabilisation through the establishment of functional, professional and accountable State institutions.

The resolution authorises MONUSCO to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective protection of civilians under threat of physical violence and of UN personnel and to work with Government on identifying threats to civilians and implementing existing prevention and response plans. It is also authorised to arrest and bring to justice those allegedly responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law as well as violations or abuses of human rights in the country.

Under the terms of the resolution, the Mission is also authorised to carry out targeted offensive operations through the Intervention Brigade, previously known as the Force Intervention Brigade, in co-operation with MONUSCO, either unilaterally or jointly with FARDC, and is responsible for monitoring implementation of the arms embargo.

The text requests MONUSCO to take into account gender considerations and child protection as cross-cutting issues throughout its mandate and to assist Government in doing the same and it encourages the Mission to enhance its interaction with the civilian population to raise awareness and understanding about its mandate and activities.

The Mission is also authorised to contribute support to Government on action against armed groups, on implementing the revised International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy and Provincial Stabilisation Plans, and on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, and disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration processes. It is also authorised to support promotion of human rights and to support the action plan to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children by FARDC.

Reiterating the importance of implementing the Peace Security and Co-operation (PSC) framework to the achievement of long term stability of eastern DRC and the region, the resolution urges prompt implementation of commitments, calling on the DRC Government to make further meaningful progress on its commitments under the framework.

It also authorises the Mission to support the Congolese authorities in efforts to deliver the reforms called for by the PSC framework and stabilisation in eastern DRC on promoting peace consolidation and political dialogue, monitoring, reporting and following-up on human rights violations and supporting security sector reform efforts.

The resolution noted with deep concern the lack of progress in fields essential for DRC’s stabilisation and reiterated its call to Government to take immediate steps to uphold its commitment to security sector reform.

The text calls on the Government of the DRC and its national partners to ensure a transparent and credible electoral process, welcoming promulgation of the electoral law and the publication of a comprehensive electoral calendar, and calling on the Government of the DRC to put swiftly in place an adequate electoral budget and an electoral code of conduct, and conduct a credible update of the electoral register, to ensure the successful and timely holding of elections.

Strongly condemning all armed groups operating in the region, the resolution demands the FDLR, the ADF, the LRA, and all other armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence and other destabilising activities, including the exploitation of natural resources and that their members immediately and permanently disband, lay down arms and release children from their ranks.

It continues, demanding that the Government of the DRC fulfils its commitments under the Nairobi Declarations, to implement its DDR plan, focusing on reintegration of former combatants in co-ordination with the United Nations, international organisations and neighbouring countries where former M23 combatants have found refuge.

While demanding full co-operation with MONUSCO in the DRC, the resolution stressed MONUSCO’s exit should be gradual and progressive and should be tied to specific targets to be jointly developed by Government and MONUSCO. It encouraged regular strategic dialogue with the UN and noted the need for a clear exit strategy for the Intervention Brigade.