Why the UN must remain resolute in the DRC

Uruguayan United Nations peacekeepers in the outskirts of Goma, DR Congo

Uruguayan United Nations peacekeepers in the outskirts of Goma, DR Congo

In January 2018, Joseph Kabila launched a stinging attack on the UN by claiming its mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) had “eradicated” no armed group in nearly 20 years. He also warned the mission not to consider the country “under the care of the United Nations”. [1]

A few weeks later, the new head of MONUSCO took office on February 11, 2018 amid heightened tensions between the world body and the government. Part of her mandate is to oversee the full implementation of the December 31, 2016 agreement brokered by CENCO.

Amongst the causes of the heightening of tensions between the UN and Kabila’s government is the UN stance to ensure that the CENCO agreement is fully implemented before elections can take place. This is necessary as it levels up the political playing field, which allows for credible elections to take place and return the country back to constitutionalism and democracy, with the hope to achieve the much-needed stability for Congo.

The initial UN’s mission (July 1, 2010) has never been about fighting war on behalf of the government like what Kabila insinuated, but one of monitoring and peacekeeping, including the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts. Although MONUSCO’s mandate was later extended to include a specialized “Intervention Brigade” to deal with recurrent waves of conflict in eastern DRC, the initial mandate has mostly remained one of monitoring and peacekeeping.

This is the part of MONUSCO mandate that seems to incense Kabila, especially when the UN report characterizes his security services use of force against peaceful protesters “unlawful, unjustified and disproportionate”. The UN report has even pointed out “indications that the Congolese security services have attempted to cover up these serious human rights violations by removing the bodies of victims and obstructing the work of national and international observers”.[2]

This report has exposed Kabila to the scrutiny of the national and international community, by shedding light on his human rights violations and crimes. Kabila does not want “his Congo” to be exposed by MONUSCO, but prefers darkness over the country to cover his crimes.

Now that the UN Security council is considering the renewal of MONSCO mandate in the DRC, Congolese would wish that it carries out the same mandate as that of the Security Council Resolution 2348 (March 2017). The MONUSCO should particularly continue to (a) “provide technical and political support to the implementation of the 31 December 2016 agreement”, (b) “monitor, report immediately to Security Council, and follow-up on human rights violations of international humanitarian law” and (c) “provide technical assistance and logistical support for the electoral process.”[3] Above all, the MONUSCO has to ensure that elections are held by December 23, 2018 as scheduled.

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[1] New head of UN’s DRC mission takes office amid tensions, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/new-head-of-uns-drc-mission-takes-office-amid-tensions-20180212[2] Unlawful, unjustified and disproportionate use of force against protestors in DR Congo – UN report,http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22842&LangID=E[3] United Nations Security Council Resolution 2348 (2017), www.globalr2p.org/media/files/resolution-2348.pdf

 

Dominic Kitambala Luwi

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