The UN security council has unanimously voted to renew the MONUSCO mandate for one more year. This will see the largest peacekeeping force in the world remain in DRC until at least June 30th 2012. This comes after the DRC requested that the force be reduced.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had it’s mandate to operate in DRC renewed for one year. This will see the mission run until at least 30th June 2012. The vote by the UN Security Council was unanimous.

In renewing the mandate, the Security Council pointed to the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in the DRC. It 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 abuse against civilians, in particular women and children.

Reiterating that the Congolese Government bore primary responsibility for security, peacebuilding and development in the country, the Council encouraged the Government to remain fully committed to protecting the civilian population by establishing professional and sustainable security forces and the rule of law, and by respecting human rights and promoting non-military solutions as an integral part of an overall solution to the threat posed by Congolese and foreign armed groups.

Last month, Raymond Tshibanda, Minister for International and Regional Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had told the UN that the DRC was making sufficient advances to warrant a progressive draw down of MONUSCO forces. He cited the end of military operations, increasingly effective security forces and the increasing role of the judicial system as indicators of the self sufficiency of the DRC and of a reduced need for MONUSCO military presence.

In the same speech however Mr Tshibanda did point to the continued presence and activity of 6 to 12 armed elements “whose criminal activities nevertheless continues to pose a threat to the security of the population in some remote areas of the country.” He also commented on the need for training and resources for the police and judicial systems if they were to reach full efficacy. Finally, Tshibanda told the UN that the Government of the DRC had set itself several goals for peace and state capacity building:

  • organization of elections at the end of the current Government’s mandate will ensure that the Congolese people can take charge of their own destiny;
  • security sector reform involving the army, the police, the judicial system and penal services will be undertaken so as to guarantee the rights and security of citizens, stabilize the country and the region, and put an end to the impunity of those who are found guilty of unspeakable crimes, such as the rape of women and other massive human rights violations;
  • efforts are to be made to combat the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which has exacerbated the conflict in the eastern part of our country and throughout the region;
  • capacity-building efforts will be made for the public and territorial administrations with a view to successfully implementing the country’s stabilization programmes;
  • strengthen good-neighbourly relations with all neighbouring States through dialogue and the enhancement of regional cooperation.

The UN, in its new mandate, pointed to the residual armed groups and the upcoming elections before electing to have the military presence remain at its current levels at least until the next mandate. The statement acknowledged the increase in peace and security throughout much of the country and the progress that has been made by the Government of the DRC and stressed its belief in the sovereignty and responsibility of the Government of DRC in self-determination and in increasing security and protecting its civilians.

Looking forward, the UN stated that future mandate renewals should be decided upon certain factors:

  • The completion of the ongoing military operations in the Kivus and Orientale Province, resulting in reducing to a minimum the threat from armed groups and restoring stability in sensitive areas;
  • An improved capacity of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to effectively protect the population through the establishment of professional, accountable and sustainable security forces with a view to progressively taking over MONUSCO’s security role;
  • The consolidation of State authority throughout the territory, through the deployment of Congolese civil administration, in particular the police, territorial administration and rule of law institutions in areas freed from armed groups.

To read the full statement by the UN, the full mandate can be read here

For last month’s debate on the DRC and the Government’s view on the role of MONUSCO, Mr. Raymond Tshibanda’s statement can be read here.

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