United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) / United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Short Missions Brief


I. MONUC/MONUSCO Activity Summary


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) served as a laboratory for United Nations peacekeeping in the 1960s, with the organization’s most ambitious peace operation to date. A second round of UN peace operations over the last seventeen years has seen comparable ambition and innovation, and commensurate mixed results.

The current UN peacekeeping presence in the DRC began in 1999 with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), originally mandated to oversee a ceasefire after a period of civil war, with an exit scheduled to coincide with the completion of a democratic transition in the country. But the 2006 elections did not serve to herald a new stable and democratic order. The mission was instead renamed and restructured as the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in 2010.  The peacekeeping operation has evolved from a ceasefire observer force into one of the UN’s largest multidimensional missions, tasked with reforming and rebuilding government institutions and preventing a relapse into conflict that has frequently involved many of the DRC’s neighbors. Within MONUC and MONUSCO, the UN and other international actors have also innovated combat operations that stretch the limits of what a peacekeeping force can do.


Contemporary UN operations in the DRC are predated by UN involvement after the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960.  Between 1960 and 1964, the UN intervened on behalf of the central government to overcome a separatist movement in the southern Katanga province.  Government authority over the entire territory never truly took root, even under the strong-armed rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, who took control in 1961. Mobutu’s 32 year reign became synonymous with corruption, autocratic rule, and a dismal standard of living for civilians.  Throughout his rule, he brutally repressed opposition and rebellions while enjoying foreign support that feared a power vacuum in a country with rich resources but few state structures. 

In 1997, a coalition led by long-time rebel Laurent Kabila and with the support of neighboring Rwanda and Uganda toppled President Mobutu, whose foreign backers had progressively abandoned him after the end of the Cold War made the country less vital to Western interests.  Governance and state authority remained weak under the Kabila presidency, and in 1998, disputes between Kabila, his opponents, and his foreign backers ignited a bloody civil and regional war that eventually drew in no less than a half-dozen neighboring African nations.  Many of these countries continue to be deeply involved in politics in the DRC because it is a source of active threats and a site of economic and political interests, particularly in the northeast.   

Ceasefire and Establishment of MONUC

During the 1997-2003 timeframe, an estimated 350,000 people died directly from the conflict.  The war also led to widespread displacement.  Although the warring parties signed a ceasefire in 1999, widespread fighting persisted until the 2002 peace arrangement known as the Pretoria Agreement, signed by Laurent Kabila’s son, Joseph, who assumed power upon his father’s assassination in 2001.  The Pretoria Agreement created a transitional government to rule until democratic elections could be held in 2006.  President Joseph Kabila led this transitional government alongside four vice-presidents who represented two rebel groups, the president’s supporters, and civil society at large.  

MONUC was established by Security Council resolution 1279 (30 November 1999) to oversee the 1999 ceasefire.  MONUC initially had fewer than 400 military and non-military personnel monitoring and reporting on the ceasefire, and slowly grew towards its initial 5,000-strong authorization.   The international community realized the many challenges facing MONUC and the peace process in the DRC and granted further powers to strengthen MONUC’s capacity.  First, in 2000, the UN Security Council granted MONUC Chapter VII powers to protect its bases and properties through resolution 1291 (24 February 2000).  Resolution 1355 (15 June 2001) gave MONUC powers to assist in voluntary disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) processes of armed elements.  After the withdrawal of approximately 20,000 Rwandese troops in 2002 created a power vacuum in formerly occupied areas, these powers assisted MONUC forces in supporting efforts to demobilize the large number of armed men in the region.  Second, in 2006, the UN mission provided vital support in holding the DRC’s first democratic election in over 40 years.   Third, after the election, MONUC progressively evolved into a more robust mission with the purpose of reasserting state authority in areas outside of government control. 

The biggest challenge facing MONUC was the escalation of violence in eastern Congo, especially inter-ethnic conflict perpetrated by local militia forces after the withdrawal of the armies of neighboring countries. Mass atrocities were notably prevalent in Ituri district in the northeast. The response to this was a robust peace enforcement operation carried out by French troops acting under UN authorization (resolution 1484). Operation Artemis was a targeted, short-term enforcement operation to stabilize a specific area.

The force was French, and it was also the EU’s first ever mission under its Common Security and Defence Policy outside of the immediate neighborhood of the EU. Artemis was deployed from 12 June to 1 September 2013 in Bunia with the aim of stabilizing security conditions and improving the humanitarian situation. Its particular focus was protecting Bunia airport, IDP camps, local civilian populations and UN and humanitarian personnel.

The plan was to hand over to MONUC. Resolution 1493 (28 July 2003) gave MONUC Chapter VII authority to use force to protect civilians, carry out DDR activities or other mandate activities, and included an arms embargo.  This marked the peacekeeping mission’s transformation from an observer, reporting mission to a mission interested in building existing state capacities.  Unlike today’s country-wide authority, resolution 1493’s Chapter VII authority pertained to only three areas in the restive northeast

Artemis worked, within its limits. The French forces succeeded in their mission. However, that success was limited to just three months and one small part of the country: it was a brief island of stability. MONUC could not replicate that success at scale.

Building on resolution 1493, between 2003 and 2015, the Security Council passed a number of resolutions to enable embargoes, targeted sanctions, and resolutions aimed at creating due diligence in regards to mineral-related industries as the UN struggled to contain continuing wide-spread violence by armed groups.  In 2003 and 2004, the Security Council enacted a combination of targeted sanctions and an arms embargo to put pressure on both armed elements aligned with the government and also elements fighting the central state.  Security Council resolution 1533 (12 March 2004) created a Group of Experts to oversee the arms embargo.  In resolution 1896 (7 December 2009), the Group of Experts was tasked with producing recommendations for “guidelines for the exercise of due diligence” regarding purchasing, sourcing, acquiring, etc. of mineral products from DRC.  Through resolution 1952 (29 November 2010), the Security Council further recommended the government take steps to identify, bring to justice, and root out elements within the military involved in illegal activities. 

In 2004, MONUC’s mandate expanded greatly under the abovementioned resolution 1533 with the addition of security sector reform (SSR), electoral support, and the protection of civilians to its mandate.  In 2006, MONUC supported the DRC’s first democratic elections since its independence.  The elections for 500 seats in the National Assembly were the largest and most complex the UN had ever supported, with MONUC providing technical and logistical assistance, electoral training and education, and security.[i]  MONUC would remain in the DRC following the elections and grew to one of the largest UN missions, with troop levels approaching 20,000.

Transition to MONUSCO

The situation in the DRC appeared to stabilize slightly starting in 2008 and 2009, including through improved relations with Rwanda.  President Kabila pushed for MONUC to begin plans for drawdown and mission closure by 2011, a time that would have coincided with October 2011 elections.  The UN resisted this pressure, seeing the danger of a security vacuum being created for the sake of national pride,[ii] but adjusted the mandate and decreased its forces by 2,000 troops in the renamed MONUSCO under resolution 1925 (28 May 2010). 

Resolution 1925 outlines an ambitious Chapter VII mandate strongly centered around support to the government, consolidation of state authority, and strengthening of institutions.  MONUSCO’s first priority was designated as protection of civilians (POC), including through support to the government and implementation of a zero-tolerance policy towards abuses.  Other key mandated functions include assistance to the government in overcoming armed groups, DDR, creating an environment conducive to the return of internally displaced people and refugees, SSR and strengthened government military capacity, electoral support upon request, and support to governmental and international efforts to stem illegal trade in natural resources. 

Additionally, resolution 1925 tasks MONUSCO with monitoring the implementation of a ban on the provision of arms, financial assistance, or training to non-state actors in the DRC first imposed by resolution 1807 (31 March 2008) and extended by resolution 1896 (7 December 2009), in cooperation with the Group of Experts, and with seizing any arms in violation.  Resolution 1925 authorized a maximum deployment of 19,815 troops, 760 military observers, 391 police, and 1,050 formed police unit personnel. 

MONUSCO is headed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Martin Kobler (Germany).  David Gressly (United States) serves as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Operations and Rule of Law, and Mamadou Diallo (Guinea) serves as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  MONUSCO’s approved 2014-2015 budget was $1.39 billion. 

As of June 2015, MONUSCO’s strength stood at 18,232 troops, 462 military observers, and 1,090 police, including formed police unit personnel.  India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been the largest troop-contributing countries by far, with sizeable contributions from Uruguay, South Africa, Nepal, Egypt, Tanzania, and Morocco, and smaller roles by Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Jordan, China, Indonesia, Guatemala, Malawi, Tunisia, and Ukraine, along with various others.[iii]  The mission has suffered 93 deaths thus far, the majority of them troops but 26 belonging to civilian staff.

Security Sector Reform

Resolution 1925 emphasized “the urgency of implementing comprehensive security sector reform” and encouraged the government to commit to “professional and sustainable security forces,” while also pledging to support the government in the process and in strengthening its military and police forces more generally.  Unlike MONUC, MONUSCO’s SSR mandate was authorized in the time since the Security Council and Secretary-General had begun to formalize the UN approach to SSR, which centers not simply on train-and-equip exercises but on governance-focused SSR built on institutional oversight, democratic accountability, and local ownership.[iv] 

MONUSCO’s initial SSR support involved mapping the country’s security forces, including the nationwide locations of defense, police, and judicial institutions together with international support programs.[v]  The mission has provided drafting support for police documents and security sector-related human resource policies, while also aiding in police training in crowd control and preventing sexual and gender-based violence.[vi]  Capacity remains a key issue for the security sector: the DRC has an extremely small number of police and military personnel per citizen, while society is also plagued by dangers resulting from easy access to small arms.[vii]

The 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC, signed by 11 countries committing to noninterference with the DRC’s internal affairs, also commits the government to “continue, and deepen security sector reform, particularly with respect to the Army and the Police.”[viii]  However, as is explored in subsequent sections, MONUSCO’s SSR activities are in uneasy juxtaposition with the poor human rights record of the government’s security institutions: the military is suspected of serious human rights violations against civilians in Eastern Congo and other regions, and the legacy of abuse has undermined the security forces’ credibility.[ix] 

Force Intervention Brigade

Under resolution 2098 (28 March 2013), the Security Council created a special unit called the Force Intervention Brigade within MONUSCO’s existing troop authorization cap in support of the abovementioned Framework.  Just prior to the Brigade’s creation, the rebel group M23, supported by Rwanda and Uganda,[x] took large swathes of territory away effortlessly from the government.   In light of MONUSCO’s failure to hold the city of Goma and the perception that foreign money funded M23, the Security Council specifically empowered the Brigade to fight both Congolese and foreign elements. 

Resolution 2098 tasks the Force Intervention Brigade with “neutralizing armed groups” such as the M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the Lord’s Resistance Army.  The resolution states that the Brigade will operate in support of the government, but uniquely, it is to carry out “targeted offensive operations” either unilaterally or together with the army, “in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner.”  This is the first (and thus far only) time the Security Council has granted a peacekeeping operation the express authority to use unilateral force to pursue and fight armed forces.  Resolution 2098 also links the Force Intervention Brigade and its exit strategy with SSR processes within the DRC: continued authorization will hinge in part on “the establishment and implementation of a national security sector reform roadmap for the creation of a Congolese ‘Rapid Reaction Force’ able to take over responsibility for achieving the objective of the Intervention Brigade.”

The Force Intervention Brigade consists of 3,069 troops, including, infantry, artillery, special forces, and a reconnaissance company, as well as attack helicopters, and operates on an additional budget of $140 million annually.  Its creation points towards frustration with the inability of the government and the UN to pacify and maintain control over the restive regions of the country.  The Brigade secured prominent early success supporting a government advance against M23, which had wrested control of large swathes of the Kivus from the government.  On the other hand, its record against the armed groups of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda is not clear. 

Key Resolutions for MONUC and MONUSCO

Resolution 1279 (1999): MONUC created

Resolution 1291 (2000): Regional ceasefire, human rights monitoring

Resolution 1493 (2003): Chapter VII powers to take over from Operation Artemis

Resolution 1565 (2004): SSR, protection of civilians, electoral support

Resolution 1896 (2009): Due diligence guidelines for mineral-related industries

Resolution 1925 (2010): Reorganization into MONUSCO

Resolution 2098 (2013): Establishment of Force Intervention Brigade

A Complicated Record

Despite pressure by the government to scale down MONUSCO operations and leave the country, UN forces remain an important presence in areas lacking strong government control and areas under high levels of insecurity.  Although some accuse MONUSCO of failing to secure civilians or areas under its mandate, its presence has improved the overall security of the country.  Most critics and Congolese commended the peacekeeping force for its support of the 2006 elections, but its state-centric peacekeeping model, and allegations of human trafficking, smuggling, and sexual assault make MONUC and MONUSCO’s reputation checkered.

II. Key Issues, Insights, and Challenges Emerging from MONUSCO

1. SSR and the Challenges of State Support

MONUSCO faces two main challenges that are typical of SSR efforts in peacekeeping contexts: the fact that SSR as an inherently political process and not merely a technical one, and a parallel difficulty in undertaking efforts in support of a government with a poor human rights record. 

Both require long-term engagement and local ownership that are not easily adapted to the timetables of international donors.

Despite SSR activities and recent territorial gains by the military, abuses and poor discipline by government forces continue, particularly in North Kivu, South Kivu, parts of Katanga, and the Orientale province.[xi]  A 2011 survey in North and South Kivu cited government soldiers as the second-largest source of civilian insecurity.  The refusal of the government to purge military officials implicated in human rights violations is problematic and proved a major obstacle to joint UN-government operations against rebel groups identified as targets by MONUSCO in 2015.[xii]  Government violations both undermine the SSR process locally and inhibit the support MONUSCO can provide: the UN’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy of 2013 requires that all UN actors, particularly peacekeeping operations, support only institutions which respect humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law, and that they intervene or halt support where there are violations.[xiii] 

SSR’s challenges are also political and coordination-related.  A consortium of DRC-related NGOs in 2012 noted that failures to fully implement SSR are owed to “a lack of political will at the highest levels of the Congolese Government,” which has “encouraged divisions among the international community and allowed corrupt networks within the security services to flourish.”[xiv] MONUSCO made SSR a priority after the 2006 elections and spent an estimated $85 million between 2006 and 2010.[xv]  The EU, United States, China, Belgium, France, Angola, and South Africa have funded and conducted most programs through bilateral agreements.  These diverse agreements, along with changes within the government on how to conduct these activities, resulted in start-and-stop SSR efforts plagued by funding shortfalls and suspicion by both donors and the recipient state.[xvi]  

Certain elements of intelligence and the military remain completely untouched by SSR efforts.[xvii]  The Secretary-General has also noted that budget issues in 2014 had a “negative impact on plans to remove officers that are unfit for service from the Congolese National Police ranks, conduct capacity-building activities and build a police academy and police stations.”[xviii]

2. Successes and Potential of the Force Intervention Brigade

The Force Intervention Brigade’s early successes in securing civilian populations and restoring state authority are promising and should be seen as a plausible tool in peacekeeping operations when an armed group continues to destabilize a region and refuses to negotiate.  This successful gamble has improved on past failures in robust peace enforcement and will be important to watch in relation to government capacity to take on devolved duties.

Despite its authority to operate unilaterally, the Brigade’s activities illustrate a preference to support government troops in their missions, as it did in the pursuit of the M23 and Allied Democratic Forces insurgencies in 2013 and 2014.  Early in its tenure, the Brigade successfully eliminated the threat of M23, garnering the unit substantial praise and raising hopes for its ability to bring stability to volatile regions of the DRC.  However, in the government’s recent operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the Force Intervention Brigade has been unable to cooperate due to the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy’s restrictions on supporting soldiers accused of human rights violations. 

It is significant that the Force Intervention Brigade has an exit strategy that is specifically tied to progress in government capacity and SSR.  Troop-contributing countries and MONUSCO leadership must to be willing to put offensive troops in harm’s way in order for the Brigade to continue operating, given delays in the establishment of the Congolese Rapid Reaction Force slated to inherit the Brigade’s duties.

The regional aspect of the Brigade’s deployment should be considered.  Although UN peacekeepers across all missions tend to come from certain large troop-contributing countries, the Force Intervention Brigade is unusual is that all of its forces come from Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.  These same states also have political ties to the government, making some critics accuse the Brigade of being a mere extension of SADC political ambitions in the region.[xix] 

Though resolution 2098 carefully stated that the Force Intervention Brigade was created on an “exceptional basis and without creating a precedent,” it will inevitably be evaluated by both critics and proponents of UN peacekeeping missions with strong use-of-force mandates.  In important respects it was an attempt to replicate the experience of Operation Artemis, but taking on a more politically and militarily significant challenger. Both Artemis and the FIB consist of a specialized combat component dedicated to a particular task contained within a wider peacekeeping operation, a model that has been adopted elsewhere (e.g. Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.)

3. Islands of Stability Approach

Recently, MONUSCO operations have included creating “islands of stability” within the DRC.  This is an approach to establish stability in remote areas without trying to necessarily control all of the territory around this “island of stability.” The precedent for this is Operation Artemis in 2003. The hope is that MONUSCO can help slowly expand state presence and state resources by controlling small pockets of territory.  As of August 2015, it is too early to say exactly how these “islands” are being chosen, how they are evolving, and the long-term implications.  A way to understand their success is to ascertain if populations and economies stabilize in and around these “islands.”  If proven successful, this approach may be used in other peacekeeping missions where the territory, force numbers, and the lack of strong host state presence makes it difficult for UN forces to maintain an authoritative footprint.

4. Reintegration Challenges with DDR

MONUSCO’s experiences with DDR illustrate that these activities’ long-term effects are limited unless viable alternative livelihoods exist.  MONUSCO has supported two major DDR efforts by the international community and the government between 2002 and 2011: 1) an attempt to demobilize and reintegrate former child soldiers from the national army and other militant groups; and 2) an attempt to demobilize the large numbers of armed men throughout the DRC. 

Out of an initial goal of 39,000 children, DDR partners reintegrated 30,000 into the civilian population, while over 200,000 men went through the official verification process needed prior to demobilization.[xx]  While an impressive achievement, the question remains as to what became of these demobilized individuals.  The World Bank Group, which funded many of these activities, argues that up to 75% of male ex-combatants went to school or engaged in some “productive economic activities” but critics argue that at least half of these demobilized men did not go through proper reintegration or failed to find an alternative income making change permanent.[xxi]  The reintegration of ex-combatants, which also fell under MONUSCO’s mandate, suffered a two year delay and is considered ineffective by many experts.[xxii]

When UN peacekeeping operations operate in weak states such as the DRC, viable economic livelihoods are often not available without concerted investment in the region.  Future DDR components of peacekeeping missions in such environments must be accompanied by commitments and tangible economic investment to ensure credibility of DDR activities and peacekeeping more widely.  Identifying which DDR programs result in the lowest recidivism will help improve future missions’ DDR mandates.  Clear and transparent data on DDR results and the long-term livelihoods of recipients is lacking.  Recognizing the challenges DDR activities face in the DRC, MONUSCO is now experimenting with forced disarmament of armed groups with the aforementioned Force Intervention Brigade. 

5. Mediation Successes Outpace Reform

MONUSCO successfully supports the mediation and reconciliation work led by NGOs, regional actors, and the international community, but is a poor catalyst for reform within the host government.  Furthermore, MONUSCO does not offer successful examples of mediating conflicts between the host state and non-state armed groups.   Future peacekeeping missions’ mediation efforts should focus resources on supporting mediation as MONUSCO’s record suggests that peacekeeping operations are not very effective at instigating and supporting reforms.[xxiii] 

MONUSCO’s mediation mandate is fulfilled by three components of its Political Affairs Division.  First, MONUSCO works within governmental institutions to support and advocate for governmental reforms and reformers.  Second, MONUSCO analyzes conflicts and threats to peace and stability throughout the DRC with a focus on the most volatile regions, and provides data, strategies, and resources for conflict prevention and resolution as well as community reconciliation and mediation services.  Third, MONUSCO supports regional efforts in the Great Lakes region to promote stability and reconciliation within the DRC.[xxiv] 

The Pretoria Agreement of 2002 led to the removal of 20,000 Rwandan forces from the DRC and is an example of a successful UN-led regional mediation.  While this illustrates a peacekeeping mission’s success working with state actors, MONUSCO did not lead most successful mediation with non-state actors.  For example, in 2011, MONUSCO supported the NGO Search for Common Ground in its efforts to mediate bitter community-based violence in the Equator province.[xxv]  Where the record of MONUSCO bears little evidence of success is in internal government reforms.   MONUSCO’s record in assisting government reform and reformers is weakest, with the DRC ranked among the lowest UNDP human development rankings and receiving among the lowest freedom rankings by Freedom House.

6. Lack of Discipline within UN Forces Threatens Civilians’ Confidence

MONUSCO’s activities reflect a growing awareness that poor discipline by UN forces erodes public trust and threatens the mission’s capability to fulfill its work.  Throughout MONUC’s and MONUSCO’s tenure in the DRC, UN forces have faced allegations of human trafficking, smuggling, sexual assault, and the failure to protect civilians.  Among other allegations, UN forces have been accused of complicity in arms smuggling, poaching of wildlife including elephants, and the smuggling of gold.[xxvi]  To combat sexual assault, the UN is increasing the number of women serving in the DRC (currently only 2.2% of MONUSCO forces) and focusing on increasing female participation in the MONUSCO police force. [xxvii]  The success of the all-female Indian Formed Police Unit in Liberia and other research demonstrating the positive influence of female peacekeepers offer evidence for the merits of this effort.   In 2015, in response to the UN sexual assault scandal developing in the Central Africa Republic, a recent UN report on sexual assaults within peacekeeping forces, and its own dark history of sexual assault allegations, MONUSCO began an aggressive and graphic anti-sexual assault campaign within its forces.[xxviii]  MONUSCO’s decision to forbid its troops from engaging sexually with local residents and its work to imbed within MONUSCO experts to conduct sexual assault training and gender advising are positive developments that can be studied by other missions.[xxix] 

7. Proposed Exit: Ambitious but Lacks Transparent Benchmarks

After years of building up MONUSCO’s strength and powers, the Secretary-General in December 2014 asked MONUSCO to determine an exit strategy with the government of the DRC.[xxx]  The Security Council has determined that MONUSCO’s exit should be “gradual and progressive, tied to specific targets to be jointly developed by the Government of the DRC and MONUSCO,” as outlined in resolution 2211 (26 March 2015).  MONUSCO’s two benchmarks for its exit illustrate how it has evolved into a state-building peacekeeping mission.   First, MONUSCO targets an overall reduction in the strength of armed groups and an ability by local authorities to manage violence against civilians, gender-based violence, and violence against children.  Second, it asks for a functional and accountable state presence in the conflict-affected areas of the DRC and a stable and open political sphere, human rights, and electoral freedom.[xxxi]  MONUSCO, however, does not provide any indication of how these goals can be measured.  Meanwhile, as the 2016 election looms nearer in the DRC, the pressure for MONUSCO to leave is growing and its relationship with the government is souring.[xxxii]  New leadership within MONUSCO in 2015 must carefully negotiate its relationship with the government to design achievable and realistic goals to ensure that the mission is not politically hamstrung as its inevitable exit looms closer.[xxxiii]

A failure by a peacekeeping mission to identify clear, measureable, and mutually acceptable benchmarks to assess the host state’s achievements threatens the consolidation of any gains.  Specific and achievable benchmarks must be laid out and the peacekeeping force must have the political support to ensure that progress by the host state is recognized and failures highlighted.  Cogent development by the UN mission, effective communication with the host state and UN member states, and international political support for these benchmarks will lend the mission credibility and help ensure an orderly exit.

III. MONUC and MONUSCO Literature Review

Analyses and Scholarly Works

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. “Conflict in DR Congo.”  Accessed 15 November 2015. http://www.crisis.acleddata.com/conflict-in-dr-congo

Excellent website for charts on violence, casualties of African violence (including the DRC).  ACLED has graphics on the use of rape as a weapon, graphics on who is committing violence when.  For each graphic, it also provides a small narrative to describe the events being depicted. 

Brown, Michelle. “MONUSCO Eyes the Exit in DRC. Is That Prudent or Premature?”  Refugees International.  3 April 2014. http://refugeesinternational.org/blog/monusco-eyes-exit-drc-prudent-or-premature

A representative of a large humanitarian actor, Brown’s article gives an overview of MONUSCO’s exit conditions and criticizes the Security Council for not taking humanitarian actors’ perspectives into greater consideration when making its decisions.

“DDR in Eastern DRC - Try, Try Again.” IRIN.  4 March 2014.   http://www.irinnews.org/report/99741/briefing-ddr-in-eastern-drc-try-try-again

This article is focused on the third large DDR effort, “DDR3,” by MONUSCO in 2014.  It highlights how this round of DDR is to occur with populations being moved far from the centers of violence and that the focus will be on demobilization rather than the opportunity to reintegrate into the army.  It outlines some of the potential risks and benefits the different approach may yield and emphasizes that the biggest problem with DDR programs thus far has been the failure to truly reintegrate forces.

Enough Project.  “Armed Groups.”  Accessed 21 June 2015. http://www.enoughproject.org/conflicts/eastern_congo/armed-groups

The Enough Project is as much an advocacy group as it is a research center, and is particularly interested in the issues of conflict minerals, DDR, SSR, and sexual violence. Enough was very influential in shaping US public and congressional opinion on conflict minerals and provides excellent graphics, background, and one of the best summaries of armed groups in the DRC, but it is important to understand the advocacy nature of their work.

Greenhill, Kelly and Soloman Major.  “The Perils of Profiling Civil War Spoilers and the Collapse of Intrastate Peace Accords.”  International Security 31, No. 3 (2007 2006): 7–40.

Greenhill and Major discuss how spoilers to peace (as articulated by Stephen John Stedman) are defined, how determining these spoilers is a challenge, and why the consequences of identifying a party as a spoiler can have negative and unanticipated consequences.  This article details several examples and is useful in understanding DRC’s plethora of armed groups presumed to be acting as spoilers. 

International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.  “An Indispensable Protection Tool? Assessing the Force Intervention Brigade in the DRC.” Accessed 14 June 2015. http://icrtopblog.org/2015/01/16/an-indispensable-protection-tool-assessing-the-force-intervention-brigade-in-the-drc

An even-handed discussion of the merits and drawbacks of MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade. This article provides substantial background and further discussion to the context for which the Brigade was created and the reaction by the humanitarian agencies to having a stronger armed UN presence.

“Jamil Mukulu: Behind the Many Unanswered Questions.”  The Independent.  17 May 2015.  


This article focuses on the arrest of one of leaders of the rebel group ADF operating within the DRC.  ADF is a current target of MONUSCO and the government, but more importantly, this article details the complex regional politics at stake in the conflict in the DRC. 

Long, Nick.  “UN Confirms Working With Suspected DRC Human Rights Abusers.” Voice of America.  20 March 2015.


Long’s article uses direct quotes from senior UN officials to illustrate the divergent opinions on what course of action MONUSCO should take in executing its mandate.  MONUSCO is faced with the dilemma of either attacking rebel groups alongside Congolese army officials facing allegations of human rights abuse or boycotting these units and not being able to help pursue armed elements designated as targets.  The diverging opinions and actions by UN officials is evidence for why MONUSCO mandates are often interpreted and executed differently by different leaders.

Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al.  The Democratic Republic of Congo: Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform.  Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., 2012.

A report by a group of NGOs on the failures of DDR and SSR efforts in the DRC since MONUSCO’s arrival.  The report poses some potential means by which MONUSCO and the international community can improve in these sectors and how these can be evaluated.  

Ponthieu, Aurelie, Christoph Vogel, and Katharine Derderian.  “Without Precedent or Prejudice?  UNSC Resolution 2098 and Its Potential Implications for Humanitarian Space in Eastern Congo and Beyond.”  The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance.  21 January 2014. https://sites.tufts.edu/jha/archives/2032

This article is written from the perspective of humanitarians working in the field and how an increasingly armed and robust peacekeeping force creates challenges for them.  In particular, the authors are concerned about how the UN’s simultaneous focus on politics, military, and aid is theoretical at best and yields wildly different courses of action on the ground.  In addition to the shifting ways the UN mandate is fulfilled, there is concern among Congolese about the UN’s legitimacy as it takes increasingly pro-government positions which in turn makes many perceive UN representatives as merely one of the many belligerents rather than a neutral force with an interest in the welfare of all citizens.

Project Ploughshares.  “Democratic Republic of the Congo (1990-First Combat Deaths.”  June 2015.


Ploughshares provides an excellent summary of the conflict and political developments in the DRC from 1998 until 2014 with a particular focus on violence against civilians. 

Russell, George.  “Amid Violent Insurgency, UN’s Costly Congo Peacekeepers Charged with Making a Bad Situation Even Worse.”  Fox News.  3 December 2012. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/03/amid-violent-insurgency-uns-costly-congo-peacekeepers-charged-with-making-bad

Russell provides a cogent argument for why MONUSCO can be seen as a failure, including the spiraling cost, the distrust of Congolese, and the perception by many that MONUSCO suffers from a lack of a clear sense of purpose. 

Sengupta, Somini.  “United Nations Workers Accused of Sexual Abuse.”  New York Times.  16 March 2015.


This brief article mentions the UN missions implicated in sexual assaults by the UN 2015 Report on Sexual Assaults and highlights the understated way this report was published as well as the increasing scrutiny the UN is putting on gender violence within its missions.

Stearns, Jason, Judith Verweijen, and Maria Eriksson Baaz.  “The National Army and Armed Groups in the Eastern Congo: Untangling the Gordian Knot of Insecurity.”  Nairobi: Rift Valley Institute, 2013.

This report by the Rift Valley Institute offers excellent maps illustrating the violence in eastern DRC, a history and analysis of the current state of the Congolese national army, a summary and analysis of the primary underlying causes of continued violence in the DRC, as well as a review of recent DDR and SSR. 

Swart, Gerrie.  “A Vanquished Peace? The Success and Failure of Conflict Mediation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”  Southern African Peace and Security Studies 1, No. 1 (September 2011): 43–63.

Swart discusses the merits and the failures of mediation efforts occurring between 1999 and 2012.  Swart also does an excellent job of highlighting some of the primary spoilers who prevented consolidation of peace throughout the years.  Swart illustrates how various offenses by the Congolese government (supported by MONUSCO) led to counter-attacks by armed elements.  Swart also points out that by supporting the state military, MONUSCO inserted itself into the conflict and bears responsibility to trying to protect civilians who suffer these counter-attacks.

Tunamsifu, Philippe.  “Illegal Trafficking of Natural Resources by the UN Peacekeepers in the Eastern Part of the DR Congo.”  Accessed 22 August 2015. http://www.academia.edu/6503162/Illegal_Trafficking_of_natural_resources_by_the_UN_peacekeepers_in_the_Eastern_Part_of_the_DR_Congo

This is an article by a Congolese professor on the various smuggling-related scandals plaguing UN troops and their effects on the UN’s ability to accomplish its mandate.  It is narrow in its focus, but is useful because it gives specific examples of the scandals casting doubt upon UN legitimacy across the DRC.

Vogel, Christoph.  “After UN-Kinshasa Fallout, Operations against FDLR Begin in Eastern DRC.”  African Arguments.  2 March 2015. http://africanarguments.org/2015/03/02/after-un-kinshasa-fallout-operations-against-fdlr-begin-in-eastern-drc-by-christoph-vogel

Vogel is one of the most prolific writers on the conflict in the DRC and MONUSCO more broadly.  This article discusses in depth how UN-government relations are unraveling with the Force Intervention Brigade not being used as it was with the offensive against M23.  More broadly, it gives insight into the increasingly challenging DRC political environment in which MONUSCO is operating.

Vogel, Christoph.  “Arithmetics of Peacekeeping: MONUSCO’s Mandate.” Accessed 22 August 2015.


This article provides an excellent discussion of the major challenges faced by MONUSCO in 2015 and the evolution of the wider peacekeeping culture, and suggests that MONUSCO’s credibility is at risk unless it can find a means of eliminating the danger of the FDLR rebel group which continues to antagonize Rwanda and create instability in the northeast.  It also gives some details on the failure by MONUSCO to handle SSR activities.

World Bank.  “Demobilization and Reintegration in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”  11 March 2013.


This website is dedicated to the achievements by World Bank-funded DDR efforts.  Excellent overview of the types of projects being done in the DRC, the geography of projects, and offers a very positive interpretation of the results of DDR activities in DRC.


Relevant Resolutions, Reports, and Agreements


Uganda-led Mediation “Kampala Dialogue.”  Nairobi Communiqué.  12 December 2013.

United Nations.  Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on United Nations Support to Non-United Nations Security Forces.  A/67/775, S/2013/110.  5 March 2013.

United Nations.  Letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council.  S/2013/131.  5 March 2013.

United Nations.  Letter from the Chair of the Security Council Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1533 (2004).  S/2015/19.  12 January 2015.

United Nations.  Report of the Secretary-General.  S/2011/20.  17 January 2011.

United Nations.  Report of the Secretary-General.  S/2014/698.  25 September 2014.

United Nations.  Report of the Secretary-General.  S/2014/957.  30 December  2014.


United Nations.  Report of the Secretary-General.  S/2015/172.  10 March 2015.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1279.  S/RES/1279.  30 November 1999.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1291.  S/RES/1291.  24 February 2000.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1355.  S/RES/1355.  15 June 2001.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1493.  S/RES/1493.  28 July 2003.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1533.  S/RES/1533.  12 March 2004.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1565.  S/RES/1565.  1 October 2004.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1807.  S/RES/1807.  31 March 2008.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1896.  S/RES/1896.  30 November 2009.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1925.  S/RES/1925.  28 May 2010.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1952.  S/RES/1952.  29 November 2010.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 1991.  S/RES/1991.  28 June 2011.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 2053.  S/RES/2053.  27 June 2012.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 2098.  S/RES/2098.  28 March 2013.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 2147.  S/RES/2147.  28 March 2014.


United Nations.  Security Council Resolution 2211.  S/RES/2211.  26 March 2015.


[i] United Nations, “MONUSCO Background” (accessed 13 November 2015); available from http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/monusco/background.shtml; United Nations, “2006: A Year of Hope for the Congolese People” (accessed 13 November 2015); available from http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/publications/yir/2006/congo.htm.

[ii] “UN to Make Small Cut in Congo Peacekeeping Force,” Reuters, 20 May 2010 (accessed 13 November 2015); available from http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE64R0VF20100528.

[iii] New York University Center on International Cooperation, Global Peace Operations Review (accessed 30 July 2015), available from http://www.peaceoperationsreview.org; Providing for Peacekeeping, “Peacekeeping Database,” International Peace Institute (accessed 13 November 2015); available from http://www.providingforpeacekeeping.org/contributions.

[iv] See United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, Securing Peace and Development: The Role of the United Nations in Supporting Security Sector Reform, A/62/659, S/2008/39 (23 January 2008) as well as subsequent documents including  United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, Securing States and Societies: Strengthening the United Nations Comprehensive Support to Security Sector Reform, A/67/970, S/2013/480 (13 August 2013); United Nations, Security Council Resolution 2151, S/RES/2151 (28 April 2014).

[v] United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, S/2011/20 (17 January 2011).

[vi] United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, S/2014/698 (25 September 2014).

[vii] Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index 2013: Measuring the State of Global Peace (Sydney: Institute for Economics and Peace, 2013), 23.

[viii] United Nations, Letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, S/2013/131 (5 March 2013).

[ix] Fund for Peace, Failed States Index 2013, ed. J.J. Messner (Washington: Fund for Peace, 2013), 11, 16.

[x] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook: World Armaments and Disarmament 2013 (Stockholm : Almquist & Wiksell, 2013), 80; Escola de Cultura de Pau, Yearbook on Peace Processes 2013, ed. Vicenç Fisas (Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2013), 48.



[xi] Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, “Conflict in DR Congo” (accessed 15 November 2015); available from http://www.crisis.acleddata.com/conflict-in-dr-congo; Project Ploughshares, “Democratic Republic of the Congo (1990-First Combat Deaths),” June 2015; available from http://ploughshares.ca/pl_armedconflict/democratic-republic-of-the-congo-1990-first-combat-deaths/#Deaths.

[xii] Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., The Democratic Republic of Congo: Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform (Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., 2012), 7.

[xiii] United Nations, Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on United Nations Support to Non-United Nations Security Forces, A/67/775, S/2013/110 (5 March 2013).

[xiv] Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., The Democratic Republic of Congo: Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform (Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., 2012), 4.

[xv] Ibid., 3.

[xvi] Jason Stearns, Judith Verweijen, and Maria Eriksson Baaz, “The National Army and Armed Groups in the Eastern Congo: Untangling the Gordian Knot of Insecurity” (Nairobi: Rift Valley Institute, 2013), 68-70.

[xvii] Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., The Democratic Republic of Congo: Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform (Open Society Initiative for West Africa, et al., 2012), 9.

[xviii] United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, S/2014/698 (25 September 2014).

[xix] International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, “An Indispensable Protection Tool? Assessing the Force Intervention Brigade in the DRC” (accessed 14 June 2015); available from http://icrtopblog.org/2015/01/16/an-indispensable-protection-tool-assessing-the-force-intervention-brigade-in-the-drc.

[xx] World Bank, “Demobilization and Reintegration in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” 11 March 2013; available from http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/03/11/demobilization-and-reintegration-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo.

[xxi] Jason Stearns, Judith Verweijen, and Maria Eriksson Baaz, “The National Army and Armed Groups in the Eastern Congo: Untangling the Gordian Knot of Insecurity” (Nairobi: Rift Valley Institute, 2013), 66-67.

[xxii] Ibid., 65.

[xxiii] United States Institute of Peace, “Peace Agreements Digital Collection”; available from http://www.usip.org/library/pa.html.

[xxiv] United Nations, “How We Do It” (accessed 15 November 2015); available from http://monusco.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=10798.

[xxv] Jean-Tobie Okala, “MONUSCO: Equateur: Enyele and Monzaya Communities Make Peace,” European Country of Origin Information Network, 15 March 2011; Available from http://www.ecoi.net/local_link/156843/259126_en.html.

[xxvi] Philippe Tunamsifu, “Illegal Trafficking of Natural Resources by the UN Peacekeepers in the Eastern Part of the DR Congo” (accessed 22 August 2015); available from http://www.academia.edu/6503162/Illegal_Trafficking_of_natural_resources_by_the_UN_peacekeepers_in_the_Eastern_Part_of_the_DR_Congo.

[xxvii] United Nations, “Spotlight on Female Peacekeepers” (accessed 15 November 2015); available from http://monusco.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?ctl=Details&tabid=10750&mid=13744&ItemID=19376

[xxviii] Somini Sengupta, “United Nations Workers Accused of Sexual Abuse,” New York Times, 16 March 2015;  available from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/world/accusations-of-sexual-abuse-against-united-nations-workers-are-cited.html.

[xxix] AFP, “UN Campaigns to Stop Sex Assaults by DR Congo Peacekeepers,” 18 August 2015 (accessed 22 August 2015); available from http://tribune.com.pk/story/939994/un-campaigns-to-stop-sex-assaults-by-dr-congo-peacekeepers.

[xxx] United Nations, Report of the Secretary-General, S/2014/957 (30 December 2014).

[xxxi] Michelle Brown, “MONUSCO Eyes the Exit in DRC. Is That Prudent or Premature?”, Refugees International, 3 April 2014; available from http://refugeesinternational.org/blog/monusco-eyes-exit-drc-prudent-or-premature.

[xxxii] Timo Mueller, “MONUSCO: Kobler’s Likely Departure Signals Post-FIB era for Peacekeeping in Congo,” African Arguments, 25 February 2015 ; available from http://africanarguments.org/2015/02/25/monusco-kobblers-likely-departure-signals-post-fib-era-for-peacekeeping-in-congo-by-timo-mueller.

[xxxiii] Christoph Vogel, “Arithmetics of Peacekeeping: MONUSCO’s Mandate” (accessed 22 August 2015); available from http://christophvogel.net/2015/03/22/the-arithmetics-of-peacekeeping-monuscos-mandate-renewal.