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Prioritization and Sequencing of Security Council Mandates: The Case of MONUSCO (December 2021)

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The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in December 2021. Discussions on MONUSCO’s mandate come at a crucial moment for both the country and the mission. Recent political developments have given new momentum to efforts by the Congolese government to implement its comprehensive reform agenda, but continued political competition and persistent insecurity in the country’s eastern region present serious risks. The UN presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is also undergoing a significant reconfiguration, driven by MONUSCO’s phased and progressive transition.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report co-hosted a virtual roundtable discussion on November 23, 2021. This roundtable offered a platform for member states, UN stakeholders, civil society representatives, and independent experts to share their assessments of the situation in the DRC in a frank and collaborative environment. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the prioritization and sequencing of MONUSCO’s mandate and the mission’s strategic orientation and actions on the ground.

Several participants acknowledged that MONUSCO’s mandate remains relevant to the DRC’s current context and reflects the necessary support the UN can provide to the country. Considering MONUSCO’s ongoing withdrawal from the country, discussions focused on ways to reinforce the mission’s efforts and encourage other partners to provide support while ensuring that the mission’s mandate remains effective, realistic, and achievable. To attain these goals, the mission will likely need to focus on the following priorities during the next mandate cycle:

On the general mandate:

  • Maintain protection of civilians as a core priority and support the stabilization and strengthening of state institutions through reforms;

  • Welcome the government’s program of action (2021–2023) and the mission’s transition plan, referencing

  • Reinforce expectations for an inclusive framework for political dialogue; and

  • Balance support for election preparations with support for governance reforms.
    On the transition process:

  • Maintain the mission’s budget, resources, and capabilities through 2022 given the many protection needs and emerging challenges;

  • Continue including civil society in the joint working group on MONUSCO’s transition and engage in regular consultation with diverse civil society actors in conflict-affected areas,and with women, youth, and marginalized groups; and

  • Encourage increased financing of the UN country team to facilitate the gradual transition of tasks.

On the protection of civilians:

  • Continue strengthening the mission’s earlywarning and rapid-response systems;

  • Increase joint operations with the Congolese armed forces in the eastern conflict-affected provinces in accordance with the UN’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;

  • Continue investing in the Force Intervention Brigade’s capacity to mitigate asymmetric security threats;

  • Maintain the capacity to deploy flexibly in response to protection threats in areas where the mission does not maintain a physical protection presence; and

  • Continue coordinating with the UN country team on dialogue and engagement activities and on the creation of a protective environment.
    On stabilization and security sector reforms:

  • Focus resources and activities on supporting implementation of the Congolese government’s program of action (2021–2023) and meeting the benchmarks set out in the mission’s transition plan and establish the key priorities for 2022.

Security Council Report: For more information, please visit the Security Council Report website