It has been two decades since the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and its predecessor peacekeeping mission, MONUC, were deployed to the country. Over the past several years, MONUSCO has come under increasing pressure to develop an exit strategy and plan for a phased withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). For example, MONUSCO’s March 2019 mandate requested the UN Secretary-General to provide the UN Security Council with “an independent strategic review assessing the continued challenges to peace and security in the DRC and articulating a phased, progressive, and comprehensive exit strategy….”* Early development of an exit strategy can be a good practice for peacekeeping missions, obliging them to identify what the conditions for a successful drawdown look like and to build work plans and strategies that coherently contribute to the desired end state. The strategic review therefore offers an opportunity for reflection and analysis that can strengthen MONUSCO’s planning. However, the timeline for MONUSCO’s activities and presence in the DRC should be driven by analysis of the conflict environment to ensure that MONUSCO’s drawdown and eventual exit from the DRC are not premature and do not excessively endanger civilians or jeopardize regional peace and security.
This policy brief provides analysis that can contribute to a discussion on the future of MONUSCO. First, it reviews recent conflict developments and opportunities that will have an impact on protection threats and on MONUSCO’s operations. Then, it discusses shifts in MONUSCO’s budget, presence, and mobility over the last few years. It identifies challenges that have arisen from MONUSCO’s attempts to reduce its field presence and shift to more mobile operations. Lessons from past experience can help inform future planning around base closures and withdrawal. Additionally, the policy brief discusses several key issues that Member States, MONUSCO, and the government of the DRC will need to jointly address alongside humanitarian and development actors to facilitate the Mission’s exit. * UN Security Council Resolution 2463, UN doc S/RES/2463 (2019), para 45. Read “Charting a Future For Peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Image courtesy of MONUSCO Photo