Tuesday 12 June 2012

ICG on MONUSCO & Powerlessness

Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group published an open letter to the United Nations Security Council, calling for more creative thinking in its approach to insecurity in eastern Congo.

The letter merits a careful read. Congo experts won’t learn much from it, but it reinforces the view that a realistic diagnosis of the situation is a step towards solutions. Some interesting passages are indicated below:

… the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) is failing in its core mandate of stabilisation and protection of civilians.

The stabilisation strategy underpinned by MONUSCO was centred too heavily on an expectation that the 2008-2009 rapprochement between DRC and Rwanda was enough to contain the conflict in the Kivus. The bilateral agreement was based on President Kabila's willingness to integrate Rwanda's proxy CNDP forces into the army, but the strategy was short-sighted as it made no provisions for addressing the underlying causes of conflict beyond Rwanda's security objectives.

The current mutiny underway in the Kivus is perhaps the clearest evidence to date of how little progress has been made in stabilisation.

The 2008 and 2012 crises appear remarkably similar, including their ethnic dimension, reported support from Rwanda and the negative impact on civilians, including displacement and potential for increasing ethnic tensions at the community level. These crises are symptoms of unresolved regional and local conflicts over access to land and resources, as well as a failure to achieve structural reform within the security sector, poor governance and non-existent rule of law, and the inability to address the sources of financing for armed groups, end impunity and extend state authority, including through decentralisation.

Without a new approach and re-engagement by the Security Council, MONUSCO risks becoming a $1.5 billion empty shell.

MONUSCO has lost credibility on several fronts and urgently needs to reorient its efforts.

Durable protection of civilians will only come through an enhanced political process and the establishment of accountable state institutions.

… MONUSCO technical and logistical support to deeply flawed elections in 2011 and the inability to successfully promote dialogue between the parties has altered perceptions about the mission's impartiality… If not corrected, international involvement in the DRC, including through MONUSCO, risks entrenching an unaccountable government and undermining its own eventual rule of law and peacebuilding efforts.

The Security Council should undertake a review of MONUSCO's strategy and improve performance.

Clearly there is a need to address both local drivers of conflict between communities and the interplay with regional dynamics, including relations with Rwanda, whether through renewed political dialogue or a national accountability and reconciliation process, or both.

To bolster the government's accountability, the holding of credible provincial and local elections, including in th
e east, is essential. The mistakes of 2011 should not be repeated and clear standards on the organisation and holding of elections should be communicated to the government by the Security Council and MONUSCO, in particular serious reform of the Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI) and improved transparency in the logistics and supply procedures of the elections.

The Security Council should send a signal to the Congolese government and its partners that it is time for a new strategic dialogue. A business-as-usual rollover of MONUSCO's mandate will send the wrong message to all parties.

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