United operation in DRC constitutes one of the

Nations (UN) peacekeeping was not primarily designed to intervene in conflicts
and significant battle violence. Instead, it was developed as a tool to bolster
ongoing conflict resolution efforts, primarily between countries.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) located in Central Asia, has one of the most
significant records in its internal conflicts and UN resolutions. The DRC’s two wars
(1996–97 and 1998–2003) were a concoction of intertwined conflicts. At the
regional level, the DRC was the battleground for conflicts spilling out from
Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Angola (Tull, 2009), which killed more than five million
people, the deadliest war since World War II (Ishizuka, 2016). Due to these
events, peacekeeping
missions in DRC started. These are United
Nations Organization in the Congo or Opération des Nations Unies au Congo
(ONUC) from 1960 to 1964; United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of
Congo or Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo (MONUC) from 1999
to 2010; and United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo or Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies
pour la Stabilisation au Congo (MONUSCO) from 2010 up to present.

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et al. (2014) asserts that over 18,000 military troops serving with MONUSCO
which seeks to restore peace and stability to the region by
working to protect civilians from violence, facilitate access for humanitarian
agencies to civilians in need of aid, and support efforts to disarm,
demobilize, and reintegrate former combatants into society. Nevertheless,
MONUSCO has faced a number of significant challenges throughout its
deployment.  The difficult terrain on
which the mission operates, its rules of engagement and the ability of the
Congolese military to actively confront the region’s multitude of armed groups
continue to complicate the issue.


In November 2012, one
witnessed the brutal occupation of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in
the eastern DRC, by the March 23 Movement (M23) wherein the Tutsi-led anti-government
armed group. MONUSCO was seriously criticized for its ineffective response in
preventing the attack.


Today’s UN operation in
DRC constitutes one of the most challenging missions to date. The shift from
traditional peacekeeping to so-called robust operations has implications for
all peacekeeping operations. The concept of ‘robustness’ in UN peacekeeping is
a political and operational strategy to signal the intention of a UN mission to
implement its mandate and to deter threats from spoilers. A robust approach is
guided by the mission objectives established by the Security Council and should
be driven by a clear political strategy (Murphy, 2016). It could be argued that
the description perfectly captures the kind of operation undertaken in the DRC,
but the exact limits of the use of force and where the line crosses from robust
to enforcement is difficult to outline in practice as well as theory and it
shares many of the characteristics of NATO peace support operations doctrine. 


Thereafter, UN Security
Council established a resolution 2098 of March 2013 to have FIB. The UN
Security Council mandated MONUSCO and the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) to
take all necessary measures to neutralize and disarm groups that were posing a
threat to state authority and civilian security (United Nations Resolution
2098, 7–8). Its mandate was a peace enforcement operation which includes the
use of all necessary means to neutralize armed groups which permits it to use
deadly force which reflects UN forces in moving towards a more war-fighting
rather than traditional peacekeeping posture. FIB was a product of collective
security following the collaborative discussions in International Conference
for the Great Lakes Region (ICGCR) on how to bring lasting peace to the DRC (Karlsrud,


However, it had been
reported recently that UN peacekeepers from MONUSCO had been repeatedly
attacked by the rebels. One of the recent and worst attacks in the history of
MONUSCO happened December 2017 in North Kivu base wherein 14 UN peacekeepers
and 5 Congolese air force members died and 53 members were injured. Not long
after 2 UN peacekeepers were killed at the same site in October 2017, and
another UN peacekeeper from Tanzania died from another prior attack in
September 2017 (“UN Peacekeepers, Congolese soldiers die in DRC attack”, 2017).


This peace enforcement operation implemented by UN through
FIB under MONUSCO’s mission could affect the ability to negotiate peace deals
with the militias and risks deepening conflicts. This concern is also shared
with NGOs and humanitarian aid workers that create a series of more conflicted
issues including human rights of Congolese people. There are also reported
issues in sexual harassment arising due to the extensive power of FIB
peacekeepers that gave them the capability to abuse it.


Thus, traditional peacekeeping operation was mandated to
support on a voluntary basis, the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration,
resettlement, and repatriation of foreign armed groups. Furthermore, its mission
was geared towards supporting the transition and the government of national
unity in DRC (Tull, 2009). A
potential strength of traditional peacekeeping is having less conflict or
issues between two parties, and its principles to have been balanced by the
need to protect civilians and by giving the UN a key role in the extension of
state authority (Karlsrud, 2015). However, the possible
weakness is when it comes down to collective security and peacekeeping as it was
not supposed to interfere in the internal affairs of member states.


In addition, the shift into peaceful enforcement operation and the
desire to use it as a combat tool is a less fortunate development and needs
careful scrutiny. If DRC will shift to peaceful enforcement operation, they
should carefully consider how their tools and troops are used with due concern
for the long-term consequences.


Peacekeepers are
increasingly tasked with reducing active civil war hostilities, as the UN has
shifted from traditional peacekeeping operations to peace enforcement missions
in DRC but then, in assessing the issues happening in this country peace
enforcement operation of UN is giving more conflict (human rights issue, sexual
harassment and increasing number of killed civilians) than it has before.


Moreover, peace
enforcement violates one of the main principles of UN peacekeeping which is
non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate. A peace
enforcement operation has three features: it is neither neutral nor consensual,
and it is authorized to wage war to accomplish its political goals. It is more
likely for humanitarian abuse of civilians to increase because of the
aggressiveness of the nature of their power. It is a coercive invasions of
countries by an UN-authorized force, intent on destroying or changing a threat
to international peace and security (Hurd, 2011).


From this point of view,
UN must stick with traditional peacekeeping in resolving the crises in DRC. In
its status quo, the question is not whether the mission mandate had totally
eliminated conflicts but to whether human suffering and violence has been
reduced. As Tull (2009) argued that the total diminution of ongoing conflicts
in DRC will not happen anytime soon, it relates to the reduction of large-scale
violence which is the overall goal of every peacekeeping mission. Even if
peacekeepers encounter difficulties in managing complex security situations,
the UN can improve hostile environments and reduce the killings when supplied
with sufficient troop capacity. Hence, it is assumed that as the UN reverts to
its peacekeeping missions and deploys a greater number of peacekeepers then
fewer people will die in civil conflicts and violence (Hultman et. al., 2014).


The UN improved security
in the DRC in several ways, especially when it increased its troop commitments
in areas of violence and when that personnel engaged in active separation
efforts. Analytically, proactive traditional peacekeeping operation has a
significant advantage for a long-term protection of civilians over the peace
enforcement. This intervention can reduce mobility and territorial control of
armed groups or rebels in DRC. Whereas, peace enforcement which use military
force gives tendency in increasing risk of deadly attacks on UN troops and
Congolese people. Karlsrud (2015) asserts that it might affect the cooperation
of troop contributors that provides for such operations. 


Undeniably, the DRC is
more peaceful today than it was several years ago due to MONUC’s traditional
peacekeeping. The most evident sign of this is the relative ease with which
trade, commerce, and traffic now flow across the country. Furthermore, the
international community still expresses the ambition to reduce the hostility
and instability of ongoing conflict, while there is uncertainty about the most
effective means for achieving such goals. It concluded that UN indeed has the
ability to reduce the severity of civil conflict through traditional
peacekeeping rather than peaceful enforcement operations.