Prioritizing and Sequencing Peacekeeping Mandates in 2020: The Case of MONUSCO

The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in December 2020. This comes as the UN begins to consider the eventual withdrawal of the mission. In October, the mission and the Congolese government submitted a “Joint Strategy on the Progressive and Phased Drawdown of MONUSCO” to the Security Council.

In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), the Stimson Center, and Security Council Report organized a workshop on November 12, 2020, to discuss the mandate and political strategy of MONUSCO. This workshop provided a forum for member states, UN stakeholders, and outside experts to share their assessment of the situation in the country. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the strategic orientation, prioritization, and sequencing of the mission’s mandate and actions on the ground.

There was strong agreement that the mission’s existing strategic priorities—the protection of civilians and support to stabilization and the strengthening of state institutions—should continue to provide an overarching framework for the UN’s engagement across the country. In addition, participants expressed the importance of focused engagement with local actors, including local government officials and civil society representatives. Participants also encouraged the UN to develop a transition plan that lays out a shared political vision for the future of the UN’s engagement in the country. They discussed the transition in terms of defining an “end state” rather than an “end date,” with a gradual drawdown that is based on realistic and measurable benchmarks, fosters national ownership, and ensures an integrated UN approach.