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.
Workshop participants felt that MONUSCO’s mandate and existing activities position the mission to advance its strategic priorities while also managing its own transition. With a somewhat improved domestic political environment and the growing alignment between the Congolese government, its neighbors, and international partners, the UN has a valuable opportunity to consolidate and build on this progress. Based on this workshop, suggestions for revisions to the MONUSCO mandate include:
- Integrating the mission’s transition plan and benchmarks into the new mandate;
- Ensuring that the mission has the mandate and resources to undertake the transition in a flexible, integrated, and inclusive manner;
- Capitalizing on the mission’s good offices to maintain dialogue between political coalitions prior to the 2023 election cycle;
- Encouraging international and regional support for the Congolese government’s 2021–2023 program of action;
- Balancing robust protection responsibilities in eastern DRC with flexible and responsive approaches to protection in other parts of the country; and
- Prioritizing inclusive and locally led approaches to stabilization and transitional justice.