The UN Security Council is expected to renew MONUSCO’s mandate on December 20, 2023. The upcoming negotiations will unfold against the backdrop of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) request to the Security Council on September 1, 2023, for the mission’s accelerated withdrawal to commence at the end of 2023; the government and the mission’s signing in November of a disengagement plan to implement this accelerated withdrawal; and the general elections, slated for December 20, 2023. The past two months have also seen renewed fighting between the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), the M23 rebel group, and other armed groups. The Nairobi and Luanda peace processes were disrupted by the resumption of hostilities and heightened tension between the DRC and Rwanda. The security and humanitarian conditions continue to worsen in the eastern provinces of the DRC, with persistent threats to human rights and the protection of civilians.
In this context, the International Peace Institute (IPI), Security Council Report, and the Stimson Center cohosted a roundtable discussion on November 21, 2023, to reflect on MONUSCO’s mandate renewal. This roundtable offered a platform for member states, UN officials, civil society stakeholders, and independent experts to share their assessments of the situation in the DRC in a frank and collaborative manner. The discussion was intended to help the Security Council make more informed decisions with respect to the prioritization and sequencing of MONUSCO’s mandate, as well as the mission’s strategic orientation and actions on the ground as it prepares for a drawdown.
Given the context of MONUSCO’s transition and withdrawal in the coming months, the mission will likely need to balance the following issues:
- Prioritizing the protection of civilians and safeguarding humanitarian access to prevent the widening of protection gaps during the mission’s drawdown;
- Enhancing engagement with local communities and civil society organizations to execute the withdrawal plan in line with specific needs in regions within and outside eastern DRC;
- Improving coordination between the UN and regional partners that are present in eastern DRC through regular communication, information sharing, and joint planning;
- Providing a clearer definition of and political guidance on security sector reform to ensure the appropriate and timely transition of security responsibilities to national actors;
- Reinforcing support to the Congolese government on the implementation of its Demobilization, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program (P-DDRCS); and
- Supporting the revitalization of the Luanda and Nairobi processes following the December 2023 presidential election.