The new Security Council resolution 2277 on MONUSCO

A few hours ago, the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted – under Angolan presidency – its resolution 2277 extending MONUSCO’s mandate for another year (the 17th) and outlining the grand lines of UN politics on the Congo for the coming twelve months, a period arguably to be marked by heavy contestation at various levels.

2277 is, as expected, no major turning point and key parts of the resolution and MONUSCO’s mandate remain unchanged. However, a few tasty bits indicate the willingness of the Security Council and some of its key members who co-sponsored the France-led draft resolution to increase pressure on Kinshasa, at least on the public scene. Here’s to the blitz assessment of the key points.

  • 2277 sharpens the tone on elections with clearcut demands on – amongst others – electoral delays, the voter registry, the freedom of press, and and against the restriction of political space and violations by security services (meanwhile, Congolese opposition bloc G7 appears to have seized the momentum of diplomatic pressure, and nominated Moise Katumbi, who is yet to react, as their presidential candidate).
  • Despite fierce debates over troop reduction, the council stands firm on MONUSCO’s current configuration. Electoral gamble and cyclical moments of stabilisation in the east do not seem to convey sufficient confidence to go ahead diminishing the mission as eyed in previous exit strategies.
  • Moreover, the resolution 2277 contains a vocal call for ‘immediate’ resumption of joint operations. Going letter by letter, it remains unclear, however, if the message’s main addressee is DPKO chief Hervé Ladsous or his Congolese interlocutors.
  • While the resolution addresses a number of important human rights issues, it appears striking that these are all subsumed under other topics – but the human rights part itself remains as vague as in previous resolutions.
  • The resolution refers, inter alia, to the use of the Force Intervention Brigade as part of its protection strategy. However, it does not provide any clarification as to how offensive military action may contribute to a defensive military protection task.
  • Although there is implicit recognition of recent research on the serial violence around Beni in OP20, the resolution maintains its traditional (but proven wrong) focus on the presumed main role of ADF in OP17.
  • Little importance is attributed to DDR, with just one and rather wooden paragraph on the DDR III programme, whose auspices tend downwards as political tension heats up.
  • A good point continuously developed in recent resolutions, 2277 clearly states the need to ‘think out of the box’, stressing the uniqueness of armed actors and other peace spoilers in the DRC and calling for diversified and contextual analysis.
  • However, little new is said on FDLR, literally nothing on the massive kidnapping wave in North Kivu and the wider conundrum around January’s Miriki and other massacres.
  • Four paragraphs are exclusively devoted to security sector reform, but given potentially unsurmountable obstacles within the coming twelve months and possibly diverging agenda among the P5, the council chose not to get too concrete on the issue.
  • The support expressed to the UN Group of Experts indicates both the council’s interest in better holding MONUSCO to account as well as (and perhaps overwhelmingly, here) its hopes to avoid scandals by calling upon the two bodies to bring back their dialogue out of the media scene.

As opposed to various high-profile council members as well as DRC’s political opposition and civil society – who already complimented resolution 2277, the Congolese government (through its UN envoy) has left no doubt over its disappointment with both the text and the resulting mandate renewal for MONUSCO. In an attempt of countering the council’s criticism conveyed through rigid paragraph language, DRC has lashed out at MONUSCO’s patchy civilian protection record and questioned the council’s refusal to respond to its key demand on troop reduction by underlining how the mission had underperformed in the past years.

With S/RES/2277 on the road until the end of March 2017, a few diplomatic and political confrontations between the UN and the DRC seem to be scheduled in the coming months.

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