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New UN Security Council Resolution on DRC Includes Unarmed Protection of Civilians

Date: December 19, 2023

The UN Security Council has extended the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) mandate for another year. This includes a plan for MONUSCO to gradually withdraw and hand over responsibilities to the Congolese Government. The phased withdrawal, starting by the end of 2023, outlines troop reductions and key priorities, focusing on protecting civilians and supporting the stabilization of State institutions. The extension was passed through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2717 (2023), which explicitly references the unarmed protection of civilians.

Goma, North, Kivu, DRC: International Day of the United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29, 2023. Photo MONUSCO/Kevin Jordan

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), conflict and violence have persisted, prompting international intervention. Over the years, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has played a crucial role in addressing the complex challenges faced by the region. Initially established in 1999 and existing in its current form since 2010, MONUSCO has been actively involved in civilian protection.

In MONUSCO's mandate renewal, the "Protection of civilians under threat of physical violence by taking all necessary measures to ensure effective, timely, dynamic and integrated protection" is first in the tasks listed by priority order. Under this task, the following language is included:

"Enhance its community engagement with civilians and build on the capacities of local communities to support the creation of a protective environment, including strengthening mechanisms for the unarmed protection of civilians, and its use of strategic communications, including through joint communications with the Government of the DRC, to raise awareness and understanding about its mandate and activities to protect civilians, to strengthen its early warning mechanism, including to prevent and counter disinformation campaigns and misinformation aimed at undermining the mission’s credibility and hindering the implementation of its mandate, in particular during the disengagement phases;"

This resolution was passed as Nonviolent Peaceforce and UNFP are engaging in joint planning on a project beginning in 2024 to mobilize and train civil society groups in Unarmed Civilian Protection, forming Community Protection Teams, including Women's Protection Teams and Youth Protection Teams.

This initiative will provide an opportunity to strengthen civilian-led initiatives to protect communities nonviolently and contribute to sustaining peace in the DRC. NP has long advocated for the effectiveness of UCP in transitional settings. Beyond addressing immediate protection concerns, NP aims to shift security paradigms away from protection based on force, emphasizing the benefits of nonviolent approaches.

You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.