Democratic Republic of the Congo
The need for protection in the DRC
Recurring attacks by armed groups, intercommunal violence, and widespread SGBV have threatened communities in the DRC for nearly 30 years. Over 120 militias operate across provinces, fostering a conflict ecosystem marked by dehumanization, militarization, and widespread violence. The UN reports significant civilian casualties and 6.9 million Congolese are internally displaced.
Despite ongoing violence, at the request of government, the UN Mission (MONUSCO) is preparing a phased drawdown. The UN and National Government are currently working on a joint disengagement plan which will see the Government taking over responsibility for protection concerns.
NP’s work in the DRC
The December 2023 Security Council Resolution outlining the gradual withdrawal includes unarmed protection of civilians.
The Resolution was passed just as Nonviolent Peaceforce and UNFP are engaging in joint planning on a project beginning in 2024. The project aims 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 builds on NP's advocacy efforts, establishing NP as a trusted voice in peacekeeping policy discussions.
NP and UNFPA plan to conduct a joint assessment to listen to local communities and understand their security needs. We will focus on mobilizing and training local groups and establishing baseline data for monitoring, evaluation, and learning. As NP engages with security forces and other groups in the implementation of MONUSCO's withdrawal, our aim is to influence and deter potentially harmful behavior, and being there over the course of the drawdown to enhance the chances of strengthening these relationships.
The future of NP's work in the DRC
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.
As local protection teams get started, NP will help them connect and share what works best. We'll also link these teams with policy and decision-makers beyond those directly present in the region. With hands-on protection experience and high-quality quantitative and qualitative data from our work, these teams will be ready to demonstrate the impact of their work and its relevance in UN transition settings.
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Header photo: May 20, 2020. MONUSCO/Kevin Jordan
Top photo: May 29, 2023. MONUSCO/Kevin Jordan
Landscape: Feb 1, 2014. Forest Service, USDA/Olivia Freeman