Peacekeeping operations primarily aim to minimize violence, stabilize state authority, and guarantee the respect of human rights in a region affected by conflict, among other objectives. When adopting resolution 2098 (2013), United Nations Security Council (UNSC) created a 3,000 men “offensive” intervention brigade to help MONUSCO, a peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC). The purpose was to “neutralize and disarm” Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups.
There was no precedent to this decision. This action created a great controversy even between the council’s members. Some of them thought that this would change the character of the mission from a peacekeeping operation to what now risked to be indirectly converted into a peace-enforcement mission. In the text, I will take MONUSCO as a case study to analyze both the positive and negative aspects of what the intervention brigade brought to the peacekeeping mission.
MONUSCO, established by Security’s council resolution 1925, seemed to be a successful UN’s mission at first. Some of its objectives have been partially reached in the last years. For example, the protection of civilians and the strengthening of RDC’s army and police forces, among others. In fact, violence in the Congo reduced substantially with the presence of the UN peacekeeping operation (MONUC, later MONUSCO). This change occurred mainly after the United States’ formal involvement in the fight against Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an active rebel group in the region lead by Joseph Kony. However, cases involving mass rape, murder, and other crimes, continued to happen in some parts of the eastern Congo.
The adoption of the controversial UNSC’s Resolution 2098 (2013) also generated debates among society. Although RDC’s representative showed great appreciation for the measure, Guatemala and Argentina said that this move could compromise “neutrality and impartiality so essential to peacekeeping work” and that the UN would be “enforcing peace rather than keeping it.” In 2014 the International Peace Institute (IPI) published a report arguing that the adoption of the aforementioned Resolution made the intervention brigade, as well as MONUSCO itself, part of the armed conflict. That would make blue helmets in RDC lose legal protection afforded by international law, enabling them to suffer attacks.
In fact, the presence of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in RDC had mixed results. At first, FIB played a great role helping the Congolese government army (FARDC) to defeat M23, a rebel group in the region supposed to be backed by Rwanda, and expel them from Congo. Other two targets of the brigade should have been FDLR and ADF, but an impressive inaction of FIB after its fight against M23 allowed ADF to kill 200 civilians among rapes, beheadings, etc, in some parts of eastern Congo. As a result, demonstrations against MONUSCO for its incompetence protecting civilians spread across RDC, which led to two of them killed. In conclusion, involving the UN as an active part of the armed conflict seems to have created a greater challenge, instead of ameliorating the problem.