MONUC/MONUSCO and Civilian Protection in the KivusJulie Reynaert, February 2011
Julie Reynaert reworked her dissertation on MONUC as a volunteer with IPIS.
Although UN peace operations have evolved over time, they still do not manage to address the Protection of Civilians (POC) in an effective way as this constitutes a relatively new role for UN peacekeepers. This also applies to the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) where civilian protection remains a major concern. This paper aims to uncover the challenges MONUC is facing in the country's eastern provinces, North and South Kivu, where civilians are most heavily targeted by violence.
Our research is mainly based on insights provided by interviews with Congolese civil society and MONUC staff members. These interviews point out that MONUC is confronted with the following protection challenges: Deployed in a complex conflict environment and mandated to protect civilians as one of its many tasks, the mission is challenged by severe organizational and operational constraints. In that sense, the MONUC mission illustrates the capability gap modern UN peace operations are facing in a context of growing global demand, which proves that the creation of feasible mandates is vital when it comes to future peace operations.
Our interviews also demonstrate that while communication between peacekeepers and civilians is essential when it comes to preventing threats, it remains one of the mission's biggest challenges. Furthermore, our research shows that in terms of strategy MONUC faces serious ethical and political constraints as the mission has to collaborate with the Congolese army (FARDC) in joint military operations. Nevertheless, MONUC represents an example for other UN peace operations with regard to the development of different field protection mechanisms.
We conclude that while MONUC can play an important part, the key to improving civilian protection lies with the Congolese government. However, Kinshasa does not seem willing to assume responsibility in this area.