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‘Intervention Brigade’ Authorized as Security Council Grants Mandate Renewal for United Nations Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo - Resolution 2098 (2013)

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Security Council
6943rd Meeting (PM)

Resolution 2098 (2013) Enables ‘Offensive’ Combat Force To ‘Neutralize and Disarm’ Congolese Rebels, Foreign Armed Groups

The Security Council today approved the creation of its first-ever “offensive” combat force, intended to carry out targeted operations to “neutralize and disarm” the notorious 23 March Movement (M23), as well as other Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups in strife-riven eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Acting on the recommendations of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and answering the call of Governments in Africa’s Great Lakes region, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2098 (2013). By that action, it extended until 31 March 2014, the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and created, on an exceptional basis, a specialized “intervention brigade” within the operation’s existing 19,815‑strong force.

The resolution strongly condemned M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) “and all other armed groups and their continuing violence and abuses of human rights”. It tasked the new brigade with carrying out offensive operations, either unilaterally or jointly with the Congolese armed forces, “in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner” to disrupt the activities of those groups.

Further by the text, the Council set out the operational parameters of the brigade, which would comprise three infantry battalions, one artillery and one special forces and reconnaissance company headquartered in Goma — the scene of a brutal M23 attack in November 2012 — under the direct command of the MONUSCO Force Commander. The resolution decided that the intervention brigade would have a clear exit strategy and that the Council would consider extending its mandate beyond one year on the basis of its performance, and of whether the Democratic Republic of Congo had made sufficient progress in implementing the Peace and Security Framework for the region, adopted on 24 February.

Specifically on that accord, signed by 11 African leaders and brokered by the Secretary-General, the Council demanded that all signatory States implement their commitments in good faith, and encouraged the establishment of an oversight mechanism involving regional leaders, as well as a national mechanism to oversee implementation of reform measures agreed by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Council expressed its intention to review the status of the Framework Agreement after the first visit to the region by the newly appointed Special Envoy, Mary Robinson. The commitments made by the Great Lakes countries were annexed to the 12-page text.

Despite the unanimous approval, several speakers expressed reservations about the text, with Guatemala’s representative questioning Council actions that could involve the United Nations in “peace-enforcement” activities. Such a move might compromise the neutrality and impartiality so essential to peacekeeping work, he cautioned. Indeed, the Organization should always be seen as an “honest broker”, he said, adding that, while he understood the logic behind the proposed deployment, he would have preferred the brigade to be a self-standing unit with specific duties distinguishable from those of MONUSCO’s other brigades.

Echoing the warning that MONUSCO now risked indirect conversion into a peace-enforcement mission, Argentina’s representative said that although the text stated clearly that the brigade would not set a precedent, the idea of “enforcing peace rather than keeping it” required deep reflection, certainly more than a week of negotiations. Negotiations on the text had not been as broad as Argentina would have hoped, she said, adding that the resolution should have included a broader complement of troop contributors so that they could be better apprised of all the new brigade’s activities.

Yet, the United Kingdom’s representative said the Mission’s renewed mandate, with the inclusion of a specialized brigade, contributed to the broad vision of peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Council and the United Nations had entered “new territory”. MONUSCO’s troop contingents — whether part of the intervention brigade or not — must be willing and able to implement its entire mandate, he emphasized. “This is one Mission with one mandate, one Special Representative and one Force Commander.” MONUSCO must conduct all its tasks in an integrated manner, whether or not those performing them were in uniform, he said, declaring: “This is the recipe for success.”

Also taking the floor was Raymond Tshibanda N'tungamulongo, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and La Francophonie of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who said his Government and people were deeply gratified for United Nations efforts to help protect their country’s territorial integrity and foster peace and stability over the past 15 years. The resolution just adopted demonstrated once again the Council’s solidarity and unwavering determination to work for peace and security in the Great Lakes region and throughout the world, in line with the United Nations Charter.

Describing the situation in the eastern part of his country as “deeply troubling”, he said that despite encouraging results of the cooperation between the United Nations and troop contributors to MONUSCO, the human tragedy in the east was “an exceptional situation that requires exceptional measures”. Today’s “innovative decision” should help the country put a definitive end to the repeated cycles of vicious violence. The addition to MONUSCO’s newly transformed mandate should lead to the “dawning of a new era” of human rights and security for all, stability for all, regional cooperation and sustainable development, he said.

Before the Council wrapped up its work, Council President Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation) expressed his delegation’s sincere appreciation to all Council members for supporting the Russian presidency during a busy month, “one in which we rallied to consensus on several important issues”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Rwanda, Luxembourg, Pakistan, Morocco, China, United States, France and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 4:05 p.m.