As they prepare to discuss the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate six months ahead of general elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the members of the UN Security Council are facing a dilemma. Should they limit the role of MONUSCO to the continued protection of civilians in eastern Congo, as agreed with President Joseph Kabila, or should they expand its mandate in an attempt to enforce democratic principles before the elections at the risk of confronting the incumbent regime? This issue brief argues that MONUSCO should be limited to a technical role in the election—as requested by the Congolese authorities—but only on the condition that the international community reengages President Kabila in a frank political dialogue on longterm democratic governance reforms.
The current security situation does not allow for MONUSCO’s reconfiguration or drawdown as of yet. As challenging as it is for the UN mission to improve significantly the protection of civilians (PoC) in eastern DRC, the Congolese security forces are not yet ready to take over MONUSCO’s security role. Sustaining security in the east without the UN will first necessitate further strengthening of national PoC capacities through a renewed partnership on the extension of state authority in eastern DRC and security-sector reform (SSR). Real stability and economic development in the whole country will require key policy decisions by Kinshasa to improve Congolese institutions over the long term.