The Security Council today extended the current mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by one month and agreed to transform the operation so that from then on it becomes a stabilization mission in the vast African nation.
“In view of the new phase that has been reached in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations mission in that country, MONUC, shall, as from 1 July 2010, bear the title of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO),” the Council said in a unanimously adopted resolution.
MONUC’s mandate now extends through 30 June, when it becomes MONUSCO, which has been authorized to stay in the DRC until 30 June next year.
The resolution also authorized the withdrawal of up to 2,000 UN military personnel by 30 June this year from areas where security has improved enough to allow their removal.
The Council decided that MONUSCO shall comprise, in addition to the appropriate civilian, judiciary and correction components, a maximum of 19,815 military personnel, 760 military observers, 391 police personnel and 1,050 personnel of formed police units.
It also authorized the mission to keep a reserve force capable of redeploying rapidly elsewhere in the country, while concentrating its military forces in the east of the country.
The Council stressed that the DRC Government bore the primary responsibility for security, peacebuilding and development in the country, and encouraged Kinshasa to remain fully committed to protecting the population through the establishment of professional and sustainable security forces.
It also encouraged the Government to promote non-military solutions as an integral part of the overall solution for reducing the threat posed by Congolese and foreign armed groups and to restore full State authority in the areas freed from armed groups.
“Future reconfigurations of MONUSCO should be determined on the basis of the evolution of the situation on the ground,” the Council said in its resolution.
Any future reconfiguration will be based on the following consideration – the completion of the ongoing military operations in the Kivu provinces and Orientale province; an improved capacity of the DRC Government to effectively protect the population through the establishment of sustainable security forces with a view to progressively take over MONUSCO’s security role; and the consolidation of State authority across the territory, through the deployment of Congolese civil administration, in particular the police, territorial administration and rule of law institutions in areas freed from armed groups.
MONUC’s current mandate was due to expire on Monday.
In his latest report on MONUC, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had recommended that the 20,000-strong MONUC force begin a drawdown of troops by 30 June. The Government had proposed a total withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces by 30 August 2011.
Earlier this month, members of the Security Council visited the DRC to hear the opinion of the Government there on the future of MONUC.
They also noted that substantial progress had been made since the deployment of the mission in 1999 to monitor the implementation of the peace process that was intended to end civil war in the DRC.
MONUC peacekeepers have also been providing logistical support to the Congolese national army in its operations against Rwandan Hutu rebels and other insurgent groups in the restive eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.