Friday, January 8, 2010

MONUC's new mandate and directive on cooperation with the FARDC

Several important things have happened in the last few weeks with regard to MONUC's mandate and its role in supporting the FARDC.

But first, some background. As you might remember, just before the mandate was renewed on December 23, the New York Times ran this story, with links to relevant memos, about recommendations the UN's Office of Legal Affairs had made concerning MONUC's support to Kimia II, the operation the Congolese Army (FARDC) had been prosecuting against the FDLR. Basically, the memos cautioned MONUC against supporting FARDC units if these units were suspected of or known to have committed human rights abuses.

Next, Human Rights Watch issued its latest report, criticizing MONUC's support to the FARDC and recommending that clear conditions be set for continuing support, in particular that no support be provided to units known to abuse human rights. Next, the Congolese authorities, after seeing a draft of the resolution, threatened to kick out senior MONUC staff because such a mandate would impinge on DRC's sovereignty and violate the SOFA the UN has with the DRC.

Then, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Alan Doss (whom more people than I can count have said should resign for reasons ranging from not being tough enough with the Congolese authorities to just being a pain to deal with because he won't take any criticism or advice), reported to the Security Council on his work and announced the end of Kimia II operations.

On December 23, the Council passed a resolution, here, extending the mission but only for 6 months. Second, it ranked MONUC's priorities starting with protection of civilians, and moving to implementing effective DDR(RR) (that Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Repatriation, and Resettlement in case you get lost with your Rs, like I do), and finally coordinating SSR (Security Sector Reform) between donors and the Congolese authorities.

Finally, the Council provided conditions under which MONUC can support ongoing FARDC operations:
...the support of MONUC to FARDC-led military operations against foreign and Congolese armed groups is strictly conditioned on FARDC’s compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and on an effective joint planning of these operations, decides that MONUC military leadership shall confirm, prior to providing any support to such operations that sufficient joint planning has been undertaken, especially regarding the protection of the civilian population, calls upon MONUC to intercede with the FARDC command if elements of a FARDC unit receiving MONUC’s support are suspected of having committed grave violations of such laws, and if the situation persists, calls upon MONUC to withdraw support from these FARDC units.
Yesterday, MONUC outlined the new conditions under which it will provide support to FARDC's successor to Kimia II, Amani Leo. According to a press release:
The Operation’s principal objectives are to protect civilian populations, clear strategic areas of negative forces, hold territory liberated from FDLR control, and assist in restoring State authority in these zones. The Special Representative also informed the Council that Operation Amani Leo would include preventive interventions aimed at stopping the FDLR from regrouping and attacking civilian populations and re-occupying major mining areas...

The FARDC and MONUC will concentrate on controlling strategic areas in order to ensure that armed groups, notably residual FDLR elements, will not be able to retake territory and inflict reprisals. The Operation aims at creating conditions for stabilization and re-establishment of State authority. Coordination between civilian and military components will be strengthened to stabilize these areas and create conditions for the safe return of civilian populations.

The FARDC and MONUC Force commands are engaged in intensive joint planning down to the tactical level in order to improve communications, liaison and planning throughout the Operation.

At the FARDC’s request, MONUC will provide rations and other essential support to those FARDC units carrying out protection and preventive operations provided that they are jointly planned and conducted in accordance with international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law...

As you can tell, MONUC is making an effort to abide by the Council's conditions but I have a couple questions. Doesn't Amani Leo look exactly like Kimia IIb or maybe Kimia III? Second, what constitutes joint planning? How is this being done down the tactical level? Finally, since when does the UN do clear, hold, and build? I kept being told--both in Goma and Kinshasa, "we're fighting an insurgency here but no one will use the word or actually behave like this is the case." Has this changed or is this just a not so great PR stunt?


  1. Amani Leo? Peace today?

    Ninasikitika: Aka. Sini.


  2. I used to give the DRC government the benefit of the doubt. But I've come to realize the government in Kinshasa is fielded by a bunch of jokers who, in an ideal world, would beg MONUC to stay on indefinitely. For without MONUC, the regime might be brought down to its knees by even a village insurgency--as was demonstrated by the end of last October in the village of Dongo, in western Congo. Without MONUC, those insurgents would have already seized Mbandaka, the provincial capital of Equateur.. In the east, the government allows Nkunda militia to remain intact, run a parallel government, carry out incremental ethnic-driven massacres, and undertake "ethnic engineering" with the influx of thousands of so-called refugees coming from Rwanda with their cattle. Just read the blog "Congo Siasa" on your blogroll to get an idea of the joke called the government in the Congo...

  3. Doesn't Amani Leo look exactly like Kimia IIb or maybe Kimia III?

    And you're surprised by that?

    Second, what constitutes joint planning? How is this being done down the tactical level?

    In the past it's been done via constant coordination and consultation from Eastern Division HQ down through MONUC brigade HQs, and attaching MONUC liaison officers at the battalion level. Unsurprisingly, it hasn't always been a smooth process, but the promise of reliable MONUC logistical and fire support has generally proven a strong incentive to cooperation from the FARDC.

    Not always, though - in one instance MONUC officers had to talk down enraged FARDC soldiers who stormed into a joint CP shooting and tossing grenades, after having been forced to withdraw from a fight with an Ituri militia because their chain of command had redirected the materiel MONUC had provided to another part of the country.

    Since MGEN Cammaert left, Eastern Division was dismantled, and Alpha Sow appointed the MONUC Coordinator for the East (he didn't exactly deliver great results as a regional Head of Office), I'm doubtful that either the institutional structures or the personalities exist to achieve even that level of coordination.

    Finally, since when does the UN do clear, hold, and build?

    Well, 'clear and hold' date back to ONUC, but it didn't 'build' much, and it doesn't sound like MONUC is planning to either. Only example of the full trifecta by a UN mission that I know of was MINUSTAH 2005-08 or so. The mission explicitly acknowledged (internally) that it was dealing with insurgents (pro-Lavalas gangs associated with politicians in the Haitian Parliament), did 'clear and hold' with intelligence-led integrated police and military ops, rapidly followed by labor-intensive local development projects run by UNDP that hired people from the affected neighborhood. Pretty sophisticated stuff that's had a measurable impact.

    As for MONUC - it's done 'clear and hold' before, most notably in Ituri. Campaigns in North and South Kivu have cleared but not generally been able to 'hold' the cleared territory for a variety of reasons.

    Critical difference between MINUSTAH and MONUC is that the former enjoyed strong political support both from the national government and regional/international powers (US, Canada, Brazil). At least to date, MONUC has not had the political backing/cover it needs, and the pressure to deliver results that would overcome the enormous institutional inertia against doing anything bold. Hell, the mission still doesn't have a real strategy as far as anyone can tell.

  4. Alex--thanks for stopping by. I was a bit behind so only found Jason's new post on this after I put this up. People, as I've said before, go read what Jason has to say.

    MK--no I'm not surprised, I was being snarky (I know, I'm never snarky, so it's hard to tell when that happens).

    Haiti--interesting. Where do I find the stuff on impact?

    On MONUC, agreed--the inertia is amazing and the leadership just lets the government walk all over it. Compounded with lack of political backing and as you say, strategy, it makes things rough. On clear, hold, and build, I was looking for examples of build and couldn't think of any. I was also having a rough time with Kimia II related clear and hold.

    On the East, I'd forgotten that the day I interviewed Christian Manahl, Sow's replacement, was actually his first full day on the job (as in, I presented my credentials yesterday). Since the Eastern Coordination he inherited was almost completely gutted, I wonder how much headway he's made in building it. One of the things he complained about was not having a civilian intelligence analyst. He had asked for someone from the JMAC to be reassigned to Goma but had been declined. On the military side, the (yes, there was just one at Eastern Coordination) intelligence officer had been on the job for 3 weeks, tops.

    All this to say, given how little staff Manahl has, I agree, I just don't see how the things you described happening under Caemmert could be replicated.

  5. Lil - on MINUSTAH, USIP and Crisis Group have both been consistently complementary. One of the more recent (and insightful) reports came from CAP before Reuben Brigety went into government:

    On MONUC - I'd argue that the lack of serious, sustained engagement by major powers is at the root of a lot of the problems: the leadership deficit, the mission's political and military posture, its resource shortages, the strategic incoherence, etc. The recent rhetorical hand-wringing ain't gonna get it done. In Haiti, the interests of Canada, the US, Brazil (and to a lesser extent Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay) intersect. Until at minimum the US, France, China, South Africa and Angola get serious about demanding results from the mission and cooperation from the Congolese government, any progress is likely to come as a result of a few strong individuals in key positions.

  6. Thanks for the MINUSTAH links MK. Agreed on the rest. I got a hopeful email last week from someone who works on SSR--the person said things were getting a bit better with the appointment of veteran French diplomat Ambassador Francis Saudubray as the head of the SSR unit. I don't know whether that's because he's actually helping to get things done or because there was no one that level in that position before.