UN Peacekeepers Get New Mission In The Congo
UN Peacekeepers Move To Offense In The Congo
After months of attempting to contain the violence in the Congo, United Nations peacekeepers are moving from defense to offense. Last week, the UN Security Council voted to approve the dispatch of a new brigade to pursue Congolese rebel groups, a notable shift from the protective force that has served in the region since fighting broke out in February.
The Security Council unanimously approved “the deployment of an intervention brigade within the current United Nations peacekeeping operation” to “address imminent threats to peace and security,” according to a UN press release.
Brigade To Carry Out Targeted Offensive Operations
Under the resolution, the forces will “carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in the eastern part of DRC – a region that is prone to cycles of violence and consequent humanitarian suffering.”
Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the US deputy ambassador to the UN, told the New York Times that military-civilian coordination between the military and civilian sides of the United Nations mission remained crucial to ensuring the protection of women and children, and to preventing “the continuation of the horrible streak of sexual violence” in Congo.
Intervention Force Raises Concerns Among Rights Groups
The prospect of UN force that is not strictly peacekeeping in nature has raised concerns among some rights groups, including the International Federation for Human Rights. UPI reports that the group issued a statement to express unease at “an unprecedented change to the traditional United Nations peacekeeping model’ that would “require stronger human rights protection’s mechanisms to avoid increased harm to civilians.”
UN Declines More Offensive Force In Mali
The decision regarding the Congo is a contrast to the UN’s rejection of a request from officials in Mali and the African Union for UN forces to engage in combat operations against terrorist groups. According to The Washington Post, the UN said this would fall “well outside the U.N. peacekeeping doctrine and peacekeepers aren’t trained or equipped for fighting extremists in the deserts and mountains of northern Mali.”
Instead, the UN is proposing to send a 11,2000-member peacekeeping force to Mali to work alongside a non-U.N. force. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is also suggesting a new political mission in Mali to buttress an African-led force that would have responsibility for security and offensive combat operations.