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Non-European reinforcement for the Congo, victory for the British vision?

(B2) This was the preferred solution of a number of European States: the strengthening of the UN force in Congo was approved on Thursday at the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council has in fact authorized “the temporary increase in MONUC staff” : + 2785 for military personnel; +300 for the police. With "immediate deployment authorization“. This brings the workforce to 20.000 men (MONUC already has 17.000 men for a vast territory).

Authorization is given “until December 31, 2008” (end date of MONUC mandate). But the Security Council has – in fact – already indicated that it “intends to renew this authorization on the occasion of the extension of the mandate of the MONUVS" ; the duration of the stay of the additional forces “will depend on the security conditions in the Kivus".

Better rules of engagement?

The 15 members of the Council requested that “MONUC fully implements its mandate, including through robust rules of engagement“. They also want MONUC to be able to “strengthen its capacity to protect civilians, reconfigure its structure and forces and deploy them as best as possible”. A barely veiled criticism of the problem encountered on a daily basis by MONUC soldiers, caught between two fires (rebels and permanent forces) and two sets of contradictory orders (the UN mission and orders from their capital).

To download the UN resolution.

Favorite British position?

The British Minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, Lord Malloch-Brown, clearly expressed his preference during his visit to Kinshasa on Radio Okapi (Congolese radio supported by Monuc – to go quickly): “The first priority is first of all MONUC, the second priority is regional troops that would support MONUC, and we believe that the least effective of all these options would be the deployment of European troops".

He also specified: “We can automatically accept the deployment of European troops in eastern DRC, if all other avenues fail. We haven't ruled out that possibility, it's an option. But the difference between a possible deployment of European troops and the old “Artemis” operation is that this time, no such operation has been prepared beforehand. It takes a lot of preparation time.".

Did the Franco-Belgian option fail?

The option recommended by a few Europeans – rather isolated, France and Belgium, Sweden to a lesser extent – ​​of sending a European force therefore failed. At least for now. We have to recognize it.

The French, however, have stepped up to the plate twice at EU level. But they did not succeed in convincing as Bernard Kouchner said (1). Despite repeated requests from NGOs (2). Very quickly, first to recommend sending a Battlegroup (3), an option quickly dismissed due to the German veto on one side (one of the permanent battlegroups is Franco-German) and the British operational reluctance of the other (the 2nd permanent battlegroup is British, but the men who compose it must return to Afghanistan and sending them risked compromising this schedule). The possibility of taking part of a battlegroup (and part of the other possibly) is not technically possible (each battlegroup was intended to operate as a unit). Second attempt (at Cops on Friday), the idea of ​​an Entebbe-Goma airlift (4). New failure at least immediately.

Coordinated bilateral action ?

The last option on the table is thus “bilateral action”: each country makes a proposal of what it can offer to the UN. In fact, as usual, it is customary in generations of UN operations force. In other words, there is no European action! For lack of anything better, however, some countries seek to have a coordinated response (to have a semblance of common action and also for reasons of efficiency). To be continued…


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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “Non-European reinforcement for the Congo, victory for the British vision?"

  • Frederic

    Given MONUC's "bad reputation" on both sides (see the DRC presidency website) and the "lack of efficiency of the thousands of men already deployed on the spot (another massacre of civilians denounced this morning which happened in front of blue helmets who did not react), the fate of the local population is really not to be envied. 🙂

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