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The Exigencies of Peacekeeping

Having brokered a ceasefire in late January between warring parties in eastern DR Congo, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its acronym, MONUC, now risks becoming overstretched, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report [pdf]. The danger stems from two interrelated developments:

First, having achieved the success of a peace deal, MONUC is responsible to help implement it. In this case, that requires pursuing three objectives: monitoring the ceasefire; supporting the process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR); and securing the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). This latter task is particularly daunting, as more displaced persons are crowded into Congo’s eastern provinces than anywhere else in the country.

Second, to achieve these goals, MONUC has needed to relocate significant numbers of its personnel eastward. While this is an understandable and laudable move — particularly because of the persistent insecurity in IDP camps — it runs the risk of pulling much-needed peacekeepers from other volatile areas, which, as Ban notes in his report, “might jeopardize important progress towards peace and stability elsewhere in the country.”It is perhaps the lot of UN peacekeeping that, as soon as one fire seems close to being put out, another ignites, and the UN, in Kofi Annan’s memorable formulation, then needs to go around begging for the parts to build the firetruck. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, just as the need to consolidate peace in eastern Congo looms large on MONUC’s agenda, the western part of the country has experienced a disturbing uptick in violence.

As I’ve previously articulated, a peacekeeping mission’s success, in one sense, can be measured by its readiness to minimize its presence and eventually depart. Sometimes, though, en route to drawdowns, a mission must beef up its presence in the short-term. That appears to be what is happening in DR Congo, where Ban, in the report that preceded this one, had laid out benchmarks for a process of eventual withdrawal. Here, however, he has determined that “the Mission’s current force levels…do not reflect the critical role MONUC is expected to play” in securing peace in the east, while still maintaining stability in the rest of this enormous country.

Yes, MONUC is currently (at least until UNAMID fully deploys in Darfur) the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the UN’s history. But a rapid drawdown in the interests of financial expediency flies in the face of facts on the ground in Congo and would deeply unsettle the only thinly etched lines of peace that are developing in the country. For such a resource-rich behemoth in central Africa, whose post-independence history has been racked by over four decades of war, corruption, and disease, the prospect of a sustainable peace is in all respects worth the investment of continuing to support MONUC.

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The Exigencies of Peacekeeping

Having brokered a ceasefire in late January between warring parties in eastern DR Congo, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its acronym, MONUC, now risks becoming overstretched, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report [pdf]. The danger stems from two interrelated developments:

First, having achieved the success of a peace deal, MONUC is responsible to help implement it. In this case, that requires pursuing three objectives: monitoring the ceasefire; supporting the process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR); and securing the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). This latter task is particularly daunting, as more displaced persons are crowded into Congo’s eastern provinces than anywhere else in the country.

Second, to achieve these goals, MONUC has needed to relocate significant numbers of its personnel eastward. While this is an understandable and laudable move — particularly because of the persistent insecurity in IDP camps — it runs the risk of pulling much-needed peacekeepers from other volatile areas, which, as Ban notes in his report, “might jeopardize important progress towards peace and stability elsewhere in the country.”It is perhaps the lot of UN peacekeeping that, as soon as one fire seems close to being put out, another ignites, and the UN, in Kofi Annan’s memorable formulation, then needs to go around begging for the parts to build the firetruck. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, just as the need to consolidate peace in eastern Congo looms large on MONUC’s agenda, the western part of the country has experienced a disturbing uptick in violence.

As I’ve previously articulated, a peacekeeping mission’s success, in one sense, can be measured by its readiness to minimize its presence and eventually depart. Sometimes, though, en route to drawdowns, a mission must beef up its presence in the short-term. That appears to be what is happening in DR Congo, where Ban, in the report that preceded this one, had laid out benchmarks for a process of eventual withdrawal. Here, however, he has determined that “the Mission’s current force levels…do not reflect the critical role MONUC is expected to play” in securing peace in the east, while still maintaining stability in the rest of this enormous country.

Yes, MONUC is currently (at least until UNAMID fully deploys in Darfur) the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation in the UN’s history. But a rapid drawdown in the interests of financial expediency flies in the face of facts on the ground in Congo and would deeply unsettle the only thinly etched lines of peace that are developing in the country. For such a resource-rich behemoth in central Africa, whose post-independence history has been racked by over four decades of war, corruption, and disease, the prospect of a sustainable peace is in all respects worth the investment of continuing to support MONUC.

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Will Kony Sign?

joseph-kony.jpg

Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons — including a lack of toilets — for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:

The LRA chief’s final intentions remain far from clear.

No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped.

Uganda’s government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.

Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key — in the immediate term, at least — is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments — even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York — to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous — not to mention somewhat ironic — basis for a robust and long-standing accord.

For now, we’re waiting for Kony.

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Will Kony Sign?

joseph-kony.jpg

Continuing the saga of the seemingly perpetually impending peace deal between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony, it appears that Kony is finally going to emerge from the bush to sign a deal tomorrow. Last week, Kony claimed a variety of reasons — including a lack of toilets — for delaying his appearance at the remote outpost on the Congo-Sudan border for the signing ceremony. Whether he shows tomorrow or not, one very important question remains unanswered: will the peace last? Reuters hits the nail on the head:

The LRA chief’s final intentions remain far from clear.

No outsiders have seen him in months, and even if he breaks cover to sign the final agreement, his fighters have refused to lay down their arms until the ICC warrants are scrapped.

Uganda’s government has said it will ask for the indictments to be lifted only after a final deal is reached. It was not clear whether that meant the rebels had to disarm first too.

Disarmament, of course, is always easier said that done, yet it remains the crux of any responsible peace plan. Justice and accountability are important attendant issues as well, as both we and Opinio Juris have emphasized, but the key — in the immediate term, at least — is a cessation of violence. Kony and the LRA seem committed enough to combating their ICC indictments — even acquiring visas to lobby the UN in New York — to engage in the peace process, but this is a rather tenuous — not to mention somewhat ironic — basis for a robust and long-standing accord.

For now, we’re waiting for Kony.

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Khalilzad to Resign?

This is sort of bizarre. According to the Associated Press US-UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking in the Dari language, told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television network that he was planning on resigning. When the AP translated these remarks and out them to Khalilzad’s spokesman, the spokesman said that the Ambassador “has no immediate plans to resign.” Which is it?

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Khalilzad to Resign?

This is sort of bizarre. According to the Associated Press US-UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, speaking in the Dari language, told Afghanistan’s Ariana Television network that he was planning on resigning. When the AP translated these remarks and out them to Khalilzad’s spokesman, the spokesman said that the Ambassador “has no immediate plans to resign.” Which is it?

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