July 2024 Monthly Forecast


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Expected Council Action

In July, the Security Council will hold a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The anticipated briefer is the Special Representative and Head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), Bintou Keita.

MONUSCO’s mandate expires on 20 December.

Key Recent Developments

MONUSCO ceased its operations in South Kivu in April in accordance with the disengagement plan agreed with the Congolese government and endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2717 of 19 December 2023. According to the mission’s 30 April press release, “[o]nly uniformed personnel necessary to ensure the security of UN personnel, facilities, convoys, and equipment will be maintained there until withdrawal activities are completed”. MONUSCO also indicated that all uniformed personnel will be repatriated from South Kivu by the end of June, with only a residual team of civilian personnel remaining to work on the transition.

At the time of writing, the Congolese government and the UN were expected to submit an update to the Security Council, due by 30 June, on the implementation of the disengagement plan, including proposals for the next steps in MONUSCO’s gradual, responsible, and sustainable withdrawal, pursuant to resolution 2717 of 19 December 2023. Council members were also expecting to receive another report by the Secretary-General, also due by 30 June, on possible UN logistical and operational support for regional forces present in the DRC.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) deployed its force, known as the SADC Mission in DRC (SAMIDRC), in eastern DRC in December 2023 and requested logistical and operational support from the UN. In an 8 May letter to the President of the Security Council, the DRC supported SADC’s request. Earlier, in its 4 March communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) had endorsed the deployment of the force and asked the Security Council to “provide the required material and financial resources to enable SAMIDRC to effectively discharge its mandate”. The Chair of the AUPSC formally communicated its decision to the President of the Security Council in a 13 March letter, expressing the hope that the AUPSC’s request would be favourably considered. (For more on possible options that the Council could consider in July following the presentation of the Secretary-General’s report, see our In Hindsight in the April 2024 Monthly Forecast.)

The security situation in North Kivu continued to escalate with intensified fighting between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), supported by allied militias known locally as Wazalendo, and the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23). A confidential note circulated to Council members on 9 June regarding the situation in North Kivu described heavy fighting between FARDC and M23 in Kanyabayonga, 80 kilometres from Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu. Projectiles and mortars fired from M23-controlled territories landed in or near the MONUSCO Permanent Operating Base (POB) in the area, injuring a peacekeeper from Malawi and forcing humanitarian actors to suspend their operations, the note said. It also mentioned the joint offensive operation by the FARDC and SAMIDRC against the M23 in Sake, 20 kilometres from Goma, and added that the small-arms rounds fired by SAMIDRC impacted the MONUSCO POB in the area, including its surveillance cameras.

In a 20 June press statement, Council members condemned the recent series of attacks by the M23 and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu. Council members expressed their deep concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation, with the displacement of 350,000 people in the previous week. The members of the Security Council also condemned the threats and pressure by the M23 aimed at MONUSCO and the use of heavy weapons in the vicinity of UN peacekeepers’ bases.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 19 June, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, issued a statement expressing alarm at the increasing targeting of human rights defenders in the DRC. According to the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC, from June 2023 to April 2024, incidents of intimidation, threats of physical violence, attacks, and acts of reprisals perpetrated by both State agents and armed groups targeted 387 human rights defenders and 67 journalists. The Special Rapporteur called upon authorities in the DRC “to take all necessary measures to ensure a safe working space and protection for human rights defenders, as well as to guarantee the exercise of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in an 18 June statement to the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, said that during his visit to the country in April, he “felt the immense suffering of civilians in the east, including those living in camps for internally displaced people with continued attacks by armed groups.” He also called upon the Congolese government and regional and international actors to focus on bringing about peace, security, and trust.

Sanctions-Related Developments

The Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee submitted its final report (S/2024/432) in late April which, among other things, described the escalating security situation in eastern DRC and noted that “RDF [Rwandan Defense Forces] military interventions and operations…extended beyond mere support for M23 operations to direct and decisive involvement, allowing RDF and M23 to achieve military dominance” in several areas of North Kivu. It also explained how the deployment of advanced military technology affected the conflict dynamics, forcing all FARDC military air assets to be grounded.

On the other hand, the report noted that the Congolese government “continued to use Wazalendo groups and FDLR [Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda] as proxies in the fight against M23 and RDF”. It added that “[t]he instructions of the FARDC chief of staff to end collaboration with FDLR were not heeded” and that the FDLR remained an important factor in the conflict despite coming under pressure. Additionally, the report described the support provided to FARDC by the Burundi National Defence Forces deployed in eastern DRC as part of a bilateral arrangement, by private military companies, and by SAMIDRC.

On 24 May, the Group of Experts briefed the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee on the report, including its findings and recommendations. However, there does not appear to be a consensus among members on some of these recommendations.

On 27 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 2738 extending the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions regime until 1 July 2025 and the mandate of the Group of Experts assisting the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee until 1 August 2025. (For more, see our 26 July What’s in Blue story.)

Women, Peace and Security

The Secretary-General’s annual report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), distributed on 4 April, said that MONUSCO documented 733 cases of CRSV in the DRC in 2023, with 88 of these cases having occurred in previous years. Of the total number of incidents, 556 were attributed to non-state armed groups, while state actors were implicated in 177 cases. The report said that sexual violence in the DRC was frequently perpetrated during village raids as retaliation for perceived collaboration with rival armed groups or state forces. The report also referred to a recent visit to the DRC by Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten, during which she drew attention to the surge in sexual violence in and around displacement sites in the country.

In a 30 May update, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) stressed that the escalating conflict in the DRC has not only exacerbated displacement, with women and children constituting the majority of the displaced, but has also led to increasing food insecurity and record rates of gender-based violence (GBV). Limited humanitarian aid and livelihood opportunities have pushed many women and girls into survival sex, with 37 percent of girls estimated to be forcibly married before age 18, according to UN sources. The update also noted that healthcare services for survivors of CRSV, such as sexual and reproductive health care and GBV referral pathways, are severely lacking for communities of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the update, the NGO Working Group on WPS called on the members of the Security Council to urge the DRC authorities and all armed groups to stop all threats, violence and reprisals against civilians, including IDPs, women human rights defenders, and peacebuilders. The NGO Working Group on WPS also stressed that, in the context of MONUSCO’s transition and disengagement plans, “it is imperative that protection of civilians, sustained humanitarian access, increased humanitarian funding” and respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law be prioritised.

Key Issues and Options

One of the key issues for Council members in July is to assess progress in the MONUSCO disengagement process based on updates provided by the Congolese government and the UN to decide on the next steps for the mission’s gradual, responsible, and sustainable withdrawal. At this stage, it does not seem feasible for the mission to withdraw from North Kivu and Ituri, the two remaining provinces in eastern DRC, given the current security situation and the prevailing protection challenges. The Council is likely to address this issue in December when MONUSCO’s mandate is up for renewal.

The other key issue for Council members in July is how to support regional forces operating in eastern DRC. Their discussion will be informed by the Secretary-General’s report, including its recommendations. The most feasible option seems to be to authorise MONUSCO to provide logistical and operational support to SAMIDRC within existing resources in line with resolution 2717. France, the penholder on DRC, is likely to propose a Council product to decide the matter.

Council Dynamics

Council members remain seriously concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in the eastern DRC. They all seem to agree that the solution to this long-standing issue is political, and they continue to support regional efforts. Some Council members continue to call for external actors to stop supporting armed groups in eastern DRC. In particular, the US, France, Switzerland, and Slovenia remain vocal on the issue and continue to mention Rwanda’s role in the region.

Council members continue to stress that the MONUSCO disengagement process must be implemented in a gradual, conditions-based, and responsible manner. At the last Council meeting on MONUSCO in March, some Council members underscored the need to avoid leaving a security vacuum and called on the Congolese government to assume its security responsibilities to protect civilians. Several Council members drew attention to the safety and security of peacekeepers, given the increasing number of attacks against MONUSCO.

Council members reiterated the need for regional forces to coordinate their operations with MONUSCO. The A3+1 members (currently Algeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Guyana) supported the AU’s call for support to SAMIDRC.

France is the penholder on the DRC. Ambassador Michael Imran Kanu (Sierra Leone) chairs the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee.

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Security Council Resolution
19 December 2023S/RES/2717 This resolution extends the mandate of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
Security Council Meeting Record
27 March 2024S/PV.9590 This was a meeting on the situation in the DRC.
Security Council Press Statement
20 June 2024SC/15739 This was a statement on the situation in the DRC.

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