Report on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2016/579)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Congo (Kinshasa)
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Document PDF: 

Report on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2016/579)

Code: S/2016/579

Date: 28 June 2016

Topic: Covering the period since the last report of 9 March 2016, this report provides an update on the mandate implementation of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the development of the political, security and human rights situations in the DRC.

Women, Peace and Security

Pursuant to resolution 2277 (2016), the Secretary-General’s report provides an account of major political, security, human rights, and humanitarian developments in the DRC as well as an update on the implementation of the MONUSCO mandate. During the reporting period, the political situation remained turbulent: the national dialogue proposed by President Joseph Kabila did not gain traction; more tensions arose when the DRC Constitutional Court ruled that the Constitution permits President Kabila to remain in office until the installation of the newly-elected president; and political opposition is worrying that President Kabila intends to stay in power beyond his two term limit. Rebel groups continue to spread violence in eastern DRC, including the the Force Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and allied elements, Mayi-Mayi Raiya Mutomboki, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI).

There are nine WPS-related references,[1] all focusing on protection. Except for a separate section dedicated to sexual violence,[2] the report does not consider additional concerns relating to the WPS agenda, such as women’s participation in the national political dialogue, local peacebuilding efforts or electoral processes. The report reiterates MONUSCO’s commitment to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse for all UN personnel and details its efforts to enforce the policy.[3] However, the report does not provide any information or sex-disaggregated data on MONUSCO-led activities, such as training for Congolese national police personnel. The report also fails to provide a detailed account on MONUSCO’s assistance to the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) to eliminate sexual violence. The number of WPS-related references has slightly declined compared to the last reporting period.[4] Overall, the report fails to provide a gender analysis on MONUSCO’s mandated activities and the impact of armed conflict.

References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities

Protection of Civilians

During the reporting period, civilians in eastern DRC continued to suffer from armed violence despite the efforts by MONUSCO and FARDC to address the security threat. The report notes that on 3 and 6 May, two attacks by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements killed 36 civilians and wounded 17, including children and pregnant women, in the Eringeti area.[5] In response to the security situation, MONUSCO carried out day and night patrols, joint assessment missions and targeted joint protection teams to areas of concern;[6] however, the report fails to apply a gender lens to discuss whether and how women are affected differently. The report also misses an opportunity to include consultation with women’s civil society organizations to ensure that women’s security concerns, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), are taken into account in responses to the security situation. To better address women’s protection needs, MONUSCO should include local women’s organizations in its assessment mission and in the development of gender-responsive protection strategies, including through providing training on reporting and investigation of SGBV.

Security Sector Reform (SSR)

There is no reference to women in MONUSCO’s efforts to support security sector reform in the DRC. Although MONUSCO provides advice, training and technical support to Congolese national police,[7] the report does not specify whether training in gender mainstreaming and prevention of SGBV is provided. Given that state actors were responsible for 32 percent of conflict-related sexual violence,[8] it is necessary to request MONUSCO to continue to improve gender sensitivity and respect for women’s rights through providing training across security sector components. Moreover, MONUSCO and the DRC government should consult women’s civil society in all SSR processes and support appropriate vetting procedures to enforce accountability for SGBV and women’s rights violations.


Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR)

The report does not mention women with regard to MONUSCO’s support to DDR programs. The report mentions that working with UN’s Mine Action Service, MONUSCO helped destroy explosive remnants of war, weapons and small arms ammunition,[9] but it does not mention women’s participation or involvement in arms management or the link between small arms and SGBV. Further, the report notes that the implementation of the Phrase III of the DDR program is progressing but delayed owing to incomplete community preparations and volatile security situation in the return destinations.[10] Recalling its mandate,[11] MONUSCO should take gender considerations into account and pay attention to the specific needs of dependents and female ex-combatants. MONUSCO should also commit to assisting the DRC government in developing gender-sensitive DDR programs, including identifying and acknowledging women’s diverse roles in conflict, integrating women’s civil society in policy-making and providing special services, facilities and protection for female ex-combatants to facilitate their safe return and reintegration.

Human Rights and Rule of Law

MONUSCO continues to document the deteriorating human rights situation in the DRC, including conflict-related sexual violence. The report notes that MONUSCO supported the relocation of women detainees in Butembo prison to a newly constructed section funded by MONUSCO and advocated for the improvement of prisoner health care and implementation of food security programmes for detainees.[12] During the period under review, 38 persons, including 32 minors, were reported to be survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, and armed groups were reportedly responsible for 68 percent of those abuses and state actors for 32 percent.[13] MONUSCO also documented grave violations of children’s rights, including a total of 495 children (420 boys and 75 girls) separated or escaped from armed groups.[14] However, the report can be improved by providing sex-disaggregated data and information on the investigation and prosecution of those abuses to help identify the institutional obstacles and stigma that hinder the prosecution of SGBV cases. For instance, the report notes that in Mambasa territory, 24 of 128 SGBV cases were referred to the judiciary for prosecution,[15] but it misses an opportunity to conduct  analysis on the low prosecution rate and how to enhance the reporting, investigation and prosecution of sexual violence. Overall, MONUSCO should continue supporting training in preventing and responding to sexual violence for Congolese security sectors and integrate women’s civil society in the community alert networks to strengthen the monitoring and early warning system for human rights abuses, including sexual violence.

Political Processes and Electoral Assistance

There is no reference to women with regard to political processes and elections. The report notes that MONUSCO updated risk analysis and enhanced civilian monitoring and reporting on human rights violations in the context of the elections;[16] however, the report fails to provide any information on women’s participation, involvement and representation in the elections. As per resolution 2277 (2016),[17] the government of the DRC and all relevant parties should ensure the safety and freedom of movement for civil society, including women, and MONUSCO should conduct risk analysis and strengthen protection measures with focus on election-related violence and human rights violations against women. Recalling all relevant resolutions on women, peace and security, MONUSCO should pay special attention to the human rights and security concerns of women voters, candidates and monitors when supporting the electoral process, including barriers to their participation.


The report contains a section entitled “Serious misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse,” detailing MONUSCO’s efforts to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and enforce the UN’s zero-tolerance policy, including through training, outreach activities, assessment missions and coordination of assistance to victims.[18] The report notes that during the period under review, six possible cases of SEA were identified, and 12 out of the 18 allegations associated with the six cases involve the military.[19] MONUSCO should continue to enhance the prevention, reporting and investigation of SEA and enforce accountability in cases of such conduct with troop-contributing countries, while supporting a survivor-centered approach.

Ideal Asks

Future reporting should include an explicit analysis of impact of the armed conflict on women in the DRC. At a minimum, the report should provide sex-disaggregated data on those impacted by the conflict and women’s participation in the political, electoral, DDR, SSR, human rights and humanitarian situations. Future reporting should systematically engage with women’s organizations in order to better understand women’s needs and concerns in all aspects and the gendered impact of conflict. This involves information on women’s participation in assessing and addressing women’s security concerns, reporting and responding to women’s rights violations, including SGBV and the services available for SGBV survivors, including reproductive health services and psychosocial, legal and livelihood support. Additionally, the report could have considered gender in a more transformational way, including highlighting the importance of countering negative conceptions of masculinities and its link with SGBV and promoting and investing not just in women’s rights but also the human rights of those not identifying with the gender binary. Through reporting on women’s participation, MONUSCO could also call for women’s increased participation and visibility and better address discrimination against women and the structural obstacles for women to participate in political and peace processes. In keeping with the WPS-related resolutions, MONUSCO should continue promoting women’s equal and effective participation in peacebuilding and conflict prevention and strengthening women’s leadership and engagement in decision-making.

[1] S/2016/579, para. 21, 39, 43, 44, 45, 68, 69, 70, 78

[2] S/2016/579, para. 44

[3] S/2016/579, para. 68-70

[4] There are ten WPS-related references in the last report. See relevant paragraphs in S/2016/233, para. 3, 4, 11, 12, 27, 42, 46, 51, 65, 67, 69

[5] S/2016/579, para. 21

[6] S/2016/579, para. 29

[7] S/2016/579, para. 64, 65

[8] S/2016/579, para. 44

[9] S/2016/579, para. 31

[10] S/2016/579, para. 34-37

[11] MONUSCO is requested to “take fully into account gender considerations as a crosscutting issue throughout its mandate and to assist the Government of the DRC in ensuring the participation, involvement and representation of women at all levels, including in stabilisation activities, SSR and DDR processes.” Cited from S/RES/2277 (2016), OP. 38

[12] S/2016/579, para. 43

[13] S/2016/579, para. 44

[14] S/2016/579, para. 45

[15] S/2016/579, para. 39

[16] S/2016/579, para. 61

[17] S/RES/2277 (2016), OP. 8

[18] S/2016/579, para. 68, 69

[19] S/2016/579, para. 70