The United Nations Security Council on March 28, 2013 unanimously authorized, through resolution 2098, the deployment of an ‘intervention brigade’ within the current United Nations peacekeeping operation, MONUSCO, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to address imminent threats to peace and security.
The intervention brigade will carry out ‘targeted offensive operations,’ with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace and security in the eastern part of DRC – a region that has endured cycles of violence and consequent humanitarian suffering.
Related: Cooperation between African Union and United Nations on peace and security
The objectives of the new force – which will be based in North Kivu province in eastern DRC and total 3,069 peacekeepers – are to ‘neutralize’ armed groups, reduce the threat they pose to State authority and civilian security, implement key reforms to consolidate peace in the country, particularly in the area of security sector reform and rule of law and make space for stabilization activities.
See also: UN peacekeeping: transformation from classical to multidimensional operations
Nearly a million people were displaced in the province of North Kivu during the clashes between the fighters from the rebel M23 group and the Congolese national army (FARDC) late last year, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern DRC to 2.6 million.
M23 is led by members of a previous rebel movement who were brought into the Congolese army and then mutinied, accusing the government of violating a deal.
Rwanda and Uganda have denied allegations of sponsoring the rebel group.
Related: United Nations peacekeeping: classical operations
Led by a Tanzanian general, the intervention brigade will be made up of three infantry battalions, one artillery company, one special force, and a reconnaissance company. The brigade will be headquartered in Goma under the direct command of the MONUSCO force commander. Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa will contribute troops to the brigade.
According to the United Nations resolution, the brigade will make use of ‘surveillance capabilities provided by unmanned aerial systems,’ (drones) in particular, to ‘observe and report on flows of military personnel, arms or related materiel across the eastern border of the DRC, in monitoring a United Nations arms embargo on the DRC.
The ‘search and destroy’ and ‘combative mandate’ of the intervention brigade marks a departure from traditional peacekeeping operations which cannot open fire unless they are attacked. Peacekeeping has progressed from ‘classical’ operations through ‘multidimensional’ to ‘peacebuilding’ and now to ‘interventionist’ operations.
See also: African countries launch task force against Lord’s Resistance Army