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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the UN peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (82058)

The UN peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), MONUC, is the largest and most complex mission that the UN has managed to date. Its key tasks are to facilitate political transition and power sharing arrangements, deal with armed groups outside the political process and to protect civilians.

MONUC chairing aided the peace process since 2002 by brokering cease-fires and peace deals and the International Committee in Support of the Transition, which engages with the Congolese Government. Following MONUC’s support for a successful referendum last December, the country is set to hold its first elections since the 1960s. UN expertise and MONUC’s logistical support for this process have been crucial to making this possible.

MONUC operates in a dangerous and complex environment and has been mandated by the UN Security Council, under chapter VII of the UN charter, to support the Congolese Army to disarm those groups that are a threat to the peace process and to protect civilians from rebel attack. There has been considerable progress in dealing with armed groups, but attacks on civilians remain at an unacceptable level.

In 2004 a number of cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers and staff in the DRC came to light, raising serious concerns about MONUC’s management. After a thorough investigation by the Secretary-General’s special representative on the issue, a series of measures were introduced to combat the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers across all UN missions. MONUC has stringently imposed these measures on UN staff and peacekeepers. We continue to keep MONUC’s performance under close review in all areas of its activity, through our Embassy in Kinshasa and through regular Security Council discussions.