Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Enough Gets It Right on Monusco

Enough makes three realistic recommendations for improving Monusco's ability to protect local populations:
  1. MONUSCO should deploy an early warning human rights monitoring service based in vulnerable communities to report incidents in real time as they happen.
  2. MONUSCO should improve patrols to go out into communities and not just stick to primary roads.
  3. MONUSCO should have rapid reaction Joint Protection Teams deployed at forward bases, to be sent to communities immediately following the report of an incident.
These are spot-on: feasible and actionable--that is to say, within the limits of what we might realistically expect of the international community, given its low level of engagement and interest in Congo. Let me reiterate (for the umpteenth time) that it's just incomprehensible that we don't have an Ushahidi-style real-time reporting mechanism in eastern DRC, after 14 years of near-continuous violence. By now, we should have a first-rate system in place to report on rebel movements, massacres and rapes, food insecurity, and so on. So I'm glad to see Enough endorsing that idea. 

I would also reiterate my call to have an established NGO (the International Crisis Group, for example) hire one or two experienced former US military officers to evaluate Monusco and determine what tools and human resources it would need to do a better job of protecting civilians. I suspect a big part of the reason Monusco's been so inadequate is political inertia, but that it will respond to recommendations to do more by claiming technical deficiencies. (They'll claim, for example, that they can't engage in forward patrols because they lack the right training or communication tools.) Having military experts assess their capacities will enable NGOs to better meet those objections.

Right now, the bulk of Monusco's troops congregate in hermetic, sealed camps that have almost no interaction with the local populations. Persuading them to go out into the field where they might get shot at won't be easy, given that their loyalties are (in actual fact) still primarily to their national army commanders back home rather than Monusco's officers. But their current do-nothing, hang-back-and-take-notes-afterwards approach is (at last!) becoming untenable. The Security Council needs to push for some serious reform before it agrees to re-up Monusco's mandate.

1 comment:

  1. Even the Enough Project, long criticized for its refusal to condemn Rwanda for its past transgressions, is now calling on the US to reevaluate its relationship with that country.

    Wow that’s twice now. You better watch out or you are going to lose your reputation of being automatically against anything Enough is for!

    A couple of your recent posts have actually been well worth the read.