The UN Security Council is set to vote today or early next week on a new mandate for MONUC. Jason has a nice summary of the draft resolution's key provisions. The most significant of these include the withdrawal of 2,000 peacekeepers and a change in the mission's name to MONUSCO.
MONUSCO is the French acronym for United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Congo. This name is deliberately designed to emphasize the role of UN peacekeepers as supporters of the Congolese armed forces. In other words, it's not MONUSCO's job to substitute for the state in the security arena. MONUSCO's first priority will be civilian protection.
Kabila did not get the full withdrawal of peacekeeping troops he's been wanting for quite some time now, but the reduction in troop strength lets him save face with respect to some of his pre-election posturing. His administration claims they can control the east, but everyone else - particularly Kivutian civilians - knows that's incorrect. The Security Council will be wise to pass a resolution that includes the draft's provisions that require Kinshasa to meet benchmarks as a precondition for the withdrawal of more peacekeepers.
The idea that MONUSCO can both protect civilians and support the FARDC is more than a little bit questionable. We know that the FARDC has been responsible for a huge percentage of the human rights violations in the east. That seems unlikely to change in the short time, particularly if there are fewer peacekeepers in the country available to keep an eye on the FARDC.
This shift means that what we've all been saying for years is more true than ever: professionalizing the security forces has to be a top priority for MONUSCO and every international actor involved in the region. It also means that the DRC needs to detain FARDC leaders who are responsible for human rights violations and send them for prosecution at the ICC. Otherwise, the new mandate will prove to be little more than a shift in semantics.