9512th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Adopts Sweeping Resolution 2717 (2023) Outlining Peacekeepers’ Gradual, Responsible, Sustainable Withdrawal from Democratic Republic of Congo

The Security Council today extended for one year the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) and set out a comprehensive disengagement plan that includes three distinct and successive phases and the gradual handover of responsibility to the Government.

The Council unanimously adopted under Chapter VII resolution 2717 (2023) (to be issued as document S/RES/2717(2023)).  The new mandate expires on 20 December 2024 and follows an earlier request by the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Mission’s withdrawal.  The mandate includes, on an exceptional basis and without precedent to peacekeeping’s basic principles, its Force Intervention Brigade.

The drawdown will start by the end of 2023 amid the election cycle. The Force will be withdrawn from South Kivu by the end of April 2024 and the mandate’s implementation will be limited to provinces from May 2024. The authorized troop ceiling will be 13,500 military personnel, 660 military observers and staff officers, 591 police personnel and 1,410 personnel of formed police units until 30 June 2024, reduced to 11,500 military personnel, 600 military observers and staff officers, 443 police personnel and 1,270 personnel of formed police units from 1 July 2024 onwards.

The wide-ranging text establishes MONUSCO’s strategic priorities as contributing to the protection of civilians and supporting the stabilization and strengthening of State institutions and key governance and security reforms.  It denotes the tasks in priority order, to include the protection of civilians under threat of physical violence by all necessary measures and the deterrence of and targeted offensive operations against armed groups, either unilaterally or jointly with the Congolese security forces.  MONUSCO is requested to work with the Government and humanitarian workers to identify threats to civilians and implement joint prevention and response plans.

MONUSCO also is requested to support the judicial system’s capacity to investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law.  The text authorizes the mission to report to the Council on human rights violations and violations of international law.  It requests the Secretary-General and calls upon regional organizations to provide political support to the strengthening of State institutions in the country and the restoration of trust among the different parties.

Following the adoption, Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri (Ghana), speaking also on behalf of Gabon and Mozambique, said the group voted in favour of the resolution because it “signifies an effort on the part of the penholder to bridge widely divergent views” on the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have a direct bearing on the Mission’s mandate, including in the areas of human rights, armed groups and regional support.  She noted the language in certain crucial aspects of the text, especially pertaining to the level and amount of logistical and operational support the Mission should be allowed to provide to regional forces.  This was heavily scrutinized during negotiations and weakened as a result.  Considering MONUSCO’s pending withdrawal, regional forces are an effective tool for country-wide peace enforcement, especially as armed groups continue to unleash terror on the local population.  Limitations on MONUSCO’s support for regional forces goes against peace and security in the country.

She underscored the primacy of a political solution in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  A reversal of the dire security and humanitarian situation in the east requires an integrated regional approach and strong political engagement by relevant stakeholders, including the Government and the African Union.  The Government is demonstrating commitment to protecting civilians from violations.  The group of countries believes that attribution of some violations to members of the country’s armed forces should be avoided and not considered violations by the entire armed forces.  The group supports the country and the Mission’s stabilizing activities.

Robert A. Wood (United States), noted that the resolution responds to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s request to change the status quo, while maintaining the Mission’s core responsibility to protect civilians amid its gradual, responsible and sustainable withdrawal.  He welcomed the Council’s quick and favourable response to the Government’s formal request for MONUSCO to provide logistical support to national elections in several provinces.  The Government should ensure that all Congolese are able to participate in the elections safely and meaningfully, regardless of political affiliation and without fear of violence or reprisal.  “Democracy does not end at the ballot box; it is what comes next that truly matters”, he said, calling on political actors and segments of society to respect the will of the people.  Council members will be watching closely as the Government assumes full responsibility for the protection of civilians against the backdrop of MONUSCO’s drawdown, he emphasized.

Sérgio França Danese (Brazil) lauded the efforts of the penholder in driving forward the negotiations on the resolution in close consultation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This year’s resolution takes into account main concerns related to the transition process, he said, stressing that departure should be done responsibly, avoiding potential risks of more violence against the local population.  He emphasised the need to guarantee the safety and security of MONUSCO’s personnel during the entire withdrawal process.  “Both transition and withdrawal must be well coordinated with neighbouring countries and relevant regional actors,” he underscored.

Zenon Ngay Mukongo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said he was grateful to the Council for responding to the Government’s request to expand logistical support for MONUSCO to provinces not under the current mandate. This will make the electoral process more effective as more people will be able to vote tomorrow.  France, the “A3” and all Council members who supported his country were instrumental in this process.  The adoption of the resolution enshrines the implementation of the provision agreed by the UN and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For information media. Not an official record.