United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

International Information

International Operation Name: United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

International Mission Name: United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Africa

Location: Congo

Mission Date: 30 November 1999 - 30 June 2010

Mission Mandate: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1258, 6 August 1999; United Nations Security Council Resolution 1279, 30 November 1999; United Nations Security Council Resolution 1291, 24 February 2000 (including Chapter VII provisions); United Nations Security Council Resolution 1565, 1 October 2004 (Chapter VII)

The current conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC - formerly Zaire) began in 1994, but its origins run deeper and are linked to events outside the country. Following the civil war in Rwanda, Hutu militias aimed at regaining power there found refuge in neighbouring countries. When in 1994, Mobutu Sese Seko, the President of Zaire, offered formal Congolese support to these militias, the Congolese rebel leader Laurent Kabila, Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Army and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda formed an alliance to unseat the President. The men under Kabila’s command and Kagame’s force were predominantly Tutsi, the Hutus main foe in Rwanda.

After defeating the Mobutu-supported Hutus, the alliance turned towards Mobutu, deposing the dictator in May 1997. Kabila assumed power on 17 May and then decided to expel the forces that helped bring him into power. On 2 August 1998, Kabila attacked the Rwandan forces in eastern DRC. This threatened the Tutsis of the region as they relied upon the Rwandan military to keep hostile armed groups under control.

Both Kagame and Museveni backed new rebel groups including the Congolese Rally for Democracy (CRD), a Tutsi dominated guerrilla group. Kabila in turn invited Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe to assist him. By the end of 1998, the CRD controlled one-third of the DRC. The fighting also brought other ethnic groups into conflict.

International and regional pressure brought all parties to the negotiating table. On 10 July 1999, in Lusaka, Zambia, all nations involved in the conflict and most of the guerrilla groups signed the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement. A multinational force, controlled by a Joint Military Commission (JMC) and representing the signatories to the agreement, would effect the disarming of all armed groups in the DRC. The UN Security Council on 6 August authorized the deployment of up to 90 UN military liaison officers (UNMLOs) to assist in implementing the accord (Resolution 1258). The UNMLOs deployed in the six nations that were signatories to the Lusaka Agreement. Unfortunately, neither the UNMLOs nor the JMC were able to bring about a stable cease-fire.

As a result, the Security Council decided that greater support was required. On 30 November 1999, Resolution 1279 authorized the Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo (MONUC). [Note: some UN public statements prior to 30 November refer to the UNMLO mission as MONUC; however, the mission was only identified by the Security Council as MONUC as of 30 November.] A force of 500 unarmed UN Military Observers (UNMOs) were deployed to the DRC. Again, neither MONUC nor the JMC were able to bring stability to the DRC. Almost from the start, each side accused the other of breaking the cease-fire and violating the Lusaka Agreement. Resolution 1291 of 24 February 2000 increased MONUC to 5,537 personnel, including the 500 UNMOs.

Ethnic-based fighting continued in eastern and northeastern DRC. New factions appeared and began fighting. In Ituri, the Hema and Lendu attacked each other, a problem that was to expand in 2003. There was nevertheless one bright spot. By September 2002, the Secretary-General was able to state that foreign troops had withdrawn and that the situation in the DRC had passed beyond the Lusaka Agreement. In early December 2002, the Security Council authorized an expansion of MONUC to 8,700 military personnel, followed by eight Congolese parties signing an agreement in late December to create and operate a transitional government; however, the agreement was of limited value. As the foreign troops withdrew, local warlords began to re-establish themselves throughout the DRC. Through 2002 and 2003, these warlords began attacking each other, renewing the humanitarian problem of displaced persons.

In the Ituri region of northeast DRC this created a significant problem, requiring the intervention of the UN authorized Interim Emergency Multinational Force between June and the end of August 2003. Ugandan troops had increased their presence in the region after they had initially withdrawn. When they withdrew again in May 2003, a power vacuum created a situation of anarchy and violence. In the Kivu region of eastern DRC, two renegade Congolese army commanders fought government forces, with both sides committing human rights violations and atrocities. Three different ethnic groups were involved, including the Banyamulenge ethnic group (of Tutsi origin), whom the rebel commanders were claiming to protect.

On 1 October 2004, the Security Council authorized an increase in MONUC’s strength to 16,700, although by the end of December the actual strength was only 12,600. MONUC was now authorized under Chapter VII to inspect aircraft and transport vehicles using the airfields, border crossings, military bases and ports in North and South Kivu, and in Ituri. MONUC could use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, which included protecting civilians and collecting arms and war materiel in Ituri and Kivu found in violation of international sanctions.

This has had little effect in some regions, as the Hema and Lendu militias in Ituri continued fighting but away from the MONUC presence. MONUC’s presence in North Kivu did prevent an armed attack in mid-December 2004, when Pakistani MONUC forces repelled armed attackers infiltrating from Rwanda.

The International Rescue Committee has estimated that 3.3 million people have died in the DRC since June 1998, while the UN estimates that 2.7 million people have become displaced or become refugees. Agreements are signed and then broken, while ethnic-based factional fighting continues to be a grave concern. The transitional government has been unable to disarm these groups and MONUC’s presence and strength cannot encompass every area where violence can occur.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (CROCODILE)


Date: 26 September 1999 - Present

CF Mission/Operation Notes: Canadian participation in the DRC began in September 1999. On 26 September a Canadian Forces colonel arrived in Kinshasa to assist in the creation of the headquarters for the 90 UNMLOs. The formal announcement of Canada’s participation was made on 7 October, at which time it was stated that Canada could provide up to ten UNMLOs. The colonel then filled the position of Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations until replaced in early 2000.

Canada continued to fill this position as MONUC expanded. A major was also in theatre working in MONUC headquarters in the position of Staff Officer Operations and Plans. In May 2000, the colonel intervened in the fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in eastern DRC that had resulted in significant civilian deaths. The major also traveled often as an UNMO. Up to March 2001, they were the only two Canadians in MONUC; however, at the request of the UN the number was subsequently increased.

On 15 March 2001, four of a group of eight CF officers departed for MONUC. The first four joined the two already in theatre, and filled staff positions at MONUC headquarters. The next four filled UNMO positions. The first two officers in-theatre then returned to Canada.

Although the numbers vary between MONUC and regional headquarters, five Canadian officers are often based in the main headquarters in Kinshasa where they assist in the training of UMNOs and staff officers, work with demobilizing combatants, and producing MONUC information for distribution throughout the DRC. In the field the Canadian officers assist in the coordination of UNMO operations from regional headquarters, while occasionally conducting patrols themselves.


MCpl Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Major Louis Xenos is greeted by villagers from a small island community on the Congo River near the city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo as members of the United Nations travel along the Congo River in a fact-finding mission to gather information from the local population during Operation CROCODILE on June 9, 2007.

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