Last update on: 24 November 2020
These high-risk missions face the greatest threat from armed actors. The number of MONUSCO fatalities is higher than that experienced by its predecessor mission, MONUC. In the twenty years of MONUC (1999-2019), it suffered 161 fatalities, of which 72% were uniformed personnel and 21% of the total fatalities were due to malicious acts.
The DRC itself lost the largest number of peacekeepers in MONUSCO, for a total of 38 persons and 35 in the earlier MONUC. The next largest fatality number is Tanzania which lost 32 peacekeepers in MONUSCO. Of that total, fifteen were killed in a single December 2017 attack, an event that highlighted the capabilities gap inherent in MONUSCO at the time. The U.S. accounts for four total peacekeeper fatalities across ONUC, MONUC, and MONUSCO.
|In November 2017, the UN Secretary-General appointed Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz of Brazil to conduct a review of peacekeeper fatalities and injuries due to hostile (malicious) acts and to make recommendations. General Cruz has 40 years of military experience, to include service asForce Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) from 2013 to 2015. His review did not address mandates but focused on operational issues in the five “most dangerous” of the UN’s current peacekeeping missions: MONUSCO; The UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA); the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS); and the UN-African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).|
In January 2018, the UN released its “Cruz Report” which argues that “a lack of leadership and a reluctance to move aggressively against potential attackers are responsible for the worst spate of United Nations peacekeeping fatalities in the organization’s history.” The report identified four broad areas where the UN “must take actions to reduce fatalities”:
(1) Increase personnel awareness of the risks and empower them “to take the initiative to deter, prevent, and respond to attacks”;
(2) Equip and train personnel “to operate in high-threat environments”;
(3) Achieve a “threat sensitive mission footprint,” aligning mission mandates to limit threat exposure; and
(4) Ensure leadership accountability to prevent fatalities and injuries.
While many observers applauded the report for its candor, critics highlighted that the report “explicitly sidesteps the fundamental discussion of whether peacekeeping should deploy to such dangerous and problematic environments in the first place.”[i]
[i] Haeri, David. Strengthening UN Peacekeeping: Placing the Santos Cruz Report in Context, IPI Global Observatory, 28 February 2018. https://theglobalobservatory.org/2018/02/strengthening-peacekeeping-cruz-report-context/
These products are the results of academic research and intended for general information and awareness only. They include the best information publicly available at the time of publication. Routine efforts are made to update the materials; however, readers are encouraged to check the specific mission sites at https://monusco.unmissions.org/en or https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/mission/monusco.
Congo Country Profile
United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
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