Democratic Republic of the Congo Conflict


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) became an independent state on June 30, 1960. Mobutu Sese Seko served as president from 1965 to 1977. In 1977 the Rwandan and Ugandan armies invaded the DRC in order to overthrow Mobutu and his corrupt government and replace him with Laurent Kabila. This sparked the First Congo War.

In 1997, Mobutu fled the DRC making Kaliba president. However, peace did not last. Shortly after the First Congo War ended the Second Congo War began. Both the Tutsi rebel movement, the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD), and the Ugandan rebel movement, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), attacked in 1998. In 2001 Kabila was assassinated and succeeded by his son, Joseph, who called for peace talks. The peace talks culminated with Joseph signing a peace agreement in which he would share his power with the former rebels.


However, conflict still persisted in the eastern part of the DRC. Laurent Nkunda, a former rebel, formed the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and rebelled against the government. In March 2009, Nkunda was arrested and the CNDP decided to sign a peace treaty with the government in which it agreed to become a political party in exchange for the release of its imprisoned members.


In April 2012, Bosco Ntaganda, the leader of the CNDP, and his troops formed the rebel military March 23 Movement (M23). This violated the CNDP’s treaty with the government and began the M23 rebellion. The first attack of the M23 rebellion was on July 6 in Bunagana. The United Nations condemned the attacks after an Indian peacekeeper was killed. Despite this, the attacks continued. On 20 July M23 and government forces fought near Kibumba and Rugari which resulted in thousands of civilians fleeing to Goma.


Fighting soon broke out again in November 2012. On November 19 M23 forces attacked Goma and entered the city on November 20. M23 forces captured Goma with little resistance from government forces and United Nations peacekeepers. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General, criticized M23 for purported human rights violations which include the destruction of property and the kidnapping of women and children. On November 22 government forces quickly launched a successful counterattack which resulted in M23 forces withdrawing from Goma on December 1. 


On February 24, 2013 the leaders of eleven African countries signed an agreement to bring peace to the DRC. This agreement was arranged by the United Nations and includes two specific obligations. The DRC should implement security reforms, strengthen its government, and increase cooperation with neighboring countries; the neighboring countries should help reform specific DRC organizations and refrain from interfering in all other DRC internal affairs. The M23 rebels were not a part of this agreement.


The M23 rebels were not united on their stance with regards to the peace agreement. On February 25, 2013 M23 experienced internal conflict which resulted in the death of M23’s political leader, Jean-Marie Runiga Lugerero. M23’s military leader, Sultani Makenga, then declared himself the new political leader. This led to an internal division within M23 between those loyal to Lugerero and Ntaganda and those loyal to Makenga.


On March 18, 2013 Ntaganda surrendered himself to the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. He was then transferred to the United Nations International Criminal Court (ICC). Although the reason for Ntaganda’s surrender is unclear, it is most likely due to the infighting within M23.


In May 2013, fighting between M23 and the government resumed and continues currently. 


Questions to Consider:

1.      Is the M23 rebellion of significance to your country? What is your country’s position regarding the M23 rebellion?

2.      What actions should the Security Council take in order to end the M23 rebellion? Take into consideration previous Security Council resolutions.  

3.      How will the Security Council address the ongoing human rights violations committed by the M23 rebel group?

4.      What actions should the Security Council take in order to ensure long lasting peace and stability in the DRC?

5.      What other United Nations agencies and resources could the Security Council employ in order to help combat the M23 rebellion?