Members of the United Nations Security Council have given their unanimous support to allow UN peacekeepers to launch offensive operations for the first time ever on Friday.
The Security Council passed a resolution which will create a force of 3,000 troops to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight rebel groups in the east of the country. The new ‘peacekeeping’ brigade will have revised rules of engagement which will allow them to launch “targeted offensive operations” to hunt down and disarm or neutralize armed rebels groups. Previously, UN peacekeeping brigades were able to guard key infrastructure, but could only engage enemies if attacked.
The Congo missions broader purpose will be to “prevent the expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and to disarm them,” the resolution said.
The Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo Augustin Matata Ponya welcomed the move, describing it as “the beginning of the end of armed groups” and saying “The DRC welcomes this vote, which marks a decisive turning point for re-establishing peace and security in the Kivu”.
South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi have all pledged troops to create the new brigade, says UN peacekeeping force chief Herve Ladsous. The force, along with surveillance drones, will be deployed to the Kivu region of DRC by July.
A New Era for UN Military Operations?
Authorizing a peacekeeping force to launch offensive operations, effectively enabling them to become an aggressive, attacking force rather than a purely defensive force, represents a major expansion of UN military ambitions.