With Help from the UN, Congo Rebel Group is Squashed

The M23 Rebellion in East DRC is over.

What lessons can the international community draw from this apparent success?

1) The UN’s intervention brigade played a critical role in ending this rebellion. Last March, the Security Council approved a 3,000 strong deployment of Blue Helmets who performed tasks not traditionally associated with UN Peacekeeping. This “intervention brigade” undertook offensive missions against the M23 rebels, actively hunting them down. They were aided by intelligence drones and other sophisticated military assets that typically accompany offensive military operations. Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi provided the bulk of the troops, and they helped the Congolese Army deal a decisive military blow to the rebellion.

2) Pressure on Rwanda. The international community has a complicated relationship with Rwanda. There is still lingering guilt for standing idle during the 1994 genocide. Rwanda is also the recipient of a great deal of development assistance, which it has put to good use as it makes impressive economic gains. From a development perspective, it is very much a success story. But Rwanda is also complicit in war crimes in the DRC and supported the M23 rebellion. A UN report drew a straight line from Rwanda’s defense ministry to the M23 rebellion. Last month, the USA finally suspended military assistance to Rwanda, which helped convince Rwanda to finally cease its aid to M23.

Those two factors contributed most directly to the apparent ending of this rebellion. To build on this success, the international community and DRC government are going to have to address some of the underlying conditions that give rise to persistent instability in the region. For now, though, this is a moment to (briefly) celebrate.

What follows is a Twitter Interview I conducted this morning with Laura Seay, a professor at Colby College and one of the country’s foremost experts on the region.