NUPI Policy Brief

Gender perspectives in UN peacekeeping innovations? The case of MONUSCO in the eastern democratic Republic of Congo

Published: 22 Jan 2014

The UN Operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has experienced some military victories, as exemplified by the recent defeat of the M23 rebel group. MONUSCO has also instigated some crucial innovative measures aimed at improving its peacekeeping and protection practices.

This policy brief examines three such innovations – the Community Liaison Assistants (CLAs), Community Alert Networks (CANs) and Joint Protection Teams (JPTs) in South Kivu province – with a critical discussion of some challenges of gender mainstreaming in these approaches and potential measures.

The findings indicate that several areas need further attention in order to improve gender mainstreaming at the local and mission level. First, it is essential to draw on the experience of the CLAs for internal gender training within the mission at the civilian as well as military level. The CLAs have excellent skills in understanding local communities, and their knowledge is important for improving gender perspectives at the mission level. Secondly, experiences with these community-targeted innovations could be used to improve cooperation between UN sections on gender perspectives, where it seems to be low levels of institutional cooperation.

It is important to address the gendered roles within communities that obstruct or enable the possibilities of security changes, not least the passivity of men who now rarely leave their homes and their stakeholder roles as formal and traditional representatives. One could say that Congolese men are unable to fulfill their masculine roles as breadwinners and heads of household. Moreover, there is a need to address the gap between what gender issues entail and how this affects the regular liaison work and reporting mechanisms of CLAs and JPTs. A focus on gender issues does not mean working also with women, but rather working with the entire society and understanding how actors and their institutions are informed and reproduced by gender relations in society, and in turn how these relations facilitate or obstruct the desired outcomes.