[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO]
As the Democratic Republic of the Congo marks 50 years of independence this week, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) on Thursday, 1 July entered a new phase and officially changed its name to United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was one of many dignitaries who travelled to Kinshasa to commemorate the country’s anniversary and welcome the mission’s new chapter. At the unveiling of a plaque during the introduction of the mission’s new phase, the Secretary-General said “The aim of the mission is to focus on stabilization and consolidating peace.”
On 28 May, the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing the withdrawal of up to 2,000 UN military personnel. The Secretary-General emphasized that the UN will continue to work with the Government to guide the progressive withdrawal of military peacekeepers in a way that does not jeopardize the gains the country has made.
The Secretary-General also stressed the need to “continue to give priority to protecting civilians, especially women, who bear a disproportionate burden,” and called on all actors, including Government forces to put an end to sexual violence, which he referred to as the “most serious denial of fundamental human rights.”
Established in 1999 MONUC/MONUSCO has offices in 22 stations throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as liaison offices in Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. With more than 20,000 military, police and civilian staff, MONUSCO remains one of the largest peacekeeping operations.