Local Peacebuilding : Unmanageable or unavoidable? Interaction between MONUSCO and local human rights NGOs in South Kivu, DRC

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When the United Nations (UN) deploys a peace mission, like MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it does not operate in a vacuum, but in an environment in which international, national and local actors as well as civil society are present. The UN becomes increasingly aware of the importance of the context in which peace missions operate, as well as local needs and initiatives. This thesis describes the roles of local human rights NGOs and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) in the peacebuilding process, and their relationship to each other within this process. This thesis is a case study of South Kivu in the DRC. Since the UN knows a long history of involvement in the DRC, the amount of local human rights NGOs is very high, and human rights violations are still a significant problem in this area, the case of South Kivu is appropriate for this research. By way of a literature review, some statements are formulated and tested in this specific case. Besides the literature and policies, there is not much known about the roles and relationships in practice. Regarding local perceptions there is a gap in the existing theories. Also UN peacekeeping is constantly changing due to many critics and changes in the world of today. After this literature review and describing the history of the DRC, the statements are tested with empirical data. This data is obtained by way of a four months during fieldwork. During this fieldwork, interviews with local human rights NGOs and MONUSCO officers are held, and several meetings between those actors have been observed. By analyzing the results, the expectations of the literature have been reflected and some gaps are filled. International UN peacekeepers view their role in peacebuilding as macro-level as well as microlevel, contradictory with the literature. Some theories claim that international peacekeepers are too much focused at top-level with a top-down strategy, but the respondents of MONUSCO in this research stated that their role is also at a local level, to coordinate, share information and build capacity. Although they are limited in some aspects, they see enough possibilities to improve their roles and activities. In addition, results show some corresponding between the perception of roles of local human rights NGOs and MONUSCO, as well as some contradiction. MONUSCO interviewees see local NGOs as limited in their roles, only approaching the population and replacing the government are essential roles of the local NGOs. The NGOs themselves see their roles more elaborated, in different sectors and at different levels. Moreover, MONUSCO’s roles are seen equally by NGOs and MONUSCO, but the implementation is perceived differently. Concerning the relationship between local human rights NGOs and MONUSCO, the literature can be verified by the interview results. Communication contributes to the intensity of the relationship. Essential is to share information and values among different actors of different levels, to increase comprehension and therefore the relationship. In addition, the integration of international UN peacekeepers in the Congolese context also contributes to the strength of the relation between them and local NGOs. Expanding informal contacts and having dialogues with locals bring them together. Furthermore, the mentality of the Congolese NGOs is being named as problematic by MONUSCO officers. They state that Congolese NGOs are merely looking for money; there is no will to change or they want to compete with other NGOs. On the other hand, NGOs state that MONUSCO does not show willingness to build peace but only work for their own big salaries. All these accusations lead to distrust and difficult relationships. As a result, recommendations are made to MONUSCO in particular and to UN peacekeeping missions in general, to increase communication, transparency and integration in the field. For local human rights NGOs, the recommendations are made to change mentality and to increase specialization of the activities within the peacebuilding process.
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