International Relations

A critical analysis of the EU mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Dinu CODREANU, College of Europe, Masters EU International Relations & Diplomacy Studies.  

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I/ Factsheet: the EU Mission to provide advice and assistance for security sector reform in the. Democratic Republic of the Congo in the area of defense

               Since its independence in 1960, the poverty-and-war curse was not dispelled from the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Indeed, 70% of the population lives under extreme poverty, corruption is endemic and the Human Development Index was 0.286 in 2011, placing it at the bottom in terms of development.[1] The economic situation was worsen by a complex civil war that plagued the country since 1997. A total of 5.4 million people died in DRC’s Second civil war.[2] As in many post-conflict areas, the international community is extensively present to provide relief efforts. Likewise, a vast array of European development programs are implemented, spending 1.9 billion euros between 2003 and 2011.[3]

               In the Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Program 2008-2013 for DRC, the EU declared that its goal is to “establish good governance in the state apparatus by the creating strong and efficient institutions to ensure the safety of Congolese people and their property.”[4] To reach this objective, a set of different EU initiatives were launched, one of which concerned the Security Sector Reform (SSR). Since the 2003 European Security Strategy, SSR became part of the “peace pack” that EU administers to weak and conflict-stricken states.[5] EU decides to act directly by choosing a structural foreign policy and presence on the ground. This lead to the establishment in 2005 of the European Union mission to provide advice and assistance for security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (EUSEC).

  • Legal basis: Article 28 and Article 43 of the Treaty of the European Union.
  • Legal act: COUNCIL JOINT ACTION 2005/355/CFSP of 2 May 2005, the mandate is renewed yearly.
  • Mission’s nature: Civilian mission based in Kinshasa and Goma, funded by 8 member states.[6]
  • Budget: initial6 million in 2005 has increased steadily till 2012 (13.9 million euros) and then diminishing to reach 4.6 million euros in 2014.[7]
  • Total spending: 74.8 million euros (2005-2015).
  • Staff: 30 persons at the present time. During the major part of its mandates, the mission was around 55 local and 50 international staff, 75% of whom were military personnel from 14 member states.[8]
  • Other EU actors: France, Belgium and the United Kingdom on a bilateral basis; EUPOL, EU Delegation
  • Other actors: UN mission to DRC (MONUSOC), the United States, China, South Africa, and Angola.

To reach the global objective of a strong and functioning Congolese state, the EU is seeing the SSR as a crucial part. At the operational level, EUSEC implements the SSR by:

  • Integrating the rebel armed groups in FARCD (DRC Armed Forces)
  • Ameliorating the human resources management in the army
  • Creating a durable educational system for military personnel
  • Mainstreaming human rights activates, especially related to sexual violence
  • Punctual projects (gender-related activities, IT projects, advisory)

II/ Analysis: Giving its wide mandate and the multiple actors, this essay looks to what extent EU is supporting its declaration policy in DRC through operational policy

“EU declaratory policy objective and country:  Good governance through strong and efficient institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

EU operational policy action: Provide advice and assistance to the Security Sector Reform in DRC”

  1. A series of technical successes

EUSEC’s role in DRC’s SSR took the form of extensive strategic and technical support for the FARDC. It is remarked that EUSEC adapted quickly to the complex Kinshasa institutional landscape. The presence of the mission’s staff in various key institutions (Ministry of National Defense and Veterans, Joint Staff, Army Staff and General Inspectorate) puts EUSEC in permanent contact with the local authorities, providing them with strategic advice on SSR, especially after the FARDC Mwando-Etumba Reform Plan, adopted in 2009.

A strong focus on human resources management came with the 2006 mandate, when the chain of payments project (EUSEC-FIN) was added. At that time, field commanders were responsible for the payment of salaries in FARDC and they were adding ‘fictive’ soldiers to the payment lists, misusing the public funds. The purpose of EUSEC-FIN was to divide the chain of payments from the chain of command, thus limiting corruption in the army. It was followed by a biometric census of the armed forces: from the 340.000 estimated soldiers in 2006, the number real number appeared to be 130.000.[9] This lead to an increase in salary from 10 USD to 60 USD per month per solider.[10] Today, 80% of the soldiers have biometric cards and are constantly monitored.[11] In parallel with the modernization of the human resources, EUSEC brought logistic support. Indeed, 11armories were constructed, 800 computers[12] and adequate training sessions were provided to back up the functional changes. [13]

The rehabilitation of the DRC military education system was added in the 2010 mandate, targeting 8 military schools in Kinshasa, Kitona and Kananga. [14] The aim is to create a sustainable military education, trying to attract new recruits but also to form the current soldiers, a high priority in a country were rebellions are a common thing. As stated by EUSEC’s Head of Mission J-L Nuremberg “There is a whole generation which wasn’t really trained. They know the field but not the tactic rules or the doctrine[15]. This modernization tackles other structural issues like the over supervision inside the army. According to the DRC Ministry of Defense, in 2008 the armed forces consisted 2/3 of officers and noncommissioned officers and only 1/3 of enlisted man.[16] Finally, creating a strong and capable military education system, EUSEC is indirectly preparing the ground for its retreat.

        2. Difficulties on the politically-sensitive topics

If EUSEC excels on technical issues with competent military staff, it is the political expertise which is lacking. When the DRC government has direct interest in EUSEC’s action (as those described in the first part), the cooperation is relatively smooth. However, when touching gender mainstreaming, integration of armed factions and sovereignty-related issues, the roads gets bumpier.

The first “bump” came in 2007, when a new FARDC Reform plan was debated. At that time, EUSEC supported General Kisempia plan but in the end another format was adopted (only to be modified in the near future). This demonstrated EUSEC’s difficulties to work in a political environment because it lacked political savvy experts who could speak the ‘diplomat’s language’. It was proposed to put a professional diplomat as head of mission and a military as deputy or vice versa, without any tangible results.[17]

The integration of armed rebel forces was ‘formally accomplish’, the reference to the mission disappearing in EUSEC’s 2010 mandate. This happened after the 23 March 2009 DRC deal with the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), the main rebel force at that time. EUSEC targeted the newly integrated combatants (they were given 100 USD and a kitchen set) and their family (social programs for combatant’s wives) but the efforts did not suffice. The integration was not durable, the M23 rebellion, composed partially of CNDP members, took control of Goma in Nord Kivu in 2012. Furthermore, these programs did not address rape by the armed forces and the promotion of female soldiers in FARDC.

Given the DRC’s vast area (2.3 million km²) and instabilities in various regions, another project concerned the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF). Mentioned in the 2009 FARDC Reform Plan and 2008 EUSEC mandate, its creation proved to be problematic and could not be used in efficient way. The UN Security Council Resolution 2098 of March 2013, raised the cap of MONUSCO peacekeepers and sent an Intervention Brigade to support FARDC against the M23 rebellion. The Intervention Brigade’s mandate was extended in 2014 confirming that the DRC’s RFF is not operational.

These failed initiatives are associated with the lack of expertise in the political field but also to the relatively small budget, especially when talking about the reintegration of thousands of soldiers and large-scale trainings.

         3. Lack of comprehensive approach and weak coordination

  • A fragmented EU action

EUSEC’s actions in DRC are praised by academics[18] but also by NGOs, despite its lacunas in the political field.[19] However, we must not forget that EUSEC is only a piece in the general declaratory policy towards DRC in establishingstrong and efficient institutions”. Besides EUSEC, there is EUPOL, the EU Delegation and member states who are important actors. To reach the common objective, the EU needs a comprehensive approach, meaning that all the EU actors need to work across institutions and with Member States to develop a single, common strategic vision for a conflict or crisis situation and for future EU engagement across policy areas[20]

The 2006 document “A comprehensive approach to SSR in DRC” aims to implement this global, coherent EU action plan in DRC. However, it is classified and known to a very limited number of persons in DRC missions.[21] As a result, each EU actor and member state are pursuing their own mandate. In an attempt to increase coordination, the Head of EUSEC is presiding the “Groupe Européen de Travail”, which brings all the member states taking part in the SSR. However, member states tend to defend their country position, limiting coordination. Another problem is the lack of leading EU actor, causing sometimes contradictions in the relations with DRC government. Finally, there is no formal cooperation mechanism between EUSEC and EUPOL, two EU missions who share the SSR mission.

  • A fragmented military reform

International cooperation is included in each EUSEC mandate since 2005. However, this proves to be even more complicated than the comprehensive EU approach. First, EU and MONUSCO are competing (and not coordinating) for the position of leader in the DRC’s SSR. EUSEC organizes meeting with the non-EU actors but important actors are excluded (South Africa, Angola, and China). From a qualitative aspect, coordination takes form of limited information sharing.

This lack of coordination of the international community goes in hand with the lack of coordination of DRC’s administration. DRC is reluctant to meet in multilateral instances because it is harder to have a leading role. This explains why DRC prefers to work on bilateral basis, complicating EUSEC’s coordination efforts.

Conclusion

To sum up the main ideas about EUSEC:

  • A success in terms of SSR expertise and technical programs implementation
  • Experiencing difficulties when dealing with political-related issues
  • Coordination at EU and international level is weak, hampering the comprehensive approach.

In the EUSEC context, the EU declaratory policy is backed by operational policies, more or less successful depending on the nature (political or technical). EUSEC is a respected partner, especially in the FARDC because of its capabilities to understand the DRC context. However, the lack of cohesiveness with the other EU actors makes it impossible to realize the objective to strengthen the DRC institutions. The SSR is not only EUSEC’s responsibility, thus the importance to create an up-to-dated comprehensive approach plan, that is known and applied by all actors involved in DRC.

References

Bavier Joe, “Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month: study”, Reuters, 22 January 2008, retrieved the 5 October 2014

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/22/us-congo-democratic-death-idUSL2280201220080122

Berghezan Georges, FORCES ARMÉES DE RDC : Le chaos institutionnalisé ? Groupe de Recherche et d’information sur la paix et la sécurité, Janvier 2014

Boshoff Henri et al., Supporting SSR in DRC: between a rock and a hard place, Netherland Institute for International Relations “Clingendael, April 2010, 34 pages

Commission Européenne, Document de stratégie pays et Program indicatif national du 10ème FED 2008-2013, 2008, 104 pages

Cour des Comptes Européenne, L’aide de l’UE à la gouvernance en République Démocratique du Congo, Office des publications, Luxembourg, 2013, 50 pages

Dusautoy Mieszko,Congo : priorité à la réforme de sécurité, pour les ONG, Bruxelles2, 17 Avril 2012, retrieved the 2 November 2014 http://www.bruxelles2.eu/tag/eusec-rdc

EEAS, The mission EUSEC DR Congo – What is all about? 2011 retrieved the 1 November 2014 http://www.eeas.europa.eu/csdp/missions-and-operations/eusec-rd-congo/pdf/30062011_factsheet_eusec-rd-congo_en.pdf

European Commission, The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises, JOIN (2013) 30 final, Brussels, 2013, retrieved the 8 November 2014 http://www.eeas.europa.eu/statements/docs/2013/131211_03_en.pdf

EUISS, European Security and Defense Policy – The first 10 years (1999-2009), Paris, 2009, 448 pages

EURAC, Eurac Position Paper on EUSEC-EUPOL, 7 March 2014, retrieved the 5 November 2014 https://www.cordaid.org/media/medialibrary/2014/03/EurAC_Position_Paper_EUSEC_EUPOL_7_March_2014.pdf

EEAS, Factsheet EUSEC RD Congo, November 2014, retrieved the 10 November 2014

http://eeas.europa.eu/csdp/missions-and-operations/eusec-rd-congo/pdf/factsheet_eusec_rd_congo_fr.pdf

EEAS, La mission EUSEC RD Congo, April 2014, retrieved the 9 November 2014 http://www.eeas.europa.eu/csdp/missions-and-operations/eusec-rd-congo/pdf/20140410_brochure_eusec_rd_congo.pdf

EUSEC Mandates, 2005-2015, retrived the 30 October 2014  http://www.eeas.europa.eu/csdp/missions-and-operations/eusec-rd-congo/background-material/index_en.htm

Gros-Verheyde Nicolas, “La réforme de l’armée au Congo : bancarisation, réintégration, formation…”, Bruxelles2, 24 Juin 2013, retrived the 2 November 2014 http://www.bruxelles2.eu/tag/eusec-rdc

Justaert Arnout, From Security Sector Reform (SSR) to Security Sector Development (SSD): A European Structural Diplomacy towards the DR Congo? Institute for International and European Policy, University of Leuven, February 2011

Mélmot Sébastien, Candide au Congo – L’échec annoncée de la réforme du secteur de sécurité, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, Paris, 2008, 29 pages

More Sylvie and Price Megan, The EU’s support to SSR in DRC: Perceptions from the field in spring 2010, Netherland Institute for International Relations “Clingendael”, May 2011

Plan de réforme des FARDC, 2009, retrieved the 8 November 2014 http://desc-wondo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Plan_Reforme_FARDC.pdf

[1] Cour des Comptes Européenne, L’aide de l’UE à la gouvernance en République Démocratique du Congo, Office des    publications, Luxembourg, 2013, p.11

[2] J. Bavier, “Congo war-driven crisis kills 45,000 a month: study”, Reuters, 22 January 2008

[3] Cour des Comptes Européenne, op.cit. p.7

[4] Commission Européenne, Document de stratégie pays et Program indicatif national du 10ème FED 2008-2013, 2008, p.42

[5] In this ‘kit’ we can also find transitional justice, democratic elections, new constitution draft etc.

[6] France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Luxembourg and Netherlands.

[7] EUISS, European Security and Defense Policy – The first 10 years (1999-2009), Paris, 2009, p.243

[8] EEAS, The mission EUSEC DR Congo – What is all about ?, 2011

[9] N. Gros-Verheyde, “La réforme de l’armée au Congo : bancarisation, réintégration, formation…”, Bruxelles2, 24 Juin 2013

[10] EUISS, op.cit. p.247

[11] EEAS, Factsheet EUSEC RD Congo, November 2014

[12] Ibid.

[13] EEAS, La mission EUSEC RD Congo, April 2014

[14] EEAS, op.cit. November 2014

[15] N. Gros-Verheyde, op.cit.

[16] S. Mélmot, Candide au Congo – L’échec annoncée de la réforme du secteur de sécurité, Institut Français des Relations Internationales, Paris, 2008, p.10

[17] S. More and M. Price, The EU’s support to SSR in DRC : Perceptions from the field in Spring 2010, Netherland Institute for International Relations Clingendael”, May 2011, p.ix

[18] EUISS, op.cit. p.252

[19] EURAC, Eurac Position Paper on EUSEC-EUPOL, 7 March 2014

[20] European Commission, The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises, JOIN(2013) 30 final, Brussels, 2013, p.6

[21] S. More and M. Price, op.cit. p.23

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