The Civil Affairs Section plays a crucial role towards achieving MONUSCO’s mandate by, among other things, engaging different stakeholders at the local and sub-national levels on issues pertaining to the Protection of Civilians (POC), supporting stabilization and the strengthening of State institutions, key governance, and security reforms in the DRC. Civil Affairs serves as an effective interface between the wider Mission and the Congolese population and authorities at various levels. Civil Affairs establishes strong partnerships with local actors and builds their capacities to strengthen local protection mechanisms and reduce protection risks to civilians while preparing for a progressive and effective handover of the early warning, protection, and conflict resolution mechanisms to communities and authorities.
Civil Affairs is composed of 201 staff deployed across six field locations and Kinshasa. Most of the staff is deployed at the local level assisting response by communities, local authorities, and MONUSCO to evolving protection challenges. The Section, therefore, plays a key role in supporting the Mission's protection and stabilization mandate due to its proximity to local realities and dynamics.
Based on the priorities for the Mission outlined in the UN Security Council Resolutions 2556, Civil Affairs focuses on the following main strategic priorities:
- Protection of Civilians:
Civil Affairs supports the Mission’s comprehensive strategies to protect civilians through addressing threats posed by armed groups and to ensure a coordinated and locally owned approach tailored to the context of each province and Field Office. This includes a dynamic, integrated, and comprehensive approach to protect civilians to reduce threats to a level that can be managed by the Government in conflict-affected areas. Emphasis is placed on strengthening community-based PoC mechanisms to advance resilience and early warning, reinforcing security governance to enhance participatory security governance, and seeking to capture and analyze perception data through perception surveys on peace and stabilization to understand the population’s needs and opinions, assess local perceptions of the MONUSCO Force’s engagement, inform analysis, and evidence-based programming.
Civil Affairs has developed and maintains various tools to respond to key protection needs in its operations, including the Community Liaison Assistants (CLAs), Community Alert Networks (CAN), Local Protection Committees (LPC), and the Community Protection Plan (CPP):
Community Liaison Assistants (CLA): Civil Affairs currently manages 147 CLAs (including 15 women), with over 73% embedded with MONUSCO Force deployments in 44 strategic hotspot areas. CLAs are national staff who are deployed in military bases and serve as an interface between the Mission, MONUSCO’s military, the Congolese population, and local authorities at the field level. They play a vital role in developing and sustaining community relations with the Mission, particularly with deployed Mission Forces, building confidence among the population, and monitoring security alerts. CLAs support MONUSCO Peacekeepers to fulfill the PoC and stabilization mandate through active liaison with the community, information gathering, identifying risks to civilians, performing protection analysis, and developing locally tailored and demand-driven Community protection plans in cooperation with MONUSCO’s military. CLAs also facilitate information exchange for key protection actors including national authorities, UN Agencies, and NGOs. CLAs play a key role in managing MONUSCO’s early warning and response system (CAN), supporting Local Protection Committees, and the update of Community Protection Plans (CPP).
Community Alert Network (CAN): The Community Alert Networks (CANs) are an Early Warning System (EWS) mechanism enabling communities, including women and youth in isolated areas to directly contact MONUSCO Forces or CLAs via mobile phones or High-Frequency radios (CAN HF) to prevent, mitigate or stop imminent threats to their communities. When alerts are received, MONUSCO may intervene directly and/or refer alerts to competent local authorities and security forces i.e., PNC or FARDC. Following the reception of a CAN alert, MONUSCO triangulates the information and addresses verified alerts, or refers them to relevant local PoC actors, particularly in areas where MONUSCO is not present. In conformity with the Mission's transition plan, Civil Affairs increasingly engages with local actors and mechanisms on early warning in support of the protection through projection model. There are currently 86 operational CANs reaching civilians in more than 2,378 villages in high-risk areas.
Local Protection Committees (LPC): With the support of local communities, CLAs establish Local Protection Committees (LPC) to promote ownership of protection mechanisms at the local level within their areas of deployment. LPCs are regularly trained by CLAs on the protection of civilians and the early warning mechanism which facilitates their collaboration with POC actors, as well as the drafting of the Community Protection Plan (CPP) which identifies protection threats and mitigating measures.
Community Protection Plans (CPP): The Community Protection Plan (CPP) is a POC tool created by Civil Affairs and managed by CLAs and LPCs. The CPP provides information on how the population and protection actors can address imminent protection risks in their communities. The CPP highlights an analysis of the context, the list of threats, the locality, vulnerable groups, incidents and authors, and the mitigating measures.
Joint project with UNDP and HHI on the perception on security and justice
Civil Affairs and UNDP in collaboration with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), several local Universities, and in coordination with the Ministry of Justice and provincial governments of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri have been implementing a project on "Local perceptions on peace consolidation and stabilization in DRC". The project administers opinion polls aimed at capturing local perceptions on security, justice, social cohesion, as well as stabilization and peace consolidation efforts. Since 2014, twenty-two quarterly polls have so far been conducted on local perceptions of peacebuilding and reconstruction viewed through security and justice in these three provinces in Eastern DRC. With over 300 indicators collected in each poll, the surveys provide data that facilitated the understanding of the population's needs and opinions on the stabilization and consolidation of peace and provides valuable information for planning, programming, and decision-making for national and international actors. In addition to regular polls, Civil Affairs facilitates a specific poll around and within MONUSCO bases to assess the engagement of MONUSCO’s military with the local population. Poll results and analysis are available on the peacebuildingdata.org
ii) Support to the stabilization and strengthening of State institutions, key governance, and security reforms
Civil Affairs addresses root causes of conflicts and promotes the prevention, mitigation, and resolution of inter and intra Community conflicts through capacity building, coaching, local mediation, dialogue, and community sensitizations. Civil Affairs promotes constructive dialogue, peaceful cohabitation, and inclusive participation in dialogue processes through community sensitizations targeting local authorities and community leaders. The section also paves the way for sustainable structured dialogue and supports Local Conflict Resolution Structures such as the Commissions Consultatives de Règlement des Conflits Coutumiers (CCRCC) and Barazas Intercommunautaire. Civil Affairs also strengthens engagement with civil society actors to advance local governance, democratization efforts, and peace by maintaining engagement and enhancing understanding of the civil society dynamics, structuring, revitalizing civil society organizations, and reinforcing the capacity of civil society organizations. Civil Affairs also mitigates anti-MONUSCO sentiments by highlighting the Mission’s contributions to peace and security and thereby strengthening its credibility and confidence among the local population.
Civil Affairs collaborates with the Government at different levels. Nationally, with the Ministry of Interior and Security as well as the Ministry of Decentralization and Customary Affairs as its key strategic partners and also with various Provincial Ministries and other departments at Territoire and Chefferie levels. Civil Affairs also works closely with civil society in different formulations (networks, platforms, and at the grassroots) and at national, Provincial, and lower levels. Civil Affairs supports Congolese civil society in various ways particularly towards mitigating violence, managing conflicts, and building peace, as well as mobilizing for dialogue and a peaceful electoral process. The Section also consistently engages and collaborates with the UNCT and local and international organizations in support of their humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts. OCHA and UNHCR are key humanitarian partners, and UNDP is a strategic partner for the implementation of the joint project on the perception of security and justice. UNDP and other similar development actors will be increasingly critical partners to support the Government and Communities to maintain Protection tools when the Mission transitions away.