The role of peace missions in sustaining peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This study examined efforts aimed at ending conflict and restoring order and political stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, under the auspices of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. As one of the largest and most extensively funded peace operations across the globe, the UN’s mission in the DRC represents paradoxes and contradictions of the Liberal Peacebuilding approach, from the size of deployment to the scale of its funding, given the failure to end cycles of conflict in the country. In departing from the dominant socio-economic and ethnographic lenses from which the elusiveness of peace in the country have been examined in many studies, this study focused on the institutional guiding frameworks that have informed the succession of UN peacekeeping missions and madates over the years. A significant amount of research on UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC have relied on the Liberal Peacebuilding discourse and how it proposes to deliver peaceful and a prosperous nation. This study therefore interrogated the UN missions’ performance in implementing the Liberal peace framework. It examined if indeed the location of the UN mission within the Liberal Peacebuilding models may help explain its successes and failures, and whether this approach informs its inability to ensure sustainable peace in the country. Furthermore, the study examined the prospects that the transition to Sustaining peace holds for peace and stability in the DRC. To this end, it sought to understand, whether and how the new Sustaining Peace approach could overcome the pitfalls of the Liberal Peacebuilding model; and its potency to resolve this partly conceptual and partly practical quagmire. This study adopted a descriptive method of analysis based on a case study survey design, using both primary and secondary data, and qualitative analysis. Findings from interviews with the UN and other stakeholders indicate that in contrast to clear academic bifurcations on the meaning of these two frames of action, there is not such clarity within the UN, about the conceptual equivalence of it's operational frames. Sustaining peace, the study found, is a muscular conceptual matrix whose operationsalisation is not linear. It recommends conceptual harmony between theory and practice among other measures, as panacea for peace in the DRC. This justified the usefulness of this enquiry in ending the elucivenss of peace in the DRC.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, 2022
Political stability, Restoring order, Democratic Republic of Congo, UCTD