Non-State Actors

How Can MONUSCO Contain the Activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)

March 18, 2020

Jesutimilehin Akamo




This article attempts to highlight what the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) can do to contain the Allied Democratic Force (ADF)’s activities. ADF is a militant group that operates on the borders between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ADF has inflicted damages in the region. Damages include displaced persons, civilian deaths, and other human rights abuses. MONUSCO may be the only solution.




Reconstructed Scenario is based on the following judgments: 


  • Cooperation among the countries in the region will increase the chances of MONUSCO’s success


  • There is a realistic probability that MONUSCO is starved of critical intelligence needed to execute its mandate


  • Without disturbing the income flow and recruitment of ADF, the damage ADF inflicts will keep increasing, showing MONUSCO’s failure in fulfilling its mandate





Reconstructed Scenario


The National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU), the Uganda Muslim Liberation Army and militant members of the Tablighi Jamaat movement formed an alliance. The aim of the alliance was to overthrow Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda. The Allied Democratic Force (ADF) was the name of the alliance. It was created in 1996. Over the past 2 decades, the ADF has proven to be adaptive, and it is one of the least understood militant groups in Africa. It has used Islamist, ethnic, and secessionist ideologies to win recruits and appeal to allies. It is Likely that MONUSCO has insufficient intelligence on ADF.



It is almost certain that the poor relationship between Uganda and Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s government allows the ADF to survive and even grow in strength. However, ADF members could not hold territory within Uganda. Uganda has control over its border and provides better services to its citizens through the local governments. This is not the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Hence the comfort ADF enjoys in DRC territory.





About the Allied Democratic Force (ADF)


The ADF uses ethnic and Jihadist sentiments to recruit members. Over 90% of its membership are youths from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The poor quality of life is why most of them join. Since the ADF promises ‘a better life’ than what the government offers. Grey Dynamics Intelligence assessment suggests that Uganda has sufficient intel on the group but has failed to take timely actions or share due to mistrust. ADF receives support from Sudan Secret Service, Al Shabab, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent and Joseph Kabila, former leaders of DRC, perceived ADF as useful and supported them while in office. Most, if not all their activities in the region include:



  1. Training of recruits

  2. Kidnappings

  3. Raids and Killings

  4. Destruction of Properties

  5. Child Soldiering

  6. Sexual Abuse



ADF’s primary base is in Beni, North Kivu. According to Grey Dynamics Africa Intelligence Assessment, it further strains the Ebola relief effort in North Kivu. The trends and processes of the ADF’s recruitment flow remain unhindered. Also, the Illegal border economy provides an economic lifeline. This adds to the likely supports it receives, from Sudan’s secret service and Multinational Corporations.



Some damages inflicted by ADF include:



  • Over 1, 000 civilian deaths from 2014 to 2016


  • Over 3, 500 civilian deaths from 2017 to 2019


  • About 100, 000 persons were displaced in Nord Kivu as of 2019; while


  • In Beni, 60, 000 persons were displaced.




The map below shows the movement of government troops, foreign invasion, and ADF rebel movements in DRC.







The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)


The UN created MONUSCO to succeed in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) extended the mandate of MONUC. Hence MONUSCO serves to continue MONUC’s mandate but with modifications. MONUSCO is “authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating to protecting civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.” Since then, there have been 14 other UNSC resolutions concerning MONUSCO.



ADF is mostly active in Nord Kivu province in DRC. The province is home to the following resources:



  • Gold


  • Cassiterite


  • Coltan


  • Diamonds


  • Tourmaline


  • Pyrochlore


  • Wolfram



If the insurgency in DRC is contained regulation of the mining industry in the region will improve. This will likely reduce what other countries and companies enjoy from the instability. Hence, it is highly likely that the officials of those countries and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) attempt to frustrate MONUSCO’s efforts.





Containing ADF’s Activities


Amidst the challenges earlier stated, MONUSCO could:



  1. Facilitate cooperation among the countries within the region in order to boost its geopolitical advantage

  2. Enhance its intelligence support in order to respond appropriately to and contain the impact of planned attacks planned by ADF.

  3. Device a sustainable means to disturb the flow of ADF’s income and increase in membership.















Image: MONUSCO / Sylvain Liechti (link)

Map source: Pulse (link)



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grey Dynamics LTD.

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