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The United Nations as a Party to Armed Conflict

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The Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

image of Journal of International Peacekeeping

As the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations has evolved in recent decades so too has the legal interpretation of the way in which international humanitarian law (IHL) is viewed as applying to its peacekeepers. While it has been understood that the UN could become a party to armed conflict, the organization has never publicly acknowledged this until the establishment of the Intervention Brigade of the of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) pursuant to Security Council resolution 2098 of March 2013. This article addresses the legal consequences of the Intervention Brigade as a party to armed conflict and the insights it provides into the legal status of UN peacekeeper under IHL. In particular, it will argue that the established legal framework for UN peacekeeping operations as having the protected status of civilians under IHL has proved ill-suited for the Intervention Brigade and its experience has highlighted the inconsistencies and gaps in the rules that have been developed.

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