Ending the armed conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (North Kivu)2


The armed conflict in North Kivu between the Congolese government and the M23 armed group was ended by the deployment of a peacekeeping mission, regional Diplomacy, and a peace agreement.

Three years after the Congress for the Defence of the People (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, CNDP) and the Congolese government ended the armed conflict between them in North Kivu, some disaffected former CNDP officers with support from the Rwandan government staged a mutiny in the aftermath of the contested 2011 general election. Citing the failure of the government to implement the terms of the 2009 agreement with the CNDP, the mutineers created a new armed group and named it the 23 March Movement (Mouvement du 23 mars, M23) before launching an insurgency against DRC security forces. By July 2012, M23 had raised a force of up to 2,000 troops and controlled territory in North Kivu along the border with Rwanda.1 Like the CNDP before it, M23 created the basic structures of a state, collected revenue, and established a political wing. The M23 campaign relied on support from the governments of Rwanda and, to a lesser extent, Uganda. Both supplied military and logistical support despite their previous commitments to respect the Congolese border. In November 2012, M23 forces captured Goma, the capital city of North Kivu, in a large offensive that was supported (and possibly directed) by the Rwandan armed forces.2 The inability of DRC security forces to defend Goma not only led to another humanitarian crisis as the civilian population fled the town, but also opened the door to more conflict, such as attacks on civilians by Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.3

The effort to end the rebellion began at the end of November 2012, when M23 forces withdrew from Goma to kick-start negotiations. Talks were subsequently held in Kampala, Uganda, under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and resulted in the signing of a framework agreement on 16 January 2013.4 This failed to end the conflict and following a violent split of the M23 organisation in February, fighting between the movement and government security forces resumed in May 2013. By this point, international concern over the worsening situation in North Kivu began to manifest into action. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon mediated the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the Great Lakes, which revitalised earlier commitments to regional peace, while the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo created and deployed the Force Intervention Brigade to North Kivu to improve the security situation.5 Alongside Congolese troops, this intervention ended external support for M23 and force its leaders to the negotiating table. In November-December 2013, the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 issued declarations which formally ended the conflict.6

1 Jason Stearns. “From CNDP to M23: The evolution of an armed movement in eastern Congo.” Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project. (2012) p.45

2 Kris Berwouts. Congo’s Violent Peace: Conflict and Struggle Since the Great African War. (Zed Books: London, 2017) p.120

3 Ibid. p.121

4 UCDP. Government of DR Congo (Zaire) - M23. (UCDP, 2022) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/statebased/11982 (Accessed 06/01/2022)

5 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, 2013. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/drc-framework-agreement2013 (Accessed 06/01/2022); United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo. Background. (UN Peacekeeping, 2022) Available at: https://monusco.unmissions.org/en/background (Accessed 06/01/2022)

6 BBC. “DR Congo government ‘signs deal with M23 in Kenya’.” BBC News. (12 December 2013) Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25357821 (Accessed 06/01/2022)

Start Year


End Year



North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Horizontal (non-state) intrastate conflict, Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement, Peacekeeping mission

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), UN, and the governments of Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda




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