The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) will be leaving the DRC soon according to an agreement of withdrawal the UN and DRC signed. MONUSCO peacekeepers numbering more than 20,000 troops have been in the east of the DRC for more than twenty years. Their departure will mark the end of a chapter in UN peacekeeping that everyone will want to forget quickly. For the locals, it will probably be good riddance. They will not miss them much. Monusco has not been their saviour as they and their government had hoped. It did not keep any peace nor them safe. You will not see many clutching at the coattails of the departing soldiers, crying and pleading with them to stay, or standing or prostrating before their vehicles to prevent them leaving. You will certainly not see some of the women follow them to their countries as their compatriots did departing Ugandan soldiers more than twenty years ago. The DRC government of President Felix Tshisekedi will be happy to see the backs of a force it has accused of not fighting its war with the M23 rebels or taking its side in the quarrel with neighbours. An unfair accusation, though. Monusco has actively aided DRC forces (FARDC) in that fight – provided equipment and intelligence and diplomatic backing. It has even lent its voice to their wild accusations against Rwanda. This is a severe case of ingratitude. Not surprising, though, as it seems to be one of the defining characteristics of the DRC leadership. The other is impulsive and impetuous decision making. I suspect, however, that Tshisekedi will find out that he acted rather hastily and probably made a big mistake. Monusco, even with all its shortcomings, has been some kind of authority in the east of the country where the government is completely absent. Except, of course, when its forces come to terrorise citizens and plunder. It has also been a convenient scapegoat and taken blows for the failures of the government. Without Monusco, the absence of the state will be exposed. The Congolese state will not immediately fill the space. It has neither the capacity nor the commitment to do so. The vacuum that leaves will be filled by self-serving civil society organisations and the myriad armed groups that already roam the area and cause havoc. We are likely to witness another long spell of chaos and insecurity. The departure will probably be good for the UN as well. The DRC peacekeeping operation has been a publicity disaster for the world body. Anybody else would be hiding in shame and embarrassment. But, of course, the UN is a huge and dense organisation and its bureaucrats have developed attitudes to match and are apparently impervious to the feelings of ordinary, decent mortals. Monusco has had the unenviable distinction of being the UN’s biggest and most expensive peacekeeping operation but also its most ineffectual. The record is unflattering. It came, as its name suggests, to stabilise the region and help disarm the armed groups after the conflicts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It has clearly failed in that role. The region has grown more unstable. Insecurity has increased. Illegal armed groups have grown in number and viciousness. The mission has been ridden with scandals. Sex exploitation of vulnerable people. Sale of weapons to armed groups. Theft of minerals. And so on. However, even the most ineffectual can sometimes produce good results. On the plus side, two important ones. One, Monusco facilitated the repatriation of FDLR fighters and their families who wanted to give up fighting the government of Rwanda and return home. They are now comfortably resettled in their country. Two, the fear of watchful UN eyes probably kept the government and the negative forces from committing excesses. This is perhaps why Tshisekedi wants them out so that he can have his way in the area unchecked. But this might be a prayer he may wish was never answered. The removal of all restraints might not work in his favour. In spite of all this, something good might yet come out of Monusco’s ineffectiveness and imminent departure for both the UN and DRC government. It might make the UN reconsider how it conducts international peacekeeping operations and make appropriate adjustments. Perhaps the forces might become less of bystanders in conflict situations and take a more proactive role to ease tension and secure some kind of peace, of course maintaining a level of neutrality. They should, at the very least cultivate and project an image of impartiality and firmness that should earn them trust and respect as honest peace brokers and keepers. The peacekeeping mission chiefs in distant New York might consider giving commanders in the field more authority to make decisions based on their judgement of conditions on the ground and take necessary action. They might also think about having fewer countries contributing troops to a single peacekeeping mission for easier and more efficient operations. The numbers of countries contributing troops currently involved makes the entire operation unwieldy. On its part, the DRC government might finally take up its responsibilities in the east of the country where it has conveniently been absent because of the knowledge (wrong) that someone else is doing the job. No one should cheer yet, though. That will not happen. The state will stay away as it has done before and the region descend into even worse chaos. The only difference is that there will be nobody on whom to shift the burden and blame. Monusco will be leaving after nearly a generation in the DRC. Who will miss them? Not many, except perhaps Tshisekedi and his government despite his ordering them out. Another of his impetuous decisions might come to haunt him.