Brazilian General Invited to Lead the Largest UN Peacekeeping Mission

By Dialogo
May 09, 2013

General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, who joined the reserve in December of 2012, will now return to the Army at age 60. After 44 years of dedication to the Land Forces, which included a period of time as Force Commander of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), General Santos Cruz will lead close to 20,000 soldiers from 20 countries in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The African country has 70 million inhabitants and is currently suffering a civil war.

“This is a tribute to the excellent work he performed while he was the head of MINUSTAH in Haiti, and a new sign of the international recognition for the work of Brazilian Soldiers not only in Haiti, but in the United Nations peacekeeping missions as a whole,” said Minister of Defense Celso Amorim, as the invitation for the Brazilian general was confirmed.

General Santos Cruz felt similarly. “My choice is partially based on the prestige of Brazil, which has projected itself highly throughout the international scenario. It is the combination of diplomacy, military experience and government determination, all of which are summed up by the invitation,” he said.

The invitation to undertake MONUSCO – currently the largest UN peacekeeping mission as far as military headcount – was confirmed via communication by the United Nations to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

“In Congo, there is a complex situation of violence, particularly due to rebel groups in the Eastern part of the country. We expect collaboration to achieve the United Nations mandate, which from now on, is our obligation to fulfill,” he said.

Brazil will be fulfilling the mandate for 12 months, with the possibility of an extension according to the needs of the UN. General Santos Cruz concluded that it will be challenging, and that the use of military force must never be disregarded. “It is a peacekeeping mission. We hope humanitarian aid reaches the population. But we have an intervention brigade and enough force to neutralize and disarm the rebels who are acting in the country,” he stated.

According to him, “the UN has guidelines for their activities, and the use of force isbased on certain standards.” Currently, as he explained, the United Nations counts on approximately 18,000 Soldiers, but expects to add 2,000 more. “We have troops from different countries. From India to Uruguay, there are Soldiers from all continents,” explained the general.

Santos Cruz stated that there is no signs for the Brazilian government to deploy troops to join the peacekeeping mission. “The UN presence not only in Africa, but in other countries in the peacekeeping mission is a complex situation. We have to take into consideration that this is a difficult mission due to the nature of the environment,” he added.