Despite a deep split before the Iraq war, the UN Security Council voted last Friday to authorize an international fighting force - not just passive peacekeepers - in Congo. And to top it off, the UN force will be led by France, not the US.
The UN is back in business, and none too soon to prevent more killings in one of Africa's biggest and potentially richest nations. A recent inter-ethnic massacre of some 400 people in the northeast city of Bunia sparked the UN action. But ever since the UN failed to prevent the 1994 genocidal slaughter in Rwanda and a 1995 massacre of Muslims in Bosnia, it's tried to act faster and more boldly to stop violent ethnic or religious conflict from escalating into attempted genocide.
Congo's ongoing violence began as a spillover from Rwanda's conflict, but increased when other African nations intervened. Millions have died due to war or neglect. A peace deal was to take effect last month, but the massacre reignited tensions.
If the new UN force can prevent violence in the northeast, and allow Congo to implement its peace deal, then the UN will have learned well from its past mistakes.