More than 70 Heads of State will gather this week to attend the 21st Africa Union summit which coincides with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the continental institution. The summit’s theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” will unfold with a call for Africans to “realize the dream of the founding fathers for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Africa”. Read More »
The Congolese military has again been accused of significant human-rights abuses, including mass rape. Recently, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office released a report concerning abuses by the Congolese Army (FARDC) as it retreated from advancing M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2. Read More »
On Monday morning, the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army, or FARDC, clashed in the village of Mutaho, approximately six miles northwest of the provincial capital of Goma. The fighting comes after six months of relative calm between the warring parties following the 12-day occupation of Goma by M23 in November 2012. Read More »
Goma, DR Congo and Washington, DC – Significant international repercussions for neighboring government support to rebels in Congo, and consumer pressure on companies that trade in conflict minerals, are weakening armed groups and providing new leverage for U.N. envoy Mary Robinson’s efforts to help build peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, argues the Enough Project in a new report [http://www.enoughproject.org/files/MaryRobinsonsNextStepsToEndCongosDeadlyWar.pdf].
Enough Project Congo Researcher and report co-author Fidel Bafilemba said:
International pressure on Rwanda to stop supporting armed groups, and on Congo to enact reforms, helped split M23 and led to Bosco Ntaganda’s surrender to the International Criminal Court. U.N. envoy Mary Robinson can take advantage of this moment and initiate a comprehensive peace process that includes regional negotiations and a Congolese democratic reform process. Civil society must be at the negotiation table this time around.
For too long, the “Three K’s”— Kigali, Kampala, and Kinshasa – have been competing violently in eastern Congo, but the Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals has made it much more difficult to profit from the illicit trade. Now is the time to offer the region a forum to legitimately cooperate on economic and security issues. To provide incentives for the economic talks, the Obama administration should launch a responsible investment initiative with the private sector and NGOs that explores expanded investments in conflict-free natural resources in the region.
Because of its close relationship with, and ability to influence Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, the U.S. government should play an active role in Congo’s peace process. The report, “Mary Robinson’s Next Steps to Help End Congo’s Deadly War,” offers six recommendations, including that the U.S. rapidly deploy a senior U.S. envoy to support the peace process; sanction key gold smugglers and officials aiding armed groups; provide military advisors to the U.N. Intervention Brigade to combat spoiler armed groups; and support the International Criminal Court to investigate and issue arrest warrants for at-large war criminals in eastern Congo.
Enough Project Co-founder and report co-author John Prendergast said:
One of the most pressing challenges for Special Envoy Robinson and other diplomats will be the construction of a credible process that allows Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo to work together to address the security and economic drivers of violence in eastern Congo. Working together to enhance regional infrastructure, undertake joint economic projects, and create a conflict-free minerals trade will attract foreign investment and allow the regional economic pie to grow larger, thus benefiting everyone. That will be the biggest incentive for peace in the Great Lakes region, and provide the international community with real leverage to end violent conflict there.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
Peace has a better chance to take root in eastern Congo now than at any time since the cycle of conflict began in the early to mid-1990s. This report analyzes the factors that contribute to the unique role the U.N. special envoy Mary Robinson can play in establishing a more comprehensive and inclusive peace process that addresses the core drivers of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
By Fidel Bafilemba, Sasha Lezhnev, and John Prendergast | May 16, 2013
A new report from the Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, confirms that Sudan and South Sudan have violated recent peace agreements by positioning troops in what is supposed to be a 12-mile (20-kilometer) demilitarized buffer zone along their contested border. Neither the joint border-verification mechanism established by both countries, nor the United Nations peacekeeping mission tasked with monitoring the demilitarized buffer zone has detected these violations. Read More »
As we gather to mark April as Genocide Awareness month, to recognize atrocities across the world and throughout history, it's important not just to recognize the past, but to learn from it. Read More »
Rumors circulated last week that the M23 rebel group reportedly signed an agreement with eleven other armed groups on April 21, 2013. The groups are said to include FAP-Nyatura, FDC, FPC-AP, FPD, Mai-Mai Cheka, MPA, M26, PARECO Lafontaine, PRM, URDC, and Vutura. They allegedly agreed on mutual defense – an armed attack against any one of them would be considered an attack against them all – in response to an attack by the forthcoming United Nations Foreign Intervention Brigade, or FIB. Read More »
I learned about the conflict in Congo because Javier Bardem was under the weather. Javier was supposed to join John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, at a screening of "The Greatest Silence," a film showcasing the use of rape as a weapon of war by militias in Congo, but he was too sick to attend. Read More »
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in early April when we called "Brigadier General" Sultani Makenga, the military leader of M23, currently one of the strongest armed groups in eastern Congo. Working as field researchers in the Kivus, we wanted to engage with him face-to-face to capture his take on the DR Congo's state of affairs and learn first-hand about the latest developments inside the rebellion. Read More »