Demobilising the Democratic Republic of Congo

In response to our November post about conflict in the DRC, Sofia Shariff argues that lasting peace can only come from within the country itself – not the international community – by integrating former rebels into a new state military.

 

UN Mission in DR Congo Assures Stability During Electoral Period

UN forces on patrol in Bogoro during elections in 2006. © UN Photo/Creative Commons

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) does not fit with many of our preconceptions of a civil war. There isn’t a unified opposition fighting to rid a clearly defined area of an oppressive government or leader that has over stayed their welcome. No distinct class or ethnic group has risen up to demand rights or access to a resource others in their society enjoy the monopoly of.

Of course these dynamics exist and have played a role in the uptake of arms by some, but it simply isn’t possible to boil the conflict down to such a clear motivation. The civil war is one of profiteering and patrimony, with different groups clashing at the national, regional, local and even village levels. Not only do the groups involved in the fighting change frequently but their demands and aims also fluctuate. Control of mineral deposits is as much the desire for many involved as political change or institutionalised authority.

A sustained, successful and legitimate political system can only be established if the subjects of that system place trust in its institutions. In the DRC, this relationship has been broken due to years of protracted and deep rooted violence. For the country to move forwards, and for murder, rape and forced confiscation of land and natural resources to become the exception rather than the norm, the reconstruction effort – and, by extension, the new politics of the DRC – must focus on cementing a real and lasting trust between the state and its people. Lessons from Rwanda teach that reconciliation and truth telling can bring a once genocidal society back from the brink. Continue reading

Africa’s forgotten war

Politics might have kept the Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil war off the global agenda for more than a decade, but the scale of the violence calls for decisive action on multiple fronts, says Sabrina Marsh.

 

© CIA World Factbook

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – located in central Africa – has suffered from a crippling civil war since 1998. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues, hindering any progress in the embattled country. The violence has resulted in the deaths of around 5.4 million people, making it the world’s deadliest documented conflict since World War II. The prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world, with 15,996 new instances recorded by the United Nations across the nation in 2008 alone, of which 65% of the victims were children.

Yet, despite its incredible scale – and its destabilising effect across the entire region – the conflict in DRC has been largely ignored by the global media and ranks low on international government agendas. So why has the ‘African world war’ gone unnoticed? Continue reading