|Photo by Meher Ali / MONUC
Violence has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since its emergence from Belgian colonial rule in 1960. Forty years later, on July 10, 1999, DRC, along with Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Uganda, signed the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement for a cessation of hostilities between all belligerent forces in the Congo. The Security Council deployed the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) in November 1999 to support the ceasefire. In July 2003, the Security Council imposed a 12-month arms embargo in the eastern part of the country where armed conflict continued. In May 2005, the Council expanded the arms embargo throughout the DRC territory, and imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on those responsible for the ongoing conflict. But with an area the size of Western Europe and porous borders, the UN has had difficulty implementing the arms embargo. In March 2005, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland stated that Eastern Congo was scene of the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, with a death toll outstripping that of Sudan's Darfur region. MONUC has faced harsh criticism about its effectiveness and sustainability. Kofi Annan has repeatedly appealed for more funding and international interest in the Congo and has asked the Security Council numerous times for a substantial increase in peacekeepers to address the threats posed by foreign presence. However the US has opposed any more peacekeepers, claiming the $1 billion mission is already too expensive.
DRC's rich natural resources -- including timber, diamonds, copper, cobalt, gold, uranium and coltan -- clearly fuel the conflict. Local militias, backed by Uganda, Rwanda and mining multinationals, get supplies of food, money, and military hardware in exchange for smuggled resource riches. In October 2003, a UN panel of experts released a report accusing Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe of systematically exploiting Congolese resources and recommended the Security Council impose sanctions. Doubtless due to powerful political and economic interests, the UN never followed up on the report's recommendations. In a September 2005 resolution on conflict prevention, the Security Council acknowledged for the first time the link between natural resources and armed conflict, vowing to take action against illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources, particularly in Africa. In January 2006, the Council took one step further and adopted Resolution 1653 on the regional dimensions of peace and security in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The resolution calls on the governments of DRC, as well as of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi to promote lawful and transparent use of natural resources among themselves and in the region.
Renewed tensions between DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda may plunge Congo back into instability. The governments of Uganda and Rwanda accuse the UN and Congolese troops of failing to control the rebel groups that occasionally launch attacks across their borders. But Rwanda and Uganda also continue to intervene covertly in DRC's internal affairs. On December 19 2005, a nationwide referendum approved a UN-backed draft constitution. However renewed violence risks derailing the fragile peace process, further complicating the transition to democracy.
US companies are now required to publicly disclose their efforts to ensure that their products are free of "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Legislators attached the new law to a massive (unrelated) financial reform bill that passed in Congress, drawing praise from NGOs and industry officials alike. Although the bill does not impose penalties on companies that report taking no action, its proponents say that concerned consumers can now distinguish between companies that monitor minerals and those that do not. For more analysis on this story, visit the GPF blog. (Washington Post and Global Policy Forum)
The UN renewed sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 29, 2010. Resolution 1952 added an interesting new component. The resolution includes guidelines for importers, processors and consumers buying Congolese minerals, which are the source of funding for many rebel groups. The resolution language is weak and non-binding, but it is significant. It is the first time the Council has acted so broadly on the role that natural resources play in conflict.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report mapping human rights violations committed in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. The discovery of three mass graves in eastern DRC in 2005 prompted the exercise. The 550-page report contains descriptions of 617 alleged incidents which point to gross violations of human rights and/or international humanitarian law. The report also considers various accountability options to bring the perpetrators to justice and set the foundation for a sustainable peace. The leaked version of an earlier draft of the report caused a stir recently as it raised the possibility of Rwandan armed forces committing acts of genocide. (OHCHR)
The Security Council has finally made public the leaked and widely-discussed report on DRC. The report finds that the conflict in Congo is bound to the control and trade of five key mineral resources: coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold. The Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources names around 125 companies and individuals whose involvement in the illicit trade contributes to the enduring conflict. The experts call for an immediate embargo on the import and export of all such minerals from and to Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Security Council has extended the mandate of the peacekeeping force MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo for another year allowing the deployment of 22,000 soldiers in the following months. Citizens of the DRC are critical of the mandate renewal and feel the mission has failed to reform the country's corrupt and parasitical army and police forces.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 1804 regarding the continued presence of Rwandan armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Groups such as the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda and the Interahamwe perpetuate violence in Eastern Congo to exploit the rich natural resources. The Resolution demands that the Rwandan armed groups lay down their arms, release all child soldiers and put an end to gender based violence.
The Group of Experts reports to the Sanctions Committee that there is " a clear geographical correlation" between the activities of armed groups and natural resources exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The report also highlights a wide range of security threats such as lack of transparency in conducting business activities, and extortion attempts made by State actors, from low level military personnel to senior government officials. It recommends amongst other things that the Congolese government: submit monthly reports about the natural resources field to the Sanctions Committee, develop a formalized natural resource control system, and monitor arms transfers, trafficking and smuggling.
The Security Council adopted Resolution 1653 in a ministerial-level debate on regional dimensions of peace and security in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The resolution calls on the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to disarm and demobilize militias and armed groups, especially northern Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. The resolution also acknowledges the link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the illicit trade of those resources and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as key factors fuelling and exacerbating the conflicts in the Great Lakes. Resolution 1653 thus urges the countries of the region to promote lawful and transparent use of natural resources among themselves and in the region.
The report investigates the illegal exploitation of diamonds, cobalt, coltan, gold and other lucrative resources in the DRC. It recommends to the Security Council a temporary embargo on natural resources imported and exported from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
The panel expresses its frustration that few of those involved in the Congolese conflict are willing to cooperate with the panel's investigation.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act 2010 aimed to restrict the trade of conflict minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Trade in these minerals is crucial to the electronic and other industries. Since the early 2000s, The United Nations Group of Experts and many international NGOs have highlighted the link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC and revenues from the illegal trade that finances rebel groups and fuels conflict in the region. The Dodd-Frank act however, does not ban or penalize the use of conflict minerals. If a company is sourcing minerals from the DRC, they merely have to make public their imports and report their source to the American Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The increased attention that conflict over minerals received is a welcome development. However, such initiatives will have little impact unless domestic governance issues are addressed. (Enough Project)
While the DRC is scheduled to hold elections in December, it seems impossible that they will happen on time or without corruption. As the elections are not likely to go smoothly, they will call into question the legitimacy of the government, which could exacerbate many of the problems already present in the country. This International Crisis Group report looks at the situation and attempts to provide the best prescriptions for the elections to prevent a further deterioration of the government’s legitimacy. (International Crisis Group)
This report by Global Witness highlights the recent developments of resource conflict in the DRC, notably Security Council Resolution 1952 from November 2010. It discusses the Congolese army's role in perpetuating the conflict and the lack of corporate due diligence to trace the origins of minerals. The report gives a series of recommendations that address each level of the conflict, underlining how the DRC and other countries can apply pressure on the illicit mining in Congo. (Global Witness)
Observers have focused on the Kivu region in the DRC because it is the center of the worst conflicts over minerals. However, the surrounding areas are more stable and show promise for managing resource extraction while mitigating conflict. This International Alert report discusses the situation in the Kivu Hinterlands and argues that the region could be the first step in improving due diligence in the mining sector. (International Alert)
Global Witness has published a major report on the role of international mining companies in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report shows how the companies are aiding the continued trade in "conflict minerals" and fuelling the fighting in the DRC. (Global Witness)
This landmark report from the Lancet medical journal dubs the 10-year war that has plagued the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) "the world's deadliest humanitarian crisis." With 38 000 people dying every month - the mortality equivalent of the Southeast Asian tsunami - the report accuses the rich donor countries of "miserably failing the people of Congo." While most deaths are due to preventable and easily treatable diseases, mortality rates are highest in DRC's eastern provinces, where the fighting and lawlessness cut off or reduce access to health services.
Photo by Carmine Camerini / MONUC
An Independent Electoral Commission representative distributes flyers explaining the constitutional project in the market place of Aru
A recent peace deal signed by 11 African governments aims to curb support for armed groups in the Congo and demands a commitment by the Congolese government to reform the security and financial sector. At the heart of the agreement is a review mechanism to ensure implementation of the February peace deal. While the deal is a positive step in monitoring Rwandan and Ugandan support of armed groups, it is unlikely that a deal on paper will change attitudes, or the notoriously complex web of interest that fuels conflict in the region. For this reason, one of the main weaknesses of the deal is an over-emphasis on a top-down approach that focuses on cooperation and communication exclusively on a state level. (Think Africa Press)
Roger Meece, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO, the UN stabilization mission in Congo, appealed to the Security Council to extend the mandate of MONUSCO to include additional military personnel and resources. Mr. Meece reported of a new “daunting array” of challenges, particularly in areas where there is no current MONUSCO presence, such as South Kivu and Punia, which are now occupied by rebels. Furthermore, many humanitarian relief agencies suffer from lack of funding to cope with increasing demand, security threats to individuals, and a lack of access to those regions most in need. Mr. Meece pointed out that the current MONUSCO mandate is essentially a post-conflict peacekeeping mission. However, the DRC situation has relapsed into a conflict situation again, which renders some of the work of MONUSCO inefficient in preventing the situation from escalating into a full-blown civil war. Mr. Meece urged for “correct actions” and the Council’s speedy approval. (All Africa)
The Presidents of Africa’s Great Lakes region have signed a new peace deal with the aim of bringing stability after nineteen years of war and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The deal set the stage for a UN lead intervention brigade of 2,500 troops to combat the M23 and other rebel groups in the region. Under the Security Council mandate, MONUSCO is allowed to station 19,800 troops. Since 17,000 are already there, no further Council Resolution is required. Civil society groups in Goma however, have complained that there is no concrete action plan to deal with the root causes of the conflict, which are mainly poverty and corruption. (Al Jazeera)
The complex operation to contain the Congolese conflict is one of the largest and most expensive in the UHN history. Since 1999, the UN peacekeeping effort in the DRC has cost approximately $8.7 billion. Why have large-scale international efforts to end the violence in the DRC failed again and again? This analysis argues that neither the UN staff nor the Security Council attempted to design a strategy that addressed the local causes of the conflict. After ceasefires, peace building organisations placed precedence on creating a stable electoral process. However, in the DRC, elections increased instablility in a fracmented society which had not yet solved antagonisms. The Un mistakenly labeled the DRX a “post-conflict” environment. With the Security council and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations currently discussing future plans for Mali, the mistakes made in the DRC should be fresh in the minds of peace planners. (Think Africa Press)
The UN peacekeeping department has asked the Security Council to allow the deployment of drones in the DRC to monitor the movement of armed groups. The proposed use of drones is for surveillance purposes only, but the sensitive move has sparked controversy. Concerned states and observers believe that a Council decision on this issue could allow for the drones to be armed, and may authorize the use of force if necessary to protect civilians from potential violence. The US, Britain, France and other Western States argue in favor of their use, saying it is time for the UNDPKO to modernize its peacekeeping methods. Russia, China and many developing states disagree, listing drones as a tool of Western imperialism and private intelligence. In the case of Libya, the Council’s language of “all necessary means” resulted in a resolution broad enough to authorize a NATO air campaign. (Washington Post)
The competition over natural resources has repeatedly caused violence in Eastern DRC. Recently, the occupation of Goma and other cities in North and South Kivu by M23 has intensified existing tensions in region. In just two weeks 200,000 refugees have fled, and both the Congolese army and M23 forces have been accused of human rights atrocities during the fighting. Furthermore, the local population is criticizing MONUSCO of passivity. Despite the retreat of M23 from Goma, hate and mistrust are deepening in Eastern DRC. (Open Democracy)
Media coverage on the war in DRC often focuses on atrocities committed by the army and rebels. But foreign governments and multinational corporations (MNC’s) are also responsible for the plunder and the killings in the country. Many inter and intra state conflicts since the 1990’s have one feature in common – natural resources such as gold, tin, cobalt and timber often fuel and sustain the fighting. Militias purchase items like weapons from the funds they get from selling mineral resources to foreign multinationals. The UN should use carefully target MNCs through commodity sanctions to deter illegal commodity flows. (Toward Democracy)
The United Nations wants to strengthen the capabilities of MONUSCO by deploying drones for surveillance purposes. Before, the use of unarmed aerial vehicles in peacekeeping operations has been rejected due to the high financial costs. On the one hand, the drones would monitor the movements of armed groups in order to enhance the protection of civilians. On the other hand, however, the drones’ spying capabilities is concerning for many UN member states. In order to execute this proposal, first the government of DR Congo would need to give its consent and member states would need to provide material support in order to deploy the drones. (AFP)
According to a recent UN report, Rwanda's defense minister is commanding the M23 armed opposition in eastern DRC, which is being armed by both Rwanda and Uganda. Hervé Ladsous, Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has stated that the M23 has established a de facto administration in the Kivu Provinces, controlling the local population and collecting taxes. The report also states that the M23 is being funded by traders smuggling tin, tungsten and tantalum across the Rwandan border. (International Crisis Group)
According to a recent UN report, Rwanda's defense minister is commanding the M23 armed opposition in eastern DRC, which is being armed by both Rwanda and Uganda. Hervé Ladsous, Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has stated that the M23 has established a de facto administration in the Kivu Provinces, controlling the local population and collecting taxes. The report also states that the M23 is being funded by traders smuggling tin, tungsten and tantalum across the Rwandan border. (Al Jazeera)
The renewed Kivu crisis has drawn much of the political attention to the DRC. The crisis has certainly rekindled tensions with Rwanda and has destabilized the region as a whole. However, the situation in the east has taken away much of the focus of other equally important issues in the country. Key questions such as the revision of the electoral commission, the revision of the mining code and the holding of provincial elections have been put on hold. Along with the Kivu crisis, these matters deserve international and national attention if the country wants to step away from its “failed state” status. (African Arguments)
The US is reducing its support for Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, due to concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the DRC. Although the US in the past has limited its criticism of Rwanda, Washington has now cut back its aid after the publication of a United Nations report giving evidence of Rwanda fueling the conflict in Eastern DRC. US ambassador Susan Rice initially attempted to block a report annex detailing evidence of Rwandan involvement, but the US’ effort failed when the Congolese government protested. (Guardian)
The DRC hosts the second-largest and second-most expensive United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world. However, this extensive international mission has not brought sustainable peace to the country. This African Arguments article argues that the reason for this failure is that foreign interveners follow a top-down approach. They try to resolve the conflict at the national and international levels while ignoring local tensions that jeopardize the macro-level settlements. Diplomats, donors, and United Nations staff moreover regard intervention at the macro levels as their only legitimate responsibility. (African Arguments)
A recent UN report on the crisis in eastern DRC has officially revealed Rwanda’s suspected support for the M23 opposition group. This support forms part of a familiar pattern of Rwandan interference in Congolese history since the Rwandan genocide. After 1994, the presence of Hutu militias in the Kivu provinces led the Rwandan government to intervene in the region in an effort not only to consolidate the country’s state borders and protect the Congolese Tutsi population, but also to plunder the DRC’s natural wealth. Consequently, Rwanda has been repeatedly accused of spoiling the peace in the DRC for its own national interests. (Think Africa Press)
The 2012 crisis in eastern DRC arose when Bosco Ntaganda mutinied from the Congolese national army (FARDC) in April. Ntganda has been accused by the International criminal Court of leading the M23, a violent opposition group. Human Rights Watch has recently reported that the Rwandan military has been supplying the M23 with ammunition, arms and recruits in exchange for smuggled resource riches. Since control of the profitable cross-border trade in minerals is dependent upon the absence of centralized governance, instability in the Kivu provinces serves Rwanda’s economic interests and as well as the interests of resource companies and traders. (African Arguments)
After three years of reduced violence in the resource-rich DRC, conflict is once again flaring in the eastern Kivu provinces. The recent upsurge can be traced to the ICC’s indictment of warlord Bosco Ntaganda, a former CNDP commander. In an agreement on the 23rd of March 2009, the CNDP rebel group was officially integrated in the Congolese national army. However, the West’s decision to go after Bosco on charges of committing crimes against humanity has led to mutiny and a flood of violent clashes in the east. Moreover, the country’s natural resources and Uganda and Rwanda’s interference in Congo’s internal affairs further complicate the conflict. The Peacekeeping force in Congo, MONUSCO, is the UN’s largest and has increased its presence but a purely military solution appears unlikely. (African Arguments)
Hundreds of civilians, mostly women, have been raped in the DRC within the last year. The use of rape by armed groups has been labeled by the UN as a weapon of war and terror. A UN report has stressed that targeted and systematic sexual violence could be considered as crimes against humanity and war crimes. The UN is now asking the Congolese government to take legal actions against the perpetrators and offer more protection to the victims. (Ghana News Agency)
According to the UN Envoy, the FDLR has been significantly weakened and could be losing its capacity to destabilize eastern Congo. But even if the FDLR is dismantled, other armed groups are still active in the region. While a reduced presence of the FDLR might make observers hopeful that Congo is becoming more secure, the UN has said that it has no plans to pull out its peacekeeping force until the situation on the ground has improved. (Alert Net
After the mass rape of more than 300 women, girls and boys in eastern Congo in July, MONUSCO has been trying to find ways to fulfill its mandate of protecting civilians. However, as this article points out, Congo is roughly the size of Western Europe. Although MONUSCO has more than 18 000 troops, there are approximately 10 million Congalese in the eastern provinces alone. The mandate of the peacekeeping mission to "protect civilians" is extraordinarily challenging in such circumstances, and perhaps unrealistic. (Christian Science Monitor)
Competition for natural resources is fueling the conflict in the Congo, especially in the North Kivu region. Recently, the BBC investigated the Omate mine. General Gabriel Amisi Kumba , Second in command of the Congolese army, secured the mine for the mining company Gerimanco in exchange for a share in the profits. General Kumba worked to remove the company Socragrimines in favor of Gerimanco, but according to the head of the Congolese mining industry, neither company had the rights to Omate. After a state-wide ban on mining went into place in October, Gerimanco was removed from Omate, but production has continued under control of the Congolese military. (BBC
Rwandan and Congolese rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, within kilometers of a UN peacekeeper's base. No one was killed during the attack; rape was the weapon of choice. By the time NGOs were able to access the attacked town, it was too late to administer medication against HIV/AIDS. The Congolese government demanded the withdrawal of the UN Mission earlier this year, saying it has failed to fulfill its primary mandate of protecting civilians. The UN Mission has not protected civilians against rape, nor has it provided timely support when rape occurs. Furthermore, the UN took more than three weeks to issue a statement on the attack. (Mail & Guardian Online)
Global Witness, an NGO that works to sever the link between natural resources and conflict, is trying to sue the UK government. Global Witness claims that the government has failed to submit a list of companies that purchase "conflict minerals," despite strong evidence that UK companies are funding conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in this way. This would be in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1857, and thus Global Witness argues that London is breaching its international legal obligations. (Oneworld.net)
Two UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of sexual exploitation and abuse. The two military personnel, who were found in the company of Congolese sex workers in a hotel, will be investigated by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). This incident is one of many scandals involving sexual exploitation and weapons and mineral trafficking by UN peacekeepers in the DRC. (PressTV)
Although Canada has declined to lead the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an editorial in the Globe and Mail argues that Canada still can and should address sexual violence in Central Africa. Canada is leading a maternal health initiative with the G8, and should include in this initiative assistance to survivors of rape, a brutal weapon of war that is prevalent in the DRC. Canada's initiative, if designed to address sexual violence, could help Congolese women employ their unique skills and perspectives to lead social reconstruction and the administration of justice. (Globe and Mail)
President Kabila wants UN peacekeeping troops out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has recommended that the withdrawal begins in June, with two-thousand troops leaving "peaceful areas." John Holmes, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, argues that "violence may spiral out of control if the peacekeepers all leave" - a position also held by many civil society organizations. Some critics allege that Kabila wants the peacekeepers out to prevent oversight in the 2011 presidential elections. (Mail and Guardian)
After a tour of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN Humanitarian Coordinator John Holmes declared that the UN's peacekeeping presence in the DRC is vital, despite pressure from Kinshasa to withdraw the peacekeeping force, MONUC. Holmes claimed that MONUC plays an important role in deterring attacks on civilians and humanitarian agencies, while delivering assistance to the needy. Although he repeated the UN's requests for nearly $1 billion in further donor support for humanitarian missions like MONUC, Holmes said nothing about recent allegations that MONUC troops have engaged in serious human rights abuses. (UN News Center)
In December 2009, the Lord's Resistance Army perpetrated a horrific massacre in northeastern Congo, murdering 321 civilians and kidnapping hundreds more. The attack remained unreported for months due to the remoteness of the region. This act of violence shows that the LRA remain a fighting force to be reckoned with, despite claims by military officials that the rebel group was in disarray. (Global Post)
The UN is currently examining how - and precisely when - the UN peacekeeping force should withdraw from Congo. The Congolese government wants MONUC out by mid 2011. MONUC have been accused of sexual abuse and of supporting war criminals in the Congolese Army force. But Amnesty International argues that the UN peacekeepers have prevented the situation from deteriorating even further. Internally displaced persons, such as Nangwahafil Makuza, fear for the violence that might follow MONUC's departure. (Guardian)
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo provided food, fuel and logistical support to a Congolese colonel overseeing soldiers accused of gang rapes, massacres and other abuses. This discovery comes months after UN human rights investigators included the colonel on a list of the army's most abusive commanders and further internal warnings. (Washington Post)
The Congolese government has stated it wants UN peacekeepers out of the country by the 2011 elections. The government is also eager that the UN announce a withdrawal by the 50th anniversary of Congolese independence. Alain Le Roy, the UN's Under Secretary General, has stated that a UN team will assess how MONUC - the world's largest peacekeeping mission - would start pulling out troops. (Guardian)
There are five crucial steps that must be taken if headway is to be made in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Firstly, Rwanda must be pressured to stop funding Tutsi militia in DRC. Secondly, the Rwandan government should release a list of all those awaiting criminal prosecution for their role in 1994 massacres because then many militias would return to Rwanda. Thirdly, an international body should be established to monitor all mineral exports from the country. Fourth, a concerted drive to demobilize Hutu fighters - DRC should not be a battleground for a proxy-Rwandan conflict. Finally, professionalize and end the impunity of the Congolese national army. (New York Times)
The UN peacekeeping force has been supporting the Congolese army in its operations. However, the Congolese army has been guilty of serious atrocities and Human Rights Watch documented hundreds of murders and thousands of rapes. Further, the absorption of Laurent Nkuda's militia group into the Congolese army now means that UN peacekeepers are supporting men such as Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the ICC for the massacre of civilians and conscription of child soldiers. (Guardian)
In January 2009, the Congolese government received backing from the UN to use aggressive force against rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The consequences of this strategy were vast: civilian casualties, sexual violence and mass displacement. The head of UN peacekeeping in the DRC terminated this strategy on the 31st December 2009, and hopes to replace it with a plan that better safeguards civilians. (The Guardian)
In the midst of ongoing violence in DRC, human rights groups accuse Congolese soldiers of pillaging, raping, and murdering the civilians they are expected to protect. The army in question is provided with food and ammunition by the UN. Furthermore, the Security Council, having learned about these crimes, decided to continue its support for the Congolese army. This New York Times article reveals communications from the UN Office of Legal Affairs to the UN Peacekeeping Department, warning that the UN should not participate in the operations.(New York Times)
Civil conflict in Congo is driven by violent struggle for control of natural resources. One of the deadliest conflict minerals is col-tan, which used in mobile phones and other electronic devices. A leaked UN report on DRC identifies the key players in the col-tan trade. Niotan, an electronics company based in Nevada, is pinpointed as one such company, whose purchase of minerals from eastern Congo is helping finance the decade-long war. (Global Post)
A confidential report, by a UN- mandated group of Congolese experts has been leaked to the press. The report raises significant issues about the conflict in DRC: the way conflict minerals finance fighting, a surprisingly high level of Congolese support for the FDLR, and the detrimental effect of international charities funding the FDLR. This article places particular emphasis on the need to terminate financial backing of Tutsi rebels, since the money provides the rebels with means to survive embargos and oppose military operations.(Time Magazine)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila is putting pressure on the UN to come up with an exit strategy for peacekeeping troops in DRC. Anticipating the country's 50th anniversary next year, Kabila is eager to show that his government's reliance on MONUC - the UN peacekeeping mission which has been in DRC since 1999 - is decreasing. MONUC's mandate is to be renewed by the Security Council in December. According to UN officials, the withdrawal of the nearly 20,000 troops would have to follow benchmarks and proceed slowly. The UN plans to gradually shift away from peacekeepers to civilian experts, as well as to educate and train the Congolese army. (Reuters)
The Congolese Government is unwilling to prosecute rebels and government soldiers responsible for numerous counts of sexual violence and murder. The Government claims to fear that such action would fuel rebellion and destabilization. The author, UN Human Rights Commisioner Navi Pillay, disputes the idea that justice may be sacrificed for the sake of peace. There can, she says, be no long lasting peace or stability without justice, so the Congolese Government has a minimal obligation to investigate all allegations of human rights violations. (Huffington Post)
Following criticism by Human Rights Watch and other rights groups, the UN has reaffirmed its support for operations of the Congolese army aimed at disarming the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). While the UN withdrew its support for some units of the army believed to have killed at least 62 civilians, it claims that a complete withdrawal would do more harm than good. The UN argues that its ongoing support for the Congolese army operations allows peacekeepers to better protect civilians and train Congolese soldiers in a policy of zero tolerance. (Reuters)
The UN has declared it will stop providing support to one of the units of the Congolese army which has been accused of gross human rights violations. But Human Rights Watch says it's too little, too late. The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC, has been giving logistics and operational support to the Congolese Army since March 2009 - the beginning of the operation aimed at disarming the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). During the past 8 months, more than 500 civilians were deliberately killed and thousands of women were raped by government soldiers. MONUC should cease its participation in the Congolese army's operations and find ways to disarm the FDLR that won't put the civilian population in the cross-fire. (Human Rights Watch)
The Congo Advocacy Coalition - a group of Congolese and international NGOS - is drawing attention to the UN-backed Congolese government's military operation in Eastern Congo and its unacceptable cost for the civilian population. According to the Coalition, the Congolese army - which is receiving the support of UN peacekeepers - is responsible for as many human rights abuse as the Hutu militia it is fighting with the help of UN peacekeepers. For every rebel combatant disarmed, one civilian has been killed and seven women or girls raped, the Coalition says. It is calling for the UN to take immediate action to improve the protection of civilians and pursue human rights violators in the Congolese army. (Human Rights Watch)
During the past decade, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been the scene of a destructive war involving armies from as many as nine different African countries. Neighboring Rwanda has exercised a destabilizing influence on the region, with the intent of gaining control of Congo's enormous mineral wealth. In spite of Rwandan support for rebel groups in the DRC , the Kagame regime and its allies in Central Africa have received the support of Western powers. (The New York Review of Books)
Despite its size and resources, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has failed to bring peace to the region. MONUC's recent failure to respond to a deadly village attack by rebels has led Congolese to express a growing distrust in its ability to protect them. Its integrity is also being questioned following accusations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers. (The Washington Times)
This report describes UN peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 1999 to 2009. The authors argue that because the International Criminal Court (ICC) has limited influence within the DRC, criminal justice is difficult to obtain. The DRC has yet to sign up to the ICC. Over the last 10 years, peace was further hampered, as different regional conflicts within the DRC continued to flare up. The authors conclude that lessons in peacemaking must include the following: human rights monitoring, the inclusion of the civil society and a realistic perspective of the ICC's influence. (International Center for Transitional Justice
The arrest of General Laurent Nkunda by the Rwandan government raises questions about the effects on the situation in the Great Lakes region. The Congolese government is requesting Rwanda to extradite Nkunda, leader of the Congress of the Defence of the People (CNDP), to charge him with war crimes. Since 2004 the CNDP fought against Hutu genocidaires in Eastern Congo who fled Rwanda after the genocide. Nkunda claims that Congo has not done enough to protect Tutsi in the DRC and has been backed by the Rwandan government. However his arrest by Rwanda marks a major shift of this policy. (al jazeera)
Rwanda sends hundreds of fighters into Congo to support the Tutsi rebels and to expand its power over Congolese natural resources like coltan, cassirite and diamonds. Businesspersons, the Rwandan government and the Congolese rebel movement, led by former Rwandan army official Laurent Nkunda, take part in the illegal mineral trade between Congo and Rwanda, fuelling the Congolese war. (New York Times)
Violence has troubled the Democratic Republic of Congo since its independence in 1960, despite the presence of various UN peacekeeping troops. In October 2008, major fighting erupted between rebels, militia groups and the Congolese army. The UN peacekeeping force in Congo is the largest UN mission, consisting of 17,000 peacekeepers, but because they fail to curb the violence, the Security Council agreed on November 20, 2008 to send an extra 3,100 extra peacekeepers to the region. (CBC News)
In the 19th century, colonial power Belgium exploited rubber from Congo and after independence in 1960, Zaire's ruler Mobutu Sese Seko used Congo's cobalt to support the US, which used the mineral to build fighter jets. In 2008, international mining companies try to get hold of Congo's natural resources, resulting in increased fighting between governmental and rebel troops, which try to make a profit out of the mineral business as well. (International Herald Tribune)
The majority of coltan, used in mobile phones and soup tins, comes from rebel-controlled mines in Congo. Miners pay their employees less than a dollar per kilogram of the mineral and often use children to work for them. After Congolese citizens carry 50 kilograms of coltan for more than 2 days to another part of Congo, traders sell the mineral in the UK, Belgium, and other industrialized countries. (Telegraph)
The UN faces criticism because MONUC, the UNâ€™s biggest and most expensive peacekeeping operation, fails to protect Congolese civilians from rebel attacks. MONUC commanders stress that the peacekeepers are only in Congo to ensure the peace and not to enforce it. In addition, the UN special envoy to Congo is unsuccessful in organizing a meeting with the presidents of Congo and Rwanda, the key players in the Congolese peace process. (Der Spiegel)
The UN accuses Rwanda of supporting rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, who fights against governmental troops to expand parts of Congo under his control. However, Congolese president Joseph Kabila also involuntarily contributes to Nkunda's power by failing to govern the country properly. Because the government is corrupt, the justice system is dysfunctional and there is no education or transport system. As a result many Congolese citizens have stopped supporting Kabila and instead back Nkunda. (Der Spiegel)
MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force in Congo, has the complex mandate of simultaneously protecting civilians as well as policing buffer zones and disarming rebel fighters, but without adequate resources or political support from the UN Security Council. MONUC fails to protect civilians because it lacks manpower and a majority of the troops do not speak Congo's native languages. Civilians are unsatisfied with MONUC's work and attacked the peacekeeping force in October 2008. (Independent)
In January 2008, the Congolese government signed a UN-backed ceasefire agreement with 22 armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. But, civilian deaths and forced displacements continue, leaving the peace process at an impasse. This Human Rights Watch article claims the rebel groups have failed to implement all the terms of the peace deal. The article recommends that the Congolese government and the UN impose the rule of law to hold the rebels accountable and increase mediation efforts to ensure the continuation of the peace process.
Even though UN-backed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs have successfully disarmed thousands of combatants in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), some armed groups continue to threaten peace in the eastern region of Ituri. Clashes between the groups and the DRC army have halted the return of displaced peoples and community reintegration. This article proposes that the government provide incentives, such as better security and a strengthening of the rule of law, for combatants to return to civilian society. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
After the establishment of MONUC in 1999, the Security Council expanded the mission's mandate to include disarmament and civilian protection in addition to monitoring the cessation of hostilities. This FRIDE
report states that MONUC has successfully coordinated the elections in Congo, but that the mission failed to reform the national security sector because the country's army commanders are corrupt and its soldiers lack training.
This Le Monde diplomatique article argues that foreign mining companies profit immensely from deals made with the Congolese government in which they receive a 30-year tax exemption. Furthermore, these companies ignore the environmental and social damage that their mining contracts cause. In addition, mining contractors mostly work with machines that replace manual work, hiring only a limited number of local mine workers, who receive a small minimum wage.
A peace deal signed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by more than 20 militias operating in the region remains fragile. Many militias are backing out of the peace agreement because of repeated violations of the ceasefire by other signatories. This article argues that the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC and the Congolese Army cannot contain the clashes between militias. Instead, efforts should aim at encouraging negotiations between militia leaders and the government to enforce the fragile peace accord. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The Democratic Republic of Congo's vast deposits of cobalt, copper, diamonds, and gold has sparked numerous conflicts since the Belgian colonial period. Between 1999 and 2007, militia clashes over the control of mineral resources left 60,000 civilians dead. This article argues that large mining companies, such as British-owned AngloGold Ashanti, finance militias that fight over control of mines in the eastern and northern Ituri regions. The mining industry regulates most of the region's employment, allowing the companies and their militias to exploit poor workers who have no choice but to dig for minerals under the barrel of a gun. (CorpWatch
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) will assist the government to implement the Amani Programme, which includes disarmament of militias and resettlement of displaced persons in eastern DRC. By disarming local militias, MONUC hopes to return over 10,000 displaced persons back to their homes and prepare for upcoming local elections.
In 2003, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and opposition militia groups signed a UN-brokered peace deal allowing the Ituri province limited autonomy with increased revenues from the area's rich natural resources. However, the government has reneged on the deal, by signing a secret concession with transnational corporations to drill for oil near Lake Albert. As a result, militia groups are rearming against government forces and using child soldiers to transport timber resources to neighboring countries. (International Crisis Group)
Rival militias undermine the UN peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to exploit natural resources, states the Institute of Security Studies
. Due to the economic benefits of controlling mining and logging industries in the area, groups such as the Fronts de liberation de Rwanda and the Mayi Mayi in Kivu refuse to give up arms to UN peacekeepers (MONUC). The author argues that if MONUC fails to disarm the militias, civil war could return to the DRC.
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is making progress in renegotiating mining contracts signed during the country's civil war, says World Politics Review. Rich multinational companies signed lucrative extraction deals with the government and rebel leaders during the war in exchange for money and military hardware. Although the article praises the DRC government for reviewing these mining contracts, the author warns that the renegotiation stage is open to corruption, and that any failure to distribute the natural resources fairly could trigger further violence in the country.
In March 2008, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) published a review claiming that it would renegotiate the exploitative mining contracts signed during the civil war (1996-2006). However, this renegotiation process remains secretive, with the DRC government excluding NGOs from participating in the negotiations. This report urges the DRC to distribute money from natural resources to local communities, and to publicize government income from rich multi-national corporations. (A Fair Share of Congo)
France has drafted a resolution at the Security Council exempting the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo from a UN arms embargo. Previously, the embargo prevented the government from purchasing arms for military units that had not been through a national integration program. Amnesty International criticized the exemption as premature, noting that the army and police use arms and munitions â€œto commit daily abuses against civilians, including widespread killings and rapes. (Reuters)
A ceasefire has been signed in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo between armed groups led by General Laurent Nkunda and pro-government Mai Mai militia. UN peacekeepers will be deployed as part of the agreement. Africa analyst Muzong Kodi states that both the natural resources within the country and the impunity given to rival warlords as part of the peace deal could undermine the ceasefire process. (BBC)
report illustrates the strategic and economic importance of the Democratic Republic of Congo's natural resources to Western corporations. Due to vast mineral reserves, "Congo, probably more than any other African nation, has been subjected to repeated external intervention." Highlighting the role of companies such as Tenke Mining, Phelps Dodge and Freeport McMoRan, this report concludes that mining contracts amass spectacular wealth at the expense of the Congolese people.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed that half a million people have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past twelve months. The UN held a conference on January 15 in North Kivu and requested that the Congolese armed forces and the opposing rebel groups denounce the level of violence and discontinue the recruitment of child soldiers. (UN News)
UN special envoy to Sudan, Ross Mountain requested cooperation from the rebels and the governments of the DRC and Rwanda to cease fighting and help stabilize the North Kivu region. Mountain has been pleased with the efforts of the DRC and Rwanda to help North Kivu. But he still worries about the fighting between General Nkunda's army and the DRC force. (Agence France-Presse)
The European Union joined African countries in establishing the Kimberly Process (KP) in 2002 to deal with diamonds that fuel conflict. Two years later, DR Congo, a KP member, smuggled diamonds to the EU and Middle East, which resulted in its expulsion from the KP. The DR Congo has made improvements controlling its illegal trade of rough diamonds and re-joined the KP. Soon it will resume exporting diamonds. However, the Kimberly Process still has concerns about Congo's porous border and "blood diamonds." (Voice of America)
The rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), under General Laurent Nkunda's command, still destabilizes eastern DR Congo, especially North Kivu. After a meeting in Nairobi with Congolese and Rwandan foreign ministers, Congo's government agreed to help disarm Hutu rebels at their border. Rwanda's administration promised to send a list of rebels accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes to the DRC and the United Nations. The DR Congo will prepare a disarmament plan by December 1, 2007 with the assistance of the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC. Rwandan foreign minister, Charles Murigande also declared that his country would tighten border security against illegal arms trade. (Reuters)
The author argues that "coercive diplomacy" does not work, and that the peace talks in Libya on October 27 will not succeed without an established common position among Darfur Rebel Movements. The UN Security Council Resolution on Darfur will remain ineffective if the Sudanese government continues its military operations. (Sudan Tribune)
John Holmes, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, calls for non military action by the UN Security Council in North Kivu. Holmes argues that the DRC crisis needs greater attention than Darfur, due to its urgency. The anti-genocide campaigning group, Enough, fears that if President Kabila continues to align himself with Hutu rebels, then the return of Rwanda's forces into DRC could cause a third major civil war. (Nation-Nairobi)
In this article, Professor Amil Omara-Otunnu discusses the history of exploitation of Congo's vast natural resources by other countries, such as Portugal, Belgium, Uganda and Rwanda, which has left the country entrenched in conflict. With 50 percent of the world's strategic minerals, the DRC can offer unprecedented economic growth for its own people as well as the African continent. However, in order for the DRC to utilize its resources, the author calls for an end to the illegal exploitation and for DRC's neighboring countries to respect Congolese human rights, democracy and territorial integrity, as provided by the UN Charter. (Black Star News)
A 1990 agreement between Uganda and DR Congo declared joint ownership and exploitation of oil fields that extend across their shared border. Several violent incidents and the concentration of Ugandan forces in its western Rwenzori border region have led the heads of the Ugandan and Congolese forces to issue a joint communique, promoting political solutions to these border clashes. But Uganda "reserves the right of self defense," and private military company Executive Outcome's contracts to guard Congolese mines add to the militarized nature of resource exploitation at the border. (Daily Monitor- Kampala)
This article investigates the March 2007 violence in Kinshasa, DR Congo, including MONUC's inaction. From March 22-26, President Joseph Kabila's attempts to eliminate electoral challenger Jean-Pierre Bemba led to military clashes which killed over 2,000 civilians. Conflicting influences effectively immobilized MONUC, which did little to end the violence. Despite the UN Security Council's professed neutrality, its western members push MONUC to officially back Kabila. But also, high level MONUC officials allegedly receive bribes to support Bemba. (Toward Freedom)
Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prepare to reach an agreement on how Kampala should pay compensations to the DRC for plundering its resources and killing civilians during the occupation that lasted between 1996 and 2001. After the ICJ found Uganda guilty in December 2005, DRC demanded a sum of US$10 billion in compensation. The negotiations have not been finalized and international law experts warn that any compensation is almost impossible to implement. Godfrey Wanzira, a Ugandan lawyer, believes that Uganda can easily prolong the process by appealing, and "DRC officials may well suspect that Kampala will never pay reparations." (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
The UN Security Council urged Congolese government forces and rebels to avoid military confrontation, and to actively seek political or diplomatic solutions instead. To this end, the UN peacekeeping mission MONUC and DR Congo's government should promote dialogue and development. They should also disarm combatants and reintegrate them into society. (UN News)
The UN's Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) will investigate UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) peacekeepers after allegations of their spying for, and engaging in an arms-for-gold scheme with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). In 2002, MONUC reaffirmed commitments to counteract the FDLR, a rebel group that Great Lakes region governments consider a "negative force." Furthermore, Kigali claims that the FDLR “comprised of Hutu extremists who participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide" shows genocidal tendencies towards Congolese citizens. (New Times)
Congolese President Joseph Kabila criticized the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) for not being able to stop the fighting in the Eastern part of the country controlled by dissident groups. MONUC Spokesman Kemal Saiki justified MONUC's continuing relevancy with examples such as a December MONUC operation against eastern Congolese Nkunda soldiers who seized the town of Sake in North Kivu. But recently, MONUC expressed concern over increasing attacks on civilians and aid workers in North Kivu. (Reuters)
This ZNet article describes how minerals from Kivu Province mines in DR Congo finance conflict there. In particular, General Laurent Nkunda, whom the International Criminal Court indicted for war crimes in 2002, finances his military occupation of North Kivu with proceeds from the Lueshe mine's pyrochlore. Nkunda illegally exports the pyrochlore using circumventive methods similar to those employed in illegal diamond trade, used, for example, to fund West African rebel groups.
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo blames Rwandan Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) or local and foreign militias in a group called "Rasta" for the recent massacre of civilians which they are now investigating. FDLR deny responsibility for the attack claming that they never attack civilians. The incident follows an offensive against rebels in the area in April by UN-backed Congolese forces. (Agence France Presse)
While the myriad activists rally to intervene in Darfur, where several hundred thousand innocents have died, far fewer people - politicians and public alike - acknowledge the estimated 3-4 million deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Guardian article argues that the perceived ethnic make-up of the groups in conflict in Darfur - "Arab killers" versus "African victims" - is one reason for the disproportionate attention given to Sudan. The other reason, the author claims, is oil interest, particularly that of China and the US. The article says that "liberal interventionism" is prone to double standards and disaster.
Pakistan says that allegations that its peacekeeping troops traded illegally in gold and resold weapons to Congolese militias while serving in the country are not credible. It rejects also suggestions that there was a cover up in the investigation on the matter, saying that it was not aware that one of its battalions was being investigated, and that had there been "obstruction" of the investigation, the UN would have informed Islamabad. (BBC)
Despite the 2002 peace agreement and the democratic elections held in 2006, violence continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This article says that a combination of low wages and corruption means that soldiers simply loot to meet their needs. Criminals are not often prosecuted in this country where the justice system has almost collapsed. Despite the presence of 17, 000 UN peacekeeping troops, an estimated 70,000 armed militia still roam the bush - some of them young children. (BBC)
A coalition of NGOs from Europe, Africa and the United States launch an international appeal, calling on the Congolese government to "clarify and revise all mining contracts inherited from the past, set up an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of contracts, and ensure transparent and fair management of mining resources." The aim is to try to ensure that yields from the country's vast natural resources benefit the population. The appeal will be presented to the president of the World Bank, the government of the DRC and the donors of the DRC on April 14 and 15. (Terraviva)
The Christian Science Monitor evaluates the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (MONUC) role, as the Security Council's renewal of the Mission's mandate draws near and troop contributing countries put pressure on the Council to downsize the largest peacekeeping operation. Despite the holding of presidential elections in late 2006, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains unstable, especially in the east of the region. Among MONUC's present tasks are demobilizing child soldiers, road-building, setting up a court system, police force and new army.
Violent fighting took place from March 22 to 24 2007 between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and the guards of ex Vice President Jean Pierre Bemba. MONUC calls on Bemba's guards to surrender themselves so that they may be integrated into the FARDC. Some have already done so. Further, MONUC stresses the need for respect of judicial procedures, as well as the rights and liberties that the Congolese constitution accords to all citizens in the investigation into political and military leaders of Mr. Bemba's MLC party. (allAfrica)
UN News reports that the climate of impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo has left civilians subject to severe human rights violations including rape, torture and summary execution, with most cases unprosecuted nor even investigated. The Human Rights Division of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) says that the Congolese government should establish a credible human rights commission to conduct independent and impartial investigations of high-ranking officers of the Forces Armees de la Republic Democratique du Congo (FARDC) suspected of committing serious violations of human rights.
As the Security Council discusses the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in the DRC in this post-election phase, Refugees International stresses the need to maintain MONUC at the same troop level through 2007 and to strengthen its mandate to promote disarmament, protect civilians and increase access for humanitarian assistance. Any future troop reduction should be based on indications of progress in these areas.
UN experts urge the Security Council to take further steps in halting the illegal exploitation of Congo's natural resources by its neighbors and the military. They recommend that the Council set up a joint committee with the new Congo government to oversee the development of the natural resources control system. Further they hope that Congolese officials responsible for monitoring exploitation will submit regular reports to the Security Council which could then be used as a basis to impose sanctions if necessary. (Reuters)