News reached Goma yesterday that Col. Baudouin Ngaruye, one of Bosco Ntaganda’s most important allies, has accepted to be transferred to South Kivu. The reason behind Baudouin’s acceptance to be transferred away from the ex-CNDP strongholds in Masisi is uncertain, but the amount of ammunition his troops took along could point to an attempt to expand the area of control held by Ntaganda’s loyalists down to South Kivu. Read More »
The Congolese government and international community should urgently reform the Congolese military and security sector, according to a newly released report spearheaded by the Eastern Congo Initiative and 12 other leading international and Congolese civil society groups, including the Enough project. The report, “Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform,” is the product of extensive research and interviews in Congo and several donor countries. Read More »
You are invited to join the Presbyterian Church (USA) - Office of Public Witness, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, Africa Faith and Justice Network and others for an advocacy and policy briefing on the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Led by stories from the Congolese diaspora, this gathering will include an open dialogue to explore practical ways the faith community can collaborate and move forward on an advocacy and policy agenda with Congo over the coming months. Areas of focus will include, conflict minerals, security sector reform, justice and impunity.
United Methodist Building
Conference Rooms 1 and 2
100 Maryland Avenue NE
The Obama administration announced last Thursday that it will support a critical missing link in the fight against conflict minerals: independent monitoring. This is a major step in the long fight against the illegal trade in conflict minerals. Read More »
International confusion and ignorance in answering this question about Sudanese geography has become one of the greatest threats to peace, and the negotiations required for peace to be sustained, writes Sudan specialist Eric Reeves. Read More »
Student leaders Henry Dambanemuya and Ellie Hamrick recently spearheaded a conflict minerals event and workshop during a summit in Indiana focused on prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. In this guest post, they wrote about how Congo advocacy is taking off on campuses across the state. Read More »
The 2006 elections were a moment of great hope for the DRC, as the country and its people moved out of the shadow of one of the most destructive conflicts the world has known. Official development assistance since the end of the post-war transition totals more than $14 billion. External funding makes up nearly half of the DRC’s annual budget. The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, costs more than $1 billion a year.
By ASADHO, Eastern Congo Initiative, APPG, Enough Project, Eurac, FIDH, Groupe Lotus, Ligue des Electeurs, OENZ, OSISA, Refugees International, Congolese Network for Security Sector Reform and Justice, and Pole Institute | Apr 16, 2012
WASHINGTON – The international community and Congolese government must urgently agree upon a new deal to reform the Congolese military, according to a new report by 13 leading international and Congolese civil society groups. The report argues that the lack of political will to reform the security sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) risks not only billions of dollars of international aid but also the very stability of the country.
“At the end of the day, many of Congo’s seemingly intractable conflict-related problems can be traced back to dysfunctional security services: the army, police and courts. The Congolese government has failed to take concrete action to reform these vital institutions,” said Emmanuel Kabengele, National Coordinator of the Congolese civil society Network for Security Sector Reform and Justice. “Yet the international community has continued to sustain the government, investing money and effort with no actual return. It’s high time that donors demand that Congo engage in real army reform.”
The report, “Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform,” was signed by 13 leading international and Congolese organizations and networks (see below for full list). It was completed after extensive research and interviews in DRC and donor countries. It argues that the army not only fails to provide security but actively preys upon the population, being one of the major perpetrators of human rights violations in the country. “An effective security sector - organized, resourced, trained and vetted - is essential to solving problems from recruitment of child soldiers, internal displacement and rape, to economic growth or the trade in conflict minerals,” says the report.
The report concludes that the main reason for the failure of army reform in DRC is a lack of political will from parts of the Congolese government – notably those elements which have benefited from endemic corruption.
“The very people in senior positions of the government and military who are responsible for effecting reform continue to profit from the current army, either in raking off salaries of servicemen, kickbacks, or involvement in illegal mining, trade or protection rackets,” said Dismas Kitenge, President of the Congolese organization, Groupe Lotus and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
The paper underscores the critical role the international community must play. In just 5 years, the report documents, donor countries alone have invested more than $14 billion into the DRC. Yet only one percent, or $140 million, was spent on security sector reform. International aid is now equivalent to nearly half of the DRC’s annual budget. As such, donors have considerable leverage over Congo. Yet despite this enormous investment, the DRC has actually gone backwards. The DRC is ranked last in the world on the UN’s main development index.
“The international community’s investment in DRC has yielded poor results. Numerous armed groups send thousands of child soldiers into battle, and women and children continue to bear the brunt of violence. Adequate health care and personal security remain the exception rather than the rule,” said Ben Affleck, actor, director and Founder of Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI). “Donors must work to convince the Congolese government to undertake drastic military reform. Unless a new course of action is adopted, we run the risk of losing much of the investment that has already been made.”
The costs of accepting the status quo are high for the Congolese people but also for the international community. In addition to the traditional donors – US, EU, UK, France and Belgium – key partners such as China, South Africa, and Angola all have a vested interest in the stability and long-term prosperity of the DRC.
“The new government must seize the opportunity to refocus attention on implementing sustainable and effective reform,” said Pascal Kambale from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). “Now is the time for the international community and Congolese government to work together to reform the police and army so that Congo is capable of protecting its own civilians.”