Human Rights

The Congolese Armed Groups You Aren’t Hearing About

If you have been reading about eastern Congo lately, one name has been stealing headlines: M23. In a dramatic show of force, the Rwanda-supported rebel militia group led by ICC indictee Bosco Ntaganda took control of strategically important Goma in mid- November and then earned a place at the ongoing peace talks in Kampala by ending their 11-day occupation earlier this week.

However, focusing on the M23 belies the complexity of the highly militarized politics of eastern Congo.  Read More »

Politico Op-ed: Susan Rice in Africa

One of the usual victims in the politics of personal assassination is the truth. This phenomenon holds in the current extrajudicial “trial” of Susan Rice.  Read More »

Congo Peace Talks Must Be Broadened to Include Economic and Political Issues – Enough Project

Date: 
Dec 7, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org, +1-202-386-1618  

GOMA, DR CONGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Regional peace talks on eastern Congo’s crisis due to begin today in Kampala, Uganda are not enough to resolve the protracted conflict, says the Enough Project.

The regional talks—which include Congolese President Joseph Kabila, the M23 rebel movement, and a very limited number of Congolese civil society groups—must be broadened to include wider representation of civil society, political parties, and the private sector in order to address the systemic economic and political drivers of the war, according to an Enough Project policy brief.

Fighting between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army escalated two weeks ago, when the rebels seized control of Goma, a key city in eastern Congo. To address the growing violence, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will broker the Kampala talks, the first round of which is expected to take no more than one week. However, Museveni’s role as mediator is particularly concerning because a U.N. Group of Experts report recently linked Uganda to support for the M23.

John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-founder, said:

“The UN Security Council must act quickly to appoint a senior, respected African mediator to work with the African Union and help lead a broadened peace process quickly. Regional governments can't be both negotiating and mediating at the same time, as that excludes the vast majority of eastern Congolese voices and issues from consideration. The Obama administration should support the process robustly and appoint a senior presidential envoy to work with the UN and AU mediators. This is only the start of the process, but the international community must be swift, before a hasty deal is made that will only patch over the real issues at hand.”

Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst, said:

“The peace process, as it currently stands, is going to be far too narrow, both on the issues it covers and the players that are involved. The bigger political issues remain for President Kabila, which is going to be a major problem for him, because his power is waning. Congolese civil society and political parties must be brought in through a wider inter-Congolese dialogue. If the talks only focus on security, rather than the critical underlying political and economic issues, the crisis will repeat itself again in two years.” 

Aaron Hall, co-author of the brief and Enough Project Associate Director of Research, said:

“The current conflict in eastern Congo has revealed new evidence of support for armed groups from the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and confirmed evidence of continued mismanagement within the governance and security sectors of Congo. However, the causes and dynamics of the long-standing conflict are unchanged. If the cycle of regional foreign intervention, economic exploitation, and rapacious governance in eastern Congo is not broken, there is no chance for peace in the region.”

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

‘Crime Against Humanity’: Sudan Burns 26 Nuban Villages Across 54 Square Miles

"Razing a village is a war crime, and the torching of now at least 26 Nuban villages, plus the systematic destruction of crops and grasslands for cattle, is a crime against humanity,” said George Clooney, Co-founder of Satellite Sentinel Project. “What we’re seeing here is a widespread campaign of village and crop burning.”  Read More »

M23 Rebels Leave Goma Ahead of Negotiations

A semblance of normal life is returning to Goma, with a few banks, shops, and schools reopening. But despite the presence of 600 policemen and a battalion of government forces who deployed to the city following M23’s withdrawal, people are still petrified that M23 might return. Ahead of talks with the Congolese government, the rebels have continued to posture by threatening to retake Goma if their demands are not met.  Read More »

Education Without Limits: Reflecting on Visit to Darfuri Refugee Schools

During my recent three-week trip to eastern Chad to visit the Darfuri refugee camps Djabal and Goz Amer, I had lots of conversations. The meetings under trees, in classrooms, and community centers throughout the camps made me realize how much I took education and what it means for granted. We understand the need and importance of education, yet we underestimate its power and potential to radically improve the human existence.  Read More »

New Report Warns UN and AU Are Failing to Defeat the LRA

Date: 
Dec 5, 2012

Joint Press Release (PDF)

Contact: Enough Project - Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219

Nearly six months on from the launch of a U.N. strategy aimed at ending 26 years of violence by the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, a joint report by a coalition of non-governmental organizations reveals today that the strategy has failed to make meaningful progress toward its core objectives. The report is released ahead of U.N. Security Council consultations on the LRA set for December 18th.

Tepid political commitment from regional governments, lack of urgency from the U.N., and an under-resourced African Union mission are the key causes of the failure.

For too long, the people of the central Africa have suffered from unspeakable atrocities committed by the LRA. Their children have been abducted and murdered. Their families have been forced from their homes and their livelihoods destroyed. The UN has shown great leadership, and invested a great deal, in developing a strategy to support these populations and respond to the horrors of the LRA. It must not fall short now. There is too much at stake and too much to lose,” Ben Keesey, Chief Executive Officer of Invisible Children, said.

The report comes as violence is again escalating in the Democratic Republic of Congo and amid reports that the Sudanese government is harboring the LRA. Both of these developments could give the LRA the opportunity to reassert itself in the region. The evidence of ineffective U.N./African Union collaboration is also of concern in the light of a likely military intervention in Mali.

This report is a wakeup call for the Security Council. Unless they reenergize the strategy and ensure that regional governments are effectively engaged then the whole process could fall apart. The Secretary General must publicly affirm his determination to see the UN Regional Strategy on the LRA implemented in full,” said Ernest Sugule, National Coordinator of Solidarité et Assistance intégrale aux Personnes Démunies (SAIPED), in the DRC.

The international community also has a critical role to play to support the UN and AU’s efforts.

“The UN, in partnership with the African Union and international donors, should vigorously lead the effort to end the LRA conflict. To deliver on the UN strategy will require more troops, access for the troops to LRA safe havens, enhanced intelligence, and improved efforts to promote defections. At this critical moment, the UN must rise to the challenge,” John Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Enough Project, said.

Read the full report: “Getting Back on Track: Implementing the U.N. Regional Strategy on the Lord’s Resistance Army

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Spokespeople from signatory NGOs and external experts will be available. To find out more and/or to request an advance copy of the report under embargo, please contact: Jake Goodman, +1 917 767-3609, Jake.Goodman@crisisaction.org, James Denselow, +44 793 260-7711, James.Denselow@crisisaction.org

Signatory organizations:

1. African Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ASADHO)

2. Congolese Action for Access to Justice (ACAJ)

3. Dungu-Doruma Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace (CDJP)

4. The Enough Project

5. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)

6. Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect

7. Group LOTUS

8. IKV Pax Christi

9. Invisible Children

10. Resolve

11. Solidarity and Integrated Assistance to Vulnerable Populations (SAIPED)

Crisis Action works behind the scenes to enable our partners to respond jointly to conflict and crises. Crisis Action should not be cited in media reports.

 

Follow the Money (and the Minerals)

This piece first appeared as part of New York Times’ "Room for Debate." Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast and others—including writer Eve Ensler, consultant and analyst Willet Weeks, Kambale Musavuli of Friends of the Congo, Yaa-Lengi Ngemi of the Congo Coalition, and Séverine Autesserre of Columbia University—address the complex question: How to stabilize Congo?  Read More »

Why Eastern Congo Needs a Broadened Peace Process Now: Enough Project Brief

Date: 
Nov 30, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219

WASHINGTON – Fighting between the M23 rebel movement and the Congolese military escalated last week as the rebel group seized control of Goma, a key city in eastern Congo. To address this growing violence, a broadened peace process including all parties and stakeholders must be initiated that will cease ongoing hostilities and address the systemic drivers of regional conflict, according to an Enough Project policy brief.

Aaron Hall, co-author of the brief and Enough Project Associate Director of Research, said:

“The current conflict in eastern Congo has revealed new evidence of support for armed groups from the governments of Rwanda and Uganda, as well as confirmation evidence of continued mismanagement within the governance and security sectors of Congo. However, the causes and dynamics of the long-standing conflict are unchanged. If the cycle of regional foreign intervention, economic exploitation, and rapacious governance in eastern Congo is not broken, there is no chance for peace in the region.”

The Enough brief argues that regional and international stakeholders must be more directly engaged in supporting a peace process that includes a balance between constructive and coercive leverage to provide the necessary incentives and pressures for compromise between the conflicting parties. The brief highlights the need for a broadened peace process that would be jointly mandated by the U.N., African Union, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR.

John Prendergast, co-author of the brief and co-founder of the Enough Project, said:

"The lack of a credible, effective, internationally mandated and leveraged peace process for the escalating war in Congo is becoming a major reason for that war’s continuation.  The closed-door ICGLR summit between heads of state from Congo, Rwanda and Uganda—without the involvement of political parties, civil society elements, and armed groups representing the diverse voices of eastern Congo—resembles all of the failed deals that came before it through similar processes. A deal between just the biggest guns is unlikely to address the root causes of the conflict in the eastern Congo. Instead, the declaration issued by the heads of state summit at Kampala represents another short-term security agreement that ensures that Congolese President Kabila remains in power while international pressure is removed from Presidents Kagame and Museveni of Rwanda and Uganda, respectively."

The brief outlines considerations for both regional and international actors in creating a framework to work towards peace in eastern Congo. This brief is the first in a three-part Enough Project series on the process, leverage, and substance necessary to create a path towards peace in eastern Congo and the surrounding region.

Read the full brief: “Time for a Broadened Peace Process in Congo

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

Dear President Obama: Congo Needs You Now, Will You Respond?

President Obama speaks at the United Nations headquarters in New York

As we were making our way home to be with family and friends this Thanksgiving, the M23 rebel group backed by Rwanda and Uganda stormed and seized Goma, one of the largest cities in eastern Congo. This is the first time since 2004, at the height of Congo's conflict, that rebels have occupied the city of Goma. A week has gone by, but the U.S. media and government have barely acknowledged this escalating crisis.  Read More »

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