Armies, police, and government should exist to protect civilians, but in eastern Congo they are among the primary perpetrators of murder, rape, torture, and extortion.
The Congolese National Army, or FARDC, and the Congolese National Police, or PNC, are corrupt and ineffective, preying on the communities they're supposed to protect. In addition, a highly centralized government does not provide necessary services for the Congolese people. Institutional reform including electoral reform and decentralization is needed.
What is security sector reform (SSR)?
"The set of policies, plans, programs, and activities that a government undertakes to improve the way it provides safety, security, and justice. The overall objective is to provide these services in a way that promotes an effective and legitimate public service that is transparent, accountable to civilian authority, and responsive to the needs of the public." (source)
Programs to accomplish SSR and governance reform:
- Defense and armed forces reform
- Civilian management and oversight
- Justice system reform
- Prison reform
- Intelligence reform
- National security planning and strategy support
- Border management
- Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) (source)
The national army and police force must undergo massive reforms to bring lasting peace to Congo. The Congolese government, however, has not demonstrated a commitment to facilitate this reform. By applying pressure or offering incentives to the Congolese government, the United States can and should lead the effort to encourage the professionalization of the Congolese security sector.
For more, read "Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform (PDF)," a report co-produced by the Enough Project.