The foundation for a viable, comprehensive peace process for the deadly war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is finally starting to emerge. A key factor is the involvement of engaged and empowered international actors. Read More »
The foundation for a viable, comprehensive peace process for the deadly war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is finally starting to emerge. A new Enough Project report analyzes the changing dynamics of Congo's peace process and outlines steps ahead for building momentum for peace in Congo.
By Sasha Lezhnev and John Prendergast | Apr 3, 2014
Feingold, Robinson, Kobler, and Dos Santos Must Play Critical New Roles in Congo Peace Process
Washington, DC - Angola’s emergence as the regional leader of the DRC peace process has given new life to ending the world’s deadliest war since WWII, argues a new Enough Project report. The report, “Feingold, Robinson, Kobler and Dos Santos: International Keys to Peace in Congo” urges U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold, U.N. Special Envoy Mary Robinson, U.N. Special Representative Martin Kobler, and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos to build on the successes in Congo over the past year by revitalizing a two-track, inclusive peace process for Congo, with one track focusing on regional issues and the other on internal ones.
The report argues that the regional track of the peace process should focus on making sure the negotiations led by the heads of state address the security and economic drivers of the war, and that the domestic track should ensure that Congo undertakes domestic governance reforms. Both tracks should link closely to civil society, private sector, and women’s dialogues launched by UN Special Envoy Robinson.
Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report, said:
“The road to peace in Congo is at a critical crossroads. Now that the M23 poses a much lesser threat, there are four major roadblocks to peace: the FDLR, conflict gold and smuggling, a lack of accountability for war crimes, and Congo's frustrated elections. U.S. and U.N. Special Envoys Russ Feingold and Mary Robinson should work closely with Angolan President dos Santos to broker talks on the first three critical issues while encouraging Congolese President Kabila to not run for another term.”
John Prendergast, Enough Project co-founder and co-author of the report, said:
“The foundation for a viable, comprehensive peace process for the deadly war in the Congo is finally emerging. The obstacles, however, are daunting. Focusing on meaningful steps forward on specific issues that have fanned the flames of regional intervention will go a long way to extinguishing the fires that have burned in Congo since the 1994 Rwandan genocide spilled across their common border. Bringing an end to the FDLR, creating a clean minerals export trade, and ensuring justice for human rights crimes will remove incentives for neighboring states to destabilize Congo and instead promote peaceful, transparent cooperation throughout the region.”
Enough joined a coalition of Congolese and international organizations convened by Human Rights Watch to press the Congolese government to pass critical legislation that will pave a path for high-level accountability for atrocities in Congo. Two laws currently pending in parliament are crucial to the establishment of specialized mixed chambers in Congo, which would prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual enslavement. The chambers would be located in Congo and trials would be carried out in collaboration by local and international judges, lawyers and investigators. Local access and ownership over justice for atrocities are crucial, and with the help of international funding, oversight and expertise, the mixed chambers hold enormous promise for carrying out fair, balanced, and sophisticated prosecutions, with emphasis on due process rights and victim and witness support and protection.
April is designated as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month each year, as it marks important anniversaries for multiple acts of genocide in the 20th century. Throughout the month, individuals and organizations join together to commemorate and honor victims and survivors, educate the public about past and contemporary genocides, and advocate for prevention against future mass atrocities. To support activists as they take action in their communities this April, the Enough Project has teamed up with partner organizations to create a Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month Toolkit. Read More »
DR Congo: US, UN Must Address Sexual Violence in Peace Process
Washington, D.C. — Addressing sexual and gender-based violence—a defining feature of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo—is critical to the success of Congo’s peace process, argues a new Enough Project report released today. The report, “Interrupting the Silence: Addressing Congo’s Sexual Violence Crisis within the Great Lakes Regional Peace Process,” urges U.S. and U.N. policymakers to integrate tools to end sexual and gender-based violence and to address the links between sexual violence, and the economic and political drivers of war in Congo’s peace process.
In the Congo, sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, is a tool of war, committed often in tandem with other human rights violations, including land grabs, illicit minerals trading, and forced displacement. Rape and other forms of sexual violence have been used to instill fear, distrust, and shame and manipulate group psychologies, which in turn weaken community networks, and undermine the protection of women and children. Discourse on SGBV in the context of war has long been isolated from topics of conflict economics and security in Congo. Additionally, the lack of reliable statistics on SGBV in Congo has hindered a holistic understanding of the problem, despite increased international attention in the past several years. New research, however, highlights its inextricable links with the conflict as a whole and affirm the scale and severity of the problem and its impact on Congolese society.
Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Associate and author of the report, says:
"Women are still being raped in Congo at very high rates, and severe stigma maintains its grasp on survivors. Perpetrators are getting away with these crimes. Congo’s peace process, with its renewed momentum and unprecedented international support, presents an opportunity to stop this horror. We need practical policy changes to protect women and girls and sophisticated, high-level prosecutions to send a clear message that those who use rape to exert power and control will not go unpunished."
“Interrupting the Silence” warns that the exclusion of SGBV and women’s empowerment in the greater peace process could undermine the development of a truly peaceful post-conflict society. To combat this, the report recommends that international and regional stakeholders emphasize the empowerment and inclusion of women within the peace agenda, including:
Decision-making opportunities in the the Great Lakes Women’s Platform, launched by U.N. Special Envoy Mary Robinson last month;
Assisting in the establishment of a mixed chamber to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity, including SGBV; and
Integrating a gendered perspective into security sector reform and DDR programs.
The continued transformation of eastern Congo’s minerals sector, particularly gold, into a formalized, conflict-free trade would also combat sexual violence by providing economic opportunities for women and pushing armed groups out of mines they often control by committing rape, sexual torture, and enslavement against civilians.
John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-Founder, says:
"Sexual violence is a tool of social control and terror. It is impossible to separate as its own crisis isolated from rebel offensives, illicit minerals trading, and security sector reform. For high-level policymakers to drive an effective peace process, sexual violence must be addressed alongside these more traditional economic and political challenges and with the same urgency and commitment."
Sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, has been a defining feature of a complex armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has endured for decades that is rooted in economic, political, land, and ethnic competition.
Sexual and gender-based violence, or SGBV, has been a defining feature of a complex armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has endured for decades and is rooted in economic, political, land, and ethnic competition. Read More »
The United Nations Security Council is currently debating the extension of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, which is up for renewal on April 1, 2014. Together with Oxfam, World Vision, and five other non-governmental organizations, the Enough Project published an open letter to the Security Council giving recommendations for MONUSCO on civilian protection, governance, and the peace process. Read More »
The United Nations Security Council is currently debating the extension of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, which is up for renewal on April 1, 2014. Together with Oxfam, World Vision, and five other non-governmental organizations, the Enough Project published an open letter to the Security Council giving recommendations for MONUSCO on civilian protection, governance, and the peace process.