Over 5.4 million dead. Over 2 million displaced. Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
The war in eastern Congo began in the early 1990s and continues to this day. It has encompassed two international wars—from 1996 to 1997 and 1998 to 2003—and multiple invasions from neighboring countries, with combatants from many armed groups, both foreign and domestic. While Congo has abundant natural resources, it is also the world’s poorest country per capita, according to the United Nations. Congo is also home to the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, MONUSCO, which has more than 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. The eastern part of the country is plagued by instability, as militias continue to wreak havoc on the population. Meanwhile, the conflict gets very little coverage by the international media.
The conflict in Congo is notorious for serious violations of human rights, including violence against women and the use of child soldiers. Since 1996 the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. In 2012 Congo ranked lowest on the United Nations Human Development Index.
Actor and activist Emmanuelle Chriqui joined hip hop artist Omékongo Dibinga and Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager JD Stier on a HuffPo Live segment to discuss the growing movement for peace in Congo and launch a new music video, "Congo on the Come Up." Read More »
Today, a United States district court of appeals ruled that part of the SEC's conflict minerals rule requiring companies to disclose whether or not they use conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries is unconstitutional.
"The appeals court's ruling on the first amendment issue is a major step backward for atrocity prevention in the Great Lakes region of Africa and corporate accountability in the United States.. Requiring companies to come clean about whether their materials fuel armed violence is constitutional and reflective of our intolerance as a society for turning a blind eye to human suffering. The court's proposal that a conflict-free determination is ideological is unfounded and undercuts the power of society's growing awareness that global markets and security in fragile states are in fact linked.
As the court said today, "minerals do not fight conflict." But they do fund conflict, a fact that drove Congress and a major public movement to establish this rule in the first place. The SEC should appeal today's ruling for the conflict minerals rule to stay in tact, ensuring companies continue the good work they began when the conflict minerals rule was created."
"The law is already eating away at the finances of warlords in Congo, with over two-thirds of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines now free of armed groups. While the SEC rule is being decided by the courts, consumers and investors are more aware than ever about conflict minerals and will be holding companies accountable for what they are or are not doing on conflict minerals."
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
In 2013, American University (AU) became the first school in the Washington, D.C. area to adopt conflict-free purchasing guidelines. The co-leaders of Empower Congo, a campus group that took on the Conflict Free Campus Initiative have outlined how and why they were successful in reaching this turning point and their plans to continue advocating for the people of Congo. Read More »
As commemorations unfold honoring the 20th anniversary of the onset of Rwanda’s genocide and the 10th year after Darfur’s genocide was recognized, the rhetoric of commitment to the prevention of mass atrocities has never been stronger.
Contact: Mark Quarterman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-372-6295
Mass Atrocity Prevention Post Rwanda and Darfur
Washington, DC – Today, Rwandans and the international community will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days. As commemorations unfold worldwide, an Enough Project report, released today, discusses modern mass atrocity prevention as we mark the anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide and recognize the 10th year of genocide in Darfur. The report “Rwanda 20 and Darfur 10: New Responses to Africa's Mass Atrocities” calls for a renewed approach to addressing the interlinked nature of modern-day African conflicts and mass atrocity crimes.
In the twenty years since the Rwandan genocide, Africa’s wars have become increasingly marked by integrated conflict systems, which spill over borders and include an array of armed groups. The conflicts, spanning the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and Central Africa, have taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Conventional peace processes and peacekeeping operations, however, are limited in scope and have largely failed to address the complexities of modern African conflict and mass atrocities. As a result, they fail to address the core systemic drivers of violence.
Enough Project co-founder and author of the report, John Prendergast, says:
"Without addressing the complicated transnational root causes of conflict and mass atrocities, without being much more inclusive, without dealing decisively with spoilers, and without integrating broader regional actors, today’s peace processes have no chance of producing sustainable peace."
To combat this, the report argues for new approaches to peacemaking and civilian protection that make a real difference in the lives of people in conflict-ridden regions. A new strategy should be marked by broader peace mechanisms, which include an effective response system from the international community and comprehensive and regional peace processes that address core drivers of conflict.
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 »
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 »