In honor of International Women’s Day it is important to take stock of the national and international mechanisms in support of gendered equality and women’s rights. The U.S. National Security Strategy notes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights, and therefore it is in our national interest to support and empower women throughout the world.
To this end, the Obama administration recently adopted the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, officially integrating gender issues across government initiatives. Read More »
KONY 2012 campaign seeks arrest of Joseph Kony, a war criminal responsible for abduction of more than 30,000 children; campaign video viewed by 10 million people in first 48 hours
WASHINGTON DC – Nonprofit Invisible Children, in partnership with the Enough Project and Resolve, launched a year-long campaign called KONY 2012 to advocate for the arrest of indicted war criminal Joseph Kony. After launching Monday afternoon, a short film at the heart of the campaign went viral on YouTube and Vimeo and has been a trending topic across social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
“Kony is arguably the world’s worst war criminal, but he’s now widely known outside of central Africa, where communities live in daily fear of attacks by his forces. This campaign will change that,” said Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children. “Increased attention should be accompanied by increased action to stop Kony from attacking civilians.”
For 25 years, Kony has terrorized remote communities in Central Africa with an army comprised in large part of abducted child soldiers known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. Since it premiered on Monday afternoon, the KONY 2012 film has ignited worldwide attention, aided by celebrity boosters such as TV star Oprah, musicians Rihanna and Taylor Swift, and Hollywood actors such as Kristen Bell and Jason Bateman.
“People across America and around the world are tuning in to hear about a neglected human rights crisis. In a year of divisive partisan politics,” said Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of Resolve, “this shows that pursuing Kony’s arrest is one thing we can still all agree on.”
In May 2010, Congress passed the bipartisan LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act with 271 cosponsors – more than any other Africa-focused bill in U.S. history. President Obama deployed approximately 100 U.S. military advisers to Central Africa in October 2011 to help stop the violence perpetrated by Kony and the LRA.
"With the deployment of U.S. advisors to Central Africa, there is a real chance to end the threat posed by the LRA," said John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project. "To ensure mission success, there should be additional ingredients added to the mix, including additional capable forces, enhanced intelligence support, and more transport capacity to allow regional governments to act on that intelligence. Further, an improved defection strategy is needed to entice LRA commanders and fighters to leave the group. With these supplements, the mission the U.S. troops were sent for can succeed. This will only happen with greater political will sustained by this campaign and other efforts supporting the children of Central Africa."
Today, the campaign sponsors sent a letter to President Obama outlining steps the United States can take to see Kony arrested and help communities being affected by the LRA’s brutal attacks. The letter acknowledges that current U.S. efforts to address the crisis are producing “new hope for an end to the group’s atrocities,” but argues that more must be done, including heightened diplomacy with governments in the region, additional support for efforts to capture Kony, and investment in programs that help LRA abductees escape and return to their homes and families.
Activists who join the campaign will engage 20 of America’s most influential “culture-makers” and 12 of America’s most powerful policymakers in attempts to get them on the record in favor of Kony’s arrest. They will also attend rallies and meetings with their elected leaders to promote a Congressional resolution re-committing the United States to seek Kony’s arrest.
For more information about KONY 2012 or to watch and share the film, visit www.kony2012.com.
Activists from across the country descended upon the nation’s capitol this week to discuss and bring awareness to the raging conflicts in eastern Congo and Sudan. Jewish World Watch, or JWW, organized and hosted the two-day event “Hear Her Voice” that featured an advocacy training and meetings with legislators and foreign policy experts. It brought together Jewish, Congolese, and Sudanese activists and other allies in the fight against genocide to collectively bring a voice to the women affected by violence in eastern Congo and Sudan. Read More »
A recent U.N. report has for the first time explicitly named a number of armed groups and military forces around the world suspected to be the worst perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence. The annual report, which was released in January, identifies extreme cases of sexual violence, provides examples of how sexual violence has threatened security and impeded peacebuilding in post-conflict situations, and makes strategic recommendations on how to prevent such offenses in the future. Read More »
Singer/songwriter and activist Courtney B. Wong's video about conflict minerals from Congo first caught the eye of the Raise Hope for Congo campaign team on YouTube last month. In this guest blog post, Wong writes about her motivation and dedication to her activism to end human trafficking.
In a report released today, “Time Works Against Justice: Ending Impunity in Eastern Congo,” the Enough Project looks at the historical precedent of a failed Congolese justice system and its far reaching effects on the peace and reconciliation process. The paper delves into the historical context for the culture of impunity in Congo and describes both the daily injustices and the blatantly egregious high-level examples of corruption that perpetuate a culture of fear, hopelessness, and resentment among the civilian population. Read More »
WASHINGTON – The United States and the international community must strongly support Congolese partners to reform the country’s justice system in order to break the flagrant cycle of impunity and promote accountability, according to a new Enough Project report.
“There has never been a systematic attempt to address the issue of impunity within the Congolese justice system,” said Aaron Hall, Enough Project Congo policy analyst and report co-author. “The lack of accountability for war crimes including the murder of civilians, rape, plunder, and extortion is one of the key obstacles to creating an environment for peace and development in eastern Congo.”
The international community should use a multi-pronged approach of state-level conditionally-based pressure and civil society support to ensure Congo implements Specialized Mixed Courts to try international human rights crimes committed in Congo that fall outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, according to the paper.
The international community should also work with local implementing partners to expand the jurisdiction of mobile courts to include economic crimes and the pillaging of community property and natural resources.
“Given the current state of the justice system in the Congo, those Congolese champions who wish to enact reform require international partnership at the onset,” said Annette LaRocco, Enough Project researcher and report co-author. “Otherwise, the obstacles are too great and the resources too few.”
Other recommendations include pressuring the Congolese and Rwandans to arrest indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the Congolese army, expanding international and national judicial focus on pillaging of property and natural resources, and supporting Truth and Reconciliation Commissions to allow communities to use traditional conflict resolution methods.
This paper addresses the challenges of justice reform in Congo and explores potential solutions for the future. The ideas set forth are gleaned from discussions with many individuals on the front lines in this battle against impunity.