International Alert, in partnership with the School of Global Studies at Sussex University and the Royal Commonwealth Society, held the fifth in its series of Peace Talks events, which was on the subject of "Congolese prospects. Land and minerals – resources for peace?" in London on 12 June.
Watch the discussion here:
The panel featured Maria Lange (Alert’s Country Manager in the Democratic Republic of Congo), James Fairhead (Professor of Anthropology at the School of Global Studies of Sussex University), Alex Ntung (Director of Expert Advisory and Research Services) and Vava Tampa (Chairman of Save the Congo!). The event was chaired by our Secretary General Dan Smith.
The panel – together with active participation from the audience – discussed the current impasse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its origins and prospects for peace. DRC is immensely rich in natural resources but, partly for that very reason, has been torn apart by decades of violent conflict. Together, the panel and questioners in the audience looked at the legacy of colonialism, the failure of peace agreements and the link between land, power and identity, and the system of power in DRC that thrives on chronic conflict.
But it also proved possible to identify some potential ways forward. The panel’s suggestions included formulating a coherent international response, building more effective leadership in DRC, and developing trade. All the panellists stressed the fundamental condition that the people of DRC must themselves be at the centre of the solution and the process of deciding the next steps. Their exclusion from a real say in their country’s affairs is one of the underlying conflict issues.
Speaking after the panel, Dan Smith commented: 'It was a very interesting discussion. Calm, open-minded, illuminating and providing glimpses into a better future.'
The event was attended by 130 people, including government officials, NGOs, the private sector and general public.