Heads of state sign DRC peace deal

On Sunday 24th February 2013 the heads of state of 11 African countries signed a Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region. The agreement is supported by the Secretary General of the United Nations, SADC, ICGLR and the African Union. This framework is a welcome contribution to peacebuilding efforts in the DRC and in the region, providing a broad regional and internationally supported process to start implementing the many existing peace accords, such as the 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region. However, for this framework to fare better than its predecessors, it must provide space for the key protagonists to discuss the issues that divide them in an open and frank manner, and to jointly determine and commit to undertaking the steps that are necessary to achieve sustainable peace in DRC. This implies a two-track process targeting both regional and domestic conflict drivers, which will need to be facilitated with clear authority, subtlety and firmness. As outlined in Alert’s recent report Ending the deadlock, the DRC needs a shared long-term vision for peace; an inclusive national political process of reform to improve governance; immediate and sustained management of local drivers of conflict in the east, such as land conflicts and tensions around the return of refugees and IDPs; and an effective and comprehensive security sector reform. Regional interaction must shift towards peaceful cooperation and economic integration providing peace dividends for all countries involved. For this framework to provide a meaningful contribution to peace in the DRC and the region, its many ambiguities need to be addressed. The regional oversight mechanism must facilitate dialogue between the main regional protagonists (DRC, Rwanda and Uganda), while the national oversight mechanism can be credible and effective only if it is inclusive of independent civil society actors and key opposition parties. The UN Special Envoy must maintain independence from MONUSCO and be given a clear and authoritative mandate. International partners can help provide the right incentives for regional cooperation, but this requires improved coordination of their efforts and a sustained and coherent engagement for the long-term, seeking to understand and address both the domestic and regional causes of violent conflict in eastern DRC. For media enquiries, please contact: Ilaria Bianchi Head of Communications M: +44 (0)7910 255 256 ibianchi@international-alert.org Photo: A Congolese woman and her child walk past a UN peacekeepers’ base near Bunagana, Eastern DRC; © Siegfried Modola/IRIN