Peacebuilding in eastern DRC

On 11th October, International Alert released a new report – Ending the deadlock: Towards a new vision of peace in eastern DRC – which proposes a comprehensive approach to building lasting peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report comes while regional leaders and the international community are dealing with a renewed wave of violence in the east of the country where, throughout 2012, the security situation has been critical.

Large parts of the territory of North Kivu province are currently under the control of either the recently declared rebel group, M23, or other armed groups such as the Raia Mutomboki. The report demonstrates that the roots of the conflicts devastating the east of the country are primarily political in nature and linked to Congolese history. They relate to the distribution of power and economic resources and are inextricably linked to the way in which the country’s social and political structures operate. They combine local dimensions with regional dynamics related to the consequences of the Rwandan genocide and the two Congolese wars, creating a particularly complex climate of conflict.

Alert’s new report argues that to lay the foundations for lasting peace the underlying causes of the conflicts in eastern DRC must be addressed. The mainly technical response to date by the government and its international partners has neglected the political and structural nature of the conflicts.

Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert, affirms:

'The international community has invested billions of dollars in trying to stabilise and build peace in eastern Congo, and yet their efforts are not bearing enough fruit. Standard post-conflict interventions are simply not working; what is needed is a truly context-specific response based on a frank analysis of the real causes and dynamics behind this prolonged and multi-faceted conflict.'

The report points to the failure of various peacebuilding programmes, including the government’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Plan for Eastern DRC and the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy, and highlights the need for international and local actors to engage with the political aspects of their peacebuilding efforts.

Smith continues:

'If peace is to be restored, the predatory, corrupt and clientelistic nature of power in DRC must be tackled, as well as the problem of intense, ethnically driven political competition.'

Drawing on International Alert’s decade of experience in DRC, the report recommends a critical step towards a new generation of peacebuilding in eastern DRC: the definition of a shared, collectively-owned vision of what lasting peace looks like in DRC through a national dialogue process.

This “new vision of peace” needs to address among others the following priorities:

  • fairer access;
  • political culture and systems;
  • reintegration of returning refugees and displaced persons;
  • improved security for all Congolese; and
  • promotion of a positive vision of regional cooperation.

Read the report here.