Peacebuilding in eastern DRC: Improving EU support for economic recovery - International Alert

Peacebuilding in eastern DRC: Improving EU support for economic recovery

This report focuses on economic recovery as a central pillar of peacebuilding in eastern DRC and, in particular, the role of the European Commission in supporting such processes.

The most visible current threat to peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is in the east, reflecting the prevailing pattern of the last 40 years. The stand-off between the Congolese government and forces led by Laurent Nkunda threatens the stability of DRC and the region.

The crisis is not, however, limited to North Kivu and is not about an individual dissident ‘warlord’. It is fundamentally related to the highly politicised regional context, with important dimensions related to identity and the architecture of armed forces in the east. Underlying this latest phase in the long-running cycles of violence are the fears, prejudices and competing ambitions of different groups in the region. These divisions have existed for decades and they continue to prevent the peaceful economic development that the people of DRC desperately need.

To help overcome the fractures in Congolese society, there needs to be a step-change in the level of constructive economic exchanges within the country and of formal, public revenue-generating trade across international borders. At the same time, an immense push to create jobs and provide equitable access to income-generating opportunities is vital not only to improve livelihoods for local populations but also to help separate combatants from the violence and extortion through which they realised a degree of economic security. In that light, and following on from the more wide-ranging report, Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes: Challenges and opportunities for the EU in the DRC, this study focuses on economic (re)construction issues in the eastern DRC.