Partner profile: Justice Plus, DRC

Ituri province in eastern DRC has been gripped by violent conflict for decades. Impunity for violent crimes is commonplace and cycles of violence are difficult to break. Despite holding enormous social and economic potential due to its rich soil, forest, and mineral resources, persistent conflict has held back development and created divisions between communities and political leaders.

Mayuano Community Radio technical room. International Alert and Justice Plus support the development of programmes on peace, conflict resolution, and rights and responsibilities in artisanal mining. Photo: International Alert.

State institutions struggle to function, corruption is widespread and splintered security networks protect narrow vested interests to the detriment of wider society. Human rights abuses by state and non-state actors have been well documented. Bordering Uganda and South Sudan, Ituri province has long been exposed to regional instability and faces ongoing security and governance challenges.

It is in this context that the NGO Justice Plus stands as a defender of human rights and promoter of conflict transformation. They specialise in strengthening social cohesion by working to build confidence between state authorities and local communities. They work to develop the conditions for lasting peace by fighting against impunity and promoting tolerance and non-violence.

Based in the town of Bunia, Justice Plus operates primarily in Ituri and is made up of lawyers, judges, other jurists, paralegals and activists, as well as community leaders committed to protecting human rights, which they see as an essential condition for a just and sustainable peace.

Justice Plus has worked with International Alert since 2019 and is one of our key partners in DRC. For example, we work together closely on the Madini kwa Amani na Maendeleo (Minerals for Peace and Development) project, which helps local governments, communities, and mining cooperatives to improve security, ease tension, and protect human rights in mining areas.

Through their training and coaching programme, for example, a deputy territorial administrator was able to help resolve security incidents around his mine. He went on to run awareness sessions on the legal requirements in mining practices and worked with civil society groups on a platform to monitor incidents and conflict resolution at mine sites.

Justice Plus also supports conflict management in mining communities through monitoring committees that mediate between farmers, mining cooperatives, and other stakeholders. Artisanal mining in chiefdoms like Mambisa and Bahema-Baguru may damage farmers’ fields and houses, sometimes leading to violence or legal action. Monitoring committees, supported by Justice Plus as part of the Madini project, now effectively manage and de-escalate these disputes.

They are attentive to the particular needs of the communities they work in. Poor access to information in an artisanal gold mining area, for example, was considered an obstacle to social cohesion. In line with the community’s local security plan, International Alert and Justice Plus installed an antenna for Mayuano Community Radio and support the community to develop radio programmes on issues of peace, conflict resolution, and the rights and responsibilities of those involved in and overseeing artisanal mining.

Justice Plus is among the leaders of civil society groups bringing collaboration and positive change to Ituri province. As members of the steering committees for two of International Alert’s projects, they provide significant strategic guidance on programme development, advocacy and engagement for our work in DRC.

Justice Plus’s work in Ituri province exemplifies the transformative potential of local initiatives in promoting human rights, conflict resolution, and good governance. They not only build bridges between state authorities, non-state actors and local communities, but also foster a culture of peace and cooperation in a region that continues to grapple with the impacts of conflict.

As the organisation continues to expand its impact, it shows the positive change that can happen when communities are supported in their pursuit of justice and peace.