Last week, the ENOUGH Project released a report urging the international community to change its approach toward the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – to abandon its tradition of “parachute diplomacy” and peacekeeping quick-fixes in favor of sustained, high-level pressure that will achieve a political settlement and establish long-term security in the region.
Specifically, ENOUGH argues that the international community should:
Give MONUC (the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC) explicit directions to use force to protect civilians from attack by all armed groups: The deployment of an additional 3,000 peacekeepers to reinforce MONUC recently authorized by the UN Security council will take months, posing a significant obstacle to the improvement of security conditions in the east. However, according to ENOUGH, the force’s inability to protect civilians is due more to a lack of political will than inadequate equipment and troop levels. The UNSC plans to renew MONUC’s mandate this month, and ENOUGH advocates that the mandate be revised to make explicit the responsibility of peacekeepers to use force to protect civilians, and that troop-contributing countries hold their forces accountable for carrying out this mandate.
Develop a structure and strategy for sustained diplomacy: According to ENOUGH, the mediation team made up of former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa will need substantial backing from the US, the UK, the EU, and other outside actors with leverage. Those involved in the political process should focus on eroding rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda’s support within DRC, removing the FDLR from the country, and pressuring the Rwandan government to end cross-border support for Nkunda.
Introduce accountability for atrocities committed by all parties to the conflict: In order to address the persistence of impunity in eastern DRC, ENOUGH argues that MONUC should raise the profile of its reporting on human rights abuses, and that the International Criminal Court should investigate crimes committed during the most recent round of fighting.
Plan a credible counterinsurgency strategy to remove the FDLR (Rwandan Hutu militia) from eastern Congo: In light of the DRC and Rwandan governments’ inability and unwillingness to deal with the presence of the FDLR, ENOUGH argues that the US and European countries should pressure FDLR leadership – in Congo and abroad – through financial, diplomatic, and judicial channels, explore options for military action to deal with the militia, and pressure the DRC and Rwandan governments to increase efforts to toward demobilizing and reintegrating rank-and-file FDLR fighters.
Lay the ground work for long-term follow through: In order to break the cycle of conflict in DRC, ENOUGH argues that the drivers of the violence must be addressed. This includes measures to decrease demand for illegally exploited minerals from eastern DRC, a sustained effort to normalize relations between Congo and Rwanda, a multilateral effort to establish and capable and professional Congolese army, a sustained effort toward accountability for human rights abuses, and greater investment in local peace building initiatives and building capacity in Congolese civil society.
Click here to read the full report, to access the related activist brief, and to download an audio version.