This information is cross posted from: http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/alerts/2012/dr-congo...
The east Congolese city of Goma and its key airport have reportedly fallen after heavy fighting to the M23 rebel group. Regional and international actors must now prevent this turning into a new regional war.
The past week has shown history repeating itself in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the same tragic consequences for civilians in the region (see Crisis Group briefing from 4 October for background).
On 15 November 2012, the M23 rebel movement, with – according to the DRC – the backing of Rwanda’s armed forces, broke the 25 July de facto ceasefire observed with the Congolese army (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC) and launched an offensive against Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Unable, despite numerous attempts, to extend its control over the resource-rich Masisi territory, constrained by Uganda’s closure of its Bunangana border with the DRC and frustrated by the decision of the UN Security Council to place its main leader, Sultani Makenga, on the UN sanctions list, the M23 had finally decided to make real its threat to attack the city. On 18 November, following three days of fighting, the movement broke the FARDC’s resistance and tried to force the government of President Joseph Kabila to negotiate.
On 19 November, after several fruitless attempts at talks and an ultimatum from the M23 to the government, fighting broke out inside Goma, a city under the defence of the FARDC and UN peacekeepers (MONUSCO). The M23’s ultimatum had demanded the FARDC’s withdrawal from, and the demilitarisation of, Goma and its airport; the reopening of the Bunangana border post; and an inclusive negotiation process to bring in the unarmed Congolese political opposition, civil society and the diaspora. By making this demand, the M23 aimed to reduce the crisis to a domestic affair, thereby preventing Kinshasa from internationalising it in order to negotiate a solution at the regional level through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with those neighbouring countries that allegedly support the M23 rebellion.
While negotiations were on the verge of starting in Goma, President Kabila ultimately refused to recognise the M23 as a legitimate interlocutor, and clashes broke out inside the city. The rebels entered Goma on 20 November, forcing the Congolese army to retreat to Sake.
The new offensive is a tragic repeat of the threat by Laurent Nkunda’s Conseil National de Défense du Peuple (CNDP) to take Goma in 2008. Once again, the civilian population is paying a heavy price. As in 2008, the same causes could produce the same fearful effects:
As immediate steps, regional and international actors must secure:
To avoid a regional implosion, the following steps are also necessary:
The immediate priority is to stop the current fighting and protect civilians.
Long-term solutions will require that the UN Security Council, AU and ICGLR ensure that peace agreements and that stabilisation plans no longer remain empty promises. To achieve this, coordinated and unequivocal pressure on the Congolese government and the M23 rebel movement, as well as the latter’s external supporters, is required from international donors and regional actors.
This is typical example of dealing with issues superficially or dealing with the consequences rather than the roots causes. As long as this is not part of the agenda this cycle will continue. This analysis reinforce this, it talks about current situation and possible sanctions within international intervention models' language - while is about 'intervention', it is in fact what sustain violence in DRC. The real issues are never talked about!
Dear Alex, I like your comment. Congo conflict is both complex and multidimensional. It's like a tree that hides the forest.
Dear Alex, you have a genuine point. In fact, I cannot agree with you anymore. With due respect to this ICG report, it remains a terribly wrong prophylactic method to offer bandages and pain-killers where immediate surgery is required: Eastern DRC ought to receive an 'intensive care' treatment, way beyond the pharmacist' prescription. I just sympathize with the futile negotiation efforts currently going on in Kampala. Some of us who have been and still are exposed to the wrath of living in the Great Lakes region of Africa since we were born, can ascertain that history arrogantly continues to affirm itself, good intentions notwithstanding. In a world were the knowledge about the truth (reality on the ground) is significantly suffocated by ill-intentioned interests, the grassroots are abandoned to peril!
The real issues are never talked about. However, they are well known. In 1996, the UN Special Reporter on the situation of Human Rights was sent in Congo to study the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world, with particular reference to colonial and other dependent countries and territories. In resolution 1994/87, adopted at its fiftieth session, the Commission professed itself''concerned about the persistent seriousness of the situation of human rights in Zaire(Congo)'' and ''seriously concerned'' at reports of ''forced displacements of more than 750,000 persons belonging to ethnic minorities, especially in the provinces of Shaba and Northern Kivu, as well as the heavy loss of human life and other numerous viollations of human rights accompanying such displacements''. It went on to reiterate its ''lothing of all forms of racial or ethnic discrimination''; and to condemn the practice of forced population displacements, particularly in Northern Kivu and Shaba,''for which the authorities [bore] primary responsibility'', and ''all discriminatory measures affecting persons belonging to minority groups''. The Commission invited its Chairman to appoint a special rapporteur to report on developments in the human rights situation in Zaire(Congo) at its fifty-third session. The Special Rapporteur submitted the report requested( E/CN.4/1995/67), in which paragraphs 85 to 95 were dedicated to ''ethnic conflicts in Northern Kivu''.
It is, -honestly, hard to understand how sanctions by the European Union (EU), UN Security Council, and especially France, the UK and the U.S. essentially, are targeting, -almost exclusively, and implicitly, the minority Tutsi community from the Congo who are fighting for their human rights to exist. Many of them are stateless. Although the problems many Congolese Tutsis face are well-known to the International Community, the situation has not received the attention it deserves, and the UNHCR has not responded effectively to the root cause of it.
There are an estimated 12 million stateless people around the world. Even though this number rivals the 15.9 million refugees found globally, few people understand what it means to be stateless (1).
People who face statelessness are perhaps even more vulnerable than refugees. Although the near-total inability of stateless people to exercise their human rights is their central problem, many statelessness people also face social or political constraints unique to the societies in which they live.
For example, stateless people in many African countries including the Congo do not feel free to discuss their issues openly. The most obvious reason is a fear of political repression but it can also because of some curious taboos in their cultures. Tutsi from the Congo, -specifically, are from both the culture of silence and honor. They are reserved. So it is hard to know their experience as stateless essentially.
The issue of stateless people is crucial. In fact, in the media there's very little discussion, in universities there's very little research and in the U.N., until relatively recently, there hasn't been a lot of discussion either, so the effect of all that is that we still have major gaps in our knowledge (2).
Regarding the issue of avoiding a regional implosion, sanctions by the European Union (EU), UN Security Council, and especially France, the UK and the U.S., as well as the AU, not only against the rebellion’s leaders, but also against their external supporters would be inefficient. Instead of bringing peace in the region those sanctions will bring chaos.
In my opinion, the fall of Goma is one of the direct consequences of the failure of both the Congo central government and international community to end the perverse effects of the partition of Africa.
Nkunda’s forces, -M23, are well-trained and experienced, and above all they have a clear sense of purpose, because they feel they are fighting for the survival of their community (3). Tutsi people from the Congo are fighting essentially, against what Sarah Meharg called identicide.(4) They are like '' jews in the more problematic sens of being''.(5)
Starting the campaign against impunity by punishing Lubanga, Nkunda, and Mutebusi would convey the absurd message that the Banyarwanda Tutsi are the source of Congo’s sorrows. Trying to flatter the Congolese, the international community does not see that it is creating another abscess. Behind the Banyarwanda-Tutsi question, there is a more basic problem that will have to be resolved if Congo is to escape from the current crisis. Arresting Lubanga or Nkunda or Mutebusi solves nothing, because other Lubanga or Nkundas will appear. (6)
I believe ‘‘a solution to Congo's troubles is possible with a reimagined approach. The West could start by making development and order its first priority in the Congolese territory, rather than focusing on the promotion of the Congolese state. This simple distinction immediately casts the Congolese problem in a whole new light. It would mean, for instance, that foreign governments and aid agencies would deal with whomever exerted control on the ground rather than continuing to pretend that Kinshasa is ruling and running the country.’’ (7)
(1) UNHCR, Statelessness: An analytical frame work for Prevention, Reduction, and Protection, UNHCR, 2008
(2) Mark Manly in: ''Invisible millions pay price of statelessness'' By Emma Batha, August 23, 2011.
(3) See Mauro De Lorenzo, Testimony before a Hearing on “Exploring the U.S. Role in Consolidating Peace and Security in the Great Lakes Region”, October 24, 2007
(4) Sarah Meharg, ‘‘Identicide, the precursor to genocide’’, Posted on June 8, 2011 in Peace, Conflict and Development Research .
(5) See Rene Lemarchand, ‘‘Disconnecting the Threads: Rwanda and the Holocaust Reconsidered.’’
(6) Yves M. Musoni quoted in: The Congo wars conflict ,myth&reality By Thomas Turner, 2007, p.196
(7) See JEFFREY HERBST, GREG MILLS, ‘’There is no Congo Why the only way to help Congo is to stop pretending it exists’’, March 18, 2009.
I literally believe that the ''M23'' insurgency will be dealt with comprehensively by first unmasking who they really are, I was listening to BBC focus on Africa and one of the D.R.C Minister was putting it that ''M23'' was a disguise, his take was that they were being confronted by Rwanda, amazingly as ''M23'' progressed to Goma, President Kabila and Kagame arrived in Kampala for a closed meeting with President Musevein over the latter.A resolution was made which directed the ''M23'' to retreat, much of this is to be discussed in detail as ICGLR meets in Kampala on 7-8th Nov 2012. ''Other wise what we are seeing is like digging a hole to fill another''.
Very disappointed. Being from Goma myself, I cannot understand this machinery. There is a loop hole in whatever it has been said. We don't have access to the different agreements Congo government sign with differents rebels movements. We don't know for sure what is this. some are claiming to be integrated in the army, which army? the same army they left? now what is going on here. there may be another agenda. A fail state cannot protect its citizen. thus the failure of social contract. Having big number of UN Peacekeepers in the world, but nothing. with anarchical state of international system, who controls who? Our life is in danger here. I think if Thomas Hobbes and John Lock were to meet in DRC, I don't know what they could say, with this brutish, nasty, nature of these people here. the history of DRC seems to repeat itself: one, Lumumba invited Russia in 1960 to protect the government againts mutiny; while Kasavubu invited USA and allies belgian. Mobutu came to power, could not have a strong army: he invited Morroco and French army to help him get rid of rebels in 1980. Kabila Laurent, in 1998 invited Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia to help him. So a country has never build up an army? Now what do you expect in such situation.