Goma, DR Congo and Washington, DC — Significant international repercussions for neighboring government support to rebels in Congo, and consumer pressure on companies that trade in conflict minerals, are weakening armed groups and providing new leverage for U.N. envoy Mary Robinson's efforts to help build peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, argues the Enough Project in a new report.
Enough Project Congo Researcher and report co-author Fidel Bafilemba said:
International pressure on Rwanda to stop supporting armed groups, and on Congo to enact reforms, helped split M23 and led to Bosco Ntaganda's surrender to the International Criminal Court. U.N. envoy Mary Robinson can take advantage of this moment and initiate a comprehensive peace process that includes regional negotiations and a Congolese democratic reform process. Civil society must be at the negotiation table this time around.
Eleven African heads of state and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Congo and the Region on February 24, diplomatic framework to address the drivers of the war. And in March, the U.N. appointed Mary Robinson as Special Envoy.
Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst and report co-author Sasha Lezhnev said:
For too long, the "Three K's"-- Kigali, Kampala, and Kinshasa - have been competing violently in eastern Congo, but the Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals has made it much more difficult to profit from the illicit trade. Now is the time to offer the region a forum to legitimately cooperate on economic and security issues. To provide incentives for the economic talks, the Obama administration should launch a responsible investment initiative with the private sector and NGOs that explores expanded investments in conflict-free natural resources in the region.
Because of its close relationship with, and ability to influence Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, the U.S. government should play an active role in Congo's peace process. The report, "Mary Robinson's Next Steps to Help End Congo's Deadly War," offers six recommendations, including that the U.S. rapidly deploy a senior U.S. envoy to support the peace process; sanction key gold smugglers and officials aiding armed groups; provide military advisors to the U.N. Intervention Brigade to combat spoiler armed groups; and support the International Criminal Court to investigate and issue arrest warrants for at-large war criminals in eastern Congo.
Enough Project Co-founder and report co-author John Prendergast said:
One of the most pressing challenges for Special Envoy Robinson and other diplomats will be the construction of a credible process that allows Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo to work together to address the security and economic drivers of violence in eastern Congo. Working together to enhance regional infrastructure, undertake joint economic projects, and create a conflict-free minerals trade will attract foreign investment and allow the regional economic pie to grow larger, thus benefiting everyone. That will be the biggest incentive for peace in the Great Lakes region, and provide the international community with real leverage to end violent conflict there.
Read the report: "Mary Robinson's Next Steps to Help End Congo's Deadly War"