Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congo: has the UN made a bad situation worse?

You read next to nothing about this crisis in the newspapers. Yet, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1990s was the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Despite the peace settlement of 2001, the most costly deployment of UN peace keepers ever, and the holding of elections in 2006, some two million people have died in the Congo since the war ended. The Economist recently reported that the number of women raped in one month in one province of the Congo last year may have numbered in the tens of thousands.

Séverine Autesserre, writing in Foreign Affairs, believes the international community has actually managed to exacerbate strife in war-ravaged central Africa:
. . . the main reason that the peace-building strategy in Congo has failed is that the international community has paid too little attention to the root causes of the violence there: local disputes over land and power. If anything, international efforts to bring peace have enhanced local tensions. While it focused on organizing the presidential, legislative, and provincial elections of 2006, the international community overlooked other critical postconflict tasks, such as local peace building and overhauling the justice system. Meanwhile, the electoral process fueled ethnic hatred and marginalized ethnic minorities, making the reemergence of armed movements all the more likely.

The international community must fundamentally revise its strategy. It must focus on local antagonisms, because they often cause or fuel broader tensions, and regional and national actors hijack local agendas to serve their own ends. Until the local grievances that are feeding the violence throughout eastern Congo are addressed, security in the entire country and the Great Lakes region overall will remain uncertain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.