Over 5.4 million dead. Over 2 million displaced. Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
The war in eastern Congo began in the early 1990s and continues to this day. It has encompassed two international wars—from 1996 to 1997 and 1998 to 2003—and multiple invasions from neighboring countries, with combatants from many armed groups, both foreign and domestic. While Congo has abundant natural resources, it is also the world’s poorest country per capita, according to the United Nations. Congo is also home to the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, MONUSCO, which has more than 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. The eastern part of the country is plagued by instability, as militias continue to wreak havoc on the population. Meanwhile, the conflict gets very little coverage by the international media.
The conflict in Congo is notorious for serious violations of human rights, including violence against women and the use of child soldiers. Since 1996 the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. In 2012 Congo ranked lowest on the United Nations Human Development Index.
Nearly 100 activists from 19 states came to the nation's capital for this year's Hear Her Voice conference, hosted by The Enough Project and Jewish World Watch. During this 3-day advocacy delegation and learning conference, advocates heard from policy experts, received advocacy training, and met with more than 50 congressional offices regarding the ongoing violence against civilians, particularly women, in Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan.Read More »
Zainab Bangura, Samantha Power, and Robin Wright to Lead International Women’s Day Discussion on Women, Conflict, and the Prevention of Sexual Violence
Washington, D.C. — In honor of International Women's Day, the Enough Project and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict will co-host a high-level special event on Thursday, March 6, at United Nations headquarters in New York. The discussion, entitled “International Women’s Day: Elevating the Conversation on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict,” will cover the ways in which women experience conflict, the role of women in Congo’s peace process, efforts to combat the conflict minerals trade, and urgent actions needed to end and prevent sexual violence.
The event will be available via a live webcast to the public and can be followed on social media using the hashtag #ElevatePeace.
Please join the Enough Project along with the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, The Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, and The United Nations Academic Impact Department of Public Information for a special discussion:
International Women’s Day: Elevating the Conversation on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict
Zainab Bangura, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Robin Wright, Actor and activist
Tim Mohin, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Chair of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), and author
Sylvie Maunga Mbanga, Congolese lawyer, advocate, and Program Facilitator, Federal Leadership Institute
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of Enough Project and Satellite Sentinel Project
When: Thursday, March 6, 2014
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. EST
Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. for an arts and activism presentation featuring award-winning filmmaker Paul Freedman and Congolese activists Omékongo Dibinga and Adele Kibasumba prior to the panel discussion at 7pm.
Where: United Nations Headquarters
Economic and Social Council Chamber
New York, NY 10017
There will be limited availability of guest panelists to the media following the discussion. For logistical information or if you wish to cover this event, contact Carine Umuhumuza at 202-478-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All press must RSVP using the link provided.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
The United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict provides high-level political advocacy, leadership and awareness-raising to help eradicate the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
The United Nations Academic Impact Department of Public Information is a global initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in actively supporting ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, literacy, sustainability and conflict resolution.
The Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations represents the Government of Japan and is working towards the realization of several goals on behalf of the Government of Japan, including the maintenance of international peace and security, promotion of the UN development agenda, enhancement of the engagement in human rights, humanitarian and women's issues and the promotion of human security.
Implementing a viable and effective national strategy on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, or DDR, of ex-combatants of armed groups in eastern Congo is an urgent issue in the regional peace process for the Democratic Republic of Congo, argues a new Enough report.
By Fidel Bafilemba, Aaron Hall, and Timo Mueller | Feb 27, 2014
Congo: New Opportunity on DDR for Congo Peace Process
Goma, DRC and Nairobi, Kenya – Ahead of the March 5-6 meeting of the International Contact Group on Congo, the Enough Project released a new report today outlining challenges to the successful implementation of the national disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, or DDR, strategy known as DDR III. The report, “Crafting a Viable DDR Strategy for Congo,” argues that resolving outstanding differences on DDR III must be a priority in the overarching regional peace agenda for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the UN, nearly 8,000 combatants from a range of armed groups have surrendered since the official defeat of M23 in November 2013. Of that 8,000, 2,674 combatants, accompanied by 3,084 dependents, surrendered to the Congolese national army, or FARDC, at the transit camp of Bweremana, in Masisi, North Kivu province. The Enough Project report states that an effective program to rehabilitate ex-combatants is hindered by questions concerning funding, the current security environment, the fate of M23, and where and how to resettle ex-combatants. Additionally, previous DDR programs have been ineffective in the inclusion of justice and accountability while incentivizing defection.
Aaron Hall, co-author of the report and Enough Project Field Consultant, says,
“Implementing a viable and effective national DDR strategy in eastern Congo is now an urgent issue. New opportunities for the Congolese government and its international partners to establish stability in eastern Congo have become apparent since the signing of the U.N. Peace and Security Framework, and the fall of the M23. However, the speed and efficacy with which they implement a national DDR strategy will to a great extent determine the future of peace and economic growth in the region."
The report urges the United Nations and U.S. Special Envoys to the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson and Russ Feingold, other leaders and donors, and the Congolese government to address these issues before the International Contact Group on Congo meeting on March 5-6. Integrating lessons from previous national DDR strategies can help the Congolese government effectively and swiftly disarm a large portion of armed groups in eastern Congo and reintegrate ex-combatants into the military or provide alternative livelihoods, further incentivizing existing armed groups to surrender to the FARDC.
Timo Mueller, co-author of the report and Enough Project Field Researcher in Congo, says
"The success or failure of the DDR process is a major factor that determines the propensity of renewed violence. At its worst, an ill-designed program might become a conflict driver itself. Implementing partners should draw on the lessons learnt and pay particular attention to the reintegration of combatants, the most difficult part of the DDR process."
The national DDR strategy is one element of the peace process. The report states that it must be implemented in coordination with related regional peace and security agreements, including the U.N. PSC Framework and the International Security Stabilization and Support Strategy, or I4S. Coordinating these efforts will determine the success of DDR efforts and the long-term peace and stability of the region.
Here we are again, that time of year where love is officially celebrated between family, friends, lovers, crushes and colleagues. Valentine's Day. Honestly, we both look forward to this holiday. What's not to love? Valentine's Day is the holiday for love, but the gold so many people give each other as a symbol of their love may be fueling violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The silver lining: we can do quite a bit as consumers to help our jewelry companies address conflict gold. Read More »
On March 6, the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign is partnering with the United Nations for an event to raise awareness about sexual violence in conflict and how it intersects with inarmed conflict, peace building, and conflict minerals trade. Read More »
On January 17, the Congolese military began conducting military operations in northeastern Beni territory, in North Kivu province, against one of its oldest and least understood armed rebel groups: the Allied Democratic Forces - National Army for the Liberation of Uganda, or ADF-NALU. Read More »