In a press statement released over the weekend, the U.S. State Department expressed deep concern over the findings of the most recent investigation conducted by the U.N. Group of Experts for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Group. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland acknowledged the severity of allegations in the report directly linking the Rwandan government to the sponsorship of rebel groups in eastern Congo, most notably the M23, and the exploitation of child soldiers.
Furthermore, Nuland briefly outlined next steps for both Congo and Rwanda, emphasizing the need to respect each other’s sovereignty going forward.
Consistent with the UN Security Council’s arms embargo, we have urged all parties to respond constructively to the Group of Experts’ findings and have asked Rwanda to halt and prevent the provision of such support from its territory. We have also urged the DRC and Rwanda to implement the principles of the joint Congolese-Rwandan communiqué issued following the June 19 meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Kinshasa. Restraint and dialogue in the context of respect for each other’s sovereignty offer the best opportunity to resume the difficult work of bringing peace and security to the eastern DRC and the broader region.
This announcement comes shortly after the release last week of the report’s addendum, which has previously been referred to as annex on Enough Said and other media outlets, which contains detailed evidence linking Rwanda to the Congo rebels. Much of the controversy around the report has involved the release of its full addendum.
Following the release of the U.N. report on June 21, allegations had emerged accusing the U.S. government of blocking the release of the full report addendum. However, the U.S. government claims the addendum was being delayed, not blocked, in order to give the Rwandan government time to respond to these accusations.
While the Enough Project supports the steps outlined by the State Department in its press statement, we stress that the U.S. must take further action to fully address the allegations made in the U.N. report.
Going forward, the U.S. government should:
1. Identify specific international laws and agreements violated by Rwanda and call on Rwanda to cease all support to the M23.
2. Reconsider support for Rwanda’s application for a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council.
3. Conduct a formal review of U.S.-Rwanda policy, particularly examining any multilateral aid that provides budget support to Rwanda.
4. Focus on developing an improved strategy for dismantling the Rwandan Hutu FDLR insurgency based in eastern Congo.
5. Provide further aid to the investigation of the U.N. Group of Experts by allocating more staff, resources, and high-level support.
Photo: IDPs fleeing violence in eastern Congo between Congolese forces and Bosco Ntaganda's M23. (Sarah Zingg Wimmer/Enough Project)