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Congo Peace Framework Incomplete without Follow-on Negotiations, US Envoy

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Congo Peace Framework Incomplete without Follow-on Negotiations, US Envoy

Posted by Enough Team on February 22, 2012

Enough Project Press Briefing 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2013

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org, +1-202-386-1618

Washington, DC, and Goma, DR Congo — The “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region” to be signed on February 24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will only succeed if it is followed up by a robust peace process led by a capable United Nations mediator and strong backing from the United States. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will preside over the signing by Congo and neighboring countries.      

Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast said:

“If not accompanied by the swift appointment of a U.N. envoy and the initiation of a focused peace process between Congo, Rwanda and Uganda led by that U.N. envoy, this Framework agreement will end up having no impact on ending the violence in eastern Congo.” 

The Framework lays a foundation for two main elements: regional negotiations over key economic and security issues and processes leading to real institutional reform within Congo, in part through what should be an inclusive and impartially mediated Congolese national dialogue. 

Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev said:

“President Obama’s second term offers a major opportunity to pursue peace in eastern Congo, the world’s deadliest war in 50 years. The administration can take three steps toward a new peace strategy. First, the U.S. should urge the U.N. to appoint a senior envoy with extensive negotiating experience to act as mediator. Second, the U.S. could work with the U.N. envoy to build a peace process to operationalize the commitments made in the Framework.  And finally, President Obama should appoint a senior U.S. envoy to support the U.N.-led peace process.”

Enough Project Associate Director of Research Aaron Hall said:

“Now is an opportune moment for peace, despite several repeated cycles of violence. The status quo is no longer acceptable, as the international community has finally acted against Rwanda’s alleged support to armed groups contributing to the destabilization of Congo and against Congo’s lack of transparency in the mining and exploitation of its natural resources. The conflict minerals trade is finally less profitable for armed groups targeting civilians because of legislative and corporate reforms.”

If the U.S. and U.N. envoys proactively engage, a peace process would allow Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda to finally address their underlying interests that have fomented conflict and give Congolese civil society a voice at the table to discuss critical internal reforms. The process should also not be a place to extend immunity from prosecution for those who have committed war crimes and mass atrocities. Accountability should be ensured throughout, particularly as it relates to bringing the leadership of M23, including Bosco Ntaganda, to justice, as well as other perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The U.N. Framework establishes several critical commitments that must be addressed in regional talks in order to achieve success.  It will be incumbent upon the U.N. envoy to operationalize the implementation of the Framework’s commitments. 

The Framework’s language regarding economic integration should be operationalized through regional negotiations to establish a series of agreements around infrastructure and conflict-free investment priorities. Security measures should also be negotiated to address cross-border threats such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, and spoiler elements of the M23 rebel group. 

More specifically, violent contestation over the control of the illicit trade in natural resources remains a principal driver of conflict. Already, the profits from the illegal trade in minerals have decreased as a result of market reforms such as the Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals, which has caused the price of the illicitly smuggled minerals tin, tantalum, and tungsten to be one-third the price of conflict-free minerals.  Negotiating agreements that will allow for the expansion of the existing conflict-free trade will benefit all regional states.  Agreements would be most beneficial around the following:  tariff reform, mineral certification monitoring, investment code revision, the formation of specialized economic zones, and transparent concession-bidding processes to incentivize long-term, conflict-free investment in natural resources.

One of the starting points could be finalizing an agreement on the development of the potentially lucrative methane gas reserves along the Congo-Rwanda border. Such an agreement could lower electricity costs for the two countries, which are approximately double those of other regional states. 

Several substantive issues raised in the Framework specific to Congo should be discussed in the institutional reform process. These include decentralization, security sector reform, mining code reform, and local reconciliation efforts. Though not mentioned in the Framework, electoral reform should also be a centerpiece of institutional reform.   

Because Congolese President Joseph Kabila faces an internal legitimacy crisis, it will be important to closely involve Congolese civil society and political parties in these reform processes, including in the holding of an impartially mediated national dialogue.  Those actors should have a prominent voice at the table.

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.