Every war has multiple causes, and eastern Congo is no exception. Numerous internal and international drivers have exacerbated tensions and widened regional cleavages. Warped and exploitative regional relationships have been one of the most critical factors in Congo becoming the site of the deadliest war in the world over the past two decades. Several of Congo’s neighbors have been deeply involved in the war, and the Congolese government’s deep corruption and bad governance have created conditions in which the army and a host of militias have operated with impunity and destabilized eastern Congo. The Congo-Rwanda relationship, however, has been at the heart of the decade-and-ahalf-long war in Congo and is thus the focus of this report.
The aftermath of the Rwandan genocide spilled over into Congo in the mid-1990s, acting like gasoline on the fire of preexisting intercommunal tensions and conflict, as well as rapacious and indifferent governance by the Congolese government in its eastern provinces. Rwanda’s direct intervention in Congo at times and its periodic support for armed groups in eastern Congo have been central drivers of continuing conflict. Remarkably, however, no major international peace initiative has ever attempted to comprehensively analyze and address Rwanda’s security, economic, and political interests as part of a solution to Congo’s deadly violence. Unless those core interests—legitimate or illegitimate—that remain the engine of war are dealt with, there will continue to be blood.
The signing of a comprehensive peace framework in Addis Ababa last February, the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region—the so-called 11+4 Framework—provides a major opportunity for creative diplomacy to address these interests. This report will briefly outline Rwanda’s security, economic, and political interests, focusing primarily on the economic and security opportunities that have the capacity to transform the current incentives from ones of war to ones of peace.