The Impact of Dodd-Frank and Conflict Minerals Reforms on Eastern Congo’s War

By Fidel Bafilemba, Timo Mueller, and Sasha Lezhnev | Jun 10, 2014

Just four years after enactment of historic Dodd-Frank “conflict minerals” legislation, a new investigative report by the Enough Project identifies early signs of success, with many lucrative mines in eastern Congo no longer controlled by violent armed groups responsible for mass atrocities, rape, and grave violations of human rights.

Crafting a viable DDR strategy for Congo

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

Introduction

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. The government of Congo has finalized its national DDR plan, and the United Nations and U.S. Special Envoys to the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson and Russ Feingold, prioritize DDR as a focus of the peace agenda. However, Congo and international partners have not yet agreed on how to implement and fund the DDR plan. Without an effective program, demobilizing combatants in eastern Congo may not see the benefits of defecting and may choose to remain armed. The March 5-6 meeting in the Netherlands of the International Contact Group on Congo provides an excellent opportunity to address this urgent issue. Robinson, Feingold, and other leaders and donors should prioritize efforts to resolve outstanding differences with Congo on DDR and move forward.

New opportunities to advance peace in eastern Congo emerged following the signing of the Nairobi Declarations in December 2013, which established political agreements among Congo, the M23 rebel group, the Southern African Development Community, or SADC, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR. Greater numbers of combatants from the spectrum of armed groups in eastern Congo are willing to disarm and engage in demobilization programs following the military defeat of M23. The speed and efficacy with which the government of Congo and its international partners implement a viable national DDR strategy and reintegrate former combatants will to a great extent determine the future of peace and stability in the region. The process and sequencing within the U.N. Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for Congo and the Region, or PSC Framework, will determine the success of DDR efforts by Congo and its regional and international interlocutors.

The regional security landscape has recently changed in dramatic ways that have created new opportunities for the Congolese government and U.N. forces to establish peace and stability in eastern Congo. The U.N. Intervention Brigade, a 3,069-troop brigade composed of forces from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi, assisted the Congolese national army, or FARDC, in efforts to militarily defeat M23. The brigade has a mandate to take offensive military action against the threat of armed groups in eastern Congo. The deployment of new unmanned aerial vehicles,or UAVs, now also provides surveillance and reconnaissance for the intervention brigade to take military action against armed rebel groups.

The addition of more robust forces, mandates, and technology has altered the strengths and incentives of rebel groups. A swift effort by the joint FARDC/Intervention Brigade force resulted in the military defeat of M23 forces in North Kivu province late last year, and other armed groups took note. Defections have soared, with approximately 8,000 total combatants surrendering since the official defeat of M23. At the transit camp of Bweremana, in Masisi, North Kivu province, 2,674 combatants—accompanied by 3,084 dependents—from a range of armed groups have voluntarily surrendered in that time frame. However, the ex-combatants currently at the camp do not yet receive clear communication about DDR plans and live in poor sanitary conditions that could affect their incentives to remain.

As defections from rebel groups grow, so too does the need for an effective DDR program. The number of combatants in eastern Congo is difficult to determine, and the capacity of the government and U.N. to assist those who wish to disarm is currently in question. National DDR programs in the past have failed due to the lack of resources and political will, duration of program implementation time, failure to effectively sensitize armed groups and communities, and failures to properly reintegrate ex-combatants into the military or provide alternative livelihoods. Renewed efforts on DDR must apply lessons learned from past experiences—both failures and successes.

Click here to continue reading the report.

 

Taking back eastern Congo: Comprehensively addressing the FDLR and M23 rebel groups

Over the past 19 years, one of the most intractable symptoms of mass violence in Congo’s eastern regions has been the proliferation of armed groups that threaten security, perpetrate horrific human rights abuses, and undermine economic development. Two of these armed groups—the M23 and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR—not only have committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict, but they have also internationalized it in multiple ways. The FDLR is headed by some of the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and it has attacked Rwanda in the past year. Kigali believes the FDLR poses an existential security threat. The M23 is an offshoot of several previous rebel groups, and the United States and other groups have linked it to the Rwandan government, but Kigali denies the link. Therefore, dealing with these two groups addresses one of the most destabilizing factors in the Great Lakes region: the relationship between Congo and Rwanda. The Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, is also becoming a destabilizing force in Congo and threatens Congolese communities and Uganda.

By Timo Mueller and Fidel Bafilemba | Oct 28, 2013

Over the past 19 years, one of the most intractable symptoms of mass violence in Congo’s eastern regions has been the proliferation of armed groups that threaten security, perpetrate horrific human rights abuses, and undermine economic development. Two of these armed groups—the M23 and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR—not only have committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict, but they have also internationalized it in multiple ways. The FDLR is headed by some of the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and it has attacked Rwanda in the past year. Kigali believes the FDLR poses an existential security threat. The M23 is an offshoot of several previous rebel groups, and the United States and other groups have linked it to the Rwandan government, but Kigali denies the link. Therefore, dealing with these two groups addresses one of the most destabilizing factors in the Great Lakes region: the relationship between Congo and Rwanda. The Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, is also becoming a destabilizing force in Congo and threatens Congolese communities and Uganda.

With the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2098, the United Nations created a 3,000-troop Intervention Brigade with a mandate to “carry out targeted offensive operations” against armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC.3 The brigade is the United Nations’ first offensive combat unit.4 Nearly five months after its creation, and against a backdrop of growing popular frustrations that sparked massive demonstrations and stoning of U.N. cars, the brigade joined the Congolese army in fighting the M235 between August 21 and August 30, 2013.6 The U.N. Intervention Brigade’s first public operation exposed the well-documented complexities of the area, the actors, and the problem that the force was designed to address.

In the aftermath of the fighting, on September 10, 2013, the DRC government and M23 agreed to resume peace talks in neighboring Uganda. At this stage, the Congolese government seems reluctant to offer amnesty and reintegration to M23 members suspected of committing the worst human rights crimes. But it is unlikely that M23 leaders would sign a peace agreement without an amnesty option. One possible way to pressure M23 into conceding to an agreement is to step up pressure on and provide new incentives to its alleged ally, Rwanda. Refocusing international attention on Rwanda’s adversary, the FDLR, could provide a means of gaining the necessary political buy-in from Rwanda to help end the M23 rebellion and address a persistent source of insecurity to the Congolese people.

With that said, to incentivize Rwanda to help convince the M23 to sign a deal requires far more than a refocusing on the FDLR alone. With the Kampala talks unable to address Congo’s and Rwanda’s security and economic interests, it is important to bring the discussions to a swift conclusion, opposing any amnesty for M23 rebels implicated in war crimes. For the worst violence in Congo’s east to end, the Kampala talks should transition into a regional peace process on security and economic interests.

Complementing the Enough Project’s forthcoming report on regional economic integration, this field report discusses the prominent security concerns of Congo and Rwanda. It provides analysis of recent and historical developments, evaluates a range of options for addressing the M23, and advances a new strategy for containing and neutralizing the FDLR. The elements of such a strategy would ideally include a beefed-up effort to increase defections, a vastly upgraded mediation effort involving regional and internal Congolese actors, a revamped security-sector-reform initiative, and a more effective military strategy led by the Intervention Brigade.

Click here to read the full report.

 

Infographic: The Networks of eastern Congo’s two most powerful armed actors

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The Networks of Eastern Congo’s Two Most Powerful Armed Actors Explanatory Note

By Fidel Bafilemba and Timo Mueller

The complexity of the war in eastern Congo with its entangled web of actors pursuing a multiplicity of agendas can be overwhelming and confusing. Once known as “Africa’s World War”, the conflict in the Congo once embroiled nine countries and a myriad of local and foreign rebel groups. Over the years, relationships have shifted. Friends have become foes, foes have become friends, and political circumstances have changed, frequently altering the power equation in Africa’s Great Lakes Region.

Because the Congolese state does not have a monopoly over the means of violence in eastern Congo, and ele- ments of its armed forces often engage in abuses similar to those of militias, the region is a fertile environment for the development and growth of armed groups and warlordism. As a result, violence is frequently traded for money, political power, and control of natural resources. This situation has left Congo’s North and South Kivu provinces in a protracted crisis. One of the latest outgrowths of the insecurity is the M23 rebel group, which defected from and is now fighting against the Congolese national army. Each of these parties pursues its interests through a set of relationships with other armed groups.

The Enough Project has prepared the following materials to shed light on the intricate dynamics among these groups. The infographic sets out the strength and nature of the relationship between the Congolese army, or FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) and its allies, and the M23 rebels and their allies. An accompanying table provides more detailed information about the groups, including their histories, leadership, composition, and other notable features. The aim of this effort is to provide accurate, granular information that could contribute to more effective policy responses to eastern Congo’s tragedy.

Summary of Findings

The various armed groups provide a variety of services to the M23 and the Congolese army. For example:

• FDLR/Mandevu, a subset of a group founded by some former perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, has supplied weapons to M23,

• Maï-Maï Sheka assassinated adversaries of M23’s former leader Bosco Ntaganda, and • UPCP provided free passage to M23 recruits, among other functions.

Elements of the Congolese army often team up with the enemies of their enemy such as Nyatura, APCLS, as well as elements of FDLR/FOCA, the largest subset of the group led by some of the former Rwandan genocide participants, to repel its adversaries. These relationships are fragile and in most cases short-lived. The divorce rate among the groups is high, and most groups maintain a high degree of independence.

As the table shows, many of the armed groups are led by disgruntled officers who defected from the Congolese army, such as “Brigadier General” Sultani Makenga (M23 troops), “General” Janvier Karayiri (ACPLS troops), or “General” Kakule Sikuli Lafontaine (UPCP/FPC troops). Neighboring countries, powerful businessmen, high and low-level politicians, community and church leaders – among others – often covertly support these groups for economic and political interests. The majority of rank-and-file rebels are ordinary men and children joining for a host of different reasons, including for the protection of their commu- nities, perceived injustice, or economic opportunities. Others are conscripted by force. The different groups have a wide range of objectives. The stated goals of some include a struggle for their land and/or the protec- tion for their communities against internal or outside adversaries. While some seem to have initially had the best interests of their communities at heart, many have become corrupted over time and sought personal gains. The groups often exercise little caution for civilian life and employ vicious methods. Large-scale human suffering is the consequence.

Except for the M23, the majority of the armed groups are loosely structured. Raïa Mutomboki and the Nyatura groups are particular cases in point. This is why, for instance, different elements of the Nyatura group can collaborate with M23 and the Congolese army at same time. Ideologically opposed groups might tem- porarily cooperate, such as the M23 and the NDC and UPCP, respectively. It is not always clear whether an alliance is based on relationships among leaders or the group at large. For instance, former M23 leader Bosco Ntaganda was largely responsible for interactions with the NDC, FDC, and FRPI. After his surrender and transfer to the International Criminal Court, it remains to be seen to what extent the M23 has maintained these alliances.

The FARDC is fragmented, ill-functioning, and ridden by competing interests at all levels. Most of its relation- ships are not systematic but are instead facilitated by local commanders.

The infographic and chart focus on armed entities in eastern Congo and as such does not address the relation- ship M23 has had with Rwanda and to a lesser extent Uganda and to some extent continues to enjoy with Rwanda, according to Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Group of Experts. For more on both countries’ reported support to M23, see the 2012 United Nations Group of Experts Report1, the 2013 United Nations Group of Experts Interim Report2and findings by Human Rights Watch3.

Methodology

The infographic draws on information collected during extensive interviews both in person and over the phone throughout the Kivus and Ituri district in Orientale Province from December 2012 until July 2013. It is also based on reporting by the United Nations Group of Experts4, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo, and the Rift Valley Institute5. Although the chart and table discuss a few groups from South Kivu and Ituri, it focuses primarily on North Kivu, given that it has become the epicenter of the conflict.

Given the quickly evolving security landscape in the region and the difficulties of collecting comprehensive evidence in times of conflict, the chart and table present a snapshot of the situation at a particular moment. For this chart, it is August 2, 2013. Over time, the situation and relationships will likely change. The info- graphic, in particular, presents a static picture, while in reality the relationships are in a constant state of flux, subject to rapid and dramatic changes sometimes over days.

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[1] United Nations Security Council, “Letter dated 12 November from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council,” S/2012/843, November 15, 2012, available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2012/843 (accessed July 2013)

[2] United Nations Group of Experts, Leaked Interim Report for 2013, June 30, 2013, available at http://www.innercitypress.com/ drcsanc0613repicp.html (accessed July 2013)

[3] Human Rights Watch, “DR Congo: M23 Rebels Kill, Rape Civilians. New Evidence of Rwandan Support for M23,” July 22, 2013, available at http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/07/22/dr-congo- m23-rebels-kill-rape-civilians (accessed July 2013)

[4] United Nations Security Council, “Letter dated 12 November from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council,” S/2012/843, November 15, 2012, available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2012/843. United Nations Group of Experts, Leaked Interim Report for 2013, June 30, 2013, available at http://www. innercitypress.com/ drcsanc0613repicp.html (accessed July 2013)

[5] Rift Valley Institute, Jason Stearns et al., “Raia Mutomboki: The flawed peace process in the DRC and the birth of an armed franchise,” January 2013, available at http://riftvalley.net (accessed July 2013).