7. Democratic Republic of the Congo

What should Barack Obama and the U.S. Government do about what is happening in the Congo?

What has the United States and the United Nations done in the past?

Why is ending war in the Congo in our self interest?

What are the key NGOs in the Congo? What are they doing and what can they do?

Ben Affleck ECI – CSpan

PBS Congo

Adam Hochshild NYT

How to avoid conflict minterals PBS

Eastern Congo Initiative

SOS Children’s Villages

News From Google

congo – Google News

Congo Siasa Blog

Congo Siasa

  • Easter celebrated in Kinshasa with Political Rallies and Debates by Jason Stearns Apr 24, 2011 9:58 pm
    Easter was celebrated in Kinshasa with several political events. First, Etienne Tshisekedi held a large political rally, his first since arriving back in the country in December last year (aside from his welcome rally). According to AFP and Radio …
  • Donors wary of involvement in Congolese elections by Jason Stearns Apr 22, 2011 3:40 pm
    With only seven months to go before elections in the Congo, donors are trying to calibrate their political and financial involvement in the polls.One forum where this is playing out is the UN Security Council, which will have to renew MONUSCO’s ma…
  • New round-up: MLC leadership change, election commissioner visits Togo and Rwandan businessman criticized by Jason Stearns Apr 19, 2011 2:07 pm
    Some news items of interest:The MLC party has changed leadership – Thomas Luhaka, the former executive secretary, will be taking over the Francois Mwamba, the former secretary general. There has been wrangling within the party due to Mwamba’s perc…
  • New book out on Rwanda by Jason Stearns Apr 19, 2011 1:47 pm
    A new book was released on Rwanda this week, edited by Scott Strauss and Lars Waldorf, that takes a critical look at the post-genocide state, its challenges and policies. The book is dedicated to the memory of Alison des  Forges. I have a cha…
  • Congo’s Mining Contracts Still Shrouded in Secrecy by Jason Stearns Apr 15, 2011 8:40 am
    This is a guest blog by Elisabeth Caesens, DRC Mining Governance Project Coordinator for the Carter Center. The views expressed here are her own and do not represent those of the Carter Center. A few days ago, the World Bank reviewed Congo’s …
  • Constitutional questions loom large during election season by Jason Stearns Apr 14, 2011 11:21 pm
    As we wait (still) for the election commission to publish the new electoral calendar, many wonder what would happen if the results of presidential elections come in after December 6th.On Radio Okapi, Professor Jean-Louis Esambo, the president of t…
  • In the Congo, even beauty can be bought by Jason Stearns Apr 14, 2011 11:01 pm
    Sad but true: Miss Vodacom Congo, who was just named several weeks ago, had to give up her crown due to fraud. Vodacom – one of the largest phone companies in the country – announced two days ago that of the 4 million votes cast by SMS, 1,5 millio…
  • Troubles within the MLC by Jason Stearns Apr 12, 2011 2:06 pm
    A meeting took place on Sunday at the residence of Francois Mwamba, the secretary-general of the MLC, in Kinshasa. A group of MPs from the MLC submitted a memorandum to Mwamba complaining obliquely about the lack of leadership in the party since J…
  • Election news: Calendar politics and the election law by Jason Stearns Apr 12, 2011 1:42 pm
    The Congolese public has been waiting for weeks now for the election commission to publish their new calendar. The delays have fueled rumors about internal wrangling and quarrels. According to a high-ranking member of the opposition, the crux of t…
  • News roundup: Conflict minerals and election planning by Jason Stearns Apr 11, 2011 1:16 pm
    [I apologizes for my brief absence, largely linked to the publication of my book. Hopefully I’ll be more regular in the coming week.]A few important news stories:The Securities and Exchange Commission has apparently delayed the adopting of rules r…
  • Registration in South Kivu by Jason Stearns Apr 8, 2011 3:46 am
    We eagerly await news from the national electoral commission on changes to the electoral calendar. In particular, there are mounting rumors that the presidential and legislative elections might be held separately. Holding the presidential election…
  • Sad day for the UN by Jason Stearns Apr 4, 2011 8:58 pm
    After the killing of UN staff in Afghanistan, this has been a tragic week.
  • Book Release: Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns Mar 29, 2011 10:41 am
    My book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa was released today. I have set up a web page with more information about the book here. The book draws on over a hundred interviews with protagonists o…
  • Is the Congo prepared for elections? by Jason Stearns Mar 28, 2011 1:09 pm
    Seven months before elections, criticism is growing louder of the lack of preparations by donors and the government alike. On Friday, the new head of the election commission – Daniel Mulunda Ngoy – opened a seminar on the electoral process in Lubu…
  • Fears of a possible boycott of Congolese minerals by Jason Stearns Mar 26, 2011 12:41 pm
    As reported earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission will be publishing their conflict minerals regulations soon (there are some rumors that publication could be delayed until July, but they are scheduled for April). This means that compani…

Resources

Audio

October, 2010–NPR’s River of Life/Congo Odyssey Series this series includes a picture gallery and audio reporting.

Video Resources

CNN Report on Rape of Congolese Women (Aug 2010)

Other Links

Human Rights Watch
NY Times–Congo–Breaking World News
BBC Country Profile
The Guardian–Democratic Republic of the Congo–Continuing World News
CIA World Factbook Profile
UPenn’s African Studies Center

Ben Affleck on the Congo

Eastern Congo Initiative-NGO

Directions for Creating a Page Like This One

Amnesty International Video on Child Soldiers

Amnesty International Page on DRC

http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/next_steps_on_congoNext Steps on Congo

May 18, 2011 · By Kambale Musavuli

The Obama administration should begin implementing the Obama Law by appointing a special envoy to the Great Lakes Region.

Kambale MusavuliFor the past 14 years, more than six million Congolese have perished in the ongoing conflict triggered by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda when they invaded Congo in 1996. As the world focuses on the Western intervention in Libya under the guise of moral responsibility to protect the vulnerable, the global community must question the lack of action by the United States and the coalition on the millions dead in the Congo.

On December 15, 2008, the UN published the Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This report documented, among other things, satellite phone records for members of one of the rebel groups responsible for destabilizing the Congo, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). The CNDP was in communication with the Rwandan Defense Force high military command and the Rwandan presidency.

Given the solid evidence of Rwanda’s complicity in support of the group destabilizing the Congo, Sweden and Netherlands took the lead in applying pressure by withholding aid to the Rwandan government. This action played a key role in Rwanda placing under house arrest the rebel leader of the CNDP Laurent Nkunda in early 2009 and causing the rebel group to integrate into the Congolese army.

This diplomatic action showed the world that Rwanda is susceptible to outside pressure. Unfortunately, the United States and Great Britain did not apply any overt pressure. Instead of following the lead of Sweden and Netherlands, the United States pursued a backdoor deal that resulted in a rapprochement between President Joseph Kabila and President Paul Kagame while allowing Rwandan troops to enter Congolese soil once again. This personal backdoor deal precluded a transparent institutional approach, which would have better served the prospects for long-term peace and stability in the region.

What Obama Could Do

The United States has a diplomatic tool at its disposal that can make a difference in the region, the Obama Law, Public Law 109-456. This law, written by Obama and enacted in December 2006, provides the United States with the force of law to hold Congo’s neighbors accountable. It received bipartisan support in the Senate and was also co-sponsored by then-Senator Hillary Clinton. This law also calls for the appointment of a special envoy to the Great Lakes region and gives the secretary of state the authority to withhold aid from neighboring countries that destabilize the Congo.

When U.S. President George Bush met with Congolese President Joseph Kabila in the White House on October 26, 2007, then-Senator Obama released a statement reminding Bush about his commitment to enforce the newly enacted U.S. law. “It’s time the administration stops ignoring the call by Congress to appoint a special envoy to the DRC,” Obama said, “and strengthen the UN peacekeeping force which is working to stabilize the eastern part of the Congo.”

Now that Barack Obama is president, neither he nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken steps to enforce this law. Unfortunately, President Obama has demonstrated the same lack of action on the Congo as his predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Obama administration’s lack of resolve in implementing U.S. law in a region where the humanitarian crisis is far greater than in Libya raises the issue of a double standard in applying the principle of the Responsibility to Protect. The United States is quick to act against its enemies while providing cover for its allies, even if its allies are clearly culpable of committing mass atrocities, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide. A recently published report, the UN Mapping Exercise Report, documents the most serious human rights violations committed in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. It identifies countries “that could be held responsible for serious violations of human rights committed by their national armies during the period under consideration in the DRC, and in particular Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola.”

During President Obama’s visit to Ghana, he announced that the United States will engage differently with Africa from previous administrations by supporting strong institutions and not strongmen. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has yet to hold to this principle when it comes to Central Africa. It continues to support Central African strongmen such as Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda while the people of the region suffer from ongoing conflict and the plundering of their natural resources.

Students United

Pressure has been mounting for the U.S. government to implement the Obama Law. Students organizing through Congo Week have made their priority demand to the Obama administration the enforcement of Public Law 109-456. American playwright Eve Ensler, along with her supporters, called for the enforcement of the Obama Law in June 2010.

Last year, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act). Section 1502 of this new law requires companies to submit a new annual report and, in some cases, an independent private sector audit report, to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if they are using conflict minerals that originated in the DRC or an adjoining country.

A multi-stakeholder group composed of companies, non-governmental organizations, and socially responsible and faith-based investors submitted recommendations to the SEC asking, in addition to the new reporting requirement for companies, that the commission coordinate with the State Department the implementation of the Obama Law to curb the violence and illicit trade of minerals in the Congo.

Furthermore, 35 congressmen, 16 senators, actor Ben Affleck, the Dear Hillary Campaign, a collection of human rights organizations and socially responsible investor groups, and thousands of American voters have also called on President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton to start implementing PL 109-456 with an appointment of a special envoy to the Great Lakes Region, which is Section 107 of the Law.

Friends of the Congo maintains that the appointment of a special envoy to the Great Lakes Region, as one of the steps to the full enforcement of the Obama Law, should embody the spirit of President Obama’s July 2009 call to support strong institutions rather than strongmen.

Lend your voice to the effort of bringing an end to the crisis in the Congo, the deadliest conflict since World War II, by signing the petition to appoint a special envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa.



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