DRC fighting due to failed security sector reform

New report calls for complete overhaul of security sector

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

July 26th, 2012

With fighting raging again in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civil society organisations have called on the government to completely – and urgently – overhaul the country’s security sector.

The call was made in Kinshasa by members of the Réseau pour la Réforme du Secteur de la Sécurité et la Justice (RSSR-J) – a network of Congolese CSOs working on security sector reform – at the launch of a report entitled The renewed violence in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and the Ituri District of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Produced by the Centre pour la Gouvernance, the report dissects the root causes of the persistent insecurity in eastern DRC – but lays most of the blame for the renewed violence squarely at the door of the government and its international partners for hopelessly mismanaging the security sector reform process.

"The report clearly demonstrates that the current situation could have been avoided," said Irene Esambo, President of the Centre d’Etudes sur la Justice et la Résolution 1325 (CJR 1325). ''It is the hasty actions implemented in recent years that have resulted in the resurgence of uncontrolled armed groups in eastern DRC. "

The RSSR-J welcomed recent international measures, including the call by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on 15 July for the establishment of a neutral international force to tackle the M23 rebels, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and other armed groups operating in eastern DRC – and to ensure control of border areas.

Speakers at the launch, which was attended by MPs, the chief of staff to the Minister of Defence and the chief of staff to the Minister of Justice, also welcomed the US government’s decision to suspend military funding for Rwanda.

"All these measures are positive but it is the Congolese Army that is primarily responsible for maintaining national security – yet it has been weakened by internal dissent and rampant corruption that plagues its operations," said Nickson Kasola, Director of the Centre pour la Governance and the author of the report.

"These measures will not have any long lasting impact if they are not accompanied by a true and profound reform of the army and the entire security sector," Kasola added.

Earlier this year, the RSSR-J was part of a group of 12 national and international civil society organisations that joined together to research and publish Taking a Stand on Security Sector Reform. The report urged the government to recognise the urgency of establishing a serious reform programme and to build positive relationships with the international community to support security sector reform efforts on SSR.

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