Despite decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to forget about the unfolding human tragedy happening there on a daily basis will be a grave mistake. For decades, the DRC’s provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri have been overwhelmed by a multitude of armed groups. The situation in the DRC is a combination of a complex political, economic, social, and historical factors that continue to fuel the insecurity. These factors are however so interconnected that they have together made DRC’s conflict one of the deadliest and most challenging armed conflicts in the world. Among the many factors are the following:
We now know that the DRC’s insecurity has external causes starting with its neighboring countries to the East. Rwanda and Uganda, have been accused of supporting armed groups in the DRC for their own political and economic interests, mainly fueled by international demand for DRC’s natural resources. According to S/2022/967, the Midterm Report of the UN Group of Experts published in December 2022, the United Nations has officially established that Rwanda is involved in a proxy war against the DRC in the guise of the M23 rebel group. Local and foreign armed groups have been fighting for control of territory and resources that include minerals, timber, and wildlife. This has resulted in gross human rights abuses and widespread insecurity, leading to the violent massacre of countless innocent lives and displacement of civilians.
From President Mobutu Sese Seko to Felix Tshisekedi, the DRC has struggled with weak governance and corruption which have undermined efforts to address, among other things, insecurity. The DRC is one of Africa’s poorly managed countries with a weak administration system that is ineffective, unproductive, predatory and mostly corrupt.
The history of the DRC’s political instability has further made it difficult to establish a strong judicial system. The DRC’s judicial system is corrupt and has never been independent. This has led to a lack of accountability for crimes committed by those in power and some who are connected to the powerful. The government often uses intimidation and arbitrary arrests to maintain their control, while those who commit crimes are rarely held accountable. Thus, the lack of political will to independently investigate and prosecute crimes against by the government has further escalated the level of injustice.
Despite its rich mineral deposits, the DRC is one of Africa’s poorest countries. Regime after regime, leaders have enriched themselves instead of investing in economic infrastructures such as roads and electricity without which no society can prosper.
Legal Criminal Networks of Untouchables
There are more than 600 political parties registered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some members of these parties are the DRC’s elite class that has looted the country with impunity. In DRC, political parties are created with the aim to gain access to power and get rich quickly. The national army also fits well under this category. President Felix Tshisekedi is one of those who publicly called the army out for their role in prolonging the conflict in the east. Some members of the army have links to the rebel groups and armed gangs involved in kidnapping for ransom, armed robberies, and extortion among others. The reform of the army is said to be happening and we believe DCR’s foreign partners can and should help speed up the process.
Finally, the DRC is home to many different ethnic groups. While this diversity is generally considered an asset, tensions between these groups however have often been exploited by politicians, leading to the formation of multitudes of armed factions including the ADF and the M23. The majority of these armed insurgencies are linked to local ethnic groups with the exception of M23 which is mainly backed by the Rwandan government.