Feb 2013

Nineteen charities call for strengthened international oversight and commitment to peace

Over the past year the security situation in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has deteriorated significantly as military and armed group activity and ethnic tensions have increased.

With the signing of the latest in a series of peace deals said to be imminent, a coalition of 19 local and international charities is lobbying policymakers to press for a comprehensive response to deal with the factors that drive the violence in central Africa. The coalition urges that attention must be paid to the needs and opinions of the civilian population.

Achieving peace requires an inclusive and locally owned peace process with strong backing at national and regional levels. This should provide a framework for coherent and long-term actions to be undertaken by civil societies and governments in the region, with support of international donors.

Nicolas Tillon from Conciliation Resources' East and Central Africa Programme said: "The protection of civilians should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Attention must be focused on political dialogue, and the governance reforms necessary to build peace and encourage social and economic recovery."

The NGO coalition are pressing for the Government of DRC, regional governments, and international and bilateral actors to initiate broad-based and inclusive dialogue, aiming to establish a coherent and shared vision for peace, and a detailed plan for its implementation.

Together they urge that, in coordination and discussion with international partners and Congolese civil society actors working in conflict-affected communities and DRC institutions, the Stabilization and Reconstruction Program for eastern DRC (STAREC) should be revised.

The Congolese themselves are already undertaking community-level peace initiatives. In support of these efforts, the onus is on all national, regional and international actors to strengthen their own role as positive actors for peace in eastern DRC.

Areas for urgent attention include addressing ethnic tensions, implementing key reforms necessary for an accountable, effective and sustainable security sector, establishing a strong justice sector, land and resources ownership and management, and the disarmament and demobilisation of ex-combatants.