Truth and Reconciliation commission DRC

Last updated

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (French : La Commission de Verité et de la Réconciliation) was a truth commission which ran from July 2003 - February 2007 to investigate and promote national unity as a response to the atrocities committed in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo between the Congolese army, Congolese rebels, and foreign insurgents.

Contents

A peace conference called the Inter-Congolese Dialogue was held Pretoria, South Africa on December the 16, 2002, with hundreds of members from Congolese civil society participating in the dialogue. The peace conference brought together the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the political opposition, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD); the Mai-Mai militia; the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC); members of civil society; the Congolese Rally for Democracy/Liberation Movement (RDC/ML); and the Congolese Rally for Democracy/National (RCD/N) to find a solution which would promote national unity after the wars and conflicts in the country. The result of the Inter-Congolese dialogue was the Sun City accord which was an agreement that the transitional government would establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of its mandate to promote national healing and unity. [1] [2]

Conflicts

The First Congo War referred to by some as the Great Wars of Africa or the African World Wars, began in 1996 with an invasion of the Congo-Zaire by its bordering states and Congolese rebel groups. The eastern part of Congo suffered destabilization as a result of the Rwandan genocide, as many rebels, refugees and war criminals fled across the border from Rwanda in order to escape consequences of the conflicts during the genocide. As Mobutu Sese Seko's regime lost control of the eastern part of the country, a Congolese leader named Laurent-Désiré Kabila sought help from neighboring states in order to overthrow Mobutu's dictatorship. After successfully removing Mobutu from power with the help of Hutu and Tutsi forces in 1997, Kabila proclaimed himself president and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Disagreements between Kabila and his former allies Rwanda and Uganda over compensation and the future relationships of the neighboring states led to a growing sense of vulnerability as the Rwandan and Ugandan armies used to defeat Mobutu's army now stood uncontested in the capital Kinshasa. [3] [4] [5]

The Second Congo War began in 1998 as alliances shifted. Kabila and his former allies grew apart due to Rwanda and Uganda shifting their support to a new rebellion under the banner of the Rally for Congolese Democracy. Kabila forged new alliances with Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia and in 1999 negotiations resulted in most countries involved withdrawing their forces from the state. Foreign interest in the resource rich nation had always been at the source of the conflicts, going back to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Laurent Kabila's assassination was supported by foreign powers and orchestrated by Lebanese nationals. While the assassination succeeded, the coup d'état ultimately failed, as DRC's regime managed to maintain control over the state and promptly put Kabila's son Joseph in power.

Joseph Kabila serves as the president in the transitional government, but the Great African Wars have grown very complex, and the east remains destabilized with conflicts flaring up periodically. Various parties, armies, rebel groups, and international actors remain involved and invested in the Congo today. [3] [4] [5]

Mandate and composition

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement created institutions to help the country transition to peace including the Truth and Reconciliation commission, aimed to help those affected by the conflicts in the eastern provinces. The mandate of the commission was to promote national unity by examining the socio-economic and political conflicts since independence in the 1960s. Using Articles 154 – 160 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the truth commission was tasked with the re-establishment of peace in the state by establishing a narrative of truth from the conflicting accounts of history. The commission was led by Bishop Jean-Luc Kuye Ndondo wa Mulemera and had a total of 21 members. The 21 members represented on the panel came from the various groups involved in the conflict. The commission was made up of Congolese civil society such as social scientists, religious leaders, non-governmental organizations, victims, and perpetrators. [1] [2] Of the 21 members, 8 officers and 13 provincial representatives were selected.

Results

Multiple issues caused the commission to suffered a slow start and as a result much of the goals were not met during the 4 year mandate. Issues including the selection process and criteria for membership of commissioners, and the training process for the positions made it difficult for the commission to start any work mandated by the accords. Issues with the selection process further complicated things because commissioners were selected almost a year before the commissions terms of reference had been set. This was controversial due to the lack of confidence the selected commissioners inspired. Many believed that the many candidates lacked the credibility needed to effectively run a truth commission. [6] Efforts began to begin the various training sessions around the country for the various people who would be part of the commission, but the truth commission barely made it past this stage and thus the truth commission accomplished very little work. [6]

Another obstacle for the truth commission was that its mandate to tackle issues which began from the colonial period to today, was perhaps too large of a task for one commission to attempt to resolve. Ongoing disputes between various sections of Congolese society, including political and ethno-cultural disputes, and the pending elections would ultimately prove to be too grand an endeavor. The commission fell victim to a degree of politicization due to the ongoing political climate, tense political rivalry from both internal and international actors made the truth commission less of a priority compared to the battle over who would win the elections and dictate which direction the country would go into. The political climate dictated the direction in which the commission went, this is in part due to issues with the power-sharing climate in which the commission was operating under. Many people who were directly involved in the conflict were selected to be commissioners in order to represent their respective side of the conflicts. [6]

The commission ended and assessed their work in 2006 and unanimously agreed that a second truth commission was needed after the elections of 2006 in hopes that with a more settled political climate, the new commission would be better positioned to more effectively tackle the issues. While the commission operated for 4 years, the final report was only 84 pages long. No concrete or substantive findings were reported and only general recommendations were proposed instead. Ongoing conflicts limited the ability to do any investigations, and thus no victims, perpetrators, or witnesses were included in the reports. Limited information about procedures, tasks, targets, methodology or impact where detailed. The commission's work was relatively restricted to mediating the political struggle between the various factions involved in the conflict.

In 2007 the former chair drafted a proposal for a second commission, but enthusiasm died down as the political climate stabilized in the country. Donors and policy makers also lost confidence in the commissions ability to effectively tackle these issues because of how politicized the first one became. Other more important issues such as the ongoing conflict in the east of Congo, economic developments, and new economic and social initiatives from the newly elected government took precedence over the truth commission and as a result attempts to start a new truth commission continue to this day. [6] [7]

Assessment

The truth commission's success depended on a number of factors which were not in the favor of reconciliation, in the analysis of Priscilla Hayner and Elena Naughton. The Congo's wars and ongoing conflicts involve a complex array of parties with different stakes and goals in the region. The eastern part of Congo is a proxy battle field in which both regional and international actors are fighting for control of the resources rich nation. Due to this investment, international support for a resolution of the conflict has not been very strong, as world powers support and fund various regional actors involved in the conflict. Further, the commission's link to the transitional government, and the political climate which attempted to apply a democratic power sharing structure, prevented any real progress due to the power struggles between the various parties trying to steer the destiny of the country. As many people involved in the conflict were part of the commission, it made little effort to investigate, condemn, or punish perpetrators of war crimes, which resulted in a sort of impunity for those responsible for the atrocities. The ongoing conflicts also made it impossible to do any effective work despite the government's efforts to try to establish a degree of stability and peace. The broad mandate which is clearly the cause of the conflicts, made it difficult to effectively tackle the issues which the commission was tasked to resolve. Because of the transitory government, eventual elections and ongoing conflicts, the truth commission was involuntarily reoriented towards conflict prevention and mediation instead of its mandated truth seeking work. [6] [7]

Related Research Articles

Discovered in the 1990’s, human remains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been dated to approximately 90,000 years ago. The first real states, such as the Kongo, the Lunda, the Luba and Kuba, appeared southern Equatorial coastal forests|equatorial forest]] on the savannah from the 14th century onwards.

Politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Politics of the Democratic Republic of Congo take place in a framework of a republic in transition from a civil war to a semi-presidential republic.

The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the state organisation responsible for defending the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The FARDC was rebuilt patchily as part of the peace process which followed the end of the Second Congo War in July 2003.

Laurent-Désiré Kabila President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1997–2001

Laurent-Désiré Kabila or simply Laurent Kabila, was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination on January 16, 2001. He was succeeded eight days later by his 29-year-old son Joseph.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country in Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DROC, the DRC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and formerly Zaire, is a country in Central Africa. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of around 105 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country in the world, as well as the third-most populous country in Africa and the 14th-most populous country in the world. It is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union, and COMESA. Since 2015, the Eastern DR Congo has been the site of an ongoing military conflict in Kivu. The capital and largest city is Kinshasa.

Joseph Kabila President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who served as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between January 2001 and January 2019. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila in the context of the Second Congo War. He was allowed to remain in power after the 2003 Sun City Agreement ended the war. He was elected as president in 2006 and re-elected in 2011 for a second term. Since stepping down after the 2018 election, Kabila, as a former president, will be a senator for life, according to the Constitution of the DRC.

Léon Kengo wa Dondo

Léon Kengo wa Dondo is a Congolese politician who served as the "first state commissioner" several times under Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaïre. He was one of the most powerful figures in the regime and was a strong advocate of economic globalization and free-market economics. He served as President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2007 to 2019.

Second Congo War War in Africa 1998 to 2003

The Second Congo War began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 1998, little more than a year after the First Congo War, and involved some of the same issues. The war officially ended in July 2003, when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2002, violence has continued in many regions of the country, especially in the east. Hostilities have continued since the ongoing Lord's Resistance Army insurgency, and the Kivu and Ituri conflicts.

Goma Provincial capital and city in North Kivu, DR Congo

Goma is the capital of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift system. Goma lies only 13–18 km (8.1–11.2 mi) south of the active Nyiragongo Volcano. The recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which in turn fuelled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010. The city was captured by rebels of the March 23 Movement during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but it has since been retaken by government forces.

Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo

The Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire was a coalition of Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian, and Congolese dissidents, disgruntled minority groups, and nations that toppled Mobutu Sese Seko and brought Laurent-Désiré Kabila to power in the First Congo War. Although the group was successful in overthrowing Mobutu, the alliance fell apart after Kabila did not agree to be dictated by his foreign backers, Rwanda and Uganda, which marked the beginning of the Second Congo War in 1998.

Congolese Civil War or Congo War may refer to any of a number of armed conflicts in present-day countries of Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Western Africa:

First Congo War

The First Congo War (1996–1997), also nicknamed Africa's First World War, was a civil war and international military conflict which took place mostly in Zaire, with major spillovers into Sudan and Uganda. The conflict culminated in a foreign invasion that replaced Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Kabila's uneasy government subsequently came into conflict with his allies, setting the stage for the Second Congo War in 1998–2003.

Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Political elections for public offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Direct elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo occur for the Presidency, National Assembly, and provincial assemblies. The Senate, the upper house of the legislature, is elected indirectly by members of the provincial assemblies.

James Kabarebe Rwandan military officer (born 1959)

James Kabarebe is a Rwandan military officer who has served as a Senior Presidential Adviser on security matters in the government of Rwanda, since 19 October 2018.

Republic of the Congo Civil War (1997–1999) 1997-99 ethno-political conflict in the Republic of the Congo

The Second Republic of the Congo Civil War was the second of two ethnopolitical civil conflicts in the Republic of the Congo, beginning on 5 June 1997 and continuing until 29 December 1999. The war served as the continuation of the civil war of 1993–94 and involved militias representing three political candidates. The conflict ended following the intervention of the Angolan army, which reinstated former president Denis Sassou Nguesso to power.

Congolese history in the 2000s has primarily revolved around the Second Congo War (1998–2003) and the empowerment of a transitional government.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1468

United Nations Security Council resolution 1468, adopted unanimously on 20 March 2003, after recalling previous resolutions on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council welcomed an agreement on the establishment of a transitional government and requested an increased presence of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) in the Ituri region in the east of the country amid escalating violence.

The Congolese Rally for Democracy, also known as the Rally for Congolese Democracy, is a political party and a former rebel group that operated in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was supported by the government of Rwanda, and was a major armed faction in the Second Congo War (1998-2003). It became a social liberal political party in 2003.

The following lists events that happened during 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

References

  1. 1 2 "Global and Inclusive Agreement on Transition in the DR Congo: Inter-Congolese Dialogue - Political negotiations on the peace process and on transition in the DRC". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  2. 1 2 "Inter-Congolese Political Negotiations - The Final Act". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  3. 1 2 Kabukuru, Wanjohi (June 2015). "How the quest for Africa's resources feeds insecurity. (cover story)". Academic Search Complete via Questia.
  4. 1 2 cook, Christopher r. (2010). "American Policymaking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1996-1999: The Anti-Kabila Bias and the Crushing Neutrality of the Lusaka Accords". African and Asian Studies. 9 (4): 393–417. doi:10.1163/156921010X534797.
  5. 1 2 Reyntjens, Ffilip (April 2001). "Briefing: THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, FROM KABILA TO KABILA". African Affairs. 100 (399): 311. doi:10.1093/afraf/100.399.311.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Naughton, Elena (2014). Challenging the Conventional, Can Truth Commissions Strengthen Peace Processes? (PDF) (Report). pp. 49–57.
  7. 1 2 Hayner, Prescilla B. (2010). Unspeakable truths, Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions. UK: Routledge. p. 253. ISBN   978-1135245573.