In this issue of the monitor, we cover the situation in the democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that is once again in the international spotlight because of the capture of the eastern region of Goma, in November 2012, by the M23 rebel movement. The perpetual state of conflict in the DRC raises the critical question as to when the international community will reach the tipping point in the peacekeeping effort that has spanned over five decades. Over this period, millions of innocent civilians, including women and children, as well as, international peacekeepers, have been killed and billions of US dollars and resources have been wasted with noting concrete to show for the efforts and sacrifices, including the death, in a plane crash over Zambia in 1961, of former United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld while on a peace mission in connection with the Congo crisis. The never-ending state of instability raises the question as to whether the willingness of the international community to rush to the aid of the DRC has actually not perpetuated a constant state of crisis since 1962.
The DRC is plagued by the famous resource curse because of its mineral resources. If the United Nations can set up an independent inquiry into the root causes of conflicts in the DRC and the illicit exploitation of its mineral and natural resources, the interests of the country and the international community would be better served. This could be combined with the threat of indictments of those found guilty of stirring up endless conflicts and illicit exploitation and plunder of the resources of the DRC. Otherwise, the country will remain perpetually in a state of crisis and conflict, with the international community picking up the bill. Agreed, there are socio-political problems, but these are nothing compared to the exploitation of the natural and mineral resources of the country.
In a recent article in the New York Times, Peter Pham maintains that the Congo is too big to succeed and to save the country; it should be allowed to fall apart. With the lack of capacity from Kinshasa to govern the country, Mr. Pham could be right. In an interview on December 19, 2012, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said, “The time has come for the international community to rethink its approach to the DRC…” We agree with Mr. Ban’s timely observation. The rethinking is long overdue, as the situation of permanent instability cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely without a solution. With a country as big as the DRC and without the peace to maintain, the answer could be the deployment of an overwhelming international force that will be able to get the job done in a shorter period. This could be expensive, but compared to being there for another five decades on a fire bridge mode, a robust force would be cheaper and better in the long run.
Shola J. Omoregie