Opinion

The Great Debate

Post Rwanda: Invest in atrocity prevention

In the 20 years since the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda and its terrible spillover into the Congo, it has been clear that the global community remains ill-equipped to address such human-made catastrophic tragedies.

While many have worked to heal Rwanda, crises of unfathomable mass violence have continued to unfold in places like Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria. In each case, the international community has failed to live up to a global commitment to prevention, protection and accountability for mass crimes.

War and mass violence not only halts development, it reverses it — scarring the lives and memories of new generations.  This creates traumatized societies — one of the biggest factors contributing to conflict.

Human rights, good governance, rule of law, economic opportunity, and norms of international, restorative and reparative justice all need to be nurtured and encouraged to build peaceful societies. We founded Humanity United in 2005 to connect and support public, private and social sectors with the same vision.

The destructive nature of mass violence must be stopped in order for countries to progress and their populations to thrive. We have worked with partners — individuals, governments and institutions — to strengthen the policies and laws that can help prevent mass atrocities before the killing starts.

Democracy emerges in sub-Saharan Africa

The recent re-election of Zimbabwe’s 89-year old president Robert Mugabe, in office for 33 years, resembled a period not long ago when sham elections were the norm in sub-Saharan Africa. Peaceful transitions of power were almost unheard of.

Though the African Union disappointingly endorsed the elections as “honest and credible,” Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has now faced a spate of resignations and international condemnation over allegations of vote-rigging, intimidation and state media control.

But Zimbabwe’s election is not representative of a continent that has made real progress toward democracy. Allegations of electoral tampering can seem almost anachronistic in an era of social media and instantaneous information-sharing. Technology has improved the caliber of elections all over the world — including Africa.

Reinforcing what? The EU’s role in Eastern Congo

Neil Campbell, EU Advocacy Manager of the International Crisis Group, recently returned from eastern Congo. Any views expressed are his own.

Neil Campbell“Unacceptable and murderous.” Those were the words French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner chose to describe the situation in north eastern Congo at a press conference after October’s monthly meeting of EU foreign ministers. Sadly, Congo was not even on the agenda of that meeting.

In the following weeks, Laurent Nkunda’s rebels advanced on Goma, displacing up to 300,000 people; the Congolese army went on a spree of looting, raping and killing in that town; and there was a double massacre in Kiwanja on 4 November, first by pro-government Mayi Mayi militia, then by Nkunda’s rebels against suspected Mayi Mayi loyalists.

The EU must send troops to Congo now

Chris Chapman(Chris Chapman is Conflict Prevention Officer at Minority Rights Group International. He is the author of “Why a minority rights approach to conflict: the case of Southern Sudan”. Any opinions expressed are his own.)

Probably the most toxic aspect of the current conflict in North Kivu is that, as in Iraq and Sudan and other countries, the protection civilians get from violence often depends on which ethnic group they belong to.

The FARDC – the national army – has fled Goma, unable to stem the advance of Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP). The UN peacekeeping mission is desperately calling for more resources, and in the past has been accused of failing to protect civilians.

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