Goma and Peacebuilding Efforts in South Kivu (DRC): Lessons to be Learned

Ten years after the signing of an act of engagement ratifying the conference on peace, security and development in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu (Goma, January 6-23, 2008), the weapons have still not stopped reverberating in the east of the country. In South Kivu, military operations struggle to dismantle armed groups entrenched in inaccessible forests. In late 2016, we saw a resurgence of new armed groups with the cycle of violence escalating.

South Kivu Province is characterized by the presence of a significant number of armed groups and a strong military presence in response to the threat posed by armed groups. This situation means that the civilian population is constantly living in an unstable environment, which poses serious protection problems.

Recent research into the activism of armed groups in South Kivu reports that 33 armed groups are active in the province. Despite the presence of MONUSCO, the security of the civilian population remains extremely problematic. People continue to die and become displaced. Democratic reforms, which started with the drafting of the new constitution and the first democratic elections in 2006, barely got off the ground, while national institutions still operate on a predatory model that pays little attention to the rights of Congolese citizens.

Before 2008, the peace process was mainly focused on making deals between militia leaders and top political leaders. The 2008 Goma Agreement is the first to include civil society leaders and ask for their direct contributions. Hundreds of civil society leaders attended a conference to share their concerns and perspectives.

Throughout 2017, the security and political situation was critical, pointing to the failure of several peacebuilding programs implemented to date, including the government program for STAREC and ISSSS. This crisis context in South Kivu (DRC) underlines the need to rethink the approach to peacebuilding based on a better understanding of the causes and dynamics of the conflict.

By Bernardin SEBAHIRE

Media expert at the Higher Institute for Rural Development (ISDR / Bukavu-RDC)