R2P and the DRC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to suffer a brutal war in its eastern region that has surpassed the Holocaust in length and in fatalities; after 12 years, the death toll has reached an estimated 6.9 million people, and 2.1 million people are internally displaced. Bordering Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, eastern DRC has become “the world capital of rape, torture and mutilation,” says Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, due to ethnic rivalries and struggle over natural resources. In an op-ed piece published on February 6, Kristof calls for attention to the human suffering in the DRC. He echoes the argument of Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize who treats gang-rape victims at Panzi Hospital, that rather than more humanitarian aid, what DRC needs is “a much more vigorous international effort to end the war itself.”
MONUC, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in DRC, received a mandate in 2000 to assist the country and end the violence between the government and rebel armies—including the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), considered largely responsible for the Rwandan genocide. Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for Hotel Rwanda and founder of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, recommends that the United States, United Kingdom, and United Nations pressure Rwanda to end its military presence in eastern DRC as a condition for foreign aid. Others recommend the establishment of an effort to monitor the minerals trade from DRC, whose profits fuel the conflict. Yet others wonder if, according to the principles of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the African Union or the international community has a responsibility to mobilize and protect the Congolese people from what are considered crimes against humanity.
For more information on peacekeeping in the DRC, check out “Troubles in Congo,” a video report from journalists Kira Kay and Jason Maloney which aired on PBS’s NewsHour. They produced the report as a part of a project for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting done in collaboration with the Stanley Foundation.
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