"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


quick notes on the GoE report

The UN Group of Experts on the DRC released their 2011 final report today. It's available in English here and in French here. Here are the highlights (or, really, lowlights):
  • The ADF-NALU is much more active after a period of dormancy. The GOE report contains detailed information about their activities, including an uptick in assassinations of those perceived to be FARDC collaborators. The ADF is financing its activities by taxing chainsaw use for the timber trade and is getting money from foreign jihadis. And they're recruiting in Burundi.
  • The Lord's Resistance Army has largely decamped to the Central African Republic.
  • The FDLR is beset with internal disputes over leadership. They've also expanded their revenue-generating activities to the cannabis trade.
  • FDLR ex-combatants told the Group that the FDLR receives about 95% of its weapons via the FARDC, often in exchange for bush meat, minerals, or cannabis.
  • While there has been some reduction in the conflict mineral trade, mineral smuggling from DRC to Rwanda has greatly increased over the past year, largely in response to the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank Section 1502. See Jonny Hogg and Graham Holliday's excellent analysis here.
  • The CNDP maintains its parallel command structures within the FARDC. They also maintain a parallel police force with PARECO in Masisi under the control of Bosco Ntaganda.
  • The Group found clear evidence of Ntaganda having planned to force local populations to vote for his favored CNDP political candidates for office in the November elections.
  • The de facto ban on Congolese mineral sales has had relatively little effect on the gold trade thus far as gold is easier to move outside of due diligence channels. This has caused many artisanal miners to switch from mining the 3T's to mining gold.
  • Armed groups are still very much involved in the mineral trade in eastern DRC.


Blogger Anand said...

Thanks for the short version TiA. As a relative newbie to DRC affairs, I am trying to get a handle on how effectual the UN is regarding Congo. There seem to be highpoints (the report you posted, the 2010 mapping report) but then there seems to be problems with actual policy and hands on initiatives (MONUSCO, the elections). I am trying to figure out how functional this body actually is where the DRC is concerned.

Hope your Christmas was great and have a happy New Year's. Any idea where Congo Siasa (Jason Stearn's blog) disappeared to? Blogspot says it's been removed.

Friday, December 30, 2011 7:30:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Hi, Anand,

Not sure what's going on with Congo Siasa - might ask Jason via Twitter.

The UN reports on DRC are quite good - they hire serious experts for the consultancies and they have excellent information every year. As for MONUSCO, it has an impossible mandate with inadequate staffing and funding. They do the best they can, but they don't have what they need to be truly effective. Important to note that they were NOT mandated to oversee and/or regulate the 2011 elections. They were involved in 2006, when things went relatively smoothly, and are widely seen as having done a good job then.

Thanks for your kind words and happy new year to you as well!

Friday, December 30, 2011 8:41:00 PM

Blogger Anand said...

Hey TiA,

Good point about MONUSCO. I wouldn't fault them as much as the lack of UN higher ups adequately funding, staffing, and guiding their mission. I am left wondering WHY they weren't mandated to be involved in the elections this time. Seems the UN's "working relationship" (a term I use loosely) with Kabila's administration has deteriorated in recent years. Is Congo fatigue contagious? Has it spread from the US to the UN? I am just really worried about the immediate future in the DRC. With the election results poised to stand as they are, what does that mean for Congo? Several Congolese friends flat out feel they don't have a democracy at all.

Well, hopefully things will take a better turn somehow. Anxious to see what happens with the parliamentary elections. Take care.

Friday, December 30, 2011 9:48:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

A large part of it is that Kabila doesn't want the UN doing so much - he wanted the mission to be gone by the end of 2010. He saw the UN presence there as a sign of weakness and wanted to project the idea that his administration was in control. The compromise was the name change to MONUSCO and a drawdown in the number of UN troops present in the territory. Managing the elections was another element of this.

I do think there's Congo fatigue in every corner, including the UN, and for good reason. They've spent billions of dollars for very limited progress. It's hard to see the mission getting stronger unless something drastic happens, which of course we're all hoping won't be the case. The last thing the country needs is another civil war. Of course, if there's no means for peaceful protest, who knows what will happen?

Sunday, January 01, 2012 9:28:00 PM

Blogger Anand said...

Thanks for the clarification on the lack of MONUSCO involvement in the elections. I knew Kabila didn't want them there, but I didn't know that lack of involvement in the elections was part of this.

I feel like some of the burden is on donors and the UN, to attach more stringent demands for progress if money is going to be donated. That's a tough one I know, because it can deeply affect the Congolese people if donor countries limit or cease funding. I also acknowledge the good the UN does do, but I feel like some of the fatigue is self generated by inadequate or "halfway" responses to situations in the DRC. Maybe Dodd/Frank would be a good US example of this. It might seem like something good has been done to the average US congressperson, but is it really positive? Does it really address the root causes? Has it really been well thought out and will it be well implemented? We already know the sad answer to some of these questions, but the US government will feel, "Didn't we just do something for Congo?" Thus, partially self-induced fatigue sets in. It's kind of frustrating to watch.

I watched the testimony by Dizolele, Gambino, and Schneider the other day, and one of the senators was all about the LRA, like it was the only group active in Congo. It's probably at the forefront of his mind because Obama just sent 100 or so military advisers or whatever you call them.

I feel like the election, if it stands, is evidence of the DRC moving backwards. It seems to set the wrong precedence (from almost all parties involved, national and international). I wonder if peaceful protest can happen, as well. The scars of the wars are still pretty fresh, and protest requires sustainability. Maintaining hope for something positive nonetheless.

Monday, January 02, 2012 12:24:00 PM


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