Consolidating peace overseas? The European Union's missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Bachelor Thesis 2008 37 Pages

Sociology - War and Peace, Military






1 The Rwandan genocide as precursor to an unknown war
2 The legacies of the past

1 The role of democratisation
2 Transitional justice in post-conflict societies

1 Introduction
2 The new Congolese constitution
3 Democratic elections
4 Civil society and the media
5 Restoring law and order
6 The police reforms
7 Reforming the army
8 Evaluation of the EU assistance to the DRC




Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


For most of its existence, the European Union (EU) has been a purely ‘civilian’ actor, focusing on the core policies of trade and economics, while avoiding any military engagements or coercive diplomacy (Howorth 2007: 1-2). However, the violence that ensued in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995 was to change EU policy conspicuously (Howorth, 2007: 6). The experience of being powerless to stop war and disorder on its periphery, the divisions between the member states and the US over how best to deal with the conflict and the absence of any meaningful input into the peace negotiations in Dayton, where American unilateralism prevailed, provided an impetus for a number of European politicians to rethink established security policies (Merlingen and Ostrautkaitė, 2006: 34). This resulted in a series of agreements to endow the EU with the capacity to respond autonomously to international crises. A major breakthrough was the 1998 Saint Malo Declaration between Britain and France, which laid the foundation for the European Defence and Security Policy (ESDP). Since then the civilian and military capabilities have been substantially increased and the number of ESDP missions has grown rapidly into double figures. In 2006 the EU launched its first autonomous military operation under Chapter VII of the UN Charter in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mission Artemis, as it was codenamed, was followed by a series of policies to reform the Congolese institutions, the justice system, the police and the army.

This dissertation investigates whether these reforms are helping to build lasting peace in the DRC. The generally accepted definition of peace within the field of peacebuilding is that of Johan Galtung, who defined it as the absence of direct and structural violence, in other words, freedom from physical injuries and unjust social, political and economic institutions, systems or structures (Galtung 1969, cited by Jeong 2000: 19-25; Paris 2004: 57-58). As this is a very broad definition, this study focuses specifically on civil and political rights, such as the right to free speech and a free press, as well as freedom of association; the constitution that codified these rights; the administration of democratic elections; and finally, due process in the police, judiciary and army. Peacebuilding ought to bolster the possibility of vibrant, responsive political life in the Congo, where politics has been supplanted by military contest and violence.

The dissertation is structured as follows: Chapter one will begin with an inventory of the literature that has dealt with the EU’s role in conflict termination and peacebuilding. Chapter two will offer background information on the First and Second Congo Wars and assesses their consequences on the Congolese institutions. The penultimate chapter will explain why democratisation and justice are theoretically of such importance to peacebuilding. The last chapter will present the EU’s peacebuilding activities in the DRC, with the aim of critically evaluating their contribution to the peace process. This chapter will especially look at the EU’s role in drafting the new Congolese constitution, developing civil society and media, safeguarding democratic elections and reforming the legal system, police and army. The chapter will conclude by assessing the EU’s overall contribution to consolidating peace in the DRC.

The research is based largely on official documents, online newspaper articles and reports from non-governmental organisations. In addition, interviews via email were conducted with several key policy actors of the EU delegation in the Congo. While there was no opportunity to do field work within the context of an undergraduate dissertation, a substantial amount of material was nonetheless available and it is hoped that the dissertation is making at least a preliminary assessment of EU action on the basis of this documentation.


In recent years, a plethora of academic literature on the ESDP has emerged. On the one hand, academics have welcomed this new role for the EU and have tried to appease critics. For example, while providing a most comprehensive account of the ESDP, Howorth (2007) is concerned with reassuring sceptics that it would not entail the establishment of a European Army nor would it undermine NATO. Furthermore, he evaluates the activities of the EU “in their own stated objectives” rather than focusing on the overall pacifying impact of the peacebuilding policies on the target country (Howorth 2007: 209). Similarly, Ulriksen et al. (2004: 508; 520-521) in their study of the first EU military operation, mission Artemis, concluded that it was remarkable that neutral, social democratic Sweden would engage in combat alongside ‘traditionally interventionist’ France, and argued that the mission would serve as a precedent for future EU autonomous military missions1. These writers have thus focused on the political implications of these missions for the EU.

On the other hand, there has been much debate about the neo-colonial nature of these interventions. Charbonneau (2008), Gégout (2004) and Herden (2003), for example, argue that France is trying to instrumentalise EU policy for its own purposes of upholding French hegemony, and doubt that the EU has acquired its own voice in international affairs. Consequently, Charbonneau argues that European involvement in African conflicts has not rendered peacebuilding more justifiable (Charbonneau 2008). Therefore, these writers’ primary concern is the legitimacy of these interventions rather than their effectiveness.

Other writers have investigated the ways in which the EU can bring peace to its periphery, notably in Eastern Europe. They have examined how European integration and association policies, as well as institutional models such as federations and consociations, can bring about the peaceful transformation of conflicts (Coppieters et al 2004; Diez et al 2006). Tocci (2007) has also shown that EU contractual relations have a considerable potential to resolve conflicts. Furthermore, Merlingen and Ostrautkaitė (2006), in their study of the police missions in Bosnia and Macedonia, have provided insight into how the EU can pacify, democratise and improve life in societies emerging from crisis and violence through minuscule interventions that reorganise indigenous police officers according to best Western practices. Several authors have thus drawn positive conclusions about the EU’s ability to bring peace to post-conflict countries.

Nevertheless, few authors have scrutinised EU interventions in non-European countries. There is some evidence that association agreements, i.e. agreements that give non-European countries tariff-free access to European markets, can provide incentives for countries to align their policies according to European standards (Diez et al 2006). As a consequence, they may introduce human rights legislation and improve the protection of minorities, thereby easing a conflict situation. However, there has been very little scrutiny into how EU missions can contribute to the positive transformation of non-European conflicts, particularly in regard to the Congolese wars. An important reason for this disjuncture is that the EU became actively involved in the DRC only in 2003. Sufficient evidence to analyse its performance is only now becoming available.

By focusing on an African country, this research therefore aims to bridge a gap in the current literature that so far has mainly concentrated on post-conflict countries in Europe’s neighbouring regions. Moreover, the dissertation aims to explain the root causes of war – ethnic conflict, struggle for resources, among others – and depict what consequences the conflict had on the Congo. Here the notion of a weak state will be highlighted. In addition, the dissertation intends to provide an overall account of the EU’s peacebuilding efforts in the DRC, by presenting its role during the transition, the electoral process and its efforts in rebuilding the justice, police and army. As the presentation of democratic peace theory and transitional justice will show, these are crucial components of peace consolidation. Finally, the research aims to draw conclusions about whether the intervention in the DRC could serve as a model for similar missions in the future.


1 The Rwandan genocide as precursor to an unknown war

The independence of the Congo on 30th June 1960 did not lead to the desired result of democracy and economic prosperity for the Congolese people. A mutiny by the army, secessionist conflict and political struggles between pro-Western and pro- Communist factions could not be quelled by a UN intervention and instead lead to the long-lasting coup by Colonel Mobutu.

During Mobutu’s dictatorship, the country was renamed Zaire and all foreign companies were nationalised and assigned to his “clients” according to a patrimonial state logic, in which the country was ruled by administrative and military personnel, who were responsible only to Mobutu (CERI 2007). After the end of the Cold War, however, relations between Mobutu’s regime and the hitherto protecting powers cooled and the dictator was pressured into reforming the country (CERI 2007). From 1991 a national conference was set up to devise a new constitution, but Mobutu shortly afterwards dismissed it, arguing that it was “ethnically one-sided”. Meanwhile he drove a wedge between the various political groups by nurturing ethnic conflicts (Mochart 2006). Tensions mounted particularly in the Kivu regions (see map) where many Rwandophones were living because of demographic pressure in their own country (Pourtier: 2003: 16). The massive refugee movements following the 1994 genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis and that of a considerable number of Hutu definitively destabilised the entire region. More than a million Hutu sought shelter in the Kivu, afraid of reprisals by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the Tutsi armed group led by Paul Kagame. However, the Hutu extremists, responsible for planning and carrying out the genocide, quickly reorganised themselves and took control of the refugee camps in Zaire. Allying with local Congolese militias (the Mai-Mai), they started to massacre the Tutsi population living in Kivu and launched aggressions against Kigali aiming to oust the Tutsi- dominated regime there (CERI 2007). In retaliation Rwanda and Uganda began covert operations in the Congo by way of setting up the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) (Hugo 2006: 13). The cities Bukavu and Goma subsequently fell into the hands of the insurgents who wanted to overthrow Mobutu’s regime. In response to these events, the UN Security Council voted for a 12,000-strong multinational force in November 1996. Yet the rebels, aware that a humanitarian intervention could endanger their objectives, launched an attack in North Kivu and pushed the refugees back to Rwanda. According to Jean-François Hugo, an international consultant working for the EC in Kinshasa, the refugee problems were thus considered resolved by Washington and Kigali and the UN intervention was to be forgotten (Hugo 2006: 23).

By January 1997, Mobutu was hard-pushed and his defences were disintegrating. On 16th May he eventually fled the country and the ADFL seized Kinshasa, ending the first Congolese war. However, the new regime of President Laurent-Desiré Kabila was far from establishing a democratic government, nor did it prove capable of resolving the problems that formed the basis of the first Congolese war: the security of its eastern neighbours and the status of the Rwandophone populations in north and south Kivu (Hugo 2006: 28). Moreover, he accused Rwanda and Uganda of plundering the country’s natural resources (see map) and in July 1998 dismissed the Rwandan Tutsi who had headed the new Congolese army.

Some days later, a new rebel movement, the Rally for Congolese Democracy, supported mainly by Rwanda, started to wage war in Kivu (CERI 2007). The situation escalated when the Rwandan army, backed by Uganda, attempted to seize Kinshasa in August 1998 (Olson and Fors 2004: 325). Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad and Sudan subsequently intervened to support Kabila (Follingstad Anderson 2007). This war, killing some 3 million people and displacing a further 2.5 million between 1998 and 2003, was according to many observers motivated by greed for natural resources (Olson and Fors 2004: 326-327).

Several events have contributed to ending the second war. The 1999 Lusaka agreement led to the establishment of the United Nations peacekeeping force MONUC to monitor the cessation of hostilities, disarm the civilian population and supervise the withdrawal of all foreign troops (UN 2000). Moreover, Laurent-Desiré Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and replaced by his son Joseph Kabila. The younger Kabila has shown great commitment to resolving the conflict and reinstating democracy in Congo (Olson and Fors 2004: 325). As a consequence, a global and all-inclusive transition agreement was signed in Pretoria in December 2002, followed by the Sun City agreement in April 2003, which required all signatories to make a power-sharing concession in the form of a government of national unity. As we will see later, the role of the international community, particularly that of the EU, has been of crucial importance to avoid a return to a large-scale conflict (République Française 2007).

2 The legacies of the past

The decades of dictatorship, decay and war have left the DRC in a very destitute situation. At war’s end, Congo indeed showed many symptoms of a weak state (Jackson 2007: 149-156). First of all, there were serious institutional weaknesses, notably poor governance and lack of transparency and accountability (World Bank 2007: 2).

Secondly, the country was riven by intense societal divisions along regional, urban- rural and ethnic lines. On the one hand, there was the historical legacy of ethnic tensions among the Congo’s different ethnic groups, particularly between the Tutsi and Hutu as well as the Hema and Lendu populations (ICG 2008: 1). On the other hand, there was the threat of secession (Vircoulon 2006: 571), a sign of the long-lasting centre/periphery conflict. Therefore, a balance between centralisation and regional autonomy had to be found (Schatzberg 1999: 81-82).

Thirdly, political tensions remained a big challenge, partly because the political parties grew out of ‘politico-military organisations’ and were operating in a combative mode. Hence the outbreak of armed clashes in May 2007 between the President’s Republican guards and a security force loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba, who lost to Kabila in the presidential election. As a result, about 200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the fighting (Harsch 2008).

Fourthly, the state was struggling to establish and maintain a monopoly on the instruments of violence, as a range of social actors such as rival politicians with their own private armies, warlords, locally organised militias and armed and organised ethnic groups were powerful enough to resist the state’s attempt to enforce compliance. For example, local parallel structures of former rebel movements continued to operate in the eastern provinces. This was the case for the Mai-Mai militia in the Congolese Resistance Patriots movement, but also for some forces of the National Congress for the Defence of the People, a movement led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda who claimed to be defending the minority Tutsi population (AFP 2008). Virtually all armed groups were thought to be employing large numbers of child soldiers. In 2005, UNICEF estimated that about 30,000 children were associated with armed groups in the Congo. Finally, the Kivus remain until now mired in violent clashes between government forces and rebel groups. Some 45,000 people still die of conflict-related incidents in the Congo every month, bringing the total death toll to 5.4 million since 1998 (International Rescue Committee; cited by Afrol News 2008). Many of these deaths are related to sexual violence – 4,500 cases have been reported in the first six months of 2007 in South Kivu alone (The Economist 2008). To sum up, there are many factors which threaten the Congolese state. As governance was so bad for so long, the task is not just post-war reconstruction, that is restoring the situation that existed before the outbreak of war in 1996. It is to start building, often for the first time, institutions that will truly serve the interests of the Congolese people (Harsch 2008). The following chapter explains why democracy and transitional justice are in particular such crucial components in the peace process.


1 However, in March 2008 a Swedish newspaper revealed that the French soldiers had apparently tortured Congolese civilians during the mission (Eckert 2008).


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Congolese constitution army reform police reform judiciary transitional justice democratisation civil society media rule of law




Title: Consolidating peace overseas? The European Union's missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo