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The UN and the DRC: Another Expert Report

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The UN and the DRC: Another Expert Report

Albert Rudatsimburwa

Malcolm X once said, “Racism is like a Cadillac: a new model comes out every year.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the UN Group of Experts (GoE) reports on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The first time I covered the publication of a GoE report was back in 2012. It was led by one Steve Hege, appointed by the UN Secretary-General, to head the Group of Experts tasked with examining atrocities committed in the DRC. But, Hege himself turned out to be a supporter of one of the groups responsible for those atrocities, the so-called Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). His website proudly carried the revisionist, “Understanding the FDLR.”

Hege was forced to step down, when several articles exposed his unsuitability as a supposedly independent researcher. His website was taken down. But he had by then, planted a pernicious seed, whose fruit is a narrative that persists to this day, that the cause of the DRC crisis is Rwanda.

This, of course, has suited many, among, successive governments of the DRC. Most perverse of all, the FDLR, formed by the planners and perpetrators of the Rwanda Genocide Against the Tutsi, who spearhead the persecution and genocidal murders of the Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese, are now depicted as defending a just cause.

For 30 years, the Great Lakes region has been plagued by unceasing violence, most of it in the DRC, and there seems no prospect for peace, anywhere on the horizon.

Formerly Zaire, the DRC has been mired in misery and endured the most atrocious inhumanity before experiencing an unprecedented resurgence of violence in recent years. And for 25 years, successive UNGoE reports have been published on the situation in the DRC.

Even before the latest report, which is expected every June, is officially published, it has already leaked, as always, to become the subject commentary. And like every year, rather than point to the truth that might lessen the plight of the ordinary Congolese, the report serves the interests of certain powers, and exonerates the DRC government of any responsibility to its people.

Once again, the supposedly expert UN report, echoes the victim narrative developed by the Congolese authorities, tirelessly asserting that all their woes are caused by their “evil neighbor,” without ever acknowledging any responsibility for their own human tragedy.

Repeating the same exercise over and over without ever achieving a different result, for more than two decades, should have prompted questions from those commissioning these reports. But curiously, neither the reports nor the experts are ever questioned. And so, here we are again.

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It goes without saying that in any endeavor for conflict resolution to succeed, there must be impartiality, neutrality. Biased data collection leads to biased analysis and recommendations. It is therefore crucial that experts rely on factual and verifiable data collection and invest in understanding the root causes rather than being swayed by narratives designed to avoid exposing where responsibility rightly lies.

True to form, this year’s report presents the same narrative about the different belligerents in the Kivu region. And as in previous reports, they attempt to drag Rwanda into the Congolese mire.

And once again, the report bases almost all its supposed research on accounts gathered from the Congolese national army, FARDC. This is an army which the UN itself has accused of preying on the population, an army that has made the genocidal FDLR an integral part of its fighting force.

While it is not surprising that the UNGoE would draw information from the UN stabilizing mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), it is also worth mentioning that MONUSCO itself is tainted by cooperating with the FDLR, and of course FRDC. Inevitably, the report reads as though it was dictated by the government in Kinshasa.

While the “Group of Experts” is essentially vetted by three of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, USA, UK and France, the so called P3, the Secretary-General also has a department for “Genocide Prevention.” The various reports on the DRC generated by this particular department are never considered by the GoE in their data collection, conclusions, or recommendations. It is as though the GoE, and the UN’s department on genocide prevention, were dealing with two different countries.

The result is reports that lack substance, are inaccurate, and serve only to bolster those who would rather perpetuate conflict. The monopoly of the P3 to impose such poorly researched reports will always result in the other members of the Security Council, following the P3’s recommendations, which are always based on misleading data collection, and partisan recommendations.

This is how instability, the misery that causes, is perpetuated in that part of the world. The responsibility for that can clearly be laid at the P3’ door, supported by the elected members of the Security Council, who could not do better, even if they wished, because they lack data that can be factually verified.

It would not be wrong to say that the purpose of this annual ritual is primarily to keep the DRC under the control of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. And if that means absolving successive Congolese governments of any responsibility for what is happening in their country, and pointing fingers at the designated scapegoat, Rwanda, then so be it.

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