It was with great interest that we followed the media coverage of the latest report of the United Nations Group of Experts on the Congo on August 4, 2022. The truth is stubborn, it always comes out in the end. Thus, solid evidence collected by the United Nations establishes that between November 2021 and July 2022, the Rwandan army (RDF) launched attacks against the Congolese army on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and provided logistical and operational support to the M23 rebels.
The Rwandan army’s involvement with the M23 terrorist movement has been known for months by the Congolese army, which has already recovered military equipment and arrested Rwandan soldiers on Congolese territory. Yet Kigali continues its policy of denial, even as the Rwandan president made shocking threats to deploy Rwandan troops “without asking anyone’s permission” on February 8, 2022, during a swearing-in ceremony for new ministers in the Rwandan parliament, openly showing his contempt for the basic principles of international law.
The Congolese government, the United Nations, the African Union and the DRC’s bilateral and regional partners must draw the consequences of this evidence of Rwanda’s umpteenth war of aggression: sanctions must be taken without further delay, both politically, diplomatically, economically, and militarily in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1807 and 2293, which sanction, among other things, individuals and entities that engage in acts that jeopardize the peace, stability or security of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After more than a quarter of a century of repeated conflict that has resulted in millions of deaths, women raped and displaced persons, the community of states can no longer passively accept that the Congolese population suffer repeated aggression from neighboring countries committing directly or by proxy mass atrocities aimed at destabilizing the eastern DRC in order to plunder its mineral and natural resources in a climate of generalized impunity.
This great transnational crime in which Rwanda has been one of the main actors for 25 years with the complicity of certain corrupt compatriots must stop now.
Furthermore, the Congolese government must urgently reform the security sector in the DRC, the only sustainable solution to securing and pacifying the country. We cannot rely forever on the assistance of the United Nations, nor can we pursue a policy of outsourcing our national security to third-party states. Thus, we must rapidly define a defense policy adapted to the challenges of the present and the future, allocate the necessary means to implement the military programming law and mobilize a real political will to reform our defense forces. Furthermore, we cannot continue to accept that certain elements of our national army collaborate with certain militias that destabilize our country.
Finally, the world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed in the DRC for over a quarter of a century. The vicious cycle of violence and impunity must end. A holistic national strategy for transitional justice in the DRC must be adopted and implemented. Like all people, the Congolese have a right to justice, truth, and reparations, but also to guarantees that atrocities will not be repeated. Justice is an essential tool to prevent the recurrence of conflicts, but it is the missing piece of the puzzle to establish peace in the DRC. It is a prerequisite for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in the DRC and the African Great Lakes region.
The solutions exist. We urge Congolese leaders and the DRC’s privileged partners such as the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union to create the conditions for the development of a clean and transparent trade in the resources that abound in the DRC and to ensure that human rights and basic principles of international law are respected by all states in the African Great Lakes region.
-Dr. Denis Mukwege