Is the New DRC Peace Deal a Cause for Hope?

Prayers in Congo
Prayers in Congo. Photo: Steve Evans/flickr.

Though the Second Congo War formally ended in 2003 the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Eastern regions have remained embroiled in violence. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has become the UN’s largest peacekeeping obligation with 19,134 uniformed personnel as of January 2013.

Despite the conclusion of formal hostilities almost a decade ago, violence has continued unabated with the most recent crisis occurring when the March 23rd Movement (M23) occupied the city of Goma. In response to the continuing violence and the new threat posed by M23 the UN mediated the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region on 24 February 2013. The Framework was signed by the leaders of the DRC and ten other African countries. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has argued that the signing of the Framework represents a “historic opportunity”, the DRC has had a long history of failed peace agreements and there is little to differentiate the recently signed Framework from past attempts. This makes it hard to argue that the Framework represents a real step forward in the Congolese peace process.