Today, I would like to summarize why I believe the Addis framework is unlikely to be sufficient to bring durable solutions to the crisis in Eastern DRC.
1. Too short, too vague
First, it’s expressed in very vague terms. One would believe that such a complex conflict that has been ongoing since 2003, and has its sources in 1994, would deserve a lot more details in the drafting of its solution. The reason to this shortness is that the treaty is nothing but vague declarations of intention. As such, its effectiveness highly depends on either:
– State good-willingness, which has not been the most obvious driver of recent Congolese context evolution.
– Strong implementation measures, that would still have to be discussed and signed. In other words, we are still a few miles away from it.
A viable peace framework would need to be much more detailed as to the expectations it creates from its signatory parties, and propose concrete and measurable milestones for the process. With its surprisingly short and vague wording, today’s framework looks as yet another International Community show-bizz event. Yesterday, the Oscars in L.A, today, the a Peace process in Addis. Now the West can sleep in peace.
2. International troops? Yes, of course! Soon.
It was again in Addis. And, if I remember well, it was August 2012. The ICGLR countries had found the miracle solution to the 4 months old M23 rebellion: a new international force, which would have a much stronger mandate and capacity than the current MONUSCO, would control the borders and actively fight against the rebel groups that enjoy hiking there. How large would it be? Very large! Who would lead it? Africans! Who would fund it? Many people! When would it be deployed? Very soon!
On February 26th 2013, more than 7 months later, not one single of these questions has been answered. And the new framework still fails to answer any. Maybe in a couple of years, when there will be no one left to save, will we see those shiny brand new uniforms parading in the towns of Goma and Bukavu.
3. A failed military treaty
The Addis framework could’ve at least been a valid military deal, where all concerned parties agreed to sit down and talk solutions out instead of fighting them in. This is very unlikely to happen, simply because the parties to the conflict were not invited to the table:
– M23 is not there (not a State)
– The same goes for all other rebel groups in Eastern DRC such as the FDLR, Raia Mutombokis, various Mayi-Mayi factions, all at least as reckless as the M23
– In the absence of accepted compliance, it fails to provide forced implementation means (troops) locally.
– Rwanda and Uganda, which both signed the framework, don’t offer a guarantees that the M23 will respect it as long as they don’t recognize they have strong links with the rebel group.
Why learn from history? The 2002 Sun City agreement failed largely because of the fact that only 4 of the tens of existing rebel factions were represented. 11 years later, we make the exact same mistake in Addis Ababa.
4. Not a political treaty / solution
Another failure of the 2002 agreement was that it was mainly a –incomplete- military deal, as the civil society was not adequately heard and considered in peace talks. Again, the Addis Ababa treaty shines with the absence of any civil society voice, in its drafting and in its signing. Strange move from the United Nations, which should by essence instead be advocating for a larger inclusion of civil society voices in conflict resolution processes.
As shaped, the message sent by the UN and signatory parties to the treaty remains at best vague, at times contradictory.
The new PR drama over last night’s Rutshuru attacks (DRC Government gloating about two M23 factions fighting each other, M23 accusing an FARDC backed FDLR attack) only seems to confirm that this treaty is worth the price of the sheet it was written on, and that the Eastern DRC / M23 crisis is far from over. Did I mention M23 already twitted that it doesn’t feel tied by it?