The Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1996–2012


August 2011 marked twelve years since the signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement that ended the second Congo war. It also marked the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC, Mission de l’Organization des Nations Unies en République Democratique du Congo). Yet, the root causes of the wars persist—access to land in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains contested, and control over revenues from natural resources remains in the hands of a few. Armed groups, both foreign and domestic, continue to operate with impunity in the eastern DRC and are the source of much of the insecurity in the region. And state institutions remain weak and resource-starved.

Over the last decade and a half, the Congo has witnessed an extraordinary number of attempts by regional and international actors—individuals, states, and institutions—to resolve the largest conflict that Africa has seen since independence. The conflict, however, persists, and at an enormous cost. The most that these attempts have achieved are several partially respected cease-fire agreements. They have failed to end the violence or to reestablish central government authority throughout the DRC.

Today, the DRC transition is at a crossroads. Despite second post-conflict elections held in November 2011 that aimed to complete a peace process started in December 2002 during the Inter-Congolese Dialogue at Sun City, a growing number of Congolese feel disenfranchised by a government increasingly reliant on strong-handedness, as its authority rests on weak national and local institutions—a crisis of governance that elections have not solved.


Carayannis, T. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1996-2012. In: Responding to Conflict in Africa (Edited by Boulden, J.). The United Nations and Regional Organizations, (2013) 26 pp. ISBN 9781137367587 [DOI: 10.1057/9781137367587.0014]

Published 1 January 2013