THE IMPACT OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION ON PEACE IN CONFLICT AFFECTED AREAS IN DR CONGO
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Background; The impacts of human rights violations in conflict-affected areas of the DRC are far-reaching and devastating. The most immediate impact is the loss of life and physical harm inflicted on individuals. The psychological trauma caused by these violations can also have long-lasting effects on survivors, their families, and communities. The Project entitled impact of human rights violations on peace in conflict-affected areas in DR Congo, specifically in the East Region of DR Congo. Objectives; The main objectives of this study was to assess the extent and nature of human rights violations in the East Region of DRC, especially in conflict-affected areas. Method; For this research, study design may include surveys, interviews, focus group discussions, and document analysis. Data analysis techniques may include descriptive statistics, regression analysis, and content analysis. One possible sampling procedure for this type of study is stratified random sampling. Sample size; This study on the impact of human rights violations in conflict-affected areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo will depend on several factors, including the level of precision desired, the variability in the population, and the effect size being studied. According to the result, The East Region of DR Congo is experiencing various human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, and torture. These violations are mainly perpetrated by rebel groups, government forces, and other armed actors.
Human rights violations have a significant impact on the peace and stability of the region. They contribute to the perpetuation of conflict by fueling grievances and distrust among communities, creating a culture of impunity, and disrupting social and economic activities.
Since the end of colonization in 1960, the DRC has never experienced lasting peace. The country is often the theatre of inter-ethnic conflicts and invasions from foreign armies
(Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Eritrea, Somalia…). In his analysis of historical causes of conflicts in the DRC, Nest argues that “the pattern of resources dependence established under Belgian colonial rule, combined with the absence of a democratically accountable regime during the independent era, caused the weakening and fragmentation of the Zairian state” (Nest, 2006:17). In this section I will discuss the three major causes of the current disastrous conflict and its massive toll of rape and sexual assaults on women and children. These are the spillover of the genocide in Rwanda, control of mineral resources and ethnic rivalry
In eastern Congo, fighters from armed groups, and in some cases government security forces, carried out massacres, kidnappings, sexual violence, recruitment of children, and other attacks on civilians with near total impunity.
To address insecurity in the east, the president in May 2021 imposed military rule in North Kivu and Ituri, two of the provinces worst affected by violence. Some officers with records of abuse remained in command positions. Martial law and new military operations did not improve civilian protection. Attacks on civilians by armed groups and government forces continued, with more than 1,600 people killed between May and the end of the year across Ituri and North Kivu. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group led by Ugandans, have been allegedly responsible for more than half the killings. In December, Ugandan troops crossed into eastern Congo to begin joint military operations with the Congolese army against the ADF.
In 2021, the authorities often cracked down on dissenting voices, including human rights and democracy activists, journalists, and peaceful protesters. Tensions escalated in the capital, Kinshasa, with the establishment of a controversial new electoral commission, due to alleged political interference, and debates over a proposed new law, known as the “Congolité Bill,” that would ban Congolese citizens with a parent of foreign origin from higher office. Supporters of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party physically attacked Catholic churches and priests for their role in pushing for a more independent electoral commission president Over 5 million people were internally displaced. One in three people suffered from acute hunger. School closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic affected 19.2 million children. After the pandemic’s start in 2020, schools were fully or partially closed for 179 days, including several weeks in early 2021.
Journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and critics of government policies were intimidated and threatened, beaten, arrested, and in some cases prosecuted by the authorities and security forces. In January, a military court acquitted eight members of Lucha lutte pour le changement Struggle for Change), a citizens’ movement, after they spent a month in detention for peacefully marching in Beni territory. In July, two other members, Elisée Lwatumba and Eric Muhindo, who had been detained for three months following a peaceful march in Butembo, were provisionally. Authorities arrested Parfait Muhani and Ghislain Muhiwa, also members of Lucha, in July and August respectively. They were both detained at Goma’s central prison before being released on bail on November 6. Their trial oncriminal defamation and criminal association charges started on November 5 after their group denounced misappropriation of aid allegedly involving staff from Congo’s first lady’s foundation. Thirteen other Lucha activists were arrested in Beni on November 11 during a peaceful demonstration against martial law, and remained in detention at time of writing.
In February, authorities arrested three members of the citizens’ movement Jicho ya Raiya in North Kivu’s Masisi territory, after they criticized the mismanagement of local health structures. At time of writing, Claude Lwaboshi Buhazi, Serge Mikindo Waso, and Faustin Ombeni Tulinabo remained in pretrial detention in Goma’s central prison.
In late February, it was revealed that authorities had sentenced whistleblowers Gradi Koko and Navy Malela to death in absentia in September 2020. The two former bank employees exposed alleged illegal financial practices and money laundering. In July, exiled anti-corruption whistleblower Jean- Jacques Lumumba faced threats and intimidation in Europe and Kinshasa.
cale war starts. Often in such cases, in anticipation of the perceived threat, the government will use violence to try to repress an opposition group, committing atrocities against members of the group or, especially if they cannot get hold of militants, against civilians (Pion-Berlin and Lopez 1991; Davenport 1995; Gartner and Regan 1996; Regan and Henderson 2002; Carey 2004). Sometimes, goverments succeed in violently repressing political opposition. Oftentimes, however, such a strategy will fail, and it may even backfire by creating grievances and hatred among civilians and driving them into the arms of militant groups. In any case, human rights violations are frequently part of the escalatory process and an early warning sign of civil war onset. Government-sponsored violations of personal integrity rights both contribute to causing civil war and are part of the escalating process that may lead to war. Situations in which government repression and state weakness coexist are especially civil war-prone, as weak governments trying to repress unrest or an emerging rebellion are often unable to do so effectively. Thus, potential rebel leaders act on the opportunity provided by a weak state (Fearon and Laitin 2003a) and repression may drive more people into the arms of the rebels as citizens turn to emerging rebel organizations for protection (Mason and Krane 1989). Rebel groups that control a territory, which is more likely in weak states, may also try to coerce citizens into participation (Gates 2002). Under indiscriminate repression, people that join the rebels may be better off than civilians who remain neutral (Kalyvas 2006). While repression thus contributes to causing war, it is also a government reaction to an emerging rebellion and part of the complex process that precedes a war. Repression is thus an important early warning sign that has often been overlooked. If repression is often such a bad choice, why do governments so often choose to employ it? Civil wars are distinguished from most interstate conflicts by a power asymmetry between government and rebels (Zartman and William 1995). Rebel organizations therefore often employ a military strategy of hit-and-run, waging a guerilla war. By doing so, they have to rely on popular support, and government forces might try to undercut this support by “draining the sea” (Valentino et al. 2004; Azam and Hoeffler 2002). Where the rebels hide in the mountains, the state is weak, and the government chooses to use a repressive strategy, civilians become easy targets. Building on studies by Fearon and Laitin (2003a) and Sambanis (2004), the role of rights violations in leading to civil war is tested empirically, yielding strong support for a close link between repression and civil war onset, especially in weak states. According to one empirical model, the yearly probability of civil war onset is only 0.04% in strong, non-repressive states, but it is about 78% in weak states where the government violates basic human rights. This study contributes to the understanding of the repression–rebellion nexus by testing the impact of violations of personal integrity rights— political imprisonment, torture, “disappearances”, and extrajudicial killings—on the probability of civil war onset in multivariate models. Two-stage models show that the link between repression and civil war is complex: Repression is more likely during low-level conflict, but it increases the risk of an escalation to full-scale civil war. This risk is particularly high in weak states, which see both more human rights violations and more civil war.
The research questions for a study on the impact of human rights violations on peace in conflict-affected areas in DR Congo, specifically in the East Region of DR Congo, could include:
- What are the types and extent of human rights violations that are occurring in the East Region of DR Congo, specifically in conflict-affected areas?
- How do these human rights violations affect the peace and stability of the region, and what is the relationship between human rights violations and conflict?
- What are the root causes of human rights violations in the East Region of DR Congo, and what role do various actors, such as rebel groups, government forces, and other armed actors, play in perpetrating these violations?