DR Congo

DR Congo/Kinshasa: Second international conference on DDR and stability in Africa

Eoin Young / MONUC

The second international conference on DDR (Disarmament Demobilisation and Reinsertion) and stability in Africa is taking place in Kinshasa's Grand Hotel this week from June 12 to 14, 2007. The conference includes representatives from over 20 African countries, as well as MONUC, UN agencies and representatives from the international community.

The conference offers an opportunity for the respective countries and other partners to share ideas and experiences of the DDR process, in order to enhance its effectiveness, which will further peace, stability and durable development in the continent of Africa, which has known numerous armed conflicts in the last 10 years.

Mr. William Swing, UN Special Representative to the Secretary General in the DRC, who was guest speaker at the opening of the conference, said that peace and stability in Africa was a priority of the Secretary General, who visited DRC in January 2007.

"The Secretary General remains firmly engaged so that the UN is a partner for Africa in installing peace where there is war; bringing prosperity where there is poverty; and renewing hope where there is despair," he said.

"He welcomed the progress achieved with the consolidation of peace and the holding of historic elections in DRC as a excellent example. But he said we must do all in our power to control conflicts that are tearing the continent apart and we must exploit all African mechanisms in the promotion of peace and security," he added

The three day conference includes many different issues on the agenda including lessons learned from DDR programmes in central Africa, as well as the general situation of the DDR process in the DRC, Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Belgian ambassador to the DRC Johan Swinnen said that Belgium, as one of the primary DDR donors, will not hesitate to assist in the years ahead.

"It is of the utmost importance to give a young democracy a good base, as the DRC has experienced both internal and external war, and there is now no way back to violence. DDR is part of a post conflict reconstruction process, and the colossal task of restoring confidence between the government, ex rebels, DRC's neighbours and the international community," he said.

During the three day conference there will also be presentations on the links between DDR and security sector reform in the DRC; women and children associated with armed groups; DDR and traditional justice; and a presentation on combatants on foreign soil.

A government spokesman for DRC president Joseph Kabila explained that DDR was now a part of the development battle.

"After a long war, with much loss of life, human rights violations and misery, the durable peace that follows needs to be ambitious yet realistic. We can use this conference to reflect on important themes such as justice, children and women associated with armed groups, as well as security sector reform," he said.

The conference will conclude on Thursday June 14, with conclusions and recommendations for the future.