DR Congo

Escaping “Perpetual Beginnings”: Challenges and opportunities for local atrocity prevention in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Executive Summary

Between 2017 and 2020, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experienced a 54% increase in average reported cases of violence against civilians compared to the previous seven-year period. The United Nations has described the recent increase in violence as “characteristic of crimes against humanity” and “possibly even genocide”. However, government-led efforts to curb violence have failed, and in many cases have intensified insecurities as a result of low government capacity, high levels of direct government involvement and support of violence, and high levels of impunity for actors engaged in violence.

In the absence of effective national governmentled protection of civilians, the majority of atrocity prevention (AP) activities have been carried out by local and international actors such as civil society organisations (CSOs), community members and international actors, including the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and various International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs).
Despite the vital role played by these actors, a number of significant gaps exist that impact the effectiveness of local atrocity prevention work. Atrocity prevention actors report that low capacity, under resourcing and a lack of networking or coordination significantly Local perspectives on the violence undermine effective work in the region. Similarly, there is very little available information regarding how local actors coordinate horizontally (across civil society), and how the actions of local actors inform or relate to national or external atrocity prevention systems.

This report is part of a three-year (2019-2022) project “Strengthening Networks to Prevent and Respond to Violence”, funded through a UK government (previously DFID) Jo Cox Memorial Grant, and led by Peace Direct in partnership with Protection Approaches, Beni Peace Forum (BPF), Réseau des organisations des Jeunes en Action pour la paix, la réconciliation et le développement (REJA), and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
The project aims to ensure that local civil society is better able to provide strategic, coordinated and sustainable atrocity prevention work in eastern DRC and Burundi. This research focused on eastern DRC and sought to identify and understand the following:

The status and composition of current atrocity prevention efforts in Ituri, and North and South Kivu, including key actors and means of coordination;

• What approaches to atrocity prevention are considered most effective by local, national and international actors;

• The primary challenges faced by local, national and international actors engaged in atrocity prevention work; and 3 A breakdown of interview participants can be found in the Introduction section of the main report. This includes a breakdown of the number of individuals by interview group.

• The forms of support from regional and international actors that are required to improve current atrocity prevention outcomes.

The report is based on interviews and focus group discussions with 1693 individuals, including civil society and community members, DRC government actors, local academics, UN staff, INGO staff, foreign donors and foreign government actors involved in atrocity prevention work in eastern DRC, which were carried out between February and June 2020.