Amnesty’s Solution to DRC is…More Guns??

I was asked today about Amnesty International’s increasing calls for the UN Security Council to act to reinforce the peacekeeping force currently in DRC (acronym MONUC…it’s French and I can’t find the circumflex character to spell it out). Given the awful situiation in the East of the country, calling on the Security Council to, in his words, “put more guns” in the Kivus was “not going to help in the long run,” he offered. After quickly noting that Amnesty’s call is to strengthen the ability of MONUC to protect civilians…which include more police and armed personnel, but also trucks, aircraft, training to help victims of sexual violence, and a whole slew of logistical support, I gave it a little thought.

Like Amnesty’s support for the UN Mission in Darfur, the calls for increasing support for MONUC—already the largest (most expensive) peacekeeping mission in the world—may seem a desperate recommendation to some. But aside from the obvious and pressing needs of the most vulnerable of people in Eastern DRC—the war affected, the starving, and the displaced—there is no doubt that the humanitarian crisis itself is a policy problem. While Amnesty’s call is surely motivated primarily by the need to address human suffering, there is longer term wisdom to that call.

The roots of the current crisis in DRC can be traced back to the broader “Great Lakes” refugee crisis following the Rwandan genocide. We can trace the general instability of the Kivus and eastern DRC more broadly to the displacement of millions at the borders of Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi. That is, we can trace the current political and security situation in DRC back to the displacement and human insecurity of nearly 15 years ago and years since.  

Rwandan refugees setting up camp in E. DRC, 1994

Rwandan refugees setting up camp in E. DRC, 1994

This displacement destroys communities, shreds political fabric, militarizes local commerce, invites predation, increases incentives to take up arms, and destabilizes displacement-receiving communities and countries. The number of people displaced from the Kivus in the past couple months is about equal to the total number of Darfuris who’ve fled to neighboring Chad over the past 5 years. MONUC must be strengthened because civilians will suffer even further if it is not. But the wisdom of strengthening the UN’s thus-far ineffectual presence in the Kivus extends to a generational metric. If the spiraling human security situation in the Kivus isn’t soon slowed, we’ll be citing the international community’s failure to act in 2008 as a key cause of another yet-avoidable catastrophe years down the road.

Yes, securing vulnerable people now is just and necessary (see Mr. Koettl’s post from earlier today). But it has the added advantage of allowing future generations a chance to live in relative peace.

 

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17 thoughts on “Amnesty’s Solution to DRC is…More Guns??

  1. Although getting more guns might seem "just and necessary" in order to protect the innocent, I assure you — guns are NEVER the answer. In a situation where a crisis of this magnitude is on everyone's mind every day of their lives, everyone is a victim.

    Putting a gun on the face of a violator, robber or kidnapper would mean forgetting that this apparent evil-doer is also a victim himself of the crisis. He might be doing bad things to survive. Although it was ultimately his decision, he is still a human who deserves to be treated as such. No one person on this world deserves to have a gun pointed at him. Human rights are not just for those in emergent need, but for everyone. Human rights are universal, and not something for Amnesty, the UN, or any government entity to decide who gets them and who does not.

  2. Although getting more guns might seem “just and necessary” in order to protect the innocent, I assure you — guns are NEVER the answer. In a situation where a crisis of this magnitude is on everyone’s mind every day of their lives, everyone is a victim.

    Putting a gun on the face of a violator, robber or kidnapper would mean forgetting that this apparent evil-doer is also a victim himself of the crisis. He might be doing bad things to survive. Although it was ultimately his decision, he is still a human who deserves to be treated as such. No one person on this world deserves to have a gun pointed at him. Human rights are not just for those in emergent need, but for everyone. Human rights are universal, and not something for Amnesty, the UN, or any government entity to decide who gets them and who does not.

  3. I think that was the point of the post. The "guns" aren't what is needed, and its sort of silly to think thats what amnesty and activists are calling for. It's the security that the UN and the international community can provide that will allow people in Congo to enjoy their human rights. Even the perpetrators who ever they are (i guess you are referring to the Genocide perpetrators?) And sometimes just a real UN presence would be enough to stop people, whether "evil doers" (a very Bush-esque term) or anyone else, from suffering.

    And I guess the other point is that the victims of inaction probably arent even born yet. Inaction is like pointing a gun at the unborn.

    ~~The only thing worse than violence is indifference~~

  4. Adding More Weapons to a very Volatile Situation such as what is occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Can and Probably will be Counterproductive.

    MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Congo) has a Poorly Defined Mission. It is Designed to Keep the Peace instead of Promoting it. Therefore any Grievances that any Party has may not be addressed unless they take up Arms. There is little effort being taken to restore Good Governance in the Country. All we hear is that the UN and the World says do this and if you don't toe the line we will defeat you.

    The UN has asked for Special Forces to be deployed to the DRC as well. So if there is no further deployment of these forces will this be seen as Indifference or Fatigue?

  5. I think that was the point of the post. The “guns” aren’t what is needed, and its sort of silly to think thats what amnesty and activists are calling for. It’s the security that the UN and the international community can provide that will allow people in Congo to enjoy their human rights. Even the perpetrators who ever they are (i guess you are referring to the Genocide perpetrators?) And sometimes just a real UN presence would be enough to stop people, whether “evil doers” (a very Bush-esque term) or anyone else, from suffering.

    And I guess the other point is that the victims of inaction probably arent even born yet. Inaction is like pointing a gun at the unborn.

    ~~The only thing worse than violence is indifference~~

  6. Adding More Weapons to a very Volatile Situation such as what is occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Can and Probably will be Counterproductive.

    MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Congo) has a Poorly Defined Mission. It is Designed to Keep the Peace instead of Promoting it. Therefore any Grievances that any Party has may not be addressed unless they take up Arms. There is little effort being taken to restore Good Governance in the Country. All we hear is that the UN and the World says do this and if you don’t toe the line we will defeat you.

    The UN has asked for Special Forces to be deployed to the DRC as well. So if there is no further deployment of these forces will this be seen as Indifference or Fatigue?

  7. Excellent comments. Scott and Gabriel would seem to agree with the young man who initially offered that strengthening MONUC wouldn't solve anything in the long run (he glibly referred to strengthening MONUC as "adding more guns" to the DRC, an unfair characterization of the position, by the way). My counteroffer was that inaction would make things far worse in the long run.

    Scott’s point regarding the important difference between peacekeeping and peacebuilding is well taken. Without an overarching political dialogue, the underlying political grievances at work are unlikely to be resolved. I fully agree.

    But as an analogue, it is the difference between preventative care and emergency care in the medical profession. Given the massive scope of the humanitarian crisis in DRC, one is unlikely to find the constituent parts of any successful peacebuilding effort: well functioning local civil society.

    Like, for instance, in Darfur, the sheer volume of displacement and the scope of human insecurity makes political dialogue secondary to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable…at least it surely does among the most vulnerable. While the generals and political elites in DRC may speak of dialogue, that isn’t peacebuilding; peacebuilding requires the participation of all segments of society, most of who are currently preoccupied with needs much further down on Maslow’s hierarchy.

    The only way to hope for any remotely successful peacebuilding process in DRC is to ensure people’s most basic rights are protected, and most basic needs met. Failure to do so isn’t indifference or fatigue: it is complicity in murder.

  8. Excellent comments. Scott and Gabriel would seem to agree with the young man who initially offered that strengthening MONUC wouldn’t solve anything in the long run (he glibly referred to strengthening MONUC as “adding more guns” to the DRC, an unfair characterization of the position, by the way). My counteroffer was that inaction would make things far worse in the long run.

    Scott’s point regarding the important difference between peacekeeping and peacebuilding is well taken. Without an overarching political dialogue, the underlying political grievances at work are unlikely to be resolved. I fully agree.

    But as an analogue, it is the difference between preventative care and emergency care in the medical profession. Given the massive scope of the humanitarian crisis in DRC, one is unlikely to find the constituent parts of any successful peacebuilding effort: well functioning local civil society.

    Like, for instance, in Darfur, the sheer volume of displacement and the scope of human insecurity makes political dialogue secondary to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable…at least it surely does among the most vulnerable. While the generals and political elites in DRC may speak of dialogue, that isn’t peacebuilding; peacebuilding requires the participation of all segments of society, most of who are currently preoccupied with needs much further down on Maslow’s hierarchy.

    The only way to hope for any remotely successful peacebuilding process in DRC is to ensure people’s most basic rights are protected, and most basic needs met. Failure to do so isn’t indifference or fatigue: it is complicity in murder.

  9. Good Afternoon Scott. You make some excellent Points. I have one question though. How do you address the Situation when some Factions/People believe that Peace Building is not in their Best Interest? They Feel that Violence is their only way to seek redress of their complaints.

    Last Night (Tuesday the 11th) the UN Security Council Decided not to act on the Request from the Secretary-General for more Peacekeepers. However the UNSG will issue another Report to the UNSC next week.

    So What will be the Best way to have a Functioning Civil Society? How will it be Safeguarded? I think that Security for Aid Groups and Others is Paramount for Regional Stability as well.

  10. Good Afternoon Scott. You make some excellent Points. I have one question though. How do you address the Situation when some Factions/People believe that Peace Building is not in their Best Interest? They Feel that Violence is their only way to seek redress of their complaints.

    Last Night (Tuesday the 11th) the UN Security Council Decided not to act on the Request from the Secretary-General for more Peacekeepers. However the UNSG will issue another Report to the UNSC next week.

    So What will be the Best way to have a Functioning Civil Society? How will it be Safeguarded? I think that Security for Aid Groups and Others is Paramount for Regional Stability as well.

  11. Hello All, I think at this point whether MONUC had 17,000 or 20,000 you still have the "credibility" issue. Mr. Nkunda has previously engaged in many atrocities right in front of MONUC forces without intervention. Maybe part of the problem is the lack of a "robust" mandate; although I am not sure how much more "robust" then the already existing Chapter VII you can get. In fact there is also the unfortunate fact that much of MONUC forces are ineffective and unwilling to endanger themselves. Perhaps at this point something analogous to an operation 'Artemis' would be better – although in the long run I believe keeping the DRC borders secure and intact with the current state capacity will continue to be a challenge.

  12. Hello All, I think at this point whether MONUC had 17,000 or 20,000 you still have the “credibility” issue. Mr. Nkunda has previously engaged in many atrocities right in front of MONUC forces without intervention. Maybe part of the problem is the lack of a “robust” mandate; although I am not sure how much more “robust” then the already existing Chapter VII you can get. In fact there is also the unfortunate fact that much of MONUC forces are ineffective and unwilling to endanger themselves. Perhaps at this point something analogous to an operation ‘Artemis’ would be better – although in the long run I believe keeping the DRC borders secure and intact with the current state capacity will continue to be a challenge.

  13. Answer me this, how many people have the U.N. saved from these murderers? The answer is none, you want the U.N. to bring in troops and do what? Train these people? No, can't have that. To move them away from the battle fields? No, you can't get enought trucks to move these people, if these people can move in the first place. A.I. depends on the U.N. to send a mean letter to those who are dong the murdering, yet they don't listen. I hate to tell you this, however you won't listen yourselfs. There are people who will never listen to the U.N., nor obey any letter that group will send them. So, what does A.I. do? Right now it's nothing and everyday thouasands of people die. A.I. could have as many actors on tv asking for people to write to their Reps., yet there's more death. Some will see the U.N. as being weak and could do what ever they want to. I know you're saying the International Court, right? Well, it takes years to find one person and years to give that person a trial. And if found guilty they get a few years in prison and released. A.I. would try to stop any death sentence against the same person who killed thousands and maybe millions of people. A.I. is mixed up and needs to change to save lives.

  14. Answer me this, how many people have the U.N. saved from these murderers? The answer is none, you want the U.N. to bring in troops and do what? Train these people? No, can’t have that. To move them away from the battle fields? No, you can’t get enought trucks to move these people, if these people can move in the first place. A.I. depends on the U.N. to send a mean letter to those who are dong the murdering, yet they don’t listen. I hate to tell you this, however you won’t listen yourselfs. There are people who will never listen to the U.N., nor obey any letter that group will send them. So, what does A.I. do? Right now it’s nothing and everyday thouasands of people die. A.I. could have as many actors on tv asking for people to write to their Reps., yet there’s more death. Some will see the U.N. as being weak and could do what ever they want to. I know you’re saying the International Court, right? Well, it takes years to find one person and years to give that person a trial. And if found guilty they get a few years in prison and released. A.I. would try to stop any death sentence against the same person who killed thousands and maybe millions of people. A.I. is mixed up and needs to change to save lives.

  15. Answer me this, how many people have the U.N. saved from these murderers? The answer is none, you want the U.N. to bring in troops and do what? Train these people? No, can’t have that. To move them away from the battle fields? No, you can’t get enought trucks to move these people, if these people can move in the first place. A.I. depends on the U.N. to send a mean letter to those who are dong the murdering, yet they don’t listen. I hate to tell you this, however you won’t listen yourselfs. There are people who will never listen to the U.N., nor obey any letter that group will send them. So, what does A.I. do? Right now it’s nothing and everyday thouasands of people die. A.I. could have as many actors on tv asking for people to write to their Reps., yet there’s more death. Some will see the U.N. as being weak and could do what ever they want to. I know you’re saying the International Court, right? Well, it takes years to find one person and years to give that person a trial. And if found guilty they get a few years in prison and released. A.I. would try to stop any death sentence against the same person who killed thousands and maybe millions of people. A.I. is mixed up and needs to change to save lives.

  16. Answer me this, how many people have the U.N. saved from these murderers? The answer is none, you want the U.N. to bring in troops and do what? Train these people? No, can’t have that. To move them away from the battle fields? No, you can’t get enought trucks to move these people, if these people can move in the first place. A.I. depends on the U.N. to send a mean letter to those who are dong the murdering, yet they don’t listen. I hate to tell you this, however you won’t listen yourselfs. There are people who will never listen to the U.N., nor obey any letter that group will send them. So, what does A.I. do? Right now it’s nothing and everyday thouasands of people die. A.I. could have as many actors on tv asking for people to write to their Reps., yet there’s more death. Some will see the U.N. as being weak and could do what ever they want to. I know you’re saying the International Court, right? Well, it takes years to find one person and years to give that person a trial. And if found guilty they get a few years in prison and released. A.I. would try to stop any death sentence against the same person who killed thousands and maybe millions of people. A.I. is mixed up and needs to change to save lives.

  17. Answer me this, how many people have the U.N. saved from these murderers? The answer is none, you want the U.N. to bring in troops and do what? Train these people? No, can’t have that. To move them away from the battle fields? No, you can’t get enought trucks to move these people, if these people can move in the first place. A.I. depends on the U.N. to send a mean letter to those who are dong the murdering, yet they don’t listen. I hate to tell you this, however you won’t listen yourselfs. There are people who will never listen to the U.N., nor obey any letter that group will send them. So, what does A.I. do? Right now it’s nothing and everyday thouasands of people die. A.I. could have as many actors on tv asking for people to write to their Reps., yet there’s more death. Some will see the U.N. as being weak and could do what ever they want to. I know you’re saying the International Court, right? Well, it takes years to find one person and years to give that person a trial. And if found guilty they get a few years in prison and released. A.I. would try to stop any death sentence against the same person who killed thousands and maybe millions of people. A.I. is mixed up and needs to change to save lives.