Author Dr Suda Perera

Tackling violence in the DRC: new papers discuss ways forward

As the Democratic Republic of the Congo prepares for tense presidential elections, Suda Perera unpacks some of the drivers of the prolonged conflict and insecurity in the eastern provinces.

In two new DLP papers, she draws on extensive field research to discuss what has caused armed groups to proliferate, how they are able to recruit, and what strategies might discourage the use of violence. She notes the need for a deeper understanding of the political processes and relationships that underpin power in the Congo, and discusses potential entry points for more politically informed approaches to tackling armed group violence.

In Understanding Armed Groups: Violence and Politics in the DRC Suda suggests that international intervenors have seen armed groups as apolitical, predatory criminals, and in doing so have not tackled the causes of their formation and actions. She discusses two linked objectives: to reduce the intensity of conflict over land by reducing the importance of land for everyday survival; and to provide alternative livelihoods to make armed action less attractive.

In the next paper, Suda explores Distrust and Resistance to Change in the DRC. For Congolese citizens who have lived through nearly two decades of internationally-supported ‘post-conflict peace’, lack of progress has undermined the legitimacy of the intervention, which many feel does not serve their interests. At the same time, the unwillingness of ‘local beneficiaries’ to comply with the logic of external intervention has led many international intervenors to view the DRC as a lost cause.

Suda’s findings highlight that external intervention (and intervenors) are an intrinsic part of the political economy of Congolese conflict, and that perceptions have become barriers to peace. She discusses how international intervenors can work in politically informed ways to overcome mistrust and respond to potential spoilers.

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About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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