Understanding Armed Groups: Violence and Politics in the DRC

International actors view the many foreign and local armed groups operating in the eastern Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu as one of the main drivers of the country’s violence and insecurity. A well-resourced international effort to tackle the armed group problem has helped to contain this violence, and prevent a return to full-scale conflict. But armed group proliferation and violence persist. Why?

This study suggests that international intervenors have seen armed groups as apolitical, predatory criminals, and have not tackled the causes of their formation and actions. It also suggests entry points for more politically informed engagement with armed groups. Direct engagement with armed groups may be possible for international actors if done on a small, carefully controlled scale. Although this would require a radical change in organisations’ operating procedures, engagement with armed groups may become more palatable if they are seen as extensions of state power or as armed members of local communities.

The paper also 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.

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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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Program Manager job vacancy - join us!

Friday 1st March 2019

DLP is looking for a Program Manager for a new three-year phase of research on how leadership can support development in Asia and the Pacific.

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Tackling violence in the DRC: new papers discuss ways forward

Tuesday 18th December 2018

As the Democratic Republic of the Congo prepares for tense presidential elections, two new papers unpack some of the drivers of the prolonged conflict and insecurity in the eastern provinces.

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