RUSI JOURNAL PUBLISHES NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S PRIZE-WINNING ESSAY ON THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

January 6, 2009

HARRISONBURG—The recently-released December 2008 issue of the RUSI Journal published the essay on the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, which was awarded the 2008 Nelson Mandela International Prize for African Security and Development by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), the Brenthurst Foundation, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Founded by the Duke of Wellington in 1831 and headquartered in historic Whitehall, RUSI aims to work on the cutting edge of defense and security studies. Under the presidency currently of HRH the Duke of Kent, RUSI’s purpose is “to analyze, stimulate debate and identify options for all issues of national and international defense and security,” carrying on nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection. First published in 1857, the RUSI Journal is the Institute’s flagship publication. The oldest periodical of its kind, the journal is a leading forum for the exchange of ideas on national and international defense and security issues, consistently bringing the most innovative and challenging perspectives to bear on past, present and future issues in the field.

Dr. Pham’s RUSI Journal essay notes that “ given both the magnitude of the Congo’s challenges and the failure of even relatively robust international intervention to arrest the country’s relapse to instability and conflict – to say nothing about facilitating sustainable economic and social development – Congo and its international partners must summon the political courage and intellectual imagination to go beyond merely prescribing the conventional remedies for the malaises of post-conflict states,” arguing that “least six policy reorientations must be seriously considered not only to break the impasse in the Congo, but also as ‘lessons learned’ for similar conflict management cases.” These include:

First, in view of the questionable legitimacy and, indeed, viability of the DRC as a unitary state, the international community needs to acknowledge that its emphasis on a centralised model of post-conflict reconstitution of the country – a bias which had the effect of recommending the unelected incumbency of Joseph Kabila,– has proven, at best, to have been a sub-optimal choice…

Secondly…the international community [must] reach beyond the Westernised elites of Kinshasa and other urban centres to engage with traditional elders, chieftains, and even, military leaders…

Third, the experience in the DRC in recent years has shown once again that the international response, when it comes, tends to favour government-led reconstruction over private sector development which alone, over the long term, can deliver sustainable economic growth…[Instead] there must be a co-ordinated effort…to encourage private investment and to dissuade the DRC government from erecting barriers and other disincentives that continue to discourage both African and foreign private investors…

Fourth, there needs to be a reconsideration of the role of the for-profit private sector in the rebuilding of the DRC’s tattered physical and social infrastructure…

Fifth, over the long term, the question that needs to be addressed is whether or not the maintenance of the DRC as a singular subject of international law, however decentralised, is a means that is fundamentally at odds with the strategic effect sought by the massive nation-building effort presently underway: that is, effective political institutions accepted as legitimate by those governed and presenting no undue threats to regional stability and global security…

Sixth…the role of outside forces like [the Mission of the United Nations Organisation in Congo, MONUC] must be redefined…shift[ing] its emphasis to privilege the “responsibility to protect” and control the flow of people and matériel along its borders, rather than trying half-heartedly to use force to assert the expansive sovereignty claims of questionably legitimate central ‘governments’ like the one which the younger Kabila inherited from his assassinated father.

To read the full text of the article, “Imagining the Congo Secure and Stable,” click here.