Tag Archives: Congo

Stinger: A Reporters Journey in the Congo

I went to the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) book event the Stinger: A Reporters Journey in the Congo, written by Anjan Sundaram, which took place from 5:30-6:30. There were two other people on the stage. A lady by the name of Jennifer Cooke was moderating the event, and another man on the stage, though i forgot what his name was. Anjan Sundaram talked about his trip to the Congo in 2006, which marked the country’s first democractic elections. He mentioned traveling down the Congo River. The author talked about how people walked for 3 days from their villages to the nearest poll. Everyone in the country seemed very excited for the elections, although they apparently didn’t really make a difference, and nothing changed the country politically. There were a lot of local and regional conflicts during the time of his stay, and he also saw international intervention. This was something completely new for them. He felt very unprepared when he went there however, and he mentioned being robbed twice. There was so much conflict going on in the country, and he discussed how natural resources helped fuel the war, which i found interesting because we discussed this in class. He said living was very tough in the Congo, but he also discussed how communities banned together to take care of each other. He discussed how within a week a family might get less than a dollar, and one day a couple people would eat, another day another couple of people would eat, and then on sunday everyone was on their own. People there really depended on each other and shared expenses. There was a lot of areas in the country that had no government presence. Something else i found very interesting in the book event was when the other man on the stage (cant remember his name) discussed how when he went to the Congo, he found it really interesting how the people of the Congo referred to themselves as Congolese instead of referencing what tribe they were from. I think its very common in various areas in Africa for people to identify themselves with their tribe instead of country, so i found this very interesting. The last portion of the event was reserved for the audience to ask any questions or add comments.

Eastern Congo: Changing Dynamics and the Implications for Peace

On February 22, 2013 I attended the discussion on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The co-founder and the policy analyst for the Enough Project as well as representative from Amnesty International discussed the current situations in the Congo.

Collectively, they discussed the current policies that fail to have a large impact on creating stability in the Congo. It was largely aimed at assessing what else could be done to ensure the security of the people and establish a stable government. John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, discussed four points of opportunity to create peace in the region. They were aimed at ensuring conflict-free minerals with the help of international companies, sanctions on those in the region who partake in the cross-border supply of weapons to rebel militias, accountability, and reform of the United Nations peacekeeping missions. I think these four points were significant because they continue to be on the agenda to pursue peace in the Congo, but with lack of implementation they have not been successful.

Later in the discussion they addressed the policies that were already established and how well they were working. One they mainly focused on was the Dodd Frank act that is to ensure that minerals are conflict-free. Many companies are beginning to implement it, but they are still lost as to how to go about making sure they have conflict-free minerals. The panel of speakers made a point that companies need to take their own time to actually go to the Congo and go to the mines and evaluate the situations before buying the minerals. It is an extra step in the process, but it slowly cuts off the rebel militias from profiting in smuggling minerals.

At the end of the discussion, the panel was opened up to questions from the audience. Questions they answered dealt with what is going to happen to the displaced people and what political reform was needed. The political reform they suggested not only dealt with the national, but also the local communities and how they need to be more involved.

Overall it was a very good discussion on what needs to be done in the Congo. The main point out of all of it was that there needs to be more implementation. Agreements are made and policies are established but nothing is being done after that. They need stronger negotiators and more implementation plans after leaving bargaining tables.