By Patricia Kisare
MCC continues to advocate for an end to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This past year we focused our advocacy work on recommendations outlined by a delegation from the Church of Christ in Congo, an association with whom MCC works, that visited the U.S. in 2012 to meet with policymakers and constituents.
One of the delegation’s recommendations was for the U.S. government to appoint a special envoy to work with local and Great Lakes regional entities to find a peaceful solution to the eastern Congo conflict. In addition to Congo, the Great Lakes region includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. In June, Secretary John Kerry selected former senator Russ Feingold for this role. Similarly, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, to be the U.N. special envoy to the Great Lakes region.
Additionally, we continue to urge the U.S. government not to use military force. Unfortunately, this past March the U.N. Security Council authorized creation of an intervention brigade, operating under its peacekeeping mission, to carry out targeted offensive operations against M23, a rebel group operating in eastern Congo. This is the first time a U.N. peacekeeping mission has had such a role.
MCC advocates for nonmilitary initiatives that encourage rebel groups to disarm and be reintegrated into mainstream society. Despite their effectiveness, such programs are extremely underfunded. In the next year we will continue to urge the U.S. government to increase its support for these programs.