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Recurring conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo : the search for a regional conflict transformation mechanism premised on collective security and the African ethical concept of ubuntu.

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The recurrence of conflict in the eastern of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in peace-building efforts from national, international, regional and sub-regional as well as well as nongovernmental actors all aimed at bringing about peace and security to that region of the DRC. Despite of all these peace-building efforts, the eastern DRC has remained in a perennial state of armed conflicts. The political situation of DRC which, since the end of colonialism has remained unstable has also contributed to the situation of perennial conflict in the eastern DRC. None of the Congolese political leaders has succeeded in bringing an end to the conflict in the eastern DRC. Whilst numerous efforts have been made in the form of peace agreements, negotiations and reconciliation processes in an effort to bring an end to conflicts in eastern DRC, this perennial situation of conflict has continued unabated. As a result of recurrence of conflict in eastern DRC, there has been rampant violation of human rights, war crimes, displacement of civilians, destruction of property and infrastructure, small arms trafficking and illegal exploitation of natural resources. The United Nations (UN) and its Security Council (UNSC) has not been effective in addressing this situation of recurring conflict in eastern DRC in the sense that it has failed to provide financial and material support to regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). These organisations are more knowledgeable about the solution that can serve as a panacea to the end of of conflict in eastern DRC. However, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has monopolised the whole process of conflict resolution in the eastern DRC to the exclusion of regional organisations and this has been one of the contributory factors to the recurrence. This study thus raises the question of the interests which the UNSC is representing in the eastern DRC. Since the UNSC has failed to bring to an end a situation of recurring conflict in eastern DRC, it is the argument of this thesis that there is a need for peacebuilding mechanisms that are initiated by the SADC as a regional formation which according to the UN Charter is responsible for the implementation of the Collective Security System. The presumption behind the UN Collective Security system is that the regional entity is more knowledgeable on what needs to be done in resolving conflicts in its own region. Since most the peacebuilding mechanisms that have been applied by United Nations (UN), UNSC and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with the aim of resolving recurring conflict in eastern DRC have failed to come to fruition, it is the main argument of this thesis that the African ethic of Ubuntu which has principles which echo the ideals of the UN Collective Security system can be a panacea to a durable peace and security in the eastern DRC. The main principles that are imbedded in the ethic of Ubuntu such as community, harmony and common belongingness can be appealed to and implemented within the region as part and parcel of creative action in peacebuilding processes in the eastern DRC. In this scenario, Ubuntu has ushered in the need to uphold the humanness, moral virtues and dignity as key aspects in addressing the seemingly unending conflict in the eastern DRC. Both external and internal players must have a fellow feeling of the suffering. The virtue implies human being inherent ability to appreciate the suffering of others as their own in order to raise joy, hope and aspiration for a better future. The conflict transformation whose dignity they want accorded to them should be the same dignity they should accord to others. It was thus the main argument of this study that the African Ethical Concept of Ubuntu should be integral to conflict transformation efforts in the eastern part of the DRC.


Doctor of Philosophy in Ethics. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.