Limits to supporting security sector interventions in the DRC


Since 2003, the international community has invested considerable resources in keeping the peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Many interventions were focused on supporting security sector reform (SSR) and on the stabilisation of the volatile ‘militia belt’ in the eastern DRC, but these only achieved limited impact and the security context remains volatile.

To explain why international efforts did not bring about the expected changes, the authors examine issues such as the peculiar relationship between the armed forces and local communities, and the neopatrimonial incentives of the Congolese elite. A largely technical approach that ignored the bigger political picture underscores the failure to fundamentally change the DRC’s security context. The defeat of the M23 rebellion in 2013 was a rare success, but it now threatens to take away the necessary pressure for meaningful reform.

About the authors

Evert Kets worked in the DRC from 2010 to 2013 with MONUSCO’s SSR unit in Kinshasa and with Protection International in Bukavu. He is currently working for MINUSMA’s SSR section in Bamako, Mali. Evert is a historian from Leuven University and worked previously as a journalist for TV Brussel, as a political analyst for the Belgian Defence and as a research fellow for Clingendael.

Hugo de Vries worked in the DRC between 2010 and 2013 with MONUSCO’s Stabilisation Support Unit (SSU) in Goma and Bukavu. He is currently a consultant with the World Bank. Hugo has an MA in conflict studies from Utrecht University and worked previously for the Dutch Defence Staff, as a DDR and SALW Policy Officer in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as a research fellow for the Clingendael Institute in The Hague.

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