A UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes: Can the UN absorb the regional process?

From Congo Siasa Sun Dec 30 2012, 21:36:00

Following the fall of Goma to the M23 and the lack of progress in the Kampala talks, the United Nations has inched closer to naming a special envoy in order to jumpstart a larger, more serious peace process. While this could constitute a major shift in international engagement with the Congolese conflict, there are many questions and doubts remaining.

According to a UN official, it is very likely that the Secretary General will name a special envoy in the coming weeks. In addition, Ban Ki-Moon is trying to use his offices to broker a new peace process, one that would involve all concerned countries in the region and that would tackle some of the root causes, including Congolese army and governance reform and outside intervention in the Kivus.

The ball got rolling in New York after Ban sent Susana Malcorra, the head of the UN's Executive Office, to the Congo in November to meet with President Kabila and to visit the Kivus. Following the fall of Goma--and the criticism of UN failure to stem the M23 advance on the city--members of the Security Council were receptive to the idea of a new approach.

While details are still being discussed in New York, this approach seems to involve creating a framework for talks that would include Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda, Burundi, and Angola, with the UN special envoy as the facilitator/mediator. The issues on the table could include political reforms in the Congo--such as decentralization, land conflicts, and security sector reform--as well as stabilizing the Kivus.

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