The UN framework agreement--A serious peace process?

From Congo Siasa Fri Feb 15 2013, 03:08:00

The recent escalation of violence in the eastern Congo demanded new thinking--after all, this is the last in a long series of such surges in violence since the end of the UN-led peace process in 2006. While there have been many mini-peace processes since then, they have been characterized by backdoor deals, opacity, and and lack of follow-up.

The main response from the broader diplomatic and donor community has been the Framework Agreement, an effort led by the United Nations out of New York. The secretary-general launched the preparatory process through a trip by his Chief of Staff Susana Malcorra to the region in November, after which a two page paper was put together by the political affairs and peacekeeping staff in New York. Over the following months several drafts were exchanged with heads of state in the region, in particular Presidents Kagame and Kabila. The agreement was supposed to be signed at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January, but a diplomatic fracas between the United Nations and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) over the dispatch of a new intervention force threw a spanner in the works.

That squabble appears to have been overcome now--the SADC countries have apparently agreed to integrate a peacekeeping force of 2,500-3,000 into the UN mission, but with a souped-up mandate focused on the area of worst violence in the Kivus.

As for the Framework Agreement, it is a very vague document, still around two pages long, that consists of the three broad parts:

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