News BlogCentral Southern Africa

Yes, the EU must intervene in Congo! require 16 personalities

(B2) Their names are Vaclav Havel or Frederik Willem de Klerk, Joschka Fisher or Mary Robinson, Jan Egeland or Richard Goldstone, Desmond Tutu or Njongo Ndungane, El Hassan bin Talal or George Soros… They are of very diverse origins (Republic Czech, South Africa, Germany, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, etc.) and many of them exercised functions which brought them into contact with the reality of the genocide (criminal court for e- Yugoslavia, UN mission for Rwanda, coordinator for humanitarian affairs at the UN, etc.). In short, they are leading figures – even if they no longer hold office today. And they have just issued an urgent appeal to European authorities to intervene in Congo, which its EU leaders
do not escape their responsibility, that they become more involved in a region. Some Member States had wanted this solution, but a large majority did not agree (read “reinforcement in Congo”). A letter was sent to the 27 heads of state and government of the EU as well as to Javier Solana this Wednesday.

NB: In accordance with the wishes of the signatories, I only publish it at midnight (time set for the embargo).

This appeal deserves all the more sustained interest as the announced strengthening of MONUC does not seem to solve everything. On the contrary. The DRC has in fact just refused reinforcement by Indian troops from MONUC (the only country besides Malawi to have announced substantial ground reinforcements). He even called for the withdrawal of this country's troops from the Kivu zone, believing that certain soldiers are involved in sexual violence. Problem: it is the Indians who have attack helicopters which are very useful to MONUC…

Here is the letter they sent to the European authorities (in English):

Dear Head of State,
As you will be aware, the situation in the Eastern DRC is a clear humanitarian catastrophe. The United Nations has already documented massacres, rape and the forced recruitment of children and the peacekeeping force on the ground is currently unable to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk. To those of us who have worked on such issues for some time, current events bring back painful memories of Rwanda and Srebrenica, mass atrocity crimes world leaders promised to prevent when they agreed at the World Summit in 2005 that they had a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of course, it is clear to all of us that only a political solution can bring an end to this crisis. We all strongly support an end to impunity; an army that protects it own civilians rather than preys on them and an inclusive political process. It will be critical for President Olusegun Obasanjo in his role as Special Envoy to receive high level support over the coming months if it is to be successful. But it is also clear that the political track will take time to yield results and would suffer badly from any sudden destabilization that could take place at any moment. While the UN has authorized an additional 3,000 troops it will likely take between three and six months to deploy them. The Congolese people cannot wait. The UN Special Representative to the DRC has called for an interim force to deploy immediately to protect civilians and support the UN peacekeepers until reinforcements can arrive. It is increasingly clear that the EU is best placed – through its standing battle groups – to play this role and deploy now. We urge you to quickly agree to the temporary deployment of an EU force. In our view this would help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians currently at risk. It needs your personal political leadership to make sure this happens and ensure 'never again' really means never again.

Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Foreign Minister
Jorge Castaneda, former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (Retired), Canadian Senator and former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda Vaclav Havel, writer and former President of the Czech Republic Frederik Willem de Klerk, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of South Africa Jan Egeland , Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, former UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Joschka Fisher, former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. Juan Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, train Special Advisor to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide Mike Moore, train Director General of the World Trade Organisation, train Prime Minister of New Zealand Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, train Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Bishop Monsengwo Pasinya Laurent, Head of the Catholic Church in Kinshasa Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Institute El Hassan bin Talal, Prince, Jordan Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).