ICGLR fails objectives 13 years after official launch in 2007

  • African Union (AU) flag
Luanda - The Republic of Congo Brazzaville hosted the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on Friday by videoconference to analyse the political and security situation in that part of Africa.

The event took place 13 years after the official launch of ICGLR in 2007, following the approval of the "Dar-Es-Salaam Declaration".

The sub-regional body is faced with a situation of lethargy, lack of progress in the objectives it had outlined, mainly, the establishment of peace, security, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, gender, social and humanitarian issues.

The institution is also experiencing serious financial problems, illustrated by the fact that, up to the first half of November 2020, only Angola and Burundi have met their pledges, contributing with USD 10 million.

Emerging of ICGLR

The idea of establishing the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) emerged in 2000.

The United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) were promoters of the initiative, supported by the so-called "group of friends of the ICGLR, jointly chaired by Canada and the Netherlands which, through Resolutions 1291 and 1304, recognised the regional dimension of conflicts and the need for consultation of the states of that part of Africa, to promote peace and sustainable development.

Consultations between the heads of state of the region, with a view to establishing the ICGLR, started in March 2003, under the coordination of Senegalese Ibrahim Fall, then UN representative in DRC, at the end of which they identified a number of concerns, such as the issues linked to peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development and regional, social and humanitarian integration.

The Heads of State of Angola, Burundi and the Central African Republic (CAR), Kenya and Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia participated in these consultations.

The most striking conflict behind the initiative was the so-called Rwandan genocide of 1994, which caused the deaths of more than 800,000 people and reinforced political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In those years, more than two million Rwandan Hutus, mostly members of the former regime of Juvenal Habyarimana, overthrown in June 1994 by the Rwandan Patriotic Forces (FPR), coming from Uganda and led by Paul Kagame, and carrying the entire former army, banks, etc., including dignitaries took refuge in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The first summit was held in the capital of Tanzania from 19 to 29 November 2004, resulting in the "Declaration of Dar Es Salaam", considered the main guiding document of ICGLR.

This Declaration reflected the political will to tackle the real causes of the conflicts and obstacles to development in a regional and innovative approach.

It was signed by the UN Secretary General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Presidents of South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, the Prime Minister of Gabon, and Nigerian Olusegun Obasanjo, then Acting President of the African Union.

In 2006, leaders of the region signed in Nairobi (Kenya), Security, Stability and Development Pact.

The Dar Es-Salaam Declaration entered into force in 2007, with the establishment of the ICGLR Executive Secretariat, and the installation of its headquarters in Bujumbura (Burundi) in May of the same year.

As mentioned above, the main programmes of the ICGLR are peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development, regional integration, humanitarian and social issues.

Cross-cutting issues such as gender, environment, human rights and HIV/AIDS issues are also part of the programmes.

Such programmes have two principles which are appropriation of the process by member states and the partnership with the Group of Friends and Special Envoys, who provide the financial, diplomatic, technical and political support.

Angola ICGLR chairmanship

Until 2017, all international decisions for the pacification of the ICGLR, besides passing through New York and Addis Ababa, also had as one of the epicentres, Angola.

This country, which joined the ICGLR thanks to the suggestion of Belgium, which saw it as a preponderant support for the region, assumed the rotating presidency in January 2013, during the 5th Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Luanda under the slogan "Let us promote peace, security, stability and development in the Great Lakes region", replacing Uganda.

At the time, José Eduardo dos Santos, speaking as President of Angola, promised "to fulfil all the deliberations of the Summit and previous meetings, working towards peace, stability and economic and social development in the region".

In fact, Luanda took an active part in all the decisive meetings aimed at pacifying that part of Africa by giving its various supports, mainly financial, military, political, diplomatic and even moral.

A total standstill.

However, in 2012, the ICGLR, facing with the first regional crisis caused by the takeover of the Congolese village of Goma by the Congolese rebel movement, M23, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, showed unable to fulfil its mission to settle the conflict.

Faced with this incapacity, the UN tried to revitalise the peace and security dynamics through the Addis Ababa Peace, Security and Cooperation Mechanism.

The Agreement that the African Union helped forge was signed by Angola, Burundi and Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On the basis of the above document, the UN Security Council establishes a brigade of Rapid intervention, consisting of 3,63 troops from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania, tasked with expelling the M-23 out of Congolese territory.

The brigade had three infantry battalions, one artillery, one special force and one company of recognition.

The measure was reinforced on 18 March 2013 with the unanimous approval of the same Security Council Resolution 2098.

The current state of the ICGLR, when this Friday another summit was being held in Congo Brazzaville, can be considered of lethargic.

The sub-regional institution has been witnessing the resumption of destabilising actions of the internal and external rebel groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the CAR, South Sudan, and in other countries, failing to respect human rights, good governance and power change.

Seven years after its creation, the assessment of the Addis Ababa Peace Mechanism presents inconsistent results.

The economic stance has failed as the World Bank's pledges have not come off paper, while the regional conference on private investment in the ICGLR countries is just a chimera.

ICGLR, which is now run by Angola's Alberto Caholo, has already had as its executive secretaries, the Tanzanian Liberata Mulamula (2006-2011), the Congolese Alphonse Ntumba Lwaba (2011-2017), and the Kenyan Zachary Muburi-Muita (2017-2020).

The event took place 13 years after the official launch of ICGLR in 2007, following the approval of the "Dar-Es-Salaam Declaration".

The sub-regional body is faced with a situation of lethargy, lack of progress in the objectives it had outlined, mainly, the establishment of peace, security, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, gender, social and humanitarian issues.

The institution is also experiencing serious financial problems, illustrated by the fact that, up to the first half of November 2020, only Angola and Burundi have met their pledges, contributing with USD 10 million.

Emerging of ICGLR

The idea of establishing the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) emerged in 2000.

The United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) were promoters of the initiative, supported by the so-called "group of friends of the ICGLR, jointly chaired by Canada and the Netherlands which, through Resolutions 1291 and 1304, recognised the regional dimension of conflicts and the need for consultation of the states of that part of Africa, to promote peace and sustainable development.

Consultations between the heads of state of the region, with a view to establishing the ICGLR, started in March 2003, under the coordination of Senegalese Ibrahim Fall, then UN representative in DRC, at the end of which they identified a number of concerns, such as the issues linked to peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development and regional, social and humanitarian integration.

The Heads of State of Angola, Burundi and the Central African Republic (CAR), Kenya and Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia participated in these consultations.

The most striking conflict behind the initiative was the so-called Rwandan genocide of 1994, which caused the deaths of more than 800,000 people and reinforced political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In those years, more than two million Rwandan Hutus, mostly members of the former regime of Juvenal Habyarimana, overthrown in June 1994 by the Rwandan Patriotic Forces (FPR), coming from Uganda and led by Paul Kagame, and carrying the entire former army, banks, etc., including dignitaries took refuge in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The first summit was held in the capital of Tanzania from 19 to 29 November 2004, resulting in the "Declaration of Dar Es Salaam", considered the main guiding document of ICGLR.

This Declaration reflected the political will to tackle the real causes of the conflicts and obstacles to development in a regional and innovative approach.

It was signed by the UN Secretary General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Presidents of South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, the Prime Minister of Gabon, and Nigerian Olusegun Obasanjo, then Acting President of the African Union.

In 2006, leaders of the region signed in Nairobi (Kenya), Security, Stability and Development Pact.

The Dar Es-Salaam Declaration entered into force in 2007, with the establishment of the ICGLR Executive Secretariat, and the installation of its headquarters in Bujumbura (Burundi) in May of the same year.

As mentioned above, the main programmes of the ICGLR are peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development, regional integration, humanitarian and social issues.

Cross-cutting issues such as gender, environment, human rights and HIV/AIDS issues are also part of the programmes.

Such programmes have two principles which are appropriation of the process by member states and the partnership with the Group of Friends and Special Envoys, who provide the financial, diplomatic, technical and political support.

Angola ICGLR chairmanship

Until 2017, all international decisions for the pacification of the ICGLR, besides passing through New York and Addis Ababa, also had as one of the epicentres, Angola.

This country, which joined the ICGLR thanks to the suggestion of Belgium, which saw it as a preponderant support for the region, assumed the rotating presidency in January 2013, during the 5th Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Luanda under the slogan "Let us promote peace, security, stability and development in the Great Lakes region", replacing Uganda.

At the time, José Eduardo dos Santos, speaking as President of Angola, promised "to fulfil all the deliberations of the Summit and previous meetings, working towards peace, stability and economic and social development in the region".

In fact, Luanda took an active part in all the decisive meetings aimed at pacifying that part of Africa by giving its various supports, mainly financial, military, political, diplomatic and even moral.

A total standstill.

However, in 2012, the ICGLR, facing with the first regional crisis caused by the takeover of the Congolese village of Goma by the Congolese rebel movement, M23, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, showed unable to fulfil its mission to settle the conflict.

Faced with this incapacity, the UN tried to revitalise the peace and security dynamics through the Addis Ababa Peace, Security and Cooperation Mechanism.

The Agreement that the African Union helped forge was signed by Angola, Burundi and Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On the basis of the above document, the UN Security Council establishes a brigade of Rapid intervention, consisting of 3,63 troops from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania, tasked with expelling the M-23 out of Congolese territory.

The brigade had three infantry battalions, one artillery, one special force and one company of recognition.

The measure was reinforced on 18 March 2013 with the unanimous approval of the same Security Council Resolution 2098.

The current state of the ICGLR, when this Friday another summit was being held in Congo Brazzaville, can be considered of lethargic.

The sub-regional institution has been witnessing the resumption of destabilising actions of the internal and external rebel groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the CAR, South Sudan, and in other countries, failing to respect human rights, good governance and power change.

Seven years after its creation, the assessment of the Addis Ababa Peace Mechanism presents inconsistent results.

The economic stance has failed as the World Bank's pledges have not come off paper, while the regional conference on private investment in the ICGLR countries is just a chimera.

ICGLR, which is now run by Angola's Alberto Caholo, has already had as its executive secretaries, the Tanzanian Liberata Mulamula (2006-2011), the Congolese Alphonse Ntumba Lwaba (2011-2017), and the Kenyan Zachary Muburi-Muita (2017-2020).