Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Link Dump

Blogging is light this week because of family obligations. Two new very important reports are out. Global Witness has a new report out on "War and the Militarisation of Conflict" and Human Rights Watch has one out on "Sexual Violence and Military Reform." I'll have more comment on them next week.

From Global Witness:
The report details how companies are buying from suppliers who trade in minerals from the warring parties. Many mining areas in eastern DRC are controlled by rebels and the national army, who violently exploit civilians to retain access to valuable minerals, including cassiterite (tin ore), coltan and gold. Cassiterite and coltan are used to make mobile phones, computers and other electronics, among other things.

Global Witness wrote to 200 companies and found that most had no controls in place to stop ‘conflict minerals’ entering their supply chain. It says governments, including the UK and Belgium, are undermining their own development assistance and diplomatic efforts to end the 12-year conflict by failing to crack down on companies based within their borders.

Informed by on-the-ground investigations and interviews in North and South Kivu, the report reveals that despite being on opposing sides, the national Congolese army and rebel groups, in particular the FDLR, regularly cooperate with each other, carving up territory and occasionally sharing the spoils of illegal mining. It warns that the recent integration of another armed group, the CNDP, into the national army will make it easier for the former rebels to get ‘in on the act of exploiting the mines.

From HRW:
The 56-page report, "Soldiers Who Rape, Commanders Who Condone: Sexual Violence and Military Reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo," documents persistent sexual violence by the army, and the limited impact of government and donor efforts to address the problem. The report looks closely at the conduct of the army's 14th brigade as an example of the wider problem of sexual violence by soldiers. The brigade has been implicated in many acts of sexual violence in North and South Kivu provinces, often in the context of massive looting and other attacks on civilians. Despite ample information about the situation, military, political, and judicial authorities have failed to take decisive action to prevent rape.

"We have seen progress in the prosecution of ordinary soldiers for sexual violence," said Juliane Kippenberg, Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch's Children's Rights Division. "But senior army officers continue to be untouched. Their own crimes and their command responsibility for the crimes of their soldiers must be investigated and held to account."

The UN has issued an unenlightening self-justification for continuing Monuc's support for Kimia II, a decision I believe will one day be judged as one of the saddest and most disgraceful in the history of the UN.

Radio Okapi has a good article on the hundred or so judges who were summarily dismissed on Wednesday over allegations of corruption. Some of the judges are apparently upset about the double standard shown to the judiciary, since parliament and the executive are well-known for their corruption. [Somehow, this doesn't seem like the strongest appeal.] The radio station rounds up several other reactions here.

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