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Great Lakes Region: Regional and External Actors.

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CCR is a pan-African organisation playing a leading role in contributing towards the resolution of conflict and the reduction of violence in Africa.

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Daniel H. LEVINE


Security and Governance in the Great Lakes Region. 21/07/2015






South Africa has long played a critical role in peacebuilding efforts in the great Lakes region. In Burundi, former South African president Nelson Mandela took over facilitation of the Arusha peace process in 1999 after the death of the former president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere. South Africa’s deputy president (now president), Jacob Zuma, succeeded Mandela in this role in 2002. Under President Thabo Mbeki, South Africa began hosting the inter-Congolese dialogue in Sun City in 2002, which led to the adoption of a transitional constitution for the DRC in 2003.

SOUTH Africa explains its involvement in the Great Lakes region as acting within the framework of its membership of the Southern African Development Community. The organisation’s involvement in the Great Lakes dates back to 1997, when the DRC became a member with strong support from South Africa.

The African Union has also been an active player in the Great Lakes region, for more than a decade. In 2003, it deployed the African Union Mission in Burundi. AMIB was the first peacekeeping mission wholly planned and executed by members of the African Union.

The United Nations faces a pressing challenge in the DRC. In February 2015, UN military operations in the DRC were effectively halted. The immediate cause was the Kabila government’s decision to put two commanders who had been “red-listed” by the UN over allegations of human rights abuses in charge of the Congolese army’s operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

The Great Lakes region faces two core problems: animosity between national leaders, and the DRC’s inability to control its eastern provinces effectively. In the EU’s analysis, neither problem is likely to be resolved without a focus on building the diplomatic and security sector reform capacity of regional organizations, such as the East African Community and the SADC.

In the long term, the level of donor dependency in African Institutions will remain a problem that leaves African regional bodies vulnerable to external agendas.