More than 200 Africanist scholars have called on President Obama to take action through the United Nations to protect civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The petition comes at a desperate time in the DRC, where the M23 rebels withdrew from Goma, one of the country’s largest cities, just last week.
Why the DRC will Figure in Confirmation Hearings for the Next Secretary of State
It also comes at a delicate political time in the US, where the departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is all but certain in the coming weeks and there is a storm gathering around Susan Rice, Obama’s presumed choice for a replacement. First, Republicans on Capitol Hill grilled her for saying in the days following Benghazi attacks that the violence erupted from spontaneous protests (as the CIA at the time believed), rather than a planned act of terrorism. Now human rights groups and journalists are drawing attention to Rice’s kind remarks about Africa’s dictators, and in particular, accusing her of helping to suppress evidence concerning Rwanda’s backing of M23. Howard French, a former columnist for the New York Times, raised these concerns in the Atlantic in a detailed piece that has gone viral among Africanists.
The United Nations, through a formal committee reviewing sanctions on the DRC, has issued a series of reports describing Rwandan and Ugandan support for the M23 rebels. The evidence presents a problem for the US, not only because of its unflagging support for the two US allies, but also because as a Senator, Obama authored an amendment to suspend foreign aid to any country that destabilizes the DRC.
The ACAS Petition to Obama
Organized by the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, the petition calls on President Obama to:
- Press the Security Council to ensure protection of civilians from further abuse and ensure support for the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC) so that it has adequate resources and mandate to fulfill its protection role.
- Support a Security Council resolution requiring Rwanda and Uganda to immediately withdraw any support to the M23 armed group.
- Publicly recommend to the UN Security Council that officials within the Rwandan Ministry of Defense be added to the list of designated individuals targeted by the UNSC Sanctions Committee.
- Mandate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fully implement the Sec 1502 disclosure requirement of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requiring U.S. companies to disclose any products they manufacture using conflict minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo or contiguous countries.
- Press the Congolese government to stop violations being committed by the Congolese army as well as entering into alliances with armed groups, and fully implement the Public Law 109-456: The DRC Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006 (the “Obama Law”).
- End the waiver of Child Soldier sanctions on the Congolese Government and extend the sanctions to include nations that support guerrilla movements like M23 that recruit child soldiers.
You can download the ACAS press release with the text of the petition here.
To add your name to the petition, please contact ACAS. To post a comment, please include your full name, and preferably your affiliation.