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I. 1.

INTRODUCTION The organization of an international conference on the Great Lakes Region has

been a recurrent idea since at least the early 1990s, and particularly since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The first concrete step towards the organization of the conference, however, was taken when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan instructed his Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region to sound out the views of regional leaders regarding the proposal (S/1999/1296 of 30 December 1999). That mission has been completed. 2. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1291 of 24 February 2000 and 1304

of 16 June 2000 both determined that the current security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) constituted a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council further affirmed, in the two above-mentioned resolutions as well as in all relevant subsequent ones, the need for an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region to be organised at the appropriate time under the auspices of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity, with the participation of all governments of the region and all others concerned. 3. The call for an international conference implies the recognition of three crucial

issues regarding the situation in the region. First is the recognition that the current conflict in the DRC has regional dimensions; second is the fact that the people of the Great Lakes Region are so interlinked ethnically, culturally and linguistically that the instability initially generated by purely internal causes in each country quickly spreads to generate and maintain the dynamic of conflict in the entire region; and third is the need to

seek, within a regional framework, solutions to the conflict and instability endemic to the constituent states. The call for an international conference on the Great Lakes, as directed in Resolutions 1291 and 1304, thus constitutes a significant progress in the appreciation of the region's problems by the international community and a consolidated attempt to support the region to initiate a process for a peaceful resolution of the challenges raised by these three issues. 4. The purpose of this concept paper is to examine the issues involved in, and the

nature and the parameters of, the proposed international conference as the beginning of a regional effort to achieve durable peace in the area. The paper not only attempts to provide a road map to the convening of the conference, but it also looks at what may lie beyond the conference if it is to contribute to the pursuit of regional peace, stability and development. 5. The paper submits two principal conclusions. First, the origins of conflict in the

Great Lakes Region lie within both the individual states and the region as a whole. A regional dimension of conflict management thus constitutes a precondition to the attainment of durable peace in the constituent states and the region. It is hoped that the convening of an international conference would contribute to resolving the crises that have condemned the populations of the region to live under conditions where war and inhuman suffering have become a curse to be endured and not a problem to be solved. 6. Second, the proposed international conference will only be productive and

worthwhile if it is perceived and designed to launch a multifaceted approach to address the structural and the proximate sources of conflicts in the region. In addition to summit declarations and memoranda committing the participants to good intentions and behaviour, the value of the conference would lie in the process it unleashes for in-depth examination of a broad range of issues, their prognosis and prescriptions for resolution. It is envisaged that the process would culminate in the establishment of a regional mechanism that would monitor and follow-up the conference's decisions, carry out earlywarning functions and organise periodic meetings and/or summits of regional leaders.



Section II, which follows this introduction, sets out the regional sources and

dynamics of the instability in the Great Lakes Region. This leads to an analysis of the factors that make the convening of the international conference not only necessary, but also urgent. In this section, the conditions that have rendered the DRC the principal theatre and hapless victim of the instability in the region are also explored. The widespread, deep and destructive impact of the conflict is discussed in section III, while the modalities of the conference are addressed in section IV. Within this framework, the paper discusses considerations pertinent to a decision on the timing and parameters of the conference. 8. A structure of the proposed conference is offered in section V, including issues of

participation, expected outcomes of the conference and a possible mechanism for regional conflict management that may evolve out of the conference. Also discussed is an innovative process of Ministerial Working Groups that would emanate from the conference not only to carry forward the declarations of the leaders but, more importantly, to also concretise the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the region for peace, stability, decent living and dignity. The concluding remarks in section VI emphasise that the enormity of the challenges in the Great Lakes cannot be effectively addressed with a single event summit, irrespective of the level of goodwill among the participants. II. 9. THE REGIONAL CONTEXT OF CONFLICTS The situation in the Great Lakes Region is a consequence of a complex and

interconnected set of interacting and accumulated problems. These include bad governance, lack of democracy, monopolisation of political power by an individual or ethnic group, a policy of exclusion, widespread corruption, nepotism, violation of basic human rights and ever deepening poverty. These negative factors lie at the root of each and every cycle of political and ethnic violence and the almost perpetual instability in most states of the region.


The rationale for an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes Region 10. The peoples of the sub-region are closely inter-linked ethnically, culturally,

socially and politically. Consequently, conflict or instability in one country sends shock waves throughout the entire area. Conflicts in any one of the core states of the region (the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania) could not remain self-contained. The porous nature of the borders, blood ties, common culture and shared values among the peoples straddling those borders further complicate and exacerbate the situation. 11. The ramifications of these conflicts thus develop strong regional dimensions.

Forced population movements (refugees and/or internally displaced people), economic malaise, widespread violence and their cross-border consequences put additional heavy strain on inter-state relations. Boundaries in the Great Lakes region have indeed become increasingly permeable avenues for the transmission of strife, rather than geographical barriers against threat to state stability. 12. The Great Lakes Region has confronted Africa with a new conflict system: inter-

state conflicts have become the continuation or manifestation of intra-state conflicts (civil wars) by other means, namely, direct military attacks, instigation of and/or support to rebel movements in the target country, which may similarly be engaged in the exercise of destabilisation by proxy. These conflicts therefore constitute a form of transnational warfare involving states as well as armed groups with cross-border ties to states, social movements, markets, criminal cartels and even corporations. 13. The conflicts in the region have been more virulent and destructive, and less

amenable to management, because their root causes lie both within and outside of the states directly involved, and sometimes even outside the region. Hence, conflict


management processes must of necessity take into account the internal and external dimensions of the conflicts in order to produce durable solutions and regional security. 14. An international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in

the Great Lakes Region would thus provide a forum and a process to address, from every perspective, the negative conditions that engender the cycles of conflict initially within the constituent states and subsequently the whole region. The regional dimensions of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo 15. In the DRC, for the first time in Africa's history, eight African states were at one

time or another in direct confrontation with each other in a devastating conflict that has virtually involved the entire region. It is a sad irony of fate that the DRC, the most endowed with natural and human resources and potentially the strongest state in the region, has become the weakest link and the victim of instability in the region. For all intents and purposes, the state had collapsed, losing any semblance of authority, moral or coercive, in most parts of the national territory. This state of affairs acted as a magnet for foreign interference and provided fertile ground for the proliferation of various nonstatutory armed groups from all over the sub-region. 16. The DRC has become the theatre of intense activities for a multiplicity of African

states, including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. In addition to these countries, several non-statutory armed groups - from within and outside - have established a presence in the DRC. This situation has created destabilising military alliances among both the state and non-state actors, and perpetrated untold misery on the Congolese population, while destroying further the remaining fabric of a state already fatally weakened by decades of dictatorship, kleptocracy and mismanagement. 17. One position that enjoys national consensus in the DRC as well as in Rwanda,

Uganda and Burundi is that the initiation, the momentum and the sustenance of the conflicts in their respective countries are all attributable to the machinations of


neighbouring states. They are unwilling to see the existence in each one of them of homegrown tensions, which should be solved internally. The DRC government, the unarmed opposition and civil society of the DRC, for example, contend that Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, small but relatively well organised neighbouring states, have been able to take advantage of unresolved minor contradictions of Congolese society to promote their own respective interests. 18. Not unlike the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi also tend to attribute the

difficulties they face solely to the DRC being a bad and unreliable neighbour, and not to contradictions within their own societies. The governments of Uganda and Rwanda have maintained that their military involvement in the DRC was a defensive strategy to prevent armed incursions from the DRC and to rescue minorities threatened by genocide in that country. The government of Burundi has, on the other hand, been more reluctant to admit that its troops were engaged in military operations within the territory of the DRC. It continues to insist that its incursion on the ground and the operations of its troops are limited to the areas along Lake Tanganyika to ensure free navigation. It therefore does not accept to be categorised as belligerent. 19. In response to these positions, the DRC authorities and their SADC allies -

Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola - have argued that the invasion of the DRC by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi violated all precepts of international law and the principles of the UN andAU Charters. They have further argued that although it was incumbent upon the government of the DRC to ensure that rebels would not use DRC territory to launch attacks on neighbouring states, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi must deal with their opponents, armed and unarmed, within their respective territories and stop at the international borders. 20. Without getting into a debate regarding these contradictory perceptions, it could

be stated categorically that the conflict in the DRC threatens to further sour relations in the wider Africa region; it has already complicated and had negative impact on the relationships among a number of African states.


III. 21.

IMPACT OF THE CONFLICTS IN THE REGION The conflicts and the unstable conditions in the region have been detrimental to

every facet of human and societal endeavour. The nature, the scale, the time-span and the proliferation of conflicts have negated national and regional stability needed for economic integration and regional development and continue to poison relations among the core states of the region. They have represented both the cause and the consequence of the absence of the enabling environment needed to nurture participatory democracy and good governance in the countries of the region. Indeed, the nature of the conflicts is such that it has reduced the existence of a large percentage of the population to a presocietal state of brevity and brutality. The following are some of the far-reaching costs of the conflicts in the region: • The depreciation of the value of human life resulting from decades of brutalisation of populations, widespread slaughter and genocide. Casualty figures that immediately come to mind are the estimated 800,000 slaughtered in the Rwanda genocide of 1994, and the 300,000 victims lost in the Burundi civil war since 1993. However, it is often not the fighting per se but its aftermath and the surrounding circumstances that have been causing the highest number of casualties in the region. People flee combat zones to live in forests, risking lives to share space with the habitual predators of the habitat, in overcrowded, inadequate shelters, with insufficient food, contaminated water supplies and no sanitation. They continue to perish silently in the forests. • Damaged/obsolete physical capital and production facilities. Disintegration of infrastructure such as power plants, transportation and communication networks, schools and health facilities is widespread, particularly in the DRC and Burundi. • Direct destruction of the economy. Productive capacities in Burundi and the DRC have been reduced, and government revenue bases devastated. The conditions of conflict and the consequent sense of insecurity have compelled governments in the


region to deploy inordinate amount of scarce resources from productive to military requirements. • Criminalisation of economies and large shadow economies. Considerable segments of the economies in the region lie outside state control. The various conflicts in the region have spawned criminal alliances among traders, arms dealers, corporations and some government officials. These groups may, for different reasons, have a common interest in perpetuating the momentum of war. Interest in maintaining the momentum of war may include the pursuit of personal wealth and national economic advantage. Recent events in Eastern DRC are making it increasingly clear that the economic factors in the conflicts in the region continue to be significant. • “De-skilling” of society. Increasingly, education in Burundi and DRC is getting neglected; skills are being diverted to war; and there is dramatic haemorrhaging of skilled and educated human resources. The longer the conflicts in the region go on, the larger the number of those with skills, education and financial resources that conclude that conflict in their countries could be a permanent condition with no hope of resolution, and therefore decide to permanently emigrate. Further, the longer the conflicts last, the more likelihood that children of farmers in refugee, displaced and regroupment centres, maturing with no access to the land, will not have the skills or desire to cultivate even upon cessation of hostilities. On the other hand, they could provide a ready pool for recruitment into banditry of one type or another. • Adverse impact on regional co-operation and development. Regional co-operation and development opportunities are lost due to politicised and embittered regional differences. The long-term humanitarian crisis 22. In addition to the above costs of the conflicts in the region, socio-economic

indicators confirm a humanitarian crisis with long-term destructive consequences. Within


a short period of five months, from 24 December 1999 to May 2000, the total number of affected persons (IDPs and refugees only) in the region rose from 4,140,983 to 4,818,658 (i.e. an increase of 677,675 persons or 14%). The additional number of “other vulnerable groups” in the region is 845,519 persons. These groups comprise unaccompanied children, war and AIDs orphans, street children, children living in prisons, people living in refugee-like situations, detainees and abducted children. 23. Violence, killings, rapes, lootings and fear continue to push many people out of

their communities. From January to May 2000, there were nearly a million people on the move, the majority seeking a safe haven in another locality or simply in another country. The number of IDPs increased dramatically with almost half a million newly displaced persons. The most severe displacements took place in eastern DRC (an increase of 340,000 IDPs) and Uganda (an increase of 146,000 IDPs). 24. Figures, however, do not reflect the full picture of the suffering plaguing the

populations of the region. In addition to these statistics of affected populations, there are in reality several million people who are being deprived of life’s basics and denied human dignity. In the region, 40 per cent of the IDP and refugee population are children. 25. Indeed, conflicts have turned efforts at poverty alleviation into almost an

impossible mission. Ninety percent of the IDPs, refugees and other vulnerable groups are agriculturalists and/or pastoralists. The widespread displacement of populations in the region has directly affected agricultural production, particularly the availability of household labour. Fighting has often resulted in looting of stocks of seeds and tools, and the disruption of supply networks. Livestock in a situation of endemic crises has been particularly vulnerable, and substantial reduction in the size of herds has been observed. There have also been hidden negative consequences, including isolation of large groups of people, in hiding, far from roads and towns, with no access to supply and marketing networks, health and veterinary services. A concomitant rise in poverty has been observed among both urban and rural populations.



Population movements have further complicated the strained health situation, as

IDPs and refugees are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. Further, their movements help spread diseases into new areas. The growth of densely populated refugee and IDP camps with unsafe water, poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene has created breeding grounds for the outbreak of diseases. HIV spreads fast in poverty and social instability - conditions that are often at extremes during emergencies. In this environment, women and children are at increased risk from violence. IV. THE PROPOSED CONFERENCE Purpose of conference 27. The purpose of the international conference is to initiate a process that will bring

together the leaders of the countries of the Great Lakes Region to reach an agreement on a set of principles, and articulate and launch programmes of action with a view to ending the cycle of crises, and ensure durable peace, security, democracy and development in the region. The process will be designed to be as inclusive as possible and efforts will be made to involve other stakeholders, including non-state actors and the international donor community. The conference will be organized in a way that would reflect a consolidated support from the international community in the regional search for peace, stability and development. The timing of the proposed conference 28. Paragraphs 10-14 of this paper suggested that the need for a regional effort to

search for peace in the various countries in the region is derived from the nature and context of conflict processes in the region, which have not always been self-generated or self-contained. In addition to the internal peace processes that must of necessity be undertaken at national levels, there is a need for an international conference, which will serve as a complimentary forum and process to address the causes and consequences of conflicts in the region.



While there is a broad consensus that an international conference could create the

modalities for peaceful coexistence, lead to democratisation of societies and enhance cooperation among states and non-state actors in the long-term, there have been divergent views as regards the appropriate time for the convening of such a conference. Some have been of the view that certain conditions must prevail before an international conference could be considered useful. The main considerations advanced in support of this position have been as follows: • Dialogue between each government and its own opposition groups need to be developed first on intrastate lines. • There must be a minimal degree of tranquillity and mutual trust within each state and among the states of the region. • There is the possibility that a regional conference in the immediate future could create an unhelpful impression of a parallel process to the Lusaka and the Arusha peace processes for the conflicts in the DRC and Burundi, respectively. In this regard, it has been suggested in some circles that the Lusaka and Arusha agreements on the DRC and Burundi conflicts, respectively, must be implemented to an advanced degree before an international conference on the Great Lakes is convened. 30. Another school of thought, however, holds that waiting for the emergence of

tranquillity and mutual trust among the political elite in the core states before a multipurpose regional conference is organised would be to continue to condemn the populations in the region to a perpetual state of abject penury and indignity. Those who hold this view argue that the UN andAU must now initiate advocacy and planning to assist the region to convene the international conference in the nearest future, as this could indeed be the missing link in the search for peace, stability and development in the Great Lakes Region now that there are the Lusaka and Arusha frameworks to build on. Further, the definition and the perception of internal dialogue as well as a rapprochement


among the states of the region may be too elusive in the short and medium term to make them a precondition for a regional initiative for peace. 31. The implementation of the Lusaka Agreement has begun but has been dogged by

several obstacles since it was signed two years ago. While such a development is regrettable, it must be expected; agreements to resolve conflicts tend to go through several permutations, often over a long period, before implementation is successfully concluded. The Liberian conflict produced thirteen accords before the resolution of the conflict. Hence, it may not be prudent to make the implementation of the Lusaka agreement a precondition to a conference to embark on a regional search for peace. Perhaps Lusaka and Arusha may themselves need the impetus and the conducive environment that an international conference may provide. 32. There is now an Arusha accord for the Burundi conflict, and an attempt at

implementation has begun. On this account alone, it may not be too soon to start planning for the conference, although caution must be exercised to avoid any diversion or distraction from the Arusha and Lusaka processes. Therefore, once certain significant steps have been attained in the implementation of the Burundi and DRC peace accords, the organization of the international conference could accelerate and build on those two processes. In this connection, it is recommended that the necessary preparations for the conference, including resource mobilization, should be undertaken now to enable the conference to be convened as soon as those significant steps have been attained and the "appropriate time" is upon us. 33. The following are further reasons for the consideration of commencing the

advocacy and planning of an international conference as a component of the pursuit of peace and stability in the Great Lakes: • The regional conference would not be expected to be a beneficiary of the tranquillity and mutual trust in the region; nor would it be meant to consolidate such a condition even if it existed. Rather, it would be meant to be a forum and a process that would


help to promote conditions of peace and mutual trust. It would be expected and designed to provide some dynamic and synergy to the pursuit of stability and the building of confidence by opening up avenues of co-operation among states and nonstate actors. • Even an immediate commencement of the planning of the conference would introduce other issues into interstate relations and deliberations in the region, aside from the current fixation on conflict, which could lay the foundation for the restoration of mutual confidence in the region. • Further, given the fact that problems of deprivation and poverty are among the many contributory sources of conflicts, discussions of such non-controversial issues that are amenable to win-win solutions could lessen social tensions in the constituent states and the region. The Triangle of crisis 34. The sources and the consequences of conflicts in the region have combined to

create a condition of self-perpetuating triangle of crisis in the region. The core factors in this triangle of crisis are lack of security, absence of democracy and good governance, and lack of development. Development and peace are nurtured in a democratic, participatory and inclusive environment. On the other hand, democracy atrophies in the absence of development and peace, creating a perception of a lack of equity and distributive justice in the socio-political system. Lack of security or instability in turn renders development and poverty alleviation non-sustainable. 35. Given this interrelation of core factors in the triangle of crisis, issues of security,

governance and development have to be addressed simultaneously, for the absence of one jeopardises the attainment of the other two. Concerted investment in good governance, development and security will therefore constitute the most efficient preventive and management process against the conflicts that continue to plague the region. Further, in


view of the fact that the sources and the consequences of conflicts in the region are multifaceted and reinforcing, the processes of conflict management and resolution must be undertaken at several levels and from varying perspectives. Themes and parameters of the conference 36. In light of the above, it is envisaged that the international conference will begin

with a Heads of State summit that will, after agreeing on a set of principles, mandate the establishment of thematic fora bringing together stakeholders and expertise from the region to deliberate and initiate solutions to the multifaceted sources of instability in the region (Draft Summit Declaration in Annex I). The three broad themes will constitute the bases for deliberations and action in these fora. They are Peace and Security, Democracy and Good Governance, and Development and Economic Integration. Constituent issues under each theme are suggested in Annex II. 37. These fora would in turn lead to the creation of a regional mechanism to follow-

up the decision's of the conference, carry out early-warning functions and provide a secretariat for the organisation of periodic regional summits or consultative thematic deliberations by policy makers, experts and non-state actors to identify problems and address them thoroughly. 38. Three support groups of resource persons with appropriate expertise on issues

under respective themes will be engaged on a consultancy basis to contribute to the articulation of ideas that will inform deliberations and decision-making by policy makers and non-state actors (List of possible resource persons in Annex III). Funding for this will come from bilateral and multilateral sources. These consultants, representatives of the UN,AU, UN agencies and Bretton Woods institutions would support the Ministerial Working Groups (see below) to reflect on key conceptual themes, define the problems and provide useful policy recommendations that would structure the debates by broader participants of stakeholders and partners.





The first stage of the conference will be held at the level of Heads of State and

Government, and under the auspices of the UN and theAU. It may be chaired by the Heads of State of the countries of the region on the basis of rotation, or jointly chaired by the Secretaries-General of the UN and theAU. The venue could be Nairobi, Addis Ababa or New York; the conference will last 1-2 days. 40. The core participating countries would be the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda,

Tanzania and Kenya. This first group of six countries could make major presentations, participate in the debates, and would be the primary signatories to any accord or declaration emanating from the conference. The second group will include neighbouring countries (Central African Republic, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Zambia) as well as those directly involved in the current DRC conflict (Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe). The third category will be those interested in the region, which will participate as observers: Mozambique, South Africa, Belgium, France, the Nordic countries, Germany, Switzerland, the EU, the UK, the US, Canada and Japan. 41. The second and third groups of countries would attend primarily as observers.

However, as a group and individually, these countries would also play the role of "silent" or subtle facilitators and be part of the international community pressure group for peace. These groups would be encouraged to make limited presentations. Agenda 42. At the level of the Heads of State, the objective will be to obtain a commitment to

a regional peace-building process, and a declaration of principles to provide a framework for the process. The detailed work will commence at the thematic ministerial-level


meetings later. The agenda in Annex II is not expected to be discussed in detail by the Summit. Role of non-state actors 43. In order to integrate the views of civil society into the deliberations and processes

of the regional initiative, a Great Lakes Regional Conference of Non-state Actors from the core group of six countries will be held with the assistance of the UN and theAU following the summit. The decisions and declarations of the summit would mandate such a conference, which would also deliberate on a similar agenda as the summit. The summit would also advise that the conclusions and recommendations of the conference of nonstate actors be forwarded to inform the deliberations and decisions of the ministerial-level working groups. 44. Participants at the conference of non-state actors would be drawn from non-

governmental organisations and non-state actors. They would include academics, youth organisations, women’s organisations, religious organisations and the private sector/chambers of commerce, etc. The SRSG for the Great Lakes Region will finalise the lists in consultations with the respective governments of the six core states. Expected outcomes of summit 45. Two principal outcomes would be expected from the summit: • The adoption of a Declaration of Principles by the Heads of State, committing themselves to the pursuit of democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, co-operative inter-state relations, respect for the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of each state, promotion and consolidation of regional peace and security, regional economic co-operation and development. The Declaration would also contain a solemn undertaking


by the participants to respect and implement the decisions of the conference (Annex I). • A mandate for the establishment of three Ministerial Working Groups to address the issues of peace and security, democracy and good governance, and economic development and regional integration. The Ministerial Working Groups 46. Relevant ministers would represent each of the six core countries in the three

working groups. Each of the working groups would be assigned one of the three thematic areas (peace and security; democracy and good governance; and economic development and integration) and be tasked to examine in detail the various issues under each theme. Resource persons, representatives of the UN,AU, UN agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions would actively support the working groups to undertake in-depth analysis of problems and develop responsive programmes. The groups could meet perhaps four or five times over the course of several months to produce a package of recommendations, for subsequent adoption by the Heads of State of the region. Specifically, the tasks of the working groups could include, but would not be limited to, the following: • • Formulation of protocols, concrete and implementable procedures, and plans of action to achieve the objectives of Summit declarations and memoranda. Recommendation of priority areas that would require support from the international community, particularly UN agencies, programmes and funds as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, to formulate and implement appropriate support programmes. • Designing of a regional mechanism to monitor and follow-up implementation of the various agreements, protocols, plans of action and programmes emanating from the conference, carry out early-warning functions and organise periodic regional meetings and summits to review progress, submit further recommendations and resolve problems.


Period of initiative 47. The articulation and development of security and cooperative pacts, the

conceptualisation, negotiation and implementation of protocols of positive regional relations, the development and consolidation of economic cooperation and integration, and the formulation and the launching of joint projects on infrastructure are complex endeavours. The proposed summit should therefore be envisaged to launch a long-term regional peace building process which, in time, may culminate in a form of a Stability and Solidarity Pact among the countries of the region. Institutional support 48. The conference will be held under the auspices of the UN and theAU as mandated

by successive Security Council Resolutions. Firm institutional support, with adequate funding, will be needed to plan and organise the conference. The impartiality and neutrality of the UN as well as the trust it enjoys throughout the region would guarantee ownership of the process by the region and preserve the integrity of the conference. The principle of regional ownership of the initiative will also be assured through the concept and activities of the three ministerial working groups. A corollary to the principle of regional ownership would be the involvement of a broad spectrum of civil society. 49. In addition to institutional support and funding by the international community,

dedicated and holistic leadership will be required for the organisation of the conference and subsequent activities as discussed in this paper. The Office of the SRSG for the Great Lakes Region will be tasked and strengthened to provide this dedicated leadership. In this crucial undertaking, the Office will work in close collaboration with the concerned states, theAU, agencies of the UN family, the Bretton Woods institutions and the donor community. VI. CONCLUDING REMARKS



The conflict taking place in the region is wasting the resources of over 100

million people, most of whom are already living in abject poverty. Instability in the Great Lakes region also poses a threat to an even larger swathe of the continent. The conflict further constitutes a direct assault on the norms and conventions of interstate relations in Africa. The response of the international community is perceived by people in the region to have been less than consistent, thus underscoring Africa's sense of marginalisation in a post-Cold War world. 51. The nature of the current conflict in the DRC is characteristic of the conflicts in

the Great Lakes Region; their sources and implications lie within both the states and the region as a whole. A regional approach to the management of these conflicts is thus a condition to their resolution. The proposed conference should therefore be seen as initiating a regional dimension to the search for durable peace, security, democracy and development for the Great Lakes Region. The conference could constitute the missing link in the search for peace, stability and development in the region. 52. The initiative should, however, avoid the overarching approach, with

comprehensive programme formulation missions, and all-inclusive, ambitious action plans with a price tag that tends to discourage donors. Experience has shown that a major disadvantage in the comprehensive methodology lies in the fact that the lack of progress on one issue (often in the area of politics, security and pride), no matter how trivial, tends to prevent progress anywhere else. On the other hand, one principal advantage of the methodology proposed in this document - a thematic approach through ministerial working groups - could progressively improve the psychological milieu in the region, build confidence, and provide a "jumping off" point for other issues, and thereby lay the building blocks for sustainable peace, stability and development in the region.


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