n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Transitional justice and peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


Almost two decades ago, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was confronted with a vicious cycle of internationalised armed conflicts in which between six and ten million people are estimated to have been killed. Those conflicts were resolved through peace agreements between the leaders of the warring parties, leaving affected populations to their predicaments. From among the mechanisms during peace talks aimed at dealing with the past, the Congolese opted for an international ad hoc tribunal and a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC). Unfortunately, the United Nations was unwilling to establish such a tribunal in the DRC and the TRC put in place did not investigate a single case. Therefore, the DRC lost opportunities to hold accountable alleged perpetrators, establish the truth of the past, promote reconciliation, and prevent further violence. The subsequent resumption of conflict is the result of failing to address the past.

After the stabilisation of the country, a combination of judicial and nonjudicial mechanisms of transitional justice could respond to past abuses and contribute to the peacebuilding process in the DRC. Hence, this paper endorses as a judicial mechanism, in addition to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the establishment of a hybrid international tribunal to hold accountable those who bear the greatest responsibility for events since 1996. This paper also endorses the promotion of the non-judicial indigenous mechanism to help resolve low-level disputes and pave the way for anew TRC that could promote reconciliation, formulate recommendations on institutional reform, identify criteria for the lustration and vetting process,identify victims and recommend reparations.

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