International peacebuilding is embroiled in contradictions: do peace accords reflect reality, or merely rhetoric? Does third-party enforcement guarantee credible commitments, or compromise sovereignty? Can political institutions balance the interests of armed rivals? The evolution of peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) offers insight into critical policy dilemmas. From 1996 to 2003, two wars broke out in the DRC,1 followed by a fragile peace and remobilized rebellions. These conflicts have been an experimenting ground for a broad menu of peacebuilding policies. Internationally backed accords integrated rebels into state positions, a power-sharing government aimed to transform belligerents into political competitors, and national elections sought to consolidate progress toward institutionalized competition. Meanwhile, the largest and most costly United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in history is designed to protect civilians and support inclusive governing institutions. Yet, despite these efforts, armed groups in the DRC multiplied to an estimated 130 by 2019, yielding fragmentation rather than stability.2 Civilians across the country face insecurity, recurrent government repression, and troubled elections.3 Why have international peacebuilding efforts failed?

To make sense of these dilemmas, this chapter revisits a guiding assumption of global policy. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, policymakers have treated state-building, or investing in legitimate governing institutions, as a central component of peacebuilding.4 A wave of academic studies since the early 2000s casts weak governing institutions as incubators of insecurity and a range of social ills.5 In response, international peacebuilding moved from narrow tasks of ceasefires and patrolling buffer zones to a more extensive focus on building up political institutions in host states.6 State-building as a form of peacebuilding is “premised on the recognition that achieving security and development in societies emerging from civil war partly depends on the experience of capable, autonomous, and legitimate governmental institutions.”7 Yet, practitioners heeding this lesson did not fully account for the informal networks and predatory logics that can also animate official institutions.8 State-building attempts that graft institutions atop preexisting violent networks can produce institutions that lack their anticipated moderating or stabilizing effects.

The DRC illustrates this policy trend and the cracks in its approach. Peacebuilding efforts in the DRC grew from a focus on peace accords toward institutional design and state-building projects. These efforts aimed to stem violence by expanding the footprint of the state, but the state’s political and military institutions—its bureaucracy and security forces—were more porous than policymakers assumed. Parallel networks within the national army supported armed groups, while parallel taxation schemes in the official bureaucracy helped sustain rebels’ war economies. State-building policies viewed official institutions as buffers against rebellion, but in reality conflict actors straddled a blurred line between state institutions and violence.

This chapter traces this lesson across three stages of peacebuilding in the DRC that showcase the evolution of global policy. The first stage used peace accords to end the Second Congo War (1998–2003), part of a wave of negotiated settlements to end armed conflicts in the post-Cold War era. The second implemented peace accords through the Transitional Government (2003–2006), reflecting another mainstream policy tool in action: power sharing. The third stage expanded the mandate of the UN mission to state-building through laying physical infrastructure for administrations and deploying military force to build state influence over belligerents. Across these approaches, policymakers viewed official institutions as tools to mitigate violence: incorporating rebels into government posts would moderate their behavior, and expanding the reach of state administrations would reduce the physical and social space for rebels to organize. And yet, each phase struggled to cope with the porous nature of the state. Rebels used bureaucracy to finance violence. Peace accords and the transitional government transferred the symbols of the state institutions to combatants, but did not reshape the underlying networks that directed them. And UN efforts to shore up state authority overlooked the complicity between the national military and armed groups.

Of course, peacebuilding in the DRC is more nuanced than a brief chapter can capture. Youth associations such as LUCHA and FILIMBI illustrate the critical role of grassroots democracy movements.9 New rebellions and day-to-day coping mechanisms in the face of insecurity also warrant attention. Nonetheless, overall stages discussed here help shed light on key dilemmas of global policy. The remainder of this chapter positions the DRC within the overall shifts in international peacebuilding. It shows how practitioners, following the policy wisdom of the day, privileged official institutions to mitigate violence, but drew too firm of boundaries between these and non-state actors. Empirically, the chapter draws on original records from armed groups and the UN peacekeeping mission to illustrate its argument.

The Shift in International Peacebuilding Toward State-Building

International peacebuilding increasingly emphasizes a role for formal political institutions in ending violent conflict. With the end of the Cold War, financial and military backing for proxy insurgencies declined, and international interests shifted toward ending civil wars. During the Cold War, peacebuilding favored limited interventions. UN missions, like in Cyprus, took on narrow roles of peace enforcement and patrolling buffer zones. After the Cold War, policymakers grew more proactive through brokering peace accords and bringing belligerents to negotiating tables. Civil wars increasingly ended in negotiated settlements rather than military victory, introducing questions of institutional design as security priorities.10

Within this trend, power-sharing governments became the preferred tool to mediate conflict.11 Power sharing aims to curb the uncertainty of political competition by providing all groups a stake in the official process and building consensus for a common governance formula.12 In this logic, incorporating rebels into official institutions would moderate their behavior and reward political, rather than military, competition. These agreements are typically backed by a third-party enforcer, such as a UN peacekeeping mission, and culminate in national elections. During the 1990s, the United States and Europe used these settlements in stalled conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and the DRC. Power sharing has been subject to many critiques: moderate politicians may be difficult to find after war, elites may be unaccountable to constituents, and agreements may reward violent pathways to power.13 Practitioners typically respond by revising official rules to get incentives right, reaffirming the role of formal institutions to peacebuilding.

From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, global policy expanded to a more comprehensive state-building approach. A focus on negotiated settlements and elections grew to include building rule of law institutions and participating in political reconstruction.14 Multilateral peacekeeping forces incorporated state-building into their mandate.15 Now the goal was not simply to enforce ceasefires or patrol buffer zones, but to lay the foundation for stability by investing in the political institutions of the host country. Major foreign policy developments reinforced this approach. After the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, academic and policy audiences framed weak institutions as security threats.16 Weak states and governing institutions were viewed as potential hotbeds of terrorist activity, adding a national security imperative to supporting state authority.

The DRC illustrates this policy trajectory. The international community used negotiated settlements and promises of “all inclusive” institutions to end the Second Congo War (1998–2003). The Transitional Government (2003–2006) implemented the power-sharing arrangement in the national government and state security forces. After the 2006 elections, the UN embarked on a more expansive state-building mandate to invest in infrastructure and institutions, even participating in active combat to “restore state authority” over belligerents. And yet, each of these phases struggled to cope with the “real politics” embedded in state institutions.17

Evolution of International Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The DRC seemed a good candidate for state-building because its own institutions were seemingly absent. Amidst a growing wisdom that weak institutions enable war, the DRC ranked lowest in the world on a host of governance indicators. It was widely characterized as an ideal-typical “criminalized” or “warlord” state,18 with little centralized control over a vast territory.19 But, beyond the attention of international policymakers, a state apparatus and affiliation persisted and continued to shape political struggles.

Background to the Conflicts

The DRC’s conflict followed on the heels of the predatory government under President Mobutu Sese Seko.20 At independence, the DRC’s ruling class inherited a colonial administration that set up institutions for extraction rather than public goods. After a turbulent transition to independence, Mobutu seized power in a 1965 military coup and consolidated power. Declining prices in international commodities in the early 1970s drained the public treasury. Mobutu turned toward divide-and-rule politics and salary payments to state agents dried up.

Political fragmentation in the DRC is often confused with an absent bureaucracy.21 Scholars depict its peripheries as areas of “limited state penetration.”22 But in reality, rank-and-file bureaucrats coped with uncertainty through a system of kickbacks, embezzlement, and private survival that multiplied taxes rather than retrenching state agencies.23 In his public call for the population to débrouillez-vous, or “fend for yourself,” Mobutu gave the nod to soldiers, regional governors, and bureaucrats to use official posts for private ends. The result was a predatory bureaucracy and military where officials from the top to bottom survived through extortion. Although the central government was unable to use institutions for a coherent purpose, the ability to extract remained linked to these official bureaus and uniforms. This system preserved the value of state affiliation and economic and political rent, shaping wartime struggles and later state-building attempts.24

As the Cold War drew to an end and reduced foreign aid, Mobutu broke his prohibition on political parties and ushered in a brief political liberalization (1990–1996). Mobutu clung to power by fragmenting the opposition, and the number of parties multiplied to over 200.25 As part of his divide-and-rule tactics, Mobutu had continued colonial policies of building dependent constituencies by rewarding ethnic minorities with state appointments and land.26 This linked resource access to ethnic identity and meant that inter-ethnic competitions also played out over access to state posts. The outbreak of genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994 sent an influx of refugees to the DRC, exacerbated tensions with Banyarwanda (Kinyarwanda-speaking) minorities, and paved the way for war.27

Rebellion broke out with the First Congo War (1996–1997).28 A broad coalition of foreign sponsors sent troops to an easy victory in Kinshasa. Mobutu’s crumbling government gave way, and insurgent leader Laurent Kabila was installed as President. Many former members of the national army defected and joined the insurgency, opening a revolving door between the national military and armed groups. When the newly installed president turned his back on his sponsors, the backers of the First Congo War organized a new rebellion. Spearheaded by Rwanda and Uganda, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) launched the Second Congo War from eastern DRC in August 1998. Belligerents expected to replicate the previous victory, but military progress soon stalled. The stalemate paved the way for growing international involvement in the crisis. Meanwhile, bureaucrats clung to administrative posts and armed groups amplified their political influence by appropriating these agencies, mixing official institutions with violent networks.

Peace Accords: Ending the Second Congo War (1998–2003)

International peacebuilding followed the conventional policy of the day: negotiated settlements and power sharing were the primary tools for ending the Second Congo War. The first priority was bringing rivals to the negotiating table. The high number of belligerents made this difficult: nine states supporting insurgents or the government earned the conflict the moniker of “Africa’s World War.”29 The battlefield mirrored a fragmented political landscape. The largest armed group, the RCD, relied primarily on Rwanda for support, and the Banyarwanda affiliation of its leadership embroiled the group into preexisting ethnic tensions.30 Uganda created a second proxy, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), in 1998. And, in 1999 the Rally for Congolese Democracy/Kisangani-Movement for Liberation (RCD/K-ML) splinter defected from the RCD, taking Ugandan sponsorship with it. A range of local defense groups, or Mayi-Mayi, also organized, creating a multi-tiered conflict with regional and local contenders.31

Negotiations targeted the upper echelons of this conflict system. The first step was the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement of 1999, which joined six states, three international organizations, and two rebel groups (the RCD and MLC). The Lusaka Agreement incorporated a power-sharing logic that aimed to build consensus on a new political structure where parties would “enjoy equal status.”32 It called for inclusive peace talks at an Inter-Congolese Dialogue that promised recognition for the government and main rebel factions. President Laurent Kabila initially refused negotiations and power sharing. Yet he agreed to the accord because it recognized him as the head of state and he thought that the national dialogue could be maneuvered in his favor.33 Parties agreed to an immediate ceasefire with fixed frontlines, a joint military commission to head an integrated national army at war’s end, and a UN mission to enforce the ceasefire in the meantime.34 Looking ahead to reconsolidation, it also called for the “reestablishment of the state administration over the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”35

Fighting continued despite the ceasefire. President Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and his son, Joseph Kabila, took over as President. Joseph Kabila eventually agreed to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City, South Africa in 2002. The talks also stalled, this time over disagreements of how to integrate rebels into the military.36 A peace deal to end the conflict was finally reached in late 2002 in Pretoria: the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement. This agreement joined the main belligerents, civil society, and the unarmed political opposition in a Transitional Government, which was implemented in July 2003.

Politics Below the Surface

As negotiations tried to moderate rebels by building stakes in the political process, another game was underway. Armed groups spread into official institutions even before the end of the war.

Rebel leaders were not simply non-state actors. Many were prior regime elites who fought for their reintegration into the state.37 Rebels recognized the value of state affiliation and stylized themselves as the state. They referred to their movements as “the state” and appointed “presidents” and internal “ministries” that mimicked the national government.38 As Dennis Tull points out, this state-like image helped to earn rebels seats at negotiations in Lusaka in the first place.39

More than just an image, rebels used state bureaus in their territory as tools to finance the war. At the same time that peace agreements tried to incorporate insurgents into national-level political institutions, rebels were already dividing administrative spoils. Two months into the war, the RCD instructed taxation bureaus to remain open.40 Rebels’ internal financial records demonstrate that bureaucrats in official agencies collected taxes throughout the war and deposited these funds into the RCD’s “Public Treasury” and “War Effort” accounts.41 And, as talks for the Lusaka Agreement were ongoing, Uganda also arranged for state taxation bureaus to finance its proxies, the MLC and RCD/K-ML. It tasked branches of three of the DRC’s taxation agencies with collecting revenue for rebels’ “General Treasury Accounts.”42 Informal networks in these offices also joined bureaucracy with violence. For its part, the RCD/K-ML drew on ties with bureaucrats in customs agencies to convert prefinancing—a system of under-the-table kickbacks between local bureaucrats and smugglers—into a channel of financing.43

Peace accords called for the “reestablishment of the state administration,” but rebels co-opted the same administrations that the accords aimed to rebuild. In fact, peace agreements may have exacerbated these practices. The Lusaka Agreement recognized de facto frontlines, which lent a measure of international legitimacy to belligerents in their military holdings. Rebels invoked the Lusaka Agreement to legitimize their claims to natural resources and taxation rights in their territory. In various taxation edicts issued to local partners and foreign businesses, the RCD often invoked this legitimacy with the following clause: “Considering that the terms of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rally for Congolese Democracy has the power to administer the territory under its control.”44 Rebels also used Lusaka to build a veneer of legality on its mineral trade. The RCD President wrote to the Prime Minister of Belgium, insisting on its legitimate right to control mining practices: “By the terms of this Lusaka Agreement… each signatory belligerent party is able to administer the territory under its control. The administrative acts promulgated by the RCD are thus covered by this Accord.”45

Boundaries between state and non-state armed actors broke down in other ways. Kabila enlisted Mayi-Mayi groups on his behalf. Midway through the war, he also sponsored the RCD/K-ML to reduce Ugandan influence and gain an ally in the east. Doing so complicated peace agreements because signatories could act through non-state agents.46

Power Sharing and National Elections: The DRC’s Transitional Government (2003–2006)

War officially ended in mid-2003 with the launch of the Transitional Government. The architects of the transition anticipated that political institutions could build peace and integrate combatants from the DRC’s divided society. The transition implemented the power-sharing formula laid out by the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and international attention focused largely on supporting the agreement in the capital, Kinshasa.

The transitional government struck a compromise between Kabila and the national army, rebel groups (MLC, RCD, RCD/K-ML, and the RCD-N), and Mayi-Mayi militias. The compromise created four vice presidencies shared among the RCD, MLC, civil society, and the unarmed political opposition. Former belligerents were awarded lucrative ministerial appointments and officially relinquished control over combatants, who integrated into the national military. Military integration aimed to limit the ability to resume mass-scale violence. Goals of solidifying peace, good governance, and political stability were measured through progress to national elections. An International Committee for Support of the Transition supported the government, and the first round of national elections was held in 2006.

Politics Below the Surface

The DRC’s political opposition was dissatisfied with the transition and quickly dubbed the president and four vice-president arrangement as “1 + 4 = 0.”47 More than political discontent, the underlying assumption that state institutions provided buffers against violence did not fully hold. The transition divided state posts among competitors who sustained clandestine networks within official institutions. Parallel command chains persisted in the national army and fed new rebellion, and parallel networks in the bureaucracy maintained wartime taxation for rebels’ influence.

Armed groups were supposed to form mixed units under a joint military commission in Kinshasa, but an integrated national army did not break down relatively autonomous networks of former belligerents. Rebel groups did not fully dismantle their command chains.48 Once they entered the national army, many combatants maintained the same bases and commanders as during the war. The national army changed officers in South Kivu, but rank-and-file troops remained in place.49 Further north, the RCD/K-ML president still controlled most of his troops along the Uganda border in North Kivu.50

Parallel networks sometimes fed outright rebellion, as was the case with the RCD. With their minority status, Banyarwanda RCD leaders held few chances of earning power electorally. Hardliners wanted military action, and some former commanders refused positions in Kinshasa.51 Disagreements over military command chains erupted in clashes in the eastern DRC’s Kivu provinces in 2004.52 Former RCD members used wartime networks to organize troops and weapons for a new rebellion, the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). In early 2004, the CNDP attacked Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, exposing the government’s inability to manage parallel chains, and reaping “irreparable damage” on the transitional government.53 The RCD’s Vice President in Kinshasa temporarily suspended his participation in the government.54 Kabila dispatched brigades of former MLC troops, playing wartime rivalries against ex-RCD fighters. RCD deputies left parliament, and the UN mission established a buffer zone between government and rebels.55 Meanwhile, military salaries often went unpaid. Government loyalists and former belligerents inflated numbers on military payrolls, creating opportunities to embezzle payments.56

Other spoilers operated from state administrations. Rebels’ trafficking partners still ran war economies from former strongholds, and local bureaucrats kicked back state revenue to former rebels.57 Customs bureaus in MLC territory did not remit revenue to Kinshasa through 2005.58 Parallel taxes persisted in North Kivu’s capital, Goma, where Banyarwanda networks opposing Kinshasa embezzled from public institutions.59 Officials in the provincial administration provided under-the-table exemptions to powerful businesses to avoid customs duties. Bureaucrats in RCD/K-ML territory in northern North Kivu also maintained wartime taxation schemes,60 defying Kinshasa’s instructions to halt these deals.61

Persisting wartime networks in the bureaucracy held security implications. The Governor of North Kivu (who the RCD appointed during the war) and local government members used state funds to arm the CNDP.62 RCD/K-ML affiliates also describe using public revenue from customs bureaus to fund active troops to maintain relative autonomy over former holdings.63 Parallel chains of power within the state apparatus linking bureaucrats, troops, and politicians undermined a cohesive national government and placed a check on Kinshasa’s power.

The DRC held elections in 2006, meeting the international benchmark for a successful transition. Yet, revenue diversions and patronage opportunities in official bureaus seemed a surer route to power than clear party platforms. In the lead-up to the elections, politicians believed “control over the administrative apparatus may be more important in the election than personal popularity.”64 An international focus on elections and formal power-sharing institutions overlooked these densely interwoven networks between armed actors and state offices.

Evolution of UN Peacebuilding (2006–2017): “Restoring State Authority”

Multi-party elections marked the end of transition, and the UN peacekeeping mission turned its focus toward stabilization. As a UN mission official wrote, “At the root of the conflict are structural factors which keep the state weak.”65 With areas of rebellion seen as lacking viable institutions, the UN mission set about “restoring state authority” to lay a foundation for peace.66

The mission, United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), was originally deployed in 2000 to enforce the ceasefire agreement. As part of its mandate, it was also tasked with providing humanitarian assistance to displaced persons and refugees and with overseeing the withdrawal of foreign forces.67 During the Transitional Government, MONUC’s mandate expanded from ceasefire observation to supporting elections, security sector reform, disarming combatants, and enforcing the arms embargo.68 After the 2006 elections, its mandate grew again, this time to support state authority in persisting conflict zones in the country’s eastern provinces. Matching this goal, MONUC transformed into the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in 2010, reflecting “stabilization” as one of its core objectives.

This shift evolved alongside the failure of conventional approaches to end protracted conflict. The CNDP’s military threat against Kinshasa had grown, and international diplomats convened failed peace talks in 2007 and 2008.69 Scrambling to integrate the CNDP, the UN called for more robust intervention.70 When CNDP eventually ended in 2009, MONUSCO focused on engaging the provincial and central government more closely to stabilize remaining conflict zones. To guide its efforts, MONUSCO formulated its “International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy.” As the UN mission described, this strategy was:

modeled after counterinsurgency principles, whereby military operations to “clear” areas from armed groups were followed by “holding and building” the state… The underlying assumption was that security vacuums caused by a lack of [state] capacity were exploited by armed groups, and that by strengthening local institutions the state could start taking the situation in hand.71

The first phase of the strategy (2008–2012) focused on building state infrastructure and institutions in areas that had been “cleared” from rebels.72 The UN focused on physical infrastructure that could expand the reach of the government. It built new roads—a standard metric of state power73—to lengthen the arm of the state and control “axes of communication” in remote areas.74 The approach incorporated a role for the national army (Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of the Congo, FARDC): “FARDC and MONUSCO must liberate the zones from armed groups, then infrastructure will be built.” To support state institutions in “liberated” zones, MONUSCO constructed administrative buildings and organized trainings for police, judges, and administrative personnel. Then, bureaucrats would be “deployed along these axes, using rehabilitated infrastructure and implementing the lessons learned during their training.”75

In 2013, MONUSCO took its “counterinsurgency” state-building to the next level. During the previous year, another large-scale rebellion had organized in eastern DRC: the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23). 76 The M23 seized Goma for several days, fueling charges that MONUSCO could not protect civilians.77 UN personnel saw that a “security vacuum presents an opportunity for multiple, competing armed groups to flourish,” and pressure mounted to equip MONUSCO for a more effective use of force.78 The UN Security Council responded by creating MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in 2013.79 The FIB is an offensive military unit with a mandate to “neutralize” armed groups, typically through joint operations with the FARDC. From this time, MONUSCO viewed military campaigns as tools to support state authority—introducing a “state-making as war-making” logic into peacekeeping.

The FIB and FARDC began joint military operations against the M23 and defeated the group in 2013.80 With the campaign heralded as a success, the FIB turned its sights northward to combat another long-standing armed group: the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Here, MONUSCO and its FIB applied the same principles that shaped its overall stabilization strategy: the campaign imagined clear lines separating zones of state authority from zones under the control of non-state armed groups.

Politics Below the Surface

The approach aimed to build peace by extending the reach of official security and administrative institutions into conflict zones. Yet, the complicity between armed groups and bureaucratic and military officeholders undermined MONUSCO’s stabilization attempts.

These difficulties compromised some of MONUSCO’s institutional partners. To implement its stabilization strategy, MONUSCO partnered with the “STAREC” government bureau (Stabilization and Reconstruction Programme for War-Affected Areas).81 And yet, the FARDC military General appointed to the bureau in northern North Kivu used his position to re-establish links with armed groups, including the ADF.82 A military General by official status, he operated more as a warlord in practice by amassing combatants and dominating smuggling. Local sources describe how equipment that MONUSCO provided to build roads to “restore state authority” in the area was used to support timber trafficking with active combatants.83

The UN’s militarized attempts at state-building met the same dilemma. MONUSCO and FARDC launched joint operations against the ADF in early 2014.84 The operations followed clear-cut counterinsurgency principles that treated non-state armed actors as the root of conflict. Yet, the ADF had survived decades in the borderlands of northern North Kivu by laying ties with local civilians and political authorities.85 It also drew support from some FARDC military officers that provided weapons, intelligence, and uniforms in exchange for trafficking opportunities and access to combatants.86 These shadow arrangements created mixed incentives within FARDC to fight the ADF. Just days into the operation, some FARDC officers who supported ADF worked with the rebels to attack and kill the head of the military campaign.87

This meant that some of the most dangerous security threats came from within the national army. However, MONUSCO’s mandate to support state authority created difficulties in understanding these sources of violence. In 2014, a string of mass killings broke out during operations against ADF. The attacks represented the worst violence in the DRC in a decade and killed at least 1,300 civilians.88 The UN mission attributed the killings to the ADF, but investigative teams found that some FARDC military officers also held responsibility.89 This included the head of the military campaign against ADF, General Mundos. According to the Group of Experts, General Mundos recruited ADF fighters to perpetrate some of the killings and “financed and equipped the group with weapons, ammunition and FARDC uniforms.”90 Other evidence demonstrated that some local state authorities, including administrative and customary chiefs, also helped organize some of the killings.91 Violence escalated to attacks on MONUSCO bases. Investigators found that corrupt members of state security services supported the Mayi-Mayi group behind the first attack on the UN mission.92

The UN sought to build peace by restoring state influence against non-state security threats. But this approach did not account for the role of the complicit state. In reality, the UN supported a military with weak incentives to secure civilians. MONUSCO relied on the national army for intelligence against armed groups, at the same time that parallel networks supported armed groups behind the backs of the mission. In light of these interactions, the UN’s clear lines between state authority and sources of violence obscured the more blurred allegiances and informal networks that shaped official institutions and insecurity. These interactions form part of a broader array of armed groups that rely on state security forces and political figures. FARDC officers have co-opted Mayi-Mayi militias as proxies to execute violence against civilians in conflict-affected areas of South Kivu and the Kasais.93 These arrangements provide plausible deniability for state authorities while also feeding the violence that state authorities can use to demonstrate a need for support from international donors.


The permeability of political institutions and armed actors makes state-building more complex than it might appear. This has implications for designing political settlements and measuring their success. Political settlements assume that integrating into the government signals a willingness to lay down arms. To be effective, power sharing must be costly and make credible commitments to demobilization.94 But integrating into state institutions does not just incur costs for rebels. In protracted and complex conflicts, violence may be built into official political institutions. By the time the Second Congo War concluded, rebels were already practiced at using bureaucratic offices to support violence. Persistent war economies, parallel networks within the national military, and kickbacks from taxation agencies blurred the line between state and armed actors. Dividing former belligerents into hardliners versus moderates, as power-sharing arrangements do, also assumes these divisions are easy to observe. In practice, mafia-like networks and support for armed actors may be less legible. Defecting and remobilizing rebellion are seen as the main ways that former belligerents may disrupt peace settlements, but they select from a wider menu of options to use state institutions and affiliation to sustain violence.

These practices recall key lessons on warlord and predatory states.95 State-building solutions to conflict cast security threats as emanating from insurgents outside the state, but threats also come from within. This reality helps us to analyze how political decisions are made. In the DRC, President Kabila coped with parallel networks in the national military by perpetually forming new units of the presidential guard—creating more fragmentation within official structures.96 Contending with parallel networks within the bureaucracy also undermines the central government’s willingness to rely on official institutions for its own rule.97 In this sense, conflicts such as the DRC’s unfold in “intentionally fragile states,” where political leaders may have their own incentives to undermine the same institutions that peacebuilders try to support.98

The DRC also cautions analysts against casting the actors behind violence in too narrow terms: bureaucrats and soldiers can feed rebellion as much as fighters in the jungle. For diplomats, foreign governments, and international organizations, this creates a difficult puzzle. International audiences face a catch-22: they may be unable to support official institutions without supporting the networks—sometimes violent—embedded within them. Moreover, foreign governments and international organizations like the UN are reluctant to implicate state actors in such activities. Recognizing the porous nature of state institutions can place diplomats on contentious ground, since they must also balance norms of legal recognition for the state actors that use official institutions in these ways.

Finally, the DRC’s experience underscores that state-building will be deeply political, not a technocratic exercise in training bureaucrats or building roads. Operating effectively in these environments will require practitioners to understand the political logic and rules of the game.99 International policymakers operate in scenarios of captured state-building, where local elites may seek resources for their own agendas while limiting real reform to their own practices.100 However, to date, no comprehensive strategy or approach exists to account for this difficulty. As civil wars increasingly break out in very weak and fragmented states,101 it is more important than ever to understand how this porous border is shaped.

Key Recommendations

The experience of peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo offers three key policy recommendations.

  1. 1.

    Deepen understanding of insurgents. Policymakers and practitioners should reconsider the strategies and resources that insurgents use. Instead of avoiding the state, violent actors can use its institutions to build their influence.

  2. 2.

    Revisit established approaches to institution-building. Policymakers and practitioners should think more critically about institution-building. Policymakers aim to expand the degree of the state, but have given less attention to what kind of state this may be.102 Policymakers must take seriously the political programs, informal networks, and day-to-day practices that shape official institutions.103

  3. 3.

    Develop more nuanced metrics of what constitutes successful peacebuilding. Peacebuilding success is often measured by the duration of settlements,104 but a narrow focus on avoiding outright rebellion can overlook the networks and institutions that also enable violence.


  1. 1.

    The First Congo War (1996–1997) and the Second Congo War (1998–2003).

  2. 2.

    “Children and Armed Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations Security Council, S/2018/502, 25 May 2018, para. 4. The Kivu Security Tracker estimates that the number of armed groups operating in Congo rose to at least 130 by 2019, up from an estimated 120 groups in 2017 and an estimated 70 groups in 2015. “Congo Forgotten: The Numbers Behind Africa’s Longest Humanitarian Crisis,” Congo Research Group, August 2019.

  3. 3.

    “Democratic Republic of the Congo: 2017 Human Rights Report,” United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; “Human Rights Watch Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Human Rights Watch, October 2018. On the December 2019 national elections that brought President Felix Tshisekedi to power, see Pierre Englebert, “The Congo’s Electoral Sideshow,” Journal of Democracy 30, no. 3: 124–138.

  4. 4.

    Roland Paris and Timothy D. Sisk, “Understanding the Contradictions of Postwar Statebuliding,” in The Dilemmas of Statebuilding: Confronting the Contradictions of Postwar Peace Operations, Paris and Sisk (eds.) (New York: Routledge, 2009), 1–20.

  5. 5.

    E.g., Robert I. Rotberg (ed.), When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); James Fearon and David Laitin, “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil Wars,” American Political Science Review 97, no. 1 (2003): 75–90; William Zartman (ed.), Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995).

  6. 6.

    Kimberley Zisk Marten, Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2004); Paris and Sisk, The Dilemmas of Statebuilding.

  7. 7.

    Paris and Sisk, “Understanding the Contradictions of Postwar Statebuliding,” 1–2.

  8. 8.

    For implications on peacekeeping, see for example, Alex de Waal, “Mission Without End: Peacekeeping in the African Political Marketplace,” International Affairs 85, no. 1 (2009).

  9. 9.

    “Nous sommes la nouvelle jeunesse africaine engagée” Filimbi, Lucha, Y’en a Marre, Balai Citoyen (RDC, Sénégal, Burkina Faso), Le Monde, 17 April 2015; “Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The ‘Street’ and Politics in DR Congo,” Africa Briefing 123, International Crisis Group (Nairobi and Brussels, 13 October 2016).

  10. 10.

    Civil wars often ended through military victories during the Cold War, due in part to external sponsorship of insurgents or governments. With dwindling sponsorship after the Cold War, neither side had the decisive military advantage, creating more protracted wars that tended to be resolved through negotiations.

  11. 11.

    Denis M. Tull and Andreas Mehler, “The Hidden Costs of Power-Sharing: Reproducing Insurgent Violence in Africa,” African Affairs 104, no. 416 (2005): 375–398.

  12. 12.

    Caroline Hartzell and Matthew Hoddie, “Institutionalizing Peace: Power Sharing and Post-Civil War Conflict Management,” American Journal of Political Science 47, no. 2 (2003); Donald Rothchild and Philip G. Roeder, “Dilemmas of State-Building in Divided Societies,” in Sustainable Peace: Power and Democracy after Civil Wars, Roeder and Rotchild (eds.) (Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 2005), 1–25.

  13. 13.

    The incentive structure of power sharing can also encourage elites to escalate demands and create coalition governments vulnerable to deadlock. Tull and Mehler, “The Hidden Costs of Power-Sharing,” 2005; Roeder and Rothchild, “Dilemmas of State-Building,” 2005.

  14. 14.

    Roland Paris, At War’s End: Building Peace After Civil Conflict (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

  15. 15.

    Paris and Sisk, The Dilemmas of Statebuilding, 2009.

  16. 16.

    Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, “Helping Others Defend Themselves: The Future of U.S. Security Assistance,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010.

  17. 17.

    A phrase borrowed from Alex de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015).

  18. 18.

    Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999); and Peter Evans, Embedded Autonomy: States And Industrial Transformation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995); William Reno, Warlord PoliticsPolitics and African States (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998).

  19. 19.

    Jeffrey Herbst, States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

  20. 20.

    Mobutu held power from 1965–1997. Originally Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, he changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko and renamed Congo “Zaire” as part of an Africanization policy. From 1971 to 1997, Congo was known as Zaire.

  21. 21.

    Herbst, States and Power in Africa, 2000.

  22. 22.

    Zachariah Cherian Mampilly, Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life During War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011).

  23. 23.

    James Fairhead, “Paths of Authority: Roads, the State and the Market in Eastern Zaire,” European Journal of Development Research (1992); Catherine Newbury, “Dead and Buried or Just Underground? The Privatization of the State in Zaire,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 18, no. 1 (1984): 112–114; Theodore Trefon, Parcours administratif dans un état en faillite: récits populaires de Lubumbashi (RDC) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007).

  24. 24.

    Pierre Englebert, Africa: Unity, Sovereignty, Sorrow (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009).

  25. 25.

    Zaire “Freedom in the World: Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 1995–1996,” Freedom House (New York, 1996).

  26. 26.

    Including under the Bakajika land law. On the Kivus, see Jean-Claude Willame, Banyarwanda et Banyamulenge: Violences Ethniques et Gestion de l’Identitaire au Kivu (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1997) and R. Ruddy Doom and J. Gorus (eds.), Politics of Identity and Economics of Conflict in the Great Lakes Region (Brussels: VUB University Press, 2000). On Hema-Lendu conflicts in Ituri, see Johan Pottier, “Representations of Ethnicity in the Search for Peace: Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo,” African Affairs 109, no. 434 (2010): 23–50.

  27. 27.

    Meanwhile, ethnic associations, known as mutuelles, increased support for local militias. See Koen Vlassenroot and Hans Romkema, “The Emergence of a New Order? Resources and War in Eastern Congo,” Journal of Humanitarian Assistance (October 2002).

  28. 28.

    On the First and Second Congo Wars, see Gérard Prunier, Africa’s World War: Congo, The Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Collapse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) and Jason Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (New York: Public Affairs, 2011).

  29. 29.

    Prunier, Africa’s World War, 2011.

  30. 30.

    Despite a broader founding leadership coalition. Denis Tull, “A Reconfiguration of Political Order? The State of the State in North Kivu (DR Congo),” African Affairs 102 (2003): 429–446.

  31. 31.

    On Mayi-Mayi, see Frank van Acker and Koen Vlassenroot, “Les ‘Mai-Mai’ et les Fonctions de la Violence Milicienne dans l’Est du Congo,” Politique Africaine 84, no. 103 (2001): 103–116.

  32. 32.

    Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, Annex A, Chapter 5, Arts 5.1 and 5.2.b. available at For further analysis, see also Tull and Mehler, “Hidden Costs of Power-Sharing,” 2005, and Jean-Claude Willame, Les ‘Faiseurs de la Paix’ au Congo: gestion d’une crise internationale dans un etat sous tutelle (Brussels: GRIP, 2007).

  33. 33.

    “The Agreement on a Cease-Fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo: An Analysis of the Agreement and Prospects for Peace,” Crisis Group Africa Report (Brussels: International Crisis Group, 1999).

  34. 34.

    Mayi-Mayi were not involved in the process and stated they would not accept an agreement in which they had not participated. Prunier, Africa’s World War, 2011.

  35. 35.

    Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, Chapter 6.

  36. 36.

    They did not resolve the issue of the balance of power within the national army, kicking the issue down the road to the transition government. Judith Verweijen, “Half-Brewed: The Lukewarm Results of Creating an Integrated Military in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” in New Armies from Old: Merging Competing Military Forces after Civil Wars, Roy Licklider (ed.) (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2014), 137–162, 141.

  37. 37.

    Tull, “A Reconfiguration of Political Order?,” 2003; Tull and Mehler, “Hidden Costs of Power Sharing,” 2005. On elite recycling among rebel leaders see Christopher Clapham, “Introduction,” in Clapham, African Guerillas, 5; William Reno, “The Politics of Insurgency in Collapsing States,” Development and Change 33, no. 5 (2002): 837–858.

  38. 38.

    Tull, “A Reconfiguration of Political Order?,” 2003; Rachel Sweet, “The Resilient State: Bureaucrats at War in the Congo,” Working Paper under review, 2018.

  39. 39.

    Tull, “A Reconfiguration of Political Order?,” 2003.

  40. 40.

    “Instruction No003/DF/RCD/98/Aux Institutions Bancaires et Financières,” Département des Finances, RCD, 20 October 1998, Goma.

  41. 41.

    Over 1,000 RCD bank statements gathered during fieldwork by this author. E.g., “Recettes enregistrées le 03.04.2001” Banque du Zaire [Statement to the Attention of le Chef du Département des Finances, Budget et Portefeuille du R.C.D. Goma], Goma, 3 April 2001.

  42. 42.

    The agreement named OFIDA, DGC and DGRAD taxation bureaus as responsible for mobilizing funds for the MLC and RCD/K-ML. “Protocole d’Accord,” signed by Jean Pierre Bemba of the MLC and Ernest Wamba dia Wamba of the RCD-K [later, RCD/K-ML], 30 July 1999, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Witnessed by four officers of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (Brig. Gen. Kazini, Maj. Mayombo, Col. Otafire, and Amb. Marwa).

  43. 43.

    Timothy Raeymaekers, Violent Capitalism and Hybrid Identity in Eastern Congo: Power to the Margins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

  44. 44.

    E.g., “Arrêté Interdépartemental No 002/RCD/CE-DFBP-DTME/2003 Modifiant et Complétant le Régime Fiscal Applicable aux Comptoirs d’Achat et d’Exportation de Substances Minérales d’Exploitation Artisanale,” Département des Finances, Budget et Portefeuille et Département des Terres, Mines, et Energie, RCD, 26 February 2003, Goma.

  45. 45.

    Adolphe Onusumba Yemba [Letter to His Excellency the Prime Minister of Belgium, in Brussels] Cabinet Unique de la Présidence et du Secrétariat General du RCD, 21 November 2002, Goma.

  46. 46.

    Verweijen, “Half-Brewed,” 2014, 138.

  47. 47.

    See, for instance, Modeste Paulin Mba Talla, “Emergence ‘fragmégration’ et perpétuation des rebellions au Congo-RDC (1990–2010): Une politologie des groupes armés,” Ph.D. Diss. (University of Ottawa, 2012), 338.

  48. 48.

    “The Congo’s Transition is Failing: Crisis in the Kivus,” Crisis Group Africa Report N°91 (Brussels: International Crisis Group, March 2005); Jason Stearns, “From CNDP to M23: The Evolution of an Armed Movement in Eastern Congo” (Rift Valley Institute, 2012); Verweijen, “Half-Brewed,” 2014, 138.

  49. 49.

    “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 4.

  50. 50.

    Ibid., 2.

  51. 51.

    Notably, Gen. Laurent Nkunda, Col. Eric Ruohimbere and Col. Elie Gishondo.

  52. 52.

    “The Congo’s Transition is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005; Stearns, “From CNDP to M23,” 2012.

  53. 53.

    Rwanda support for hardliners also fomented resistance. “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 6.

  54. 54.

    Ibid., 10.

  55. 55.

    Ibid., 6.

  56. 56.

    Ibid., 17.

  57. 57.

    A UN panel described some of the persisting trafficking: Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. S/2005/30 (New York: United Nations Security Council, 2005); Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2005/436 (New York: United Nations Security Council, 2005).

  58. 58.

    “OFIDA: enfin, l’administration douanière de Gemena à nouveau sous la dépendance de la haute direction nationale à Kinshasa,” Radio Okapi, 15 October 2005. As International Crisis Group described, in January 2005, the MLC “threatened to withdraw from the transition unless Kabila shared control of the lucrative state-run enterprises and the local administration as was agreed at Sun City. The only integration that has taken place so far has been through the appointment of provincial governors and vice governors. All other officials remain in place, often with strong loyalties to the former belligerents.” “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” 2005, 17.

  59. 59.

    “The Congo’s Transition is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 11, 13–14.

  60. 60.

    Discussed in bureaucratic correspondences, e.g., “Usurpation des attributions et non application des instructions,” Office des Douanes et Accises (OFIDA) Sous Direction de Beni [Letter No 001/VERIFICATION/2004 to the Sub-director of OFIDA in Beni], 8 July 2004, Beni. See also Tegera, Aloys and Dominic Johnson, “Rules for Sale: Formal and Informal Cross-Border Trade in Eastern Congo” (Goma: The Pole Institute, May 2007).

  61. 61.

    “Note Circulaire No 009/CAB/MIN/FINANCES/2003,” Government of Congo, 29 December 2003, Kinshasa.

  62. 62.

    On Governor Eugene Serufuli’s involvement with CNDP, see “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 10–11.

  63. 63.

    Personal Interview with former RCD/K-ML combatant, 25 October 2015, Beni; Personal Interview with RCD/K-ML cadre member, 22 January 2016, Butembo; Congo Research Group Interviewee Z-6, 29 November 2016, Kasindi; Congo Research Group Interviewee Z-4, Mutwanga, 15 November 2016; Congo Research Group Interviewee Z-10-B, Beni, 19 February 2017; “Arms flows in Eastern DR Congo,” All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region, Report pursuant to Security Council Res. 1533 (Government of the United Kingdom, December 2004), 27

  64. 64.

    “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 17.

  65. 65.

    Bolstering government power was also expected to provide the international community with an exit strategy from Congo. “The International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2013–2017),” MONUSCO, 5.

  66. 66.

    “Reconstructing Public Administration After Conflict: Challenges, Practices, and Lessons Learnt,” World Public Sector Report (New York: United Nations, 2010); for the UN mission in Congo: “The International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2013–2017),” MONUSCO, 30

  67. 67.

    Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, Chapter 8: United Nations Peace-Keeping Mandate.

  68. 68.

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1565, October 2004, S/RES/1565 (2004).

  69. 69.

    “You Will be Punished: Attacks on Civilians in Eastern Congo” (Human Rights Watch: New York, December 2009), 33–34, 39–40. Negotiations included the 2007 Nairobi Communiqué between Rwanda and Congo and the 2008 Goma Actes d’Engagement that gathered 22 armed groups. The 23 March 2009 agreement between the Government of Congo, CNDP, and 14 local armed groups reintegrated belligerents. Parallel networks persisted in the national army, giving rise to the M23 rebellion in 2012. Stearns, “From CNDP to M23,” 2012.

  70. 70.

    Including calls for more troop deployments and an intervention force.

  71. 71.

    “The International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (2013–2017),” MONUSCO, 12.

  72. 72.

    A second phase from 2013–2017 incorporated a focus on governance and critiqued the overly technical approach of the first. As MONUSCO described the change in 2013, “For too long we have handled conflicts in Eastern Congo with technical responses. We have focused on training civil servants, construction of administrative buildings (police stations, courts etc.) and road rehabilitations. Even worse when it comes to roads; in most cases we did not asphalt them and since they have deteriorated due to the rainy season and/or lack of maintenance by the state. Millions of dollars have been spent on ‘hardware’ activities/projects with no concrete results and lack of political engagement from the state to ensure that these initiatives are sustainable and fit within their own planning strategies. Overall, we cannot expect technical responses only in response to complex political problems.” “The ISSSS: An Innovative Stabilisation Strategy for Eastern Congo,” Stabilisation Support Unit, MONUSCO, Goma, 2013. The second phase was organized around five key goals, or pillars: Democratic Dialogue; Security; Restoring State Authority; Return, Reintegration and Socio-Economic recovery; and Fighting Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

  73. 73.

    Herbst, States and Power in Africa, 2000.

  74. 74.

    “Que Constitue un Zone,” STAREC et ISSSS, Stabilization Support Unit, MONUSCO, Goma, August 2014.

  75. 75.

    Ibid. The ISSSS also focused on disarming and demobilizing combatants and training state security forces.

  76. 76.

    The M23 was the successor group to the CNDP and earlier RCD. Its name reflects dissatisfaction with the March 23 accords that reintegrated CNDP into government and military posts. See Stearns, “From CNDP to M23,” 2012.

  77. 77.

    This followed criticisms over the UN’s inability to protect civilians or deter armed groups. The UN also failed to defend Goma from the CNDP in 2008 and Goma and Bukavu in 2004. Its failure to protect civilians is critiqued back to the Second Congo War. “The Congo’s Transition Is Failing,” International Crisis Group, 2005, 23–25.

  78. 78.

    “The International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (2013–2017),” MONUSCO, 10.

  79. 79.

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 2098, 8 March 2013, S/RES/2098 (2013). The FIB was based on an idea proposed by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and supported by the Southern African Development Community. In February 2013, the Government of Congo and nine other African countries called for an intervention force at the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. The FIB was created in March 2013.

  80. 80.

    The M23 ended with the Kampala Negotiations. The connections between M23 and the Rwandan regime made it a rallying point for Congolese national identity and created popular support for the military offensive against it.

  81. 81.

    The Government of Congo created STAREC in 2010 to consolidate the security gains made under the March 23 agreement that ended the CNDP rebellion. MONUSCO designed the ISSSS to support STAREC. MONUSCO partnered with STAREC in 2010 and maintains the partnership to present-day.

  82. 82.

    Kakolele Bwambale was appointed to STAREC in Beni from 2010 to 2012, following his stint with the CNDP and before his support for the M23 rebellion. Implicating Kakolele in using this position to reestablish links with the ADF: Congo Research Group Interview V-2 with former RCD/K-ML commander (and active rebel leader, 2010–2012), Kinshasa, 18 January 2017; Personal Interview with Congolese national intelligence official V-A, Entebbe, Uganda, October 2016; On Kakolele’s involvement with combatants at this time, Interview F-28 with local chief at Eringeti, Mbau, 4 October 2015; Interview with active combatant Z-34, Beni, 1 March 2017.

  83. 83.

    On the use of tractors to support armed actors: Interview with Virunga National Park official T-3, Goma, 16 January 2017; Interview local chief S-A, Beni, 20 January 2017; Interview F-28 with local chief at Eringeti, Mbau, 4 October 2015; Interview with Congolese national intelligence official V-A, Entebbe, Uganda, 17 October 2016.

  84. 84.

    The military campaign is known as Operation Sukola I.

  85. 85.

    “Governing from the Shadows,” Congo Research Group (New York, forthcoming); Hans Romkema, “Opportunities and Constraints for the Disarmament and Repatriation of Foreign Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Cases of the FDLR, FNL and ADF/NALU,” World Bank Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Program, June 2007; Titeca, Kristof, and Koen Vlassenroot, “Rebels Without Borders in the Ruwenzori Borderland? A Biography of the Allied Democratic Forces,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 6, no. 1 (2012).

  86. 86.

    Uniforms disguise rebels as FARDC soldiers to make them more difficult to identify in military operations. Describing “joint ventures” in timber trafficking between ADF and the national army, see Romkema, “Opportunities and Constraints for the Disarmament and Repatriation of Foreign Armed Groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” 2007. UN Security Council investigative panels have also documented links between FARDC and ADF in timber trafficking: Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2011/738 (2 December 2011), para. 58; Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, S/2012/843 (15 November 2002), para. 107.

  87. 87.

    This January 2014 ambush killed FARDC Col. Mamadou Ndala. Mamadou had led the joint operations against M23 before moving northward to fight the ADF. A military tribunal charged multiple FARDC officers with supplying the ADF with weapons and uniforms and with Mamadou’s assassination. “Arret Mamadou: PRO-JUSTITIA ARRET,” Cour Militaire Operationnelle du Nord-Kivu, Republique Democratique du Congo Justice Militaire; RP N° 015°; 017°et 018/014 RMP N° 0385°; 0418 et0419/ BBM/014.

  88. 88.

    “Mass Killings in Beni Territory: Political Violence, Cover Ups and Cooptation,” Congo Research Group (New York: September 2017).

  89. 89.

    Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, S/2016/466, paras. 201–204. Mass Killings in Beni Territory: Political Violence, Cover Ups and Cooptation,” Congo Research Group (New York: September 2017).

  90. 90.

    Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, S/2016/466, para. 201. See also “Mass Killings in Beni Territory,” Congo Research Group, 2017. In February 2018, the UN Security Council sanctioned Mundos for organizing killings and collaborating with ADF.

  91. 91.

    “Mass Killings in Beni Territory,” Congo Research Group, 2017.

  92. 92.

    Forensic analysis of the bullets used in the December 2016 attack on MONUSCO in Butembo found that head stamps were consistent with FARDC or national police (PNC) stores. This attack was attributed to Mayi Mayi Kilalo, affiliated with FARDC General Bwambale Kakolele. Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, S/2017/672 paras. 160–161 and 177–179.

  93. 93.

    Describing FARDC complicity in killing civilians in the Kasais, and the role of state security forces in funding militias to carry out killings in the Kasais. “Report of a Mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights—Accounts of Congolese Fleeing the Crisis in the Kasai Region, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (August 2017). For a recent example in South Kivu, see “The CNPSC Rebellion: Social Marginalization and State Complicity in South Kivu,” Jason Stearns, Congo Research Group, 26 February 2019.

  94. 94.

    Hartzell and Hoddie, “Institutionalizing Peace,” 2003.

  95. 95.

    See, for example, Jean-François Bayart, The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010, 2nd edition); de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa, 2015; Reno, Warlord Politics and African States, 1998.

  96. 96.

    Beginning with the Groupe Speciale de la Sécurité Présidentielle (GSSP) during the transitional government.

  97. 97.

    Scholars will find similarities with Migdal’s dilemma of strong societies and weak states. Joel Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).

  98. 98.

    “The International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy for the Democratic Republic of Congo,” MONUSCO, 2013–2017, 5.

  99. 99.

    de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa, 2015.

  100. 100.

    See Michael Barnett and Christoph Zürcher, “The Peacebuilder’s Contract: How External Statebuildng Reinforces Weak Statehood,” in Paris and Sisk (eds.), The Dilemmas of Statebuilding (London: Routledge, 2009), 23–52.

  101. 101.

    Stathis Kalyvas and Laia Balcells, “International System and Technologies of Rebellion: How the End of the Cold War Shaped Internal Conflict,” American Political Science Review 104, no. 3 (2010): 415–429.

  102. 102.

    Barnett and Zürcher, “The Peacebuilder’s Contract.”

  103. 103.

    Bayart, The State in Africa, 2010; Chabal and Daloz, Africa Works, 1999; de Waal, The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and the Business of Power, 2015; Timothy Raeymaekers, Ken Menkhaus, and Koen Vlassenroot, “State and Non-State Regulation in African Protracted Crises: Governance Without Government?,” Afrika Focus 21, no. 2(2008): 7–21; Reno, Warlord Politics and African States, 1998.

  104. 104.

    See, for instance, Karl DeRouen Jr., Jenna Lea, and Peter Wallensteen, “The Duration of Civil War Peace Agreements,” Conflict Management and Peace Science 26, no. 4(2009): 367–387.