ICG has monitored Africa's first continental-scale war, fought on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo, since fighting began in 1998, providing at each stage analysis and recommendations to regional leaders and international policymakers.
At one level a Congolese civil war, the conflict has drawn in two opposing regional blocs - a great Lakes alliance of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in support of a Congolese rebel groups, versus Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia all backing the Congolese government in Kinshasa. A number of unfinished civil wars, including those of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Angola, are also being battled out in the Congo, while the country's own stew of local feuds has escalated, leading to renewed ethnic violence in the eastern part of the country.
The Lusaka Agreement, signed in July and August 1999 by six heads of state and all rebel leaders, has long proved hollow. While the accord largely froze the armies in their positions, it did not stop the fighting.
The death in January 2001 of Congolese President Laurent Kabila, who had refused to implement Lusaka, temporarily unblocked peace negotiations and led to intense regional and international consultations. Little progress however has been made on the three fundamental principles of the accord - the disarmament of all armed groups, the disengagement of foreign forces and the inter-party dialogue on the political future of the country. The UN mission to the Congo has faced extreme difficulty deploying.
Disarming non-Congolese armed groups operating out of the Congo has proved a particularly complex challenge, critical for the future of the peace process. Besides wreaking havoc themselves, these armed groups provide a rationale for neighbouring governments to conduct counterinsurgency operations and continue the occupation of Congolese territory, with terrible humanitarian and human rights consequences.
Violence is on the rise again, particularly in the Kivus. A continuation of the war risks further heavy loss of life, the fragmentation of the country and the destabilisation of its nine neighbours.