Great Lakes Project supports the United Nation Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region in regional Civil Society consultations

The partners in the Great Lakes Project (GLP) currently support the Civil Society consultations of the Office of the United Nation Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. These consultations have been held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and will culminate in a regional meeting in mid-September. They aim at creating greater awareness and ownership of the "Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region" (PSC). GPPAC, NPI-A and ACCORD supported these consultations with an aim at linking these endeavours with existing national and regional actors and structures, in particular the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and its Regional Civil Society Forum.

The PSC Framework was signed in February 2013 by 13 countries from the African Great Lakes Region and aims at addressing cycles of violence in the DRC, particularly the eastern part, and approaching solutions regionally. Those regional ramifications were one of the reasons for the involvement of the UN, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the ICGLR to be involved as brokers and guarantors.

To add political and military weight to the initiative the mandate and capacities of the UN peacekeeping force in Congo were strengthened and a special enjoy for the region, Mary Robinson, nominated. Mrs. Robinson recently handed over her role to Said Djinnit, an experienced Algerian diplomat.

The implementation of the action plan for this "framework of hope" has however been uneven. Military interventions together with political pressure on DRC's neighbours lead to the rendition of the most active militia, the M23. But other armed groups are still thriving. A particular area of concern, supported by a recent research on perceptions about peace in the DRC, is that those processes remain at higher political level and that the local population is not informed or involved in its implementation.

In recognition of this as well as to incite the various signatory governments to fully implement the framework the office of the special envoy has reached out to civil society groupings in the DRC and the region. The involvement of none-state actors in regional peacebuilding frameworks is important to ensure the sustainability and responsiveness of such initiatives.

To contribute to the UN´s initiative and facilitate linkages with relevant national and regional players, in particular the ICGLR, the  GLP partners agreed with the UN office to help facilitate the consultation national meetings and one regional meeting to be held in September. Through this the GLP aims to encourage further cooperation and national and regional peacebuilding frameworks and efforts to build in each other.