UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Region: Central Africa Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+ Summary Contents: This posting contains the Final Statement of the Montreal Conference for Peace in Congo, held on January 29-30, 1999. Thanks to Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) for providing the English translation. Both French and English versions are available on the PAC web site (http://www.web.net/pac/). For information on the English and French e-mail services provided by PAC, visit their web site or write to email@example.com. For more information on the conference contact the organizations mentioned in the preface to the statement.
The Montreal Conference for Peace in Congo (DRC)
February 4, 1999
Congolese civil society has launched a campaign for peace in Congo (DRC). Representatives from Congolese organizations are currently visiting different parts of the world seeking support from the international community. Here is the final statement from a conference that has just taken place in Montreal, in which participated an important delegation from Congolese civil society.
For more information contact:
International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic
Development, Montreal: Tel: (514) 283 6073
Fax: (514) 283 3792 http://www.ichrdd.ca
National Council of Development NGOs of Congo (CNONGD),
B.P. 5744, Kinshasa. Fax: (243) 12-34441
The Montreal Conference for Durable Peace and Democratic Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Statement of Principles and Plan of Action
The Montreal Conference on Durable Peace and Democratic Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo took place January 29 and 30, 1999, under the auspices of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and in collaboration with the following Congolese organizations in Canada: Collective of Solidarity for Democracy in Congo-Kinshasa (CSD-CK), Forum Baraza La Kivu, la maison Lukula, Safari maison interculturelle, and Axe-Quebec-Canada-Afrique, as well as Rally for a New Society (RNS), African Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Congo/Kinshasa (ASADHO), CNONGD, Comite Droits de l'homme Maintenant, and the Coordination of Civil Society in Congo.
The Montreal Conference falls within the framework of an international campaign to bring about peace in Congo that began with the November 1998 civil society meetings held in Kinshasa and Morat, Switzerland, and the January 1999 meeting in Antwerp, Belgium. This conference is also a part of the initiatives of several African states, SADC, the OAU, the European Union and the UN to bring about peace and stability in the DRC and the surrounding region.
The Conference's objectives were:
- To enhance the contribution and participation of internal and external civil society and non-violent democratic forces to the peace negotiation process, and to achieving respect for human rights and democratic development in Congo;
- To provide an opportunity for a frank and constructive dialogue between representatives of internal and external civil society, non-violent political parties, the Congolese government and armedopposition groups, toward durable peace and the revival of the democratic process in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region.
- To sensitize in particular the Government and the people of Canada to the dramatic situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
About one hundred participants representing internal and external Congolese civil society, political parties and organizations such as UDPS, PALU, PDSC, FONUS, MNC-L and CNR, churches, observers from the Canadian Government, Canadian and African NGOs and African states as well as independent figures took part in the proceedings.
The participants regret the absence of representatives of the Congolese Government and the rebel forces (RCD) from this peace-promoting initiative, despite the efforts by the conference organizers, and invite them to participate in this continuing process to bring about a quick end to the state of war that is affecting the population in general and vulnerable groups in particular, including women and children, and to revive the democratic development process.
The participants regret also the absence of the leaders of political parties forming the democratic forces within the DRC who have been prevented until now by the restrictive measures and obstruction of the Congolese government to move freely and leave the country to attend personally this initiative for peace and search for political consensus.
The participants owe a debt of gratitude to the Canadian Government and people for their generous hospitality, and call on them to continue supporting the Congolese people's efforts to bring about durable peace and democratic development and, as host, to assist particularly in the implementation of the resolutions of the Montreal Conference.
The participants in the Montreal Conference addressed in workshops the following themes:
- Cease-fire and peace-keeping, deployment of peace-keeping forces;
- Preliminary conditions for the creation of a democratic space;
- Transitory democratic institutions and the conditions for their establishment;
- Permanent democratic institutions for the new republic.
Participants in these thematic workshops reaffirmed the following principles:
- Respect for the Democratic Republic of Congo's national sovereignty and territorial integrity;
- Cessation of hostilities and a negotiated cease-fire;
- Withdrawal of all foreign troops currently deployed in Congo following the negotiated cease-fire agreement;
- Deployment of a peace-keeping force;
- Internal dialogue and implementation of a mediation committee;
- Formation of a government and parliament with a broader political base;
- Self-determination and the capacity of the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo inside and outside the country to choose their own political leaders through peaceful, democratic means;
- The need for an inclusive political roundtable process with international guarantees as the most appropriate means of reviving the process of transition towards stable democratic institutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Respect for international human rights and humanitarian law conventions and the need to bring to justice alleged perpetrators of massive violations under these conventions;
- Need to demobilize child soldiers;
- Consensus as a means of political dialogue;
- Seizing political power by force of arms is illegal and non-legitimate.
They also adopted the following recommendations:
1. Inclusion of democratic forces and civil society at the negotiating table during upcoming talks between the Congolese Government and the rebel forces.
2. Liberation of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and non-restrictive liberalization of political party activities. A national commission was proposed to bring the resolutions of the Sovereign National Conference (CNS) up to date in the form of a national charter of democratization.
3. Convocation of an internal dialogue Forum or Roundtable. This forum or roundtable will have to take place in a country other than the Democratic Republic of Congo under safe conditions. A truth commission on economic and war crimes and massive violations of human rights will also need to be established.
4. A political will to bring about a quick end to the war. A political agreement will be required to back the negotiations of the Forum or Roundtable. The participants recommended that political and social forces play a role in implementing the agreement.
5. Deployment of an international peace-keeping force of approximately 12,000 troops and implementation of an international observer mission to supervise the withdrawal of foreign troops, to oversee the process of establishing a national republican army and democratic institutions.
6. Use of a legal framework called a transitional constitution to govern the transitional period to be negotiated during the Forum or Roundtable.
7. Establishment by the Forum or Roundtable of a constitutional commission responsible for adapting the draft constitution of the CNS in the light of developments in the Congolese political situation since the end of that conference.
8. Involvement of the population in the building of a durable peace and the revival of the democratic development process through general assemblies at the commune level.
9. Establishment of a follow-up committee for implementation of the plan of action stemming from this Montreal conference. The participants put forward two arenas of lobbying and political pressure both inside and outside the country:
- Inside the country, continue the campaign of civil society and pursue a full-scale revitalization of the political parties in order to achieve peace and democratic renewal.
- Outside the country, pursue lobbying efforts and an education and sensitization campaign aimed at governments and international institutions. Pursue a full-scale revitalization of Congolese groups outside the country working for peace and a revival of the democratic process.
The participants agreed on the following timetable for these actions:
- February 16, 1999: Start of simultaneous worldwide events with a commemoration of "Martyrs of Democracy" day, calling for a quick end to the war, the liberation of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, the non-restrictive liberalization of political party activities, and the lifting of the ban on non-governmental organizations.
- February 16 to June 30, 1999: Promote peaceful actions leading to the conclusion of the work of the internal dialogue Forum or Roundtable. Support internal mediation initiatives already in progress.
The participants call on the United Nations Secretary-General and Security Council, the current Chair and the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, the current Chair and the Commission of the European Union, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States of America to play a vigorous role in the rapid return of peace and in the democratic process in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The participants draw the attention of the international community to the massacres of civilians and other massive human rights violations in this war, in both the eastern and western parts of the country as well as to the misery of the civilian population who are victims of this useless war.
Adopted in Montreal, January 30, 1999.
************************************************************ From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 10:23:21 -0500 Subject: Congo (Kinshasa): Civil Society Statement
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, email@example.com