ABSTRACT

As pointed out in previous chapters, the Democratic Republic of Congo has become a focus for international interventions due to the continuing conflict and instability and, amongst other things, to the perceived ‘crisis’ of sexual violence in the country (and particularly in the East). In this chapter we will discuss the responses of other states, international organisations and international NGOs to the problems of gender inequality and gender-based violence in the DRC. We will argue that too often these responses have been based on a narrowly defined understanding of gender-based violence, and that in some cases, a failure to take into account the wider context of gender inequality in the DRC has led to programmes and interventions which have in fact exacerbated existing inequalities. We will examine the role of the United Nations peacekeeping force (MONUC/MONUSCO), and of the problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, and we will examine the ways in which international organisations and international NGOs have mounted programmes for prevention of gender-based violence and protection of victims of violence, and the arguments that rather than helping to solve the problem, these programmes and actions can have unintended negative consequences, and can even create a ‘market’ in the area of gender-based violence. Finally we will look at the attempts to bring justice (including gender justice) to the conflicts in the DRC by the use of international criminal law, and more specifically the International Criminal Court, to try Congolese war crimes. The chapter will conclude by discussing whether international intervention is ‘helping’ or ‘hindering’ the DRC and of sketching out some ways in which international interventions could be adapted to have a more positive impact on the DRC and in particular on promoting gender equality within the country.