Civil War And Human Rights Violations In The Democratic Republic Of Congo, 1996 -2003

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

Civil War And Human Rights Violations In The Democratic Republic Of Congo, 1996 -2003


This study examined the relationship between the 1996 and 2003 civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) and human rights violations in that country. The area of study was the African Great Lakes region, and the (DRC) was the unit of observation and analysis. The ex-post-facto design was adopted for the study. Data were collected from secondary sources. The secondary data were analyzed using the qualitative descriptive method, logical induction and content analysis. To enhance the quality of analysis, some inferential statistics, such as frequency distributions, simple percentages, diagrams and charts were also used.

The theoretical framework was anchored on the radical (Marxist) constructivist approach to peace and conflict analysis. The analysis of both the qualitative and quantitative data of the effect of civil war on human rights violations in the DRC between 1996 and 2003 indicated that the civil war created many contradictions in the unequal struggle for economic and political power between contending groups. In our dis-aggregated study of the contemporary Congolese civil wars between (1996-1997, and 1998-2003), showed that about 5 million people died as a result of the conflict between August 1998, and April 2003 alone. Cross-national evidence revealed that parts of the DRC endowed with higher natural resource experienced more conflicts, violation of human rights and child soldiering, than others, in the process of the struggles for their accumulation.

This indicated a positive relationship between the adversarial struggle for economic and political power amongst the contending groups, and violation of human rights in the DRC. The analysis further showed a positive relationship between renewed post-war contradictions, and continued new violations of socio-economic rights. Another key finding of the study was that many deaths were due to preventable causes, such as malnutrition and epidemic diseases and starvation which disproportionately affected young children. It was also revealed that the violations of social and economic rights created deep grievances after the war that promoted revenge issues and the resultant further violations of human rights.

Based on these findings we recommended, among others, that the age-long practice of promoting ethnicity as the bases of legitimacy in the national politics of the DRC, should be discouraged, as this has not enhanced good governance and equity. Rather, it has fostered the breakdown of national unity, and facilitated human rights violations as evident in civil wars, child soldiering, widespread rapes, sexual violence, internally displaced persons, poverty and food insecurity and so on.

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