Kasper Hoffmann

Policy and Research Papers

Contesting Authority: Armed rebellion and military fragmentation in Walikale and Kalehe, North and South Kivu

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This report from the Rift Valley Institute analyses the involvement of the armed groups in public life in the territories of Kalehe and Walikale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The current political and military landscape in these territories, defined by the presence of armed groups and the consequent fragmentation of local authority, is mainly caused by unresolved tensions between and within communities over territory, authority and resources; the lack of capacity of the Congo’s state services to provide protection; and the limited success of reintegration efforts. The report explores how these armed groups are embedded in local communities, how they are connected to local power struggles and how they are involved in the exercise of local authority, including in the fields of security, dispute resolution and revenue generation. Armed groups are able to mobilize popular support by evoking two issues of existential importance to local communities—marginalization and security. While the former revolves around the historical marginalization of local communities in politics and governance, the latter frames local communities as in need of protection. These issues give meaning to armed groups’ bids for local authority and legitimize their engagement in a wide range of governmental practices normally ascribed to the state, such as taxation and the provision of justice and security.

Armed groups have evolved into dominant power brokers, which are deeply involved with ruling territory, people and resources. They have become part and parcel of local and sometimes national power dynamics, have colluded with local and national political and customary leaders, and have developed different techniques and strategies to impose or sustain their authority. The end result is further militarization and fragmentation of public space and social interactions.

To access the Contesting Authority: Armed rebellion and military fragmentation in Walikale and Kalehe, North and South Kivu report, kindly follow the link.

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Multi-layered Security Governance as a Quick Fix? The challenges of donor-supported, bottom-up security provision in Ituri (DR Congo)

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There is currently a lively debate among policy-makers and scholars about the role that local non-state actors can play in security provision in so-called ‘fragile situations’, or contexts characterized by high levels of insecurity and limited state capacity to deal with it. The idea that building security institutions based on Western models is the remedy to the insecurity of fragile situations, has come under increased criticism both from scholars and practitioners and has promoted the inclusion of local non-state actors in peace-building strategies.

This paper by the Justice and Security Research Programme (JSRP), from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) investigates ‘multi-layered’ security governance arrangements developed in the restive Ituri province in north-eastern DR Congo, where different forms of insecurity affect people’s lives on a daily basis. It looks more specifically into ‘multilayered’ security governance in Ituri’s capital of Bunia, which is facing a high level of violent crime, and in the Irumu territory, which is the site of a violent conflict between the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d’Ituri (Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri, or FRPI) and the Congolese army that is relying on support from the Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en République Démocratique du Congo (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo, or MONUSCO). The paper argues that while international support for non-state security actors can help in mitigating insecurity, it should not be considered as the ‘missing link’ in security governance. Involving local non-state security actors in security governance is perceived as a practical way to improve security conditions, but the issues which produce insecurity in north-eastern Congo are far too complex and deeply rooted for such localised “bottom-up” approaches to significantly change the status quo. Furthermore, we argue that adding new security actors may result in tensions with existing ones, that in turn may have adverse effects on the security of citizens. This is because ‘security’ is a deeply contested political issue that is ultimately about who can enforce order. ‘Multi-layered’ security, therefore, should not be seen as a technical ‘fix’ to people’s daily security problems, but rather as a political choice, the effect of which can be quite unpredictable especially in areas such as north-eastern DR Congo, where political and coercive authority is deeply contested.

To access the Multi-layered Security Governance as a Quick Fix? The challenges of donor-supported, bottom-up security provision in Ituri (DR Congo) paper, kindly follow the link.

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The Charisma of Authenticity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The purpose of this paper is to propose an analysis which discloses the various interdependencies that may exist between modes of objectifying the nation and the legitimacy of discursive strategies of nation-building in the context of a grave social conflict. The paper advances two interrelated arguments. Firstly, it argues that the order of conflict in the Congo is contingent on the strictly symbolic efficacy of myths of identity. Secondly it argues that the “charisma” of some of the country’s “Big Men” is a related to what I call the democratization of sovereignty, and neither to their supposedly exceptional individual qualities nor to a specifically African “Big Man”-syndrome. I propose that while one must be critical of the Weberian notion of “charisma” as a sociological theory of prophecy, one can nonetheless use the notion of “charisma” as a tool to analyse symbolic properties that accrue to a specific individual and his followers, to the extent that they embody a subjectivity which is held as absolute by his, or their, proper discourse.

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The Challenges of Multi-Layered Security Governance in Ituri

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There has been a slow, but growing awareness among external actors that some local non-state security actors should be involved in security governance in conflict affected situations. Already in 2006, the OECD published a report that called for a ‘multilayered’ approach to reforming actors and institutions that provide security and justice services (Scheye and McLean, 2006). Often these actors consist of local authorities, such as customary chiefs, village elders, or business people working in collaboration with different kinds of self-defense groups. The idea behind ‘multi-layered’ security governance is that the inclusion of local non state actors in security governance will improve security provision to people because they have more legitimacy. But in reality ‘multi-layered’ security governance is often marked by conflict and competition as much as by collaboration and common solutions to people’s security problems.

The Justice and Security Research Programme (JSRP), from the London School of Economics and Political Science, published this third policy brief in a series of briefs outlining the ideas and evidence behind their work. It highlights some of the opportunities and challenges of ‘multi-layered’ security governance in conflict-affected situations through a study of how it works in the Ituri Province located in north-eastern DR Congo.

To access to the JSRP policy brief The Challenges of Multi-Layered Security Governance in Ituri, kindly follow the link.

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