The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the implementation of the Ezulwini Consensus: Challenges and prospects
Tunamsifu, Shirambere P.
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This article is evaluative assessing the implementation of the Ezulwini Consensus by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). In early April 2012, a mutiny started in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), resulting in the creation of the rebel group known as the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23). The spread of M23 constituted a serious threat to peace, security and stability in the entire African Great Lakes region. On the basis of the Ezulwini Consensus, which emphasises that regional organisations in areas of proximity to conflicts should be empowered to take action, the ICGLR resolved to intervene. Through several summits attempting to find a home-grown solution, the ICGLR faced two main challenges in implementing the Ezulwini Consensus. The first was related to the lack of actions and sanctions against member states that violated fundamental principles and the second was related to the lack of neutrality of the chairperson of the ICGLR during the dialogue between the government of the DRC and M23. The intervention of the ICGLR is important, but in such circumstances, it is crucial that member states demonstrate their political will to respect fundamental principles and sanction members that allegedly ignore these principles. In the mediation process, where there is sufficient evidence to indicate that a member state is allegedly providing support to rebel groups that are destabilising another member state, it is important that the ICGLR adopt a policy of requesting such a country to avoid taking the lead in or mediating the conflict. However, when regional organisations in areas of conflict face such challenges, the African Union must take responsibility for comediating or sending African experts to resolve the conflict impartially.