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Decreasing Violence Through Knowledge

Police enforcement on the streets - Democratic Republic of Congo

The Trouble with the Congo

Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding

The Trouble with the Congo - War and Peace - Peacekeeping - Peacebuilding - International interventions

The Trouble with the Congo suggests a new explanation for international peacebuilding failures in civil wars. Drawing from more than 330 interviews and a year and a half of field research, it develops a case study of the international intervention during the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s unsuccessful transition from war to peace and democracy (2003–2006). Grassroots rivalries over land, resources, and political power motivated widespread violence. However, a dominant peacebuilding culture shaped the intervention strategy in a way that precluded action on local conflicts, ultimately dooming the international efforts to end the deadliest conflict since World War II.

Most international actors interpreted continued fighting as the consequence of national and regional tensions alone, and diplomats and United Nations staff viewed intervention at the macro levels as their only legitimate responsibility. The dominant culture constructed local peacebuilding as such an unimportant, unfamiliar, and unmanageable task that neither shocking events nor resistance from certain individuals could convince international actors to reevaluate their understanding of violence and intervention. Through this in-depth analysis, The Trouble with the Congo proposes innovative ways to address civil wars in Africa and beyond.

Read the first chapter of the book.

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