Civilians in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are living in a nightmare. In the past year, the Rwandan-backed March 23 Movement – or M23 for short – has raped and killed dozens of civilians in the DRC’s North-Kivu province.
And this isn’t the first time. A decade ago this same group operated in the same part of the Congo, with funding and some military support from Rwanda.
But back then, in 2013, the Obama administration used diplomacy and legal tools, like sanctions to pressure Rwanda to stop its support of M23. The group collapsed without that Rwandan backing. And many analysts thought it was gone for good. Until now. Rwanda has restarted its support of M23 and the group is clashing with the Congolese military, attacking civilians along the way.
Only this time, the US response has been more talk and less action. The Biden administration has warned Rwanda to withdraw support from M23, but it hasn’t used the same diplomatic and legal tools that worked a decade ago.
To explain the conflict in DRC, and what the United States can do to pressure Rwanda to withdraw, we have Daniel Levine-Spound and Ari Tolany. Daniel is a human rights lawyer and researcher who specializes in the DRC and South Sudan. Ari is the Program Manager for the U.S. Program at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), a nonprofit organization which works to prevent civilian harm.
Listen to the podcast (transcript available as well) by clicking below.