Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, diplomats, lawyers, and advocates from around the world have pushed for ways to hold Vladimir Putin and other senior leaders accountable for starting the war. Those efforts include creating a court to prosecute the international crime of aggression – the illegal use of force by one country against another.

But 3,000 miles south of the Russia-Ukraine border, another potential act of aggression has received far less attention. Over the past year and a half, Rwandan troops have conducted military operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and engaged in direct combat with the Congolese military and armed groups. According to the United Nations and human rights groups, Rwandan troops have actively supported the March 23 Movement, M23, a Congolese armed group with longstanding ties to the Rwandan government.

Accountability for the crime of aggression matters because acts of aggression can lead to other grave crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Punishing the crime of aggression is also essential to protecting the sovereign rights of all States, no matter their size or military strength.

Joining the show to discuss the situation in the DRC, the arguments that Rwanda is committing acts of aggression against Congo, and Rwanda’s likely responses is Daniel Levine-Spound.

Daniel is a human rights lawyer and researcher. He is currently a Fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict. Daniel was previously a U.N. Peacekeeping Researcher covering the DRC and South Sudan at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) and was based in Goma, DRC.

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