News & UpdatesDecember 02, 2011-Democratic Republic of Congo, Staff Notes, Programs
Federico Borello is a director for Humanity United's Investments team. He is based in our Washington, D.C. office.
This week, Congolese citizens went to the polls for the second time in the country’s history to elect a president and national parliament. While the first elections in 2006 were hailed as historic, this week’s events are no less important. The vote comes at a time when the country is still fragile, trying to recover from 15 years of deadly conflict while peace still eludes some parts of its eastern territory.
While it is too early to know whether the elections will be deemed sufficiently free and fair, it is hoped that political leaders will play a responsible role in the weeks to come to help prevent violence from breaking out. In the months leading up to this week’s elections, Humanity United has partnered with international organizations within Congo to help advance a peaceful electoral process.
Conflict early warning
First, we partnered with Human Rights Watch to implement a monitoring mechanism to report human rights violations, before, during, and after the elections. HRW opened an office in the capital city of Kinshasa, and set up a network of local observers in critical parts of the country. Through the reports provided by this network, HRW has been keeping local and international policymakers informed and engaged to advance their efforts to prevent violence and ensure a peaceful election outcome. But we know no matter the outcome of the election, more challenges remain during the transition period.
Post-election transition: Fostering good governance
The government that will come out of the ongoing electoral process will face many challenges. Improving governance at all levels should be at the forefront of the government’s concerns, and Humanity United will work with its partners to support good governance in Congo.
To help bring citizen’s voices and needs to the attention of the incoming government, Humanity United supported a project by the National Democratic Institute to gather—through targeted focus groups—citizen’s views and expectations of their government. Similarly, with funding from Humanity United, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative conducted a feasibility study to perform a large-scale population survey that would gather Congolese views on a range of issues, from post-election priorities and natural resources management, to the International Criminal Court and resettlement of former combatants and refugees.
Our hope is the results of these two complementary projects will inform the policies of the Congolese government and major international donors to the country. This information is also intended to assist private funders like Humanity United as they make strategic choices in their programmatic work.