Working Effectively in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: DRC and Rwanda - International Development Committee Contents

4  Governance and accountability

Creating inclusive public institutions

56. The World Development Report concludes that "institutional legitimacy is the key to stability."[89] When states cannot or do not provide basic security, guard against corruption or provide access to justice, and when there are few employment opportunities and communities lose social cohesion, the risk of conflict increases. Helping to create better institutions which can deliver security, justice and basic services in an inclusive manner to the population is therefore an important component of post-conflict state building. DFID has a role to play, along with other donors.

57. The World Development Report also points out that strengthening governance systems in fragile states is particularly difficult because citizen expectations may be too low due to mistrust, or too high, wanting immediate transformations. However, the changes needed will take time—often a generation—if they are to be durable. Expectations of change therefore need to be tempered to recognise that results may not be apparent for many years. There is an important balance to be struck between wanting to see early results from donor funding and ensuring stability.

DFID's approach to strengthening governance

58. Strengthening governance and security in fragile and conflict-affected states is one of the structural reform priorities set out in DFID's 2010 Business Plan. DFID focuses on the institutions responsible for supplying public services, and civil society or public demands for more accountable institutions and better services:

We support better governance at the national level by working on institutions, parliaments and service delivery, and are increasing our focus on sub-national levels including local governance structures and communities. We work closely with civil society to help deliver services but also as an agent of change and to help hold governments to account.[90]

59. In general DFID allocates a significant part of its assistance in country programmes to improving governance. For example in the DRC governance and security will receive £25 million per year (or 12% of DFID's budget for the DRC) in 2011-12 rising to £30 million (or 11% of the budget) in 2014-15. DFID plans to work increasingly towards reform and strengthening capability at the local level to kick start reform of basic services. In addition it will work to build state capacity in core state functions such as civilian protection and strengthen accountability through the media and civil society.[91]

Support for elections

60. DFID views support for elections as one step in a much broader process of building a more inclusive political system. In the DRC DFID has been providing assistance to parliament, political parties and the electoral commission as well as supporting civil society organisations and the media to improve accountability and transparency. Donor support of the 2011 elections will cover 37% of the costs compared to 90% in 2006.[92] DFID has provided £58.8 million through the UN Development Programme to consolidate the democratic framework and increase citizen participation in the political system. DFID says it will ensure 31 million voters are registered for the elections.

61. We visited a voter registration centre in Goma. It had a sophisticated system involving biometric data. The registration process could be completed with an hour, although people could expect to queue for many hours, collecting numbered tickets early in the morning and returning later in the day. The voter registration data was entered onto a computer, stored onto a disk and then transferred to Kinshasa for "cleaning." This would allow management of the central data to remove duplicates and false registrations. DFID told the Committee that holding elections in a country the size of the DRC was expensive, but not excessive given the constraints. In particular the lack of infrastructure meant some communities were hard to reach.

62. Human Rights Watch have welcomed the importance that DFID has placed on "helping countries to build open and responsive political systems, [...] and empower citizens to hold their governments to account." However, they also stressed that DFID should view elections as a starting point only in the statebuilding process. Ensuring the rule of law, protection of human rights and dealing with impunity were as important.[93] International Alert said that, in addition to the technocratic aspect of organising elections, donors should be concerned with "empowerment, inclusion and drawing groups in that traditionally are not represented in these powerbroking elites?"[94] In particular, they pointed out that the percentage of women represented in the national government decreased after the 2006 election from 12% to 8%.[95]

63. A UN report on human rights in the pre-election period in the DRC found that there were 188 cases of human rights violations in the year leading up to September 2011. It noted that the situation in the East was of particular concern. Political parties were targeted and members locked up or subjected to ill-treatment. Other political parties had not imposed restraints on their followers. The report also highlighted a trend of manipulation of the police, intelligence and justice sectors by political actors. It concluded that "the continued repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the pre-electoral period may increase the likelihood of individuals and political parties resorting to violent means, endanger the democratic process and lead to post-electoral violence."[96]

64. As this report went to press, the results of the election were not yet confirmed, although it seemed likely that President Kabila would secure a second term with about 49% of the votes. The main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, obtained 32% according to the results and has disputed the outcome. The risks of post-election violence were real. A mediation team, formed with the backing of the election commission and the UN peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, has held talks with President Kabila and Mr Tshisekedi in a bid to defuse tensions.[97]

65. Support for democratic elections contributes to better governance, but it is only a starting point. We support DFID's efforts to assist with the voter registration process in the DRC although we do have concerns about using expensive biometric systems. DFID must also ensure that wider issues of empowerment and inclusion, especially for women, are discussed as part of the wider electoral agenda. The rise in pre-election violence, especially in the East, was worrying. However, events have overtaken us and the general election has taken place. We expect the UK Government to make representations to its political partners there to ensure such violence does not also mar the local elections scheduled for 2013. The international community must obtain guarantees from the DRC Government that these less high profile elections take place as planned.

Impunity and human rights

66. It is widely held that the best way to strengthen governance systems is by working with them. The Paris Principles on Aid Effectiveness refer to this as alignment with government systems. As discussed in the previous chapter, delivering aid through government systems in the form of general or sector budget support is one way of doing this.

67. However, concerns have been expressed about aspects of governance in Rwanda. The NGO Human Rights Watch said:

"the Rwandan government's methods of governance have accentuated public disillusion and frustration, cutting across ethnic, regional and political lines. Although most Rwandans do not express these feelings openly for fear of repercussions, private conversations with Rwandans from a range of backgrounds reveal that many people feel alienated by the political climate."[98]

The organisation added that DFID tended to focus too much on "the technocratic dimensions of building up state capacity, and not enough on whether the Government is upholding human rights, whether it is respecting the rule of law and whether it is allowing journalists to operate freely."[99]

68. Human Rights Watch also pointed out that the UK was in a strong position to influence the Government of Rwanda. Not only was the UK the largest donor, it also had a ten year Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Rwanda which included consideration of human rights and responsible government. Good governance was a key component of many of DFID's programmes in Rwanda and amounted to approximately 30% of DFID's budget there, but according to Human Rights Watch this did not appear "to have made any appreciable impact on the observance of human rights or the responsiveness and transparency of governance in Rwanda. [...]Indeed, with respect to freedom of expression and political space, the situation may even have worsened in the last 10 years"[100]

69. On our visit we met with human rights NGOs, lawyers and journalists in Kigali. They explained how difficult it was to have a mature discussion about human rights with the Government. A recent "genocide ideology law" had made it difficult for journalists or human rights groups to express any concerns.[101] Tensions were building up under the surface because people were unable to speak openly. The press reported that the Government of Rwanda was attempting to assassinate Rwandans in exile in the UK and that the Metropolitan Police were investigating this.

70. We asked the Secretary of State his views on the human rights situation in Rwanda. He said:

Certainly, on a number of occasions I have raised with the President and his Ministers the issue of press freedom and the issue of multi-party democracy. I think we need to respect the views of the Government of Rwanda about the difficulty of having political plurality in the aftermath of a genocide, where there are great dangers with a population that are not as literate as Western populations. We need to respect their concerns about issues of genocide ideology and so forth, but equally we need to see progress towards greater political freedom and plurality of parties.[102]

71. We understand the difficulties faced by the Government of Rwanda in trying to forge a united country and make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals whilst still recovering from the genocide 17 years ago. Rwanda has made remarkable progress on both fronts and the UK Government has placed great faith in Rwanda's capacity to continue to do so. We appreciate the Government of Rwanda has concerns about those who fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide and for whom there is no right of extradition from EU countries. Nevertheless we believe the UK Government should set out some indicators or benchmarks in its budget support agreements about what type of improvements it expects to see in areas such as freedom of speech and of association over the remaining period covered by the Memorandum of Understanding. This might include ensuring human rights organisations can operate freely and improving freedom of the press.

Improving accountability and transparency in the mining sector

72. Another area of concern brought to our attention has been the management of the mineral sector in the DRC. This sector accounts for approximately 70% of the country's exports and 28% of its GDP.[103] According to Global Witness much of this wealth is being used to fund and perpetuate conflict in the DRC when it is used by armed militia groups to fund campaigns and prolong fighting. Others argue that, while economic profit provides one motive for fighting or prolonging conflict, longstanding tensions over ethnicity, citizenship and land rights are also relevant, especially in eastern DRC, and that the militarisation of trade in minerals has occurred because of the weakness of the Government in eastern DRC.[104]

73. The minerals in the DRC are a source of considerable wealth. It is estimated that DRC holds 80% of the world's coltan, used in mobile phones and other electronic equipment, 49% of its cobalt and 10% of its copper reserves.[105] The mineral sector has the potential to contribute $1,184 million per annum to government revenues between 2015 and 2020, based upon improved effectiveness of tax collection and reasonable assumptions of increased investment in the sector because of a more attractive investment environment.[106] However, recent activities in the sector demonstrate that despite some improvements in governance, transactions are not always transparent, and mismanagement and corruption continue.


74. In the autumn of 2010 the World Bank suspended new aid disbursements to the DRC following decisions in the mining and forestry sector including the confiscation of assets held by international companies. One of these was the KMT mining operation in south eastern Katanga province. The operations were owned 65% by First Quantum—listed on the Toronto and London stock exchanges—10% by the South African state's Industrial Development Corporation and 7.5% by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation. The DRC Government cited irregularities as the reason for its action. The World Bank demanded that the rights to KMT not be sold on as long as the dispute remained unresolved.

75. Global Witness claimed that, in early August, the DRC announced publicly that it had sold on the rights to KMT to a company called Metalkol, owned 70% by Highwind Properties Ltd, a company owned by Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire who is said to be close to President Joseph Kabila.[107] This, combined with other actions by the Congolese Government, led the World Bank to freeze all new programmes, including Promines, a project co-funded by DFID, to regulate the mining sector and improve its transparency.

76. For the suspension to be lifted, the DRC agreed to fulfil a number of conditions, including to publish all agreements in the mining, oil and forestry sectors. The document in which this is all laid out is called the "economic governance matrix." Global Witness told us "The key thing [...]was that the Congolese Government promised to publish natural resource contracts. All contracts in mining, oil and forest would be published within 60 days of their coming into effect. This is a really big thing and it is very unusual for any country in the world to promise to publish natural resource contracts. That is a brilliant thing."[108]

77. However, Global Witness pointed out that there had been further secret sales of state owned companies and that these represented sizable sums of money: "Based on what we have seen so far, the recent secret sales amounted to well over $2.6 billion—$2.6 billion in a country with a GDP of around $12 billion. They were not announced. We have no idea what these companies are."[109] Global Witness argued that DFID should suspend a portion of its governance aid until the DRC made greater improvements in this area.[110] The Secretary of State told us: "There are no easy answers to these issues. There is a longstanding issue and problem with mineral extraction in the DRC. It would be facile of me to think that any one particular measure is going to remedy that."[111]

78. There is a long history of mineral wealth being used to fund and perpetuate conflict and criminality in the DRC, especially in the East. The Government of the DRC has taken some measures to regulate the industry: however, it is clear that these remain insufficient. The World Bank Economic Governance Matrix, with which the Government of DRC complied, strikes us as a good example of a means of helping to create greater transparency and accountability in the industry. We commend the Bank for this approach. However, the Bank may have been too hasty in resuming funding since the Government of DRC has continued to permit secret sales of assets and First Quantum has as yet had no redress. We recommend that DFID give transparency and accountability in this sector greater priority, building on its work with Promines. The mineral sector has the potential to generate significant wealth which must be used for the benefit of the people of DRC. Given the linkages between this sector and conflict in the DRC the risks of not properly managing this sector are that development gains made elsewhere will be forgone. DFID must set out clearly for the Government of the DRC what it expects in terms of transparency and accountability in the mineral sector and withdraw assistance if these expectations are not met.

Improving the confidence of ordinary citizens in their state

79. Improving governance involves helping citizens and communities to hold governments to account for service provision. This usually involves investing in civil society strengthening programmes. We met with the recipients of one such programme, Tuungane, in the DRC. Tuungane's goal is to ensure that community priorities and well-being are supported by capable and accountable local governance systems. Local communities, which were chosen at random, were organised to identify a project. Some communities chose a clinic or a school; others a meeting room or a water tap. We visited two different communities benefiting from this programme—a secondary school and the Bunyakiri health centre, and a village where the local village council, headed by a woman, had decided they wanted to have a water pipe which delivered fresh water which was easy to access and keep clean. It was clear that giving communities an opportunity to prioritise how their village would develop created a good sense of empowerment and ownership although at times there was confusion over the communities' expectations. DFID will spend 17% (£25 million) of its annual DRC budget on such community programmes in 2011-12 but this is projected to decrease to about 7% (£17 million) of the budget by 2014-15.[112]

Governance programmes

80. It is not always easy to defend significant investments in governance which do not necessarily provide immediate measurable results. Dr Wheeler of the Institute of Development Studies told us: "It is very difficult to measure governance-related outcomes, and there is a bit of a concern that sometimes the more important things that happen in development are the least easy to measure. If there is a really heavy focus on measuring, there is a risk that we end up doing what is measurable, rather than what is actually most important to do."[113]

81. Supporting better relations between the state and society, increasing responsiveness, responsibility and citizenship, should be a key component of governance programmes. Increasing the degree of local ownership over programmes helps to build bottom up accountability and increases political legitimacy—a key component of peace building in post-conflict societies. DFID should ensure that it does not focus excessively on formal institutions at the expense on informal community-building approaches. We recommend that DFID continue to invest at least 10% of its budget in the DRC on bottom-up community building programmes.

89   World Bank, Conflict, Security and Development, World Development Report 2011, World Bank: Washington DC , Forward Back

90   Ev 49 Back

91   DFID, DRC Visit briefing, 2011 Back

92   DFID, DRC visit briefing 2011 Back

93   Q 11 Back

94   Q 11 Back

95   Q 11 Back

96   Report of the UN Joint Human Rights office on Human rights and fundamental freedoms during the pre-electoral period in the DRC, November 2011 Back

97 at 8 December 2011 Back

98   Ev 77 Back

99   Q 2 Back

100   Ev 79 Back

101   Qqs 16 -17 Back

102   Q 122 Back

103   Ev 99 Back

104   N Garrett and L Seay, "Trade, Development and Peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes," Accord, Issue 22, 2011 Back

105   DFID, DRC visit briefing, June 2011 Back

106   Ev 72 Back

107   Ev 100 -101 Back

108   Q 45 Back

109   Q 53 Back

110   Q 48 Back

111   Q 137 Back

112   Ev 73 Back

113   Q 77 Back

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Prepared 5 January 2012