As I noted in my recent remarks at the Brookings Institution, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the DRC, deserves a much higher place on the world's foreign policy priorities list. Conflict in the DRC has resulted in more than five million deaths since 1998. No other conflict or act of violence since World War II has come anywhere close to taking so many lives. Eastern DRC's chronic instability also negatively impacts the security, political, economic, and development goals of the country's nine neighbors. This is one of the reasons why it is imperative for the United States and the international community to work with the DRC and other regional partners to break this cycle of death and suffering and address the consequences of this violence.
The United States has worked tirelessly to help address the underlying causes of instability, but if the world does not get more serious about finding a formula that will lead to a lasting arrangement for stability in the DRC, then it is highly probable that the same cycle of violence, and its subsequent horrors, will continue. I do not believe that we can, or that we should, accept this status quo. We must do much better.
Breaking the eastern DRC's cycle of violence and instability requires four basic components, all four of which are equally important and protect the territorial integrity of the DRC. First, the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and other countries in the region must sign and implement the United Nations framework agreement as soon as possible.
Second, this agreement should be augmented by establishing a comprehensive peace process around the agreement's principles. Such a peace process won't be easy, which is why the United States supports the development of strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance, and the appointment of a high-level UN envoy dedicated to pushing the peace process forward.
Third, a regional intervention brigade must be stood up and integrated into MONUSCO, the UN's peacekeeping mission in the DRC. Such a force will provide MONUSCO with the capacity to prevent rebel groups in the eastern DRC from threatening civilian populations, committing human rights abuses, and undermining efforts to restore stability, security, good governance, development, and economic opportunity.
Fourth, and finally, the DRC Government must build on its incremental reform progress by implementing long-overdue reforms. And if the international community is serious, international assistance should be conditioned on the DRC Government making further reform progress.
Finding a sustainable solution to the protracted instability in the DRC will continue to be a daunting challenge, but we should not shrink from acting because the way forward is difficult. We must build on the courage and resiliency of the Congolese people for a brighter future for the DRC and for Africa as a whole.