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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)


This research project investigates the impact of armed groups on governance structures at the national and sub-national level, in the eastern DRC.  It develops RVI’s Usalama Project, and is also supported by the ESRC-DFID Poverty Alleviation Research Grant Scheme on social networks and ex-combatants. The research analyses armed groups’ direct and indirect challenges to state authority and their own claims to public authority. Furthermore, it examines how the economic and socio-political power of armed combatants changes from wartime to peacetime, and how it is affected by different security sector reform processes. This research connects individuals’ wartime experiences with their post-war trajectories and investigate the impact on political settlements and peace building processes, with a particular focus on gender.


The project relies on extensive fieldwork in three particular areas of the eastern DRC, conducted in close cooperation with several Congolese NGOs and their researchers. Three research teams engage in fieldwork and conduct formal and semi-formal interviews with state authorities, customary chiefs, civil society leaders, UN staff and armed group actors themselves. The case study on the social mobility of armed combatants involves an innovative methodological mix of ex-combatant surveys, social network analyses, and semi-structured interviews. Social network analysis is conducted with a sub-set of survey participants to measure the impact of wartime social networks on post-conflict economic and social empowerment.


For those who work for a more stable DRC from within or outside of the country, it is important to understand how conflict can shape political settlements at the national and sub-national level. We are particularly interested in how governance structures are affected by armed group activity and how armed groups engage the state—its institutions, representatives and its very idea—and thus indirectly challenge the meaning of public authority, and how it is achieved.  We are also interested in the role that DDR processes have played in the process.  The research considers the ways in which this has incentivised proliferation of armed groups, but also affected individuals and their social networks and socio-economic activities.


Michell Thill, Connor Clerk (Rift Valley Institute), Zoe Marks (Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh)

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Photo: Martina Bacigalupo/Vu


Details :
  • Author : Harriet Cornell
  • Category : Case Studies, Conflict, DRC, Gender, Peace Processes
  • Date : June 18, 2015
  • Tags : Armed Actors Armed Conflict DRC Legitimacy Public Authority