The UN Group of Experts report which accused Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels was a result of a process that violated the UN mandate by failing to cooperate with regional governments and UN agencies, an assessment of the report by an influential US family foundation has concluded.
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, an American private family foundation that has invested in DRC and the Great Lakes region since 1999, commissioned an evaluation of a series of UN Group of Experts (GoE’s) special reports on DR Congo over the last few years.
It concluded that the experts’ 2012 report was particularly biased against Rwanda and lacked essential diplomacy to reach recommendations that would have helped to advance regional peace and stability.
“While prior GoE reports focused on a broader range of interactions, the 2012 Final Report reads as a prosecution of Rwanda, and, to a lesser extent Uganda, largely ignoring significant factors that contributed to unrest in the DRC,” a report from the Foundation’s assessment, published on Monday, reads in the part.
The assessment details how the experts ignored issues that underscore the context of instability in eastern DRC such as the presence of FDLR rebels, the lack of effective governance in eastern DRC, and the country’s corrupt military of FARDC.
“It is critical that policy-makers read the 2012 GoE reports in the context of the GoE’s prior reports and data on other key topics when it comes to understanding the sources and solutions to conflict in DRC. Prior reports highlight other key factors contributing to conflict in the region,” the Foundation argues.
The evaluation described how prior UN GoE’s reports, which investigated other issues in eastern DRC on a range of topics such as exploitation of minerals and the security situation, had been done in a diplomatic way and secured the cooperation of regional governments both during the research period and afterwards.
The Foundation castigated policymakers who relied on the November 2012 report to suspend aid to Rwanda without a clue on how it “focused on demonstrating Rwanda’s and Uganda’s involvement in M23 and not the multiple, broader contributing factors to instability in the region.”
The Foundation said it is wary the deterioration of cooperation and diplomacy that preceded the 2012 Final Report where governments of Rwanda and Uganda reacted ‘angrily’ as the experts adopted an accusing stance in violation of the UN mandate, which requires the experts to use diplomacy and cooperation for their work.
In the evaluation report, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation said it was frustrated with the lack of cooperation and diplomacy reflected in the experts’ November 2012 report, and the rush “punitive response” that bilateral donors applied on Rwanda.
It has also urged the current GoE to ensure that its future reports meet “the high standards of cooperation” previously set by the UN, if it is to rely on their reports to inform its grant-making decisions.
The discredited GoE report was compiled by a team headed by Steve Hege, and was castigated by several parties conversant with the affairs of the region, especially on its unfounded allegations on Rwanda’s support of the rebel movement.
This questions the credibility of the experts, especially following a series of publications that came to light in which Hege openly plays advocate for militia FDLR.