Monday, May 6, 2013

Dallying at DFAIT Due to the DRC

I went to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade today as they had a roundtable on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I don't know bumpkus about the Congo since I only studied its politics for the years 1960-1963--when Katanga tried to secede.  But I went today because the topic was intervention there, and I figured I could catch up a bit on one of the most intensive/extensive/enduring UN efforts. 

What did I learn?
  • M-23, the new rebel group getting heaps of attention, despite having various ICC indictees involved, is actually better than average on human rights abuses.  Of course, that says a lot about the average rebel group .... or government in Congo.  The army of the DRC--the FARDC--is pretty awful.
  • The various rounds of DDR (disarmament, demobilization, reintegration) have meant the inclusion of "former" rebels in the FADRC, which means that the government's military is infiltrated, that not all of the DDR-ed have given up their allegiances.  I know that the prospect of this is one thing that makes DDR hard, but I am curious whether there has been much social science to assess when this problem is particularly bad.  Any readers have any suggestions?
  • That DFAIT, the Canadian government, and perhaps Canada in general has awesome MAT leave.  The person running the roundtable is going to be gone for a year as she is about to have a baby.  I know I have heard about this policy before, but when I am reminded of this, I just think this is awesome.  I had, um, a few days.  And it was a very tough year.  So, much kudos to Canada for this policy.
  • Speaking of such stuff, this roundtable at DFAIT is a lot like a political science class at McGill--the gender balance was about 65%-35% females to males.  All of the CIDA reps who came over were female.  Not sure what, if anything, this means.  Is the DRC as a topic more likely to have female desk officers at Foreign Affairs and at Canada's Development branch?  Do the two agencies  just generally have more women?  The Department of National Defence, military folks excluded, seemed more balanced. 
Anyhow, it was an interesting morning in the big brown building on the edge of Ottawa.

No comments: