Frédéric Boyenga-Bofala
The End Of The Great Lakes Crisis

The establishment of an Organisation for the
Security and Mutual Defence of the Alliance of
Great Lakes States (OSMDA)

1. The vital need for an organisation for Security and Mutual Defence of the Alliance

The idea of the establishment of a new sub-regional organisation regards the usefulness of adding a new institution amidst the range of institutions that already exist. Aren't we risking increasing their number unnecessarily, thereby counteracting their effectiveness? This is a good question. It's easy to stay where we are. It's certainly easy to think that we can prevent threats to peace, solve all the regional conflicts and restore and maintain peace, security and stability with nothing more than direct intervention by the United Nations; Article 51 of whose Charter provides an inherent right of collective self-defence.

I therefore take the liberty to present to the international community and the African Union the strategy that I have in mind in this regard. I think at this stage it would only be sensible to provide for the establishment of a new sub-regional organisation, if it were made clear from the outset that the idea is not simply to supplement the functions of the UN or the African Union but rather to build on them; to rely on them, to develop multifaceted co-operation with them and finally, to create certain links between the results of the work of these two organisations. In short, to rely on the institutionalization of the organisation for Security and Mutual Defence Alliance of Great Lakes states, it is necessary to think in terms of subsidiarity.The idea to keep in mind is this: in the areas of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and security that do not fall within its exclusive competence, the United Nations will only intervene, in accordance with the concept of subsidiarity, if and insofar as the objectives of the action to be taken cannot be sufficiently and effectively taken by the regional organisations or States concerned and can, therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at UN level.

And in fact, as an organisation, the African Union is just too big. I think that a future organisation for Africa is only imaginable by taking as a starting point the formation of very distinct regional groups. First of all, a high level of organisation must be provided for groups with greater reciprocal natural affinity and homogeneity. It is on these sub-regional organisations that the African Union should be able to depend, in order to fulfil its missions. It is in this vein that it seems necessary to create an organisation at sub-regional level designed to prevent any threats against security and stability in the Great Lakes region and thus also against the Alliance. This organisation, OSDMA, would, firstly, take joint decisions on the political issues affecting regional security; and secondly, it would create and, where appropriate, implement strategic action plans for the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the sub-region.

2.   The need for an organisation for Security and Mutual Defence of the Alliance

The idea of an organisation for Security and Mutual Defence Alliance simply stems from the desire to take on greater and more appropriate responsibility for dealing with one's own fate. The security of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is inseparable from that of all the other states in the Great Lakes region; namely, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Reconciliation between these states must be accompanied by a political dimension. These states must agree on the need to develop genuine regional security identity and defence, and to shoulder their responsibilities in this area. My goal is the creation of joint security arrangements.

Indeed, regional peace and security cannot be safeguarded without creative efforts proportionate to the dangers that threaten them. Our region needs a horizon, it needs a method of work, it needs a compelling ambition and it needs actions of immediate utility in the effort to regain stability. Between peoples who are grouped geographically, as the peoples of the Great Lakes region are, there must be some kind of confederate link between them protecting them all. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the war raging in Congo Zaire, whose first phase goes back to autumn 1996, showed that no one country can claim on its own to provide a serious defence of its independence or effective security of its own territory. Since none of our countries can solve the problems relating to their own stability on their own, it is important to build the first concrete foundations of a single confederate regional organisation, which would be indispensable for keeping the peace. The long years of division and fratricidal wars must end and give way to new relationships involving close partnership. In time, all the trauma should heal. The states of the Great Lakes must solemnly declare that, at the beginning of a new era in their relations, they are neither enemies nor even opponents and that they will establish new partnerships and will offer each other the hand of friendship.

My proposal for the creation of "pooled defence and security" addresses this concern. And it is based in fact on logical, confederate functionality conferring the ability to act, not by means of some common structure, but rather by specific achievements. Initially, these would create de facto solidarity, such as to generate momentum capable of leading, based on joint management of two strategic sectors and the defence and security of our countries, on through successive mechanisms, to a wider union of Great Lakes states. This amounts, firstly, to a break with past and present experiences in our regional area and, secondly, to a new and dynamic approach to integration.

The contribution that an umbrella organisation for the security and mutual defence of the Alliance could make to regional civilisation would be indispensable to maintaining peaceful relations in our common geographical area. The time has never been better or more urgent, to begin working constructively in our region. This is why I advocate the creation of a regional organisation intended to rebuild the Great Lakes family and to provide a structure that would allow that family to live and grow in peace, security and freedom.

I am convinced that stabilization and comprehensive peace in the region will not come about all at once, nor even within a single scheme, but rather, through concrete achievements which first create de facto solidarity between the state actors. This is why the creation of an Organisation for Security and Mutual Defence (OSDMA) comprising the states of the Great Lakes Alliance is not only a response to the conflicts that continue to ruin our countries, but also a genuine, first attempt to create an Organisation for Security and regional collective defence in the Great Lakes.

OSDMA would be created on the basis of Chapter VIII and, in particular, Article 52  § 1 of the Charter of the United Nations. All the actions planned under the OSDMA will be based on the natural right of collective self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The solidarity so created will make it plain that any war between the states of the region would be not merely unthinkable, but also materially impossible.

The operational role of the OSDMA would be strengthened by examining and defining appropriate missions, structures and methods; and would cover in particular:

- An operational planning unit of the OSDMA;
- Closer military cooperation, particularly in the field of logistics, transport, training and strategic surveillance;
- Meetings of the Chiefs of Staff of the OSDMA;
- Military units of the OSDMA;

The organisation of meetings of senior officials and experts to carry out exchanges of views and information on issues relating to security policy, strategy and military doctrine and other hot topics regarding security, such as the exchange of experiences on issues related to the internal control of security.

Measures to strengthen the operational role of the OSDMA would be fully compatible with the military arrangements necessary to ensure the collective defence of all the members of our Alliance. We will apply in particular to have the OSDMA given effective methods for conflict prevention, crisis management and peaceful settlement of disputes, through appropriate measures such as the establishment of a properly structured emergency consultation mechanism and the creation of a Centre for Conflict Prevention. My ambition is to set up for the new Great Lakes region an entire architecture that bears on the principles and provisions of the UN Charter. On this basis, I am determined to ensure that the organisation to be established fully contributes to the establishment of a state of peace and sustainable security and stability in all the countries of the Great Lakes.

3. The convening of an Intergovernmental Conference on Security, Defence, Peace and Regional Cooperation for the Great Lakes

The creation and safeguarding, over the entire sub-region, of democratic societies free from any form of coercion or intimidation are a direct and very real concern for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just as they are for all the other states in the Great Lakes region. The best way to protect our common security would be to conclude a Stability Pact on Security and Defence and to develop a network of relationships and linked institutions, thus forming an overall structure.

I will seek the assistance of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and also other countries in Central and Eastern Africa: Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea; and cooperation with South Africa, for the promotion of stability and peace in the Great Lakes region, by means of a common commitment to end the era of division and confrontation that has lasted more than a decade in our sub-region. I will seek their commitment to the birth of a new era of regional coexistence involving the improvement of existing relationships and the creation of new partnerships. This development must be part of an ongoing process of cooperation in building arrangements for a more united regional area of Central Africa and the Great Lakes.

This new modus vivendi is a major contribution to our joint goal of establishing security and stability in our common geographical area. In this regard, I reiterate the proposal that our party, UNIR MN, made to the international community in its Agenda 2002 for peace, in which it requested the Secretary General of the UN and the African Union, by agreement with the Great Lakes states, to facilitate the rapid convening of a credible Intergovernmental Conference, bringing together the Heads of State and Government of the Region on Security, Defence, Peace and Cooperation. I believe that this would give the representatives of the governments of the States of the Region an opportunity to discuss ways to develop regional identity in the field of security and defence. The mandates assigned to the Intergovernmental Conference are the adoption of a Regional Stability Pact and the establishment of an organisation for Security and Mutual Defence. The Stability Pact is intended to solve the problem of security and defence, minorities, as well as to strengthen the inviolability of borders.

4.   The Stability Pact of the Alliance on security and defence in the OSDMA

I believe that, without a Stability Pact freely entered into, the sub-region of the Great Lakes is doomed to insecurity. That is why I advocate the creation of cooperation arrangements regarding regional Security and Defence. It is necessary to put in place mechanisms for the control and monitoring of our borders, so as to avoid and prevent any threats to peace in the region, to coordinate our actions against regional terrorism and organized crime; and to put in place measures designed to maintain and restore peace and security in the region. In this spirit, the state parties to the Pact must affirm their duty and commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or try to change existing borders by means of the threat or the use of force, and otherwise act in a manner contrary to the purposes and principles of the Pact.

I am convinced that the signing of the Stability Pact is a major contribution to our common goal of strengthening security and stability in the Great Lakes region and in Central Africa as a whole. The Stability Pact on Security and Defence should be based on the principle of solidarity in peace and security, the creation of new partnerships between the contracting parties, and should also contain two clauses:

A mutual defence clause would set up an automatic response mechanism in the event of external attack against a member state of the OSDMA. Thus, this would amount to a duty of mutual assistance in the event of aggression suffered by a Member State.

A clause of non-interference in the internal affairs of another State, prohibiting at the same time all forms of support by the contracting state to any rebel and / or secessionist groups. In essence, this would involve putting in place a mechanism for collective self-defence, a kind of actio popularis against any state that might dare to violate its commitments, e.g. by engaging in acts of aggression or attempts to destabilize the internal security of another Member State.

This Pact must also provide a facility for the Security Council to determine the existence of an act of aggression, a threat to peace or a breach of the peace, and for the United Nations to intervene, under Chapters VII and VIII of the UN Charter, for the purpose of maintaining peace and security in the region; this would occur where the Parties to the Pact believe that the implementation of any agreed measures would be more effective in the context of operations carried out under the auspices of the UN, rather than under the Pact itself. However, it should be noted that stability must go together with both sustainability and effectiveness. It is for this reason that I propose that any member state of the Alliance and thus, any party to the Pact, initiates a national dialogue within its territory, which would be a prelude to the establishment of a democratic state governed by the rule of law, respect for the inviolable rights of the individual and the fundamental and universally accepted rule, i.e. the principle of "one man, one vote" (one person, one vote). Regarding states where ethnic minorities exist, these must be taken into account and protected effectively: this can be done by inserting a"minority clause" in the Basic Law of the State, in accordance with various existing international texts (I am thinking, in particular, of Article 27 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1996 and Resolution 47/135 of the UN Assembly of 18 December 1992).

Thus the principles of the OSDMA are clear: we undertake solemnly to consider any attack against a member of the Alliance as an attack against all states and one which we will oppose with all our might. Unswervingly faithful to the Charter of the United Nations, we would reaffirm that our Alliance will never be used for aggressive purposes. This policy statement is really an expression of the desire that drives us not to commit any acts of aggression but nevertheless to make defensive preparations for the contingency that we would be forced to do so; as well as to go beyond the military arrangements underlying our alliance and to make attempts to create real achievements in the field of politics, economy and social progress. Indeed, the peace that we would build would be inextricably linked to the progress of solidarity between men. The latter would determine the opening of borders and the exchange of people, ideas and goods. I am among those who believe that, if the Great Lakes states were to bring down their borders and to work together, they could achieve amazing results. For this reason, if it is true that political solutions cannot be divorced from economic solutions, we must draw the corresponding conclusions and must not reduce the Alliance of Great Lakes states merely to the single dimension of security and defence.