The Democratic Republic of Congo – A cycle of underdevelopment and conflict

 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has undergone significant economic and political upheaval. Although the Lusaka peace agreement was signed in 2003 to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity, nowadays the situation remains politically unstable with high levels of violence in certain regions, particularly in the East.

The main aim of this paper is to apply the ‘conflict trap’ theory to the case of the DRC: how negative economic factors and underdevelopment lead to conflict, and at the same time, how conflict reinforces underdevelopment and worsens the economic conditions, reinforcing the cycle of war. With this purpose, the paper studies the historical and economic background of the country, contrasting model explanations with the available data.

Although the words ‘cycle’ or ‘trap’ may transmit the idea that nothing can be done to improve the situation, the final purpose of the study is to present critical policy actions to be implemented by the Congolese government and by the international community in order to get out of the trap.