Old is New: M23, Rwanda and Conflict in the Eastern DRC

Old is New: M23, Rwanda and Conflict in the Eastern DRC
Two U.N. soldiers stand guard in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 30, 2012 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Armed groups proliferate like rabbits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From the state’s collapse in the early 1990s through two wars at the turn of the 21st century to today, the lack of government control over the country’s territory makes it easy for a few dozen -- or a few thousand -- men to take up arms, tax local populations, exploit natural resources and engage in massive human rights abuses against civilian populations.

The DRC’s numerous armed groups are formed for a diverse array of reasons, ranging from legitimate concerns over land rights in the country’s eastern Kivu provinces to xenophobic discrimination against particular ethnic groups to a desire to control key trade routes or natural resource revenues. Taking names that almost invariably include the words “justice,” “freedom” or “liberation,” many groups fizzle within a few months or years, while others build enough strength and a strong enough financial base to sustain decades of sporadic, low-intensity fighting with DRC government forces and one another. Most are rarely mentioned or known outside of the region or even in Kinshasa, the country’s capital city, 950 miles away.

In 2012, however, one new Congolese armed group managed to break through the veil of obscurity to grab international headlines. From its formation in April to its dramatic capture of Goma in November, the M23 movement has become one of the strongest eastern Congolese armed groups to arise in many years.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review