The DRC Training Initiative

Initiative pour un Leadership Cohésif en RDC/DRC Leadership Training Initiative

The Initiative for a Cohesive Leadership in the DRC (ILC in its French acronym) aims to bring a critical mass of influential Congolese leaders from all walks of life, at national and local levels, into a collective assessment of their responsibilities with regard to their country’s day-to-day management, from border security to the management of community crises, the protection of civilians, or the more responsible use of the country’s resources. Since its inception in January 2006, ILC - in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, training experts, and institutions such as ESSEC-Paris based Institut de Recherche et d'Enseignement sur la Négociation en Europe - has convened over 800 participants in approximately 40 retreats and follow-on workshops throughout the country, with a particular focus on eastern DRC. Sessions span from 3 to 5 days and gather an average of 35 participants.

Over the years, the ILC has gained a reputation as a convenient, inspiring and decisive forum for antagonistic players seeking a way out of violence and zero-sum game competitions. Likewise, its flexible, “à la carte” approach consisting of crisis management simulations, role-playing, and a sense of ownership entrusted to participants in dealing with issues specific to the DRC, allows for frank debates and final, personal, and collective engagements than would more traditional seminars and conferences. Also, the collegial ways in which influential leaders (with or without titles) engage each other on a personal level or in a group-setting have earned the ILC a great deal of respect and credibility. However, the success of ILC’s workshops has spotlighted the scope of DRC’s challenges, namely, to bring together high level decision and opinion-makers to assume collective responsibility, borne from a notion of “cohesive leadership”. Indeed, it is ILC’s conviction that the venue and manner in which messages (on governance, protection of civilians, etc.,) are relayed, count more than the messages themselves, in a country marked by political posturing of "legitimate suspicion" vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

ILC’s Overall and Specific Objectives

Today’s DRC is a patchwork of contexts ranging from situations of extreme human insecurity indicative of a fragile State (e.g. Equateur or parts of the Kivu provinces) to cases of protracted lawlessness and a latent sense of socio-economic imbalance and impropriety. Yet, the contrasts between those all too familiar features of the DRC’s crisis, and other dynamics of democratic debate as well as economic and financial initiatives which tend to reflect progress against political intimidation and fatalism is stark.

In light of such a fluid reality, the ILC has distanced itself from a workshop “shopping list” pedagogy, as was the case the past four years, and developed a“cohesive and responsible leadership Strategy.” The latter targets state officials’ (as well as traditional chiefs’) perception of their responsibilities towards ordinary citizens. As such, it revolves around three axes that should shape the DRC State’s and society’s agenda for the years to come with the electoral challenges in mind: 

securing people, borders, resources – the security and human protection axis(targeting high command and top security officials);
enabling citizens, or community members, to coexist in peace and to manage their tensions – the community coexistence axis (encouraging dialogue between State officials and influential, traditional or civil leaders);
fostering and maintaining an enabling economic environment, for all stakeholders – the conducive economic environment axis (targeting key socio-economic actors from central and decentralised state, unions, chiefdoms, and society);

Planned Activities 

This three-pronged strategy will translate into a series of retreats and follow-up workshops using ILC’s alchemy of empathy and assessment. Retreats and follow-up workshops will be selected and carried out according to an ongoing evaluation of the country’s political, security, and social landscape with two major criteria: (i) contributing to the management of a new political crisis and (ii) seizing windows of opportunity to pre-empt crises (e.g. the ILC’s Katanga retreat of January 2010), to contribute to the resolution of underlying causes of conflict, to establish the essential pre-conditions for conflict resolution (e.g. the ILC’s role in the run up to, and aftermath of the Goma Conference of 2008). Supporting the Security Sector Reform (SSR) initiative will also be at the center of ILC’s strategy with a specific focus on the military high command and their corresponding senses of individual and collective responsibility. 

Geographical coverage will derive from constant analysis and consultation with key actors and donors.

Expected Results

Overall, it is envisaged that the collaborative decision-making skills of key Congolese leaders will be increased by their collegial interactions through ILC’s retreats. In the short term, concrete assessments, recommendations, and commitments by leaders of the country will be compiled and relayed to appropriate members of the donor community. Another concrete product should be a set of tools to gauge the level, shape, and strength of cohesion among key actors on a number of issues, sectors and areas vital to DRC’s stability. 

You can read more about this and other Congo-related resources at the Wilson Center by following the links below.

Publications and Research
Refugee return to and from the DRC, full report available for download below
UNHCR, 2007

Election Observation Missions: Making them Count
Leader of the Carter Center's observer mission to the July 30th elections, former Canadian Prime Minister and Wilson Center Scholar Joe Clark examines the future of the field of election observation.

Possible Response to Coltan Exploitation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, full report available for download below
A powerpoint presentation by scholar John Katunga looks at the role of the mineral coltan in fuelling conflict in the eastern DRC.

Report on Sexual Violence in South Kivu
Report on the Causes and Consequences of Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Rethinking the Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed, and Greed
A book from the Wilson Center press examines the role of economics and ideology in fueling civil conflicts in Central and West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Beyond State Crisis?
A book by Mark Beissinger and Crawford Young compares and contrasts state development between post-colonial Central Africa and post-Soviet Central Asia.

Experts & Staff