Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

The De- & Re-Construction of an Incoherent Institution: Reform of the FARDC?

Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

The De- & Re-Construction of an Incoherent Institution: Reform of the FARDC?

Article excerpt


In today's 21st century where many states teeter on failure and chronic weakness it is becoming more and more accepted in the state failure and peacebuilding literature that security sector reform (SSR) is viewed as a critical step towards state reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. Dysfunctional states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and even the former-apartheid state of South Africa have all required, and some still require, a comprehensive reform of the security sector. Within the context of the African continent, and particularly sub-Saharan Africa, there is widespread recognition that African militaries have been one of the largest eyesores on the continent in past decades. (1) In spite of a notable body of work, particularly in political science, very little attention is currently given to the role of African militaries in academic scholarship. Why is this the case? African armies, why have they been marginalized within the context of good governance discussions? Is this because African armies are no longer perceived as a threat to political and social stability as they once were? Have African states successfully contained the military threat to civilian rule? African militaries, have they learned from past mistakes and constituted internal reforms that no longer require an examination of military governance and their impacts on state and society? These questions are pertinent to an overall lack of attention paid to the military across the African continent, which is perhaps due to the idea that democracy and good governance is simply more interesting to discuss, or perhaps academicians find the military too static an institution and everything that has been learned appears to be nothing new. This paper seeks to refocus attention on the role of the military by examining post-conflict reconstruction efforts in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the impact of reform efforts on state and society. In short, this paper seeks to address this lack of attention by academicians.

The main thrust of this paper will look specifically at SSR (known locally as brassage, or integration) (2) in the DRC by focusing exclusively on the evolution of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). SSR is a multi-faceted process that requires an assortment of actors with skilled technical expertise that are supported by substantial resources with a broad vision of where SSR is not only headed, but also the problematic evolution of the FARDC as it currently exists.

This paper sees a professional and highly trained, fully functional, and adequately equipped FARDC as the institutional linchpin in the state's ability. to regain its footing to address ongoing security concerns. Without security, all other efforts and reforms will likely remain elusive. However, as it stands the FARDC remains the single greatest obstacle to governance and economic reforms, and current efforts have not produced the structural transformation of the FARDC that is needed in the DRC. Since the beginning of 2003, efforts to reform the FARDC have been severely lacking, (3) ultimately causing more insecurity throughout the DRC (particularly in the eastern Kivu provinces and the Ituri territory) with the effect of institutionalizing impunity throughout the ranks of the FARDC and causing widespread social disruption and dislocation.


Security sector reform is vital to the health and stability of the DRC. It has been acknowledged for some time by academics and political analysts that the DRC security sector needs to be completely reformed from top to bottom. (4)

The institutional history of the FARDC is one of un-professionalism and manipulation by not only political elites, but also military elites as a way to maintain a highly undisciplined force for narrow ends, which has been one of the main causal factors behind the state's dysfunction stretching back to independence. …

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