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 War in Congo - the involvement of the west

Short summary of the workshop "War in Congo - the involvement of the west" (Monday 10:00); by Congo-Ned

The civil war in the D.R. Congo (independent: 1960; main resources: copper, uranium) officially ended in 1999 with the Lusaka treaty. However, it still goes on in a more diffuse way.

In the war, Congo was backed by Angola and Zimbabwe, countries that still have troops in the Congo. On the other hand, troops from Uganda and Rwanda invaded Congo, and are still present in the East of Congo. Uganda and Rwanda are both supported by the United States with arms and military training. Weapons are also delivered to South Africa. Especially Rwanda spends a lot of money on weapons. There is no ban on weapon deliveries to Uganda of Rwanda, even though these countries are involved in war activities in DR Congo.

In Congo there are lots of (small) weapons available, originating still from the Cold War, other weapons come from China, Russia and Israel.

After the genocide in Rwanda, large numbers of hutu's (including members of death squads; interahamwe) fled to the eastern part of Congo. For this reason, Rwandese troops occupied east Congo.

The situation in eastern Congo is very worrying. Especially women suffer in this area, there are lots of rapes and the women that are raped are rejected from their communities. Human Rights Watch reports numerous violations of human rights. There is also hunger and malnutrition.

Concerning the export of resources to the west, specific attention was given to Tantalum. This is a rare metal which is used in chips of mobile phones. 60 % of this metal comes from the East of Congo. Children dig it up and are heavily underpaid for working hard to get this metal; western companies take huge profits selling this metal to chip plants in the north.

the workshop was organized by Congo-Ned:; info:

an interview with the speaker in English appears later on the website of PGA radio.


 Lecture on globalisation and the wars in Congo, Sudan and Angola

Short summary "Lecture on globalisation and the wars in Congo, Sudan and Angola" Monday, 11:45

The lecture is about the consequences of "free" trade on poor countries.

When talking about the effects of globalisation on the south, protectionism of the west is often considered as a main factor in the unfairness of the system. However, this is exagerated.

The main disadvantages of the south in the so-called free trade system are:

  1. disparate exchange
    countries in the south are pushed to have an export-oriented economy; with the money they make they buy weapons in the west
  2. unequal exchange
    products from the south have a small valaue and the value is still getting smaller, while the price on the world market of western produced goods is getting more expensive.

1. disparate exchange: example: Sudan

The civil war in Sudan (at the moment there is a fragile peace treaty) originates in 1983.
The situation of the country changed in 1999: a pipeline was built from the south to the north. There are large oilfields in the south; before 1999 Sudan was an oil importer, after the pipeline was placed, Sudan became an exporter.

Two areas in the south of Sudan are "depopulated" (people are forced away with violence) to make oil exploitation possible. The sophisticated weapons which are used (attack helicopters, missiles) are bought with oil money.

The organizations ECOS and Amnesty International have published reports criticizing the human rights conditions in Sudan, and the role of the oil exploration.

"disparate exchange" (oil-weapons) is a mechanism which not only is to be seen in Sudan, it also happened in Saudi Arabia and Iran, in the seventies. Currently it also goes for Angola.

2. unequal exchange.

the institutions World Bank and IMF stimulate the production and export of raw materials and in this way, just like in the colonial time, poor countries stay dependent on cheap products for the export market.

before the creation of the WTO 'unequal exchange' was seen as an important issue/problem, addressed for example by UNCTAD. in the neoliberal ideology adapting to the free trade system is emphasized as a way for poor countries to get out of poverty.

countries that are dependent on mineral raw materials and basic agricultural products receive less and less money for it. the prices on the world market for these products have collapsed for example cotton, copper. in countries that are dependent on these products, poverty is increasing.

in the bourgeois press, lots of times it is stated that poor countries have to join the globalisation process, in order to escape from poverty. poor countries are already joining the globalisation process however: although the value of the export in Africa in world figures is negligible, if you look at the percentage of the national product, it is huge.

a participant from Angola argues the speaker is emphasizing too much the world economic structures, not giving enough attention to national/ethnic/religious problems involved in the poverty question. the speaker admits that this is true. however, he says, in the western media cultural/religious/ethnic factors are always emphasized in explaining poverty. the speaker wanted to get away from this and highlight the consequences of globalisation.

an interview with the speaker in English appears later on the website of PGA radio.

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