Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies


International Studies

First Advisor

Karen Bouwer


Re-evaluating Peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A case study in Dongo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) is a country rich with natural resources centered in the heart of Africa. Since the colonial era, the country has seen more bloodshed than peace and development. From 1996 to 2003, Congo experienced the worst conflict since World War II, with over six million people dead. Despite having the largest United Nations peacekeeping troops present; Congo continues to be plagued by violence. This research thesis argues that the international community failed to promote a lasting peace in Congo because the international community’s peacebuilding method ignored local struggles. Local struggles have been one of the main factors perpetuating violence and instability within Congo. In 2009, a local dispute over land escalated in Dongo, a small city in the Equateur province of Congo. Starting as a small scale conflict, the local dispute erupted into a large scale conflict, threatening national security. The conflict resulted in over 2,000 civilian deaths and over 150,000 displaced persons. Using Dongo as a case study, the research thesis illustrates the importance of local struggles and how small scale conflicts can evolve to a large scale conflict. This research aims to expand the understanding of local struggles and their negative impacts on peace in Congo.

Key words: discourse, identity, human needs, ethnic conflict, structural violence, corruption, top-down, bottom-up, peacebuilding, cycle of violence, indigenousness, dichotomy of privilege and oppression, land dispute, reconciliation