By: Sarah Merry
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate
Bosco Ntaganda, also known as the “the Terminator,” is wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges of committing war crimes. Ntaganda initially fought with the Rwandan Army in the overthrow of the genocidal Rwandan regime. He later became the chief of military operations of the Forces Patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) where he was allegedly involved in various massacres and human rights abuses. The ICC charges against Ntaganda involve his alleged practice of enlisting children under the age of fifteen and using them in active hostilities.
The Democratic Republic of Congo must arrest Ntaganda, but the U.N. is denying that it has any direct contact with him. According to army documents and military officials, Ntaganda is deputy commander of an anti-rebel offensive being supported by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUC.
MONUC’s mission is generally to assist, through use of military personnel, in the enforcement of the ceasefire agreement, the release of prisoners of war, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring. Officials in Congo assert that Ntaganda is not significantly involved in the mission.
Considering the mission of MONUC and the charges that Ntaganda is facing, Howard Wolpe, Washington’s representative to the Great Lakes, has stated that “”we just feel that anybody who has committed war crimes should not participate in military operations of this sort at the moment and he needs to be held accountable.” Wolpe says there are “serious concerns” about the impact that the operation against a rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), may have on civilians. Wolpe stated that Washington is trying to work with MONUC to allow continued pressure on the rebel group while minimizing the risk to civilians.
The efforts to maintain peace in the Congo have faced great difficulties. Current statistics show that for the number of rebels disarmed, nearly the same amounts of civilians have been killed. In addition, thousands of women have been raped and many homes burned to the ground. According to Kimberly Curtis, the co-founder of The Women’s Empowerment Institute of Cameroon, these acts are viewed as the rebels’ resistance to the peace keepers’ increased pressure. The United Nations remains committed to supporting Congo’s army; in early November 2009, assistance had only been withdrawn from units it believed to have killed more than 60 civilians in recent fighting.