Ending the armed conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (North Kivu)


The armed conflict between the Congress for the Defence of the People and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo in North Kivu was ended with a peace agreement following a UN investigation.

The series of peace initiatives implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2002-2006 ended the Second Congo War, established mechanisms to prevent further interstate conflict in the region, and successfully prevented electoral violence during the 2006 general election from sparking renewed fighting. Despite such efforts, however, armed conflict continued to plague considerable areas of the DRC, such as the province of North Kivu on the international border with Rwanda and Uganda. Rather than joining the ongoing peace process, Congolese armed groups in Eastern DRC such as the National Congress for the Defence of the People (Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple, CNDP), whose personnel had fought alongside Rwandan forces during the preceding decade, favoured maintaining their autonomy and operational links with the Government of Rwanda.1 Beginning in 2004, the CNDP began launching attacks on DRC security forces in Eastern DRC and established itself as the de facto administration of a parallel state in territory along the border with Rwanda. In 2006, the CNDP ran as a political party in the DRC general election, but in the aftermath (after it and its allies failed to win many votes) the organisation continued its armed insurgency against the government. By 2008, the CNDP controlled approximately one third of North Kivu, commanded over 5,000 troops, and had created a civil service, police force, tax collection apparatus, radio station, and military hospital in the area they controlled.2 With consistent support from Kigali, there was little incentive for CNDP leaders to give up the power and territory that they had accumulated during the recent turbulent history of the region.

In 2008, a UN panel of experts published a long-awaited report on conflict in the DRC.3 For the first time, the extent of the Rwandan government’s ongoing support of the CNDP was revealed, leading to widespread condemnation and the suspension of aid from some donors.4 Anticipating such developments, the DRC and Rwandan governments had already held talks on the issue and, in January 2009, launched a joint operation to arrest the leader of the CNDP (Laurent Nkunda) and end the conflict in North Kivu.5 Two months later, on 23 March 2009, the groups’ new leader signed a peace treaty with the Government of DRC and integrated their troops into the national armed forces.6 Nkunda remains under house arrest in Rwanda, but a faction of the CNDP rejected the peace process and launched a fresh insurgency, leaving the conflict not entirely resolved.

1 UCDP. DR Congo (Zaire): Government. (UCDP, 2022) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/283 (Accessed 06/01/2022)

2 UCDP. CNDP. (UCDP, 2022) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/actor/426 (Accessed 06/01/2022)

3 Group of Experts on the DRC. Final report of the Group of Experts on the DRC submitted in accordance with paragraph 18(d) of Security Council resolution 1807. (UN, 2008) Available at: https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1533/panel-of-experts/expert-reports (Accessed 06/01/2022)

4 Ben Shepherd. “Congo, Rwanda and the National Congress for the Defence of the People.” Accord, Vol. 22. (2011) p.45

5 Kris Berwouts. Congo’s Violent Peace: Conflict and Struggle Since the Great African War. (Zed Books: London, 2017) p.74

6 Peace Agreement between the Government and the CNDP (and the Implementation Plan), 2009. Available at: https://peacemaker.un.org/drc-peace-agreement-cndp2009 (Accessed 06/01/2022); Jason Stearns. “From CNDP to M23: The evolution of an armed movement in eastern Congo.” Rift Valley Institute Usalama Project. (2012) p.35

Start Year


End Year



North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement, Monitoring, observation, political, and verification missions

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The UN and the governments of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda




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