Preventing interstate conflict in the Great Lakes


After being established by the African Union and the UN, the ICGLR has prevented further interstate conflict in the Great Lakes since 2003.

Although the Second Congo War was already one of the largest in history, the extent of foreign involvement and the frequency of direct confrontations between the armed forces of at least ten different states posed a major risk of inciting a much broader conflict. Furthermore, the armed conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda that took place in the 1990s had created an extremely uncertain political and socio-economic climate (marked by the displacement of sizeable populations and the preponderance of armed groups in the area) in the Great Lakes which promised to continue destabilising the entire region. As a result, the UN Security Council called for an international conference on peace, security, democracy, and development in the Great Lakes region in 2000, as efforts to end the armed conflict in DRC began to gain some momentum. Later that year, the African Union (AU) and UN established a permanent secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya, to lay the groundwork for the conference. In 2004, a year after the Sun City Agreement ended the Second Congo War, the ICGLR hosted its first summit in Dar Es-Salaam, Tanzania. The talks culminated with the governments of Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia unanimously adopting the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration, which called for the transformation of the Great Lakes into a space of sustainable peace and democracy, on 20 November 2004.1 In 2006, at the second ICGLR summit, representatives of the 11 member states signed the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development which, among other things, included a commitment to renounce the threat or use of force and resolve any disputes by peaceful means.2

With these provisions in place, the ICGLR Executive Secretariat was established in May 2007 and tasked with coordinating, facilitating, and monitoring the implementation of the agreements. Twice a year, the Secretariat hosts meetings of the Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee to discuss peace and security in the region. In addition, the leaders of each member state attend an ICGLR summit every two years and mechanisms are in place for extraordinary summits to held in emergencies to avert any crises.3 These efforts coincided with a US initiative to improve relations and strengthen links between the armed forces of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda with the goal of reducing cross-border militancy in the region.4 Instability and armed conflict continue to plague the Great Lakes, but the prospect of interstate conflict has been greatly reduced by the ongoing work of the ICGLR.

1 Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region, 2004. Available at: (Accessed 05/01/2022)

2 Protocol of Non-agression and Mutual Defence in the Great Lakes Region, 2006. Available at: (Accessed 05/01/2022)

3 International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. ICGLR Overview: Who We Are. (ICGLR, 2021) Available at: (Accessed 05/01/2022)

4 Oxford Analytica. “Cross-Border Militancy Threatens Great Lakes.” Reliefweb. (4 September 2007) Available at: (Accessed 05/01/2022)

Start Year


End Year



The Great Lakes, Africa

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a conflict relapse, Risk of a vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict, Risk of an interstate conflict

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Peace infrastructure

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Union, and the UN




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