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The many faces of a rebel group: the Allied Democratic Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo



This article discusses the case of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It shows how a variety of actors that have opposed the ADF group have framed the rebels to achieve a range of political and economic objectives, or in response to organizational and individual limitations. The DRC and Ugandan governments have each framed ADF in pursuit of regional, international and national goals separate from their stated desires to eliminate the armed group. The UN stabilization mission in Congo's (MONUSCO) understanding of the ADF was influenced by organizational limitations and the shortcomings of individual analysts, producing flawed assessments and ineffective policy decisions. Indeed, the many ‘faces’ of ADF tell us more about the ADF's adversaries than they do about the rebels themselves. The article shows how the policies towards the ADF may not be directly related to defeating a rebel threat, but rather enable the framers (e.g. DRC and Ugandan governments) to pursue various political and economic objectives, or lead the framers to pursue misguided operational plans (e.g. MONUSCO). In doing so, the article highlights more broadly the importance of the production of knowledge on conflicts and rebel groups: the way in which a rebel group is instrumentalized, or in which organizational structure impact on the understanding of the rebel group, are crucial not only in understanding the context, but also in understanding the interventions on the ground.
The many faces of a rebel group:
the Allied Democratic Forces in
the Democratic Republic of Congo
International Aairs 92:  () –
 The Author(s). International Aairs ©  The Royal Institute of International Aairs. Published by John Wiley & Sons
Ltd,  Garsington Road, Oxford  , UK and  Main Street, Malden, MA , USA.
Between October and December , a series of massacres that killed more than
 people took place in Beni territory, in the north-east of the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) near the border with Uganda. The DRC government
and the UN stabilization mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) quickly identified
a Ugandan rebel group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) as the sole
culprits, despite strong indications of the involvement of other actors, including
Congolese soldiers. Around the same time, the Ugandan government blamed
the murder of several Muslim leaders in Uganda on the ADF, although there was
scant supporting evidence.
This article explores how dierent actors have framed the ADF and why, and
what these dierent framings tell us about the political and economic motives of
each actor. In doing so, the article analyses the politics of knowledge construction
on rebel groups—specifically the ways in which narratives about a rebel group
may reveal more about the intentions of the actor framing the group than about
the group itself. The article also shows how processes of knowledge construction
are not only related to active instrumentalization by the actors involved, but are
also the result of organizational dynamics.
The next section discusses the literature on framing, in particular how wars are
framed. After a brief history of the ADF, the article examines how the Ugandan
government, Congolese government and MONUSCO framed the ADF, and why:
while both governments largely instrumentalize the rebel movement for political
and economic reasons, MONUSCO’s framing is largely influenced by organiza-
tional shortcomings. The final section brings these issues together, showing how
particular images of the ADF are constructed through the processes of extraver-
sion and introversion.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR condemns massacres in Beni, in DR Congo and calls for
humanitarian access,  Dec. ,d.html. (Unless otherwise noted
at point of citation, all URLs in this article were accessible on  July .)
Congo Research Group, Qui sont les tueurs de Beni? Rapport d’enquête, no.  (New York: New York Univer-
sity, March ), p. .
John Agaba, Josephine Ganyana and Diana Ankunda, ‘Muslim clerics murder suspects linked to ADF’, New
Vision,  Jan. .
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Kristof Titeca and Daniel Fahey
International Aairs 92: 5, 2016
Copyright ©
2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
The framing of wars
Wars can provide an excellent context for a diverse range of political and economic
actors to pursue ‘violent, profitable and politically advantageous strategies ...
with a great deal of impunity’. The ‘greed and grievance’ literature has (over)
emphasized the economic functions of conflicts, while other work, particularly
that of David Keen, has shown how war serves a variety of objectives unrelated to
the goal of winning the war. Without ignoring the economic dimensions of war
he highlights their important political functions, such as the building of a political
constituency and the unification of a particular group.
A wide range of terms has been used to refer to the process of understanding
and interpreting events. Early approaches relied on the psychology of analogical
reasoning to highlight ‘knowledge structures’—such as analogies or schemas—
through which people ‘order, interpret, and simplify, in a word, to make sense of
their environment’. Knowledge structures both help policy-makers to arrive at
certain choices and play a role in justifying these choices. Similarly, Vertzberger
called this ‘information processing’, referring to a ‘range of cognitive and motiva-
tional phenomena of great significance in human judgment and decision making
in general and foreign policymaking in particular’.
The concepts of knowledge structures and information processing are further
developed in the literature on frames and framing, which highlights the main
function of frames as organizing information in a coherent fashion through which
the world is understood. Frames have not only a ‘passive’ side in understanding
the world, but also an active side, highlighting how information and knowledge
are constructed for particular aims, ‘as a tool to legitimize and rationalize certain
propositions’. Through framing, actors are able to exercise power in drawing
attention to a specific issue, and in determining how such an issue is viewed:
‘A successful framing exercise will both cause an issue to be seen by those that
matter, and ensure that they see it in a specific way.’ By this means, actors will
try to influence particular target audiences, and to encourage actions on a certain
issue. Framing can therefore be considered a ‘rhetorical weapon’ used for ‘political
manipulation’, and a ‘method that actors use to manipulate the decision process.
David Keen, Useful enemies: when waging wars is more important than winning them (New Haven, CT: Yale Univer-
sity Press, ), p. .
David Keen, ‘A rational kind of madness’, Oxford Development Studies : , , pp. –; ‘War and peace:
what’s the dierence?’, International Peacekeeping : , , pp. –. See also Mats Berdal and David Malone,
eds, Greed and grievance: economic agendas and civil wars (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, ).
Roger Schank and Robert Abelson, Scripts, plans and knowledge (New Haven: Yale University Press, ), p. .
Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at war (Princeton: Princeton University Press, ), p. .
Yaacov Vertzberger, The world in their minds (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, ), p. .
Marvin Minsky, ‘A framework for representing knowledge’, in P. Winston, ed., The psychology of computer vision
(New York: McGraw-Hill, ).
 Schank and Abelson, Scripts, plans and knowledge, p. ; see also Maurits van der Veen, Ideas, interests and foreign
aid (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), p. .
 Morten Bøas and Desmond McNeill, ‘Introduction: power and ideas in multilateral institutions: towards
an interpretative framework’, in Bøas and McNeill, eds, Global institutions and development: framing the world?
(London: Routledge, ), p. .
 Jean Garrison, ‘Framing foreign policy alternatives in the inner circle’, Political Psychology : , , pp. ,
, .
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The many faces of a rebel group: the ADF in the DRC
International Aairs 92: 5, 2016
Copyright ©
2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
In other words, frames are able to locate blame and suggest lines of action, and
are strategically useful for a range of political and economic functions.
Two additional factors are particularly germane to the purpose of this
article. First, much of the literature on framing deals with the eorts of social
movements, or with how western governments frame their foreign policy. As
Fisher highlights, scant attention is paid to how national actors in the global
South frame information about war to achieve diverse objectives. These actors
are particularly important given the fact that many national governments in the
developing world actively seek to ‘control what information external actors can
access on events and developments in their countries and what options on poten-
tial interventions they view as feasible or desirable’. In doing so, national actors
in foreign states engage in various image management strategies. Titeca and
Costeur have developed this observation by showing how various governments—
in particular the Ugandan and Congolese governments—frame events dierently
for dierent audiences. More concretely, they show how one particular rebel
group—the Lord’s Resistance Army—is framed dierently for dierent intended
audiences, such as the local population or western governments. These insights
are particularly useful for this article, in which we analyse how the Congolese
and Ugandan governments, and the UN mission(s) in the DRC, have framed the
ADF, and why.
Second, the literature on framing shows the importance of the political context
in which the framing takes place. Amenta and colleagues, for example, have shown
how the framing eorts of social movements have to ‘fit political circumstances’ in
order to be eective. The political context ‘intersects with the strategic choices
that movements make’, and dierent political settings will determine the impact
of particular messages. This article builds further on these insights: it aims to
show how dierent structural circumstances—the dierent political contexts—
have an impact on how national governments frame a particular rebel group. More
specifically, we will show how the Congolese and Ugandan governments have
strategically framed the ADF rebel group at dierent political levels—interna-
tional, regional and national—in order to achieve objectives at these various levels
 See esp. Robert Benford and David Snow, ‘Framing processes and social movements’, Annual Review of Sociol-
ogy , , pp. –.
 Regula Hänggli and Hanspeter Kriesi, ‘Frame construction and frame promotion’, American Behavioral Scientist
: , , pp. –.
 Doug McAdam, John McCarthy and Mayer Zald, eds, Comparative perspectives on social movements: political oppor-
tunities, mobilizing structures and cultural framings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ).
 Jonathan Fisher, ‘Framing Kony: Uganda’s war, Obama’s advisers and the nature of “influence” in western
foreign policy-making’, Third World Quarterly : , , pp. –.
 Fisher, ‘Framing Kony’; Jonathan Fisher, ‘When it pays to be a “fragile state”: Uganda’s use and abuse of a
dubious concept’, Third World Quarterly : , , pp. –.
 Fisher, ‘Framing Kony’.
 Kristof Titeca and Théophile Costeur, ‘An LRA for everyone: how dierent actors frame the Lord’s Resist-
ance Army’, African Aairs : , , pp. –.
 Edwin Amenta, Neal Caren and Sheera Joy Olasky, ‘Age for leisure?’, American Sociological Review : , ,
p. .
 Ryan Cragun and Deborah Cragun, Introduction to sociology (Tampa, FL: Blacksleet River, ), p. .
 Marco Diani, ‘Linking mobilization frames and political opportunities’, American Sociological Review: , Dec.
, pp. .
INTA92_5_FullIssue.indb 1191 25/08/2016 13:12:09
Kristof Titeca and Daniel Fahey
International Aairs 92: 5, 2016
Copyright ©
2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
that may or may not be related to the reasons why they are fighting against the
Finally, this article explores how framing happens not only for strategic polit-
ical and economic reasons, but also because of particular organizational processes:
we will show how the UN missions’ understandings of the ADF have largely been
influenced by organizational shortcomings that led to poor analysis.
The ADF: a brief history
In  the National Resistance Movement (NRM), led by Yoweri Museveni,
took power in Uganda after a five-year civil war. Among the challenges facing
Museveni was how to manage discord in the Muslim community, which was
deeply divided and politicized by the late s. The divisions within the commu-
nity were exacerbated by the emergence of the Tabliq movement, in which Saudi-
schooled Ugandan clerics advocated ‘a stricter form of Islam, and started to
challenge the traditional [Ugandan] Muslim scholars’ understanding of Islam’.
Museveni’s eorts to control the leadership of the Muslim community led to a
violent confrontation in , after which the government arrested and jailed 
Tabliqs, including a leader named Jamil Mukulu. Upon his release from prison
in , Mukulu and other Tabliqs established the Salaf Foundation (SF), which
had an armed wing: the Uganda Muslim Freedom Fighters (UMFF). The UMFF
reportedly established ties with the government of Sudan. In February ,
the Ugandan army (Ugandan People’s Defence Force—UPDF) overran UMFF’s
training camp and killed many of the UMFF fighters, but a few dozen survi-
vors including Jamil Mukulu fled to the DRC (then known as Zaire). With the
consent and support of President Mobutu, the UMFF remnants re-formed at
Bunia as the Allied Democratic Forces, and in June  formed an alliance with
the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU).
NALU had been formed in , drawing upon former political movements
and marginalized populations in western Uganda who shared opposition to the
new Ugandan government led by Yoweri Museveni. To evade Museveni’s reach,
NALU largely operated across the border in Zaire’s Beni and Lubero territories,
where its members shared ethnic ties and longstanding political and economic
 Abdin Chande, ‘Muslim-state relations in East Africa under conditions of military and civilian or one-party
dictatorships’, Historia Actual Online, Fall , p. ; see also International Crisis Group (ICG), Eastern Congo:
the ADF/NALU’s lost rebellion, Africa briefing no.  (Nairobi and Brussels,  Dec. ), pp. –.
 Mike Ssegawa, ‘The aftermath of the attack on Uganda Muslim Supreme Council’, Daily Monitor,  Aug. .
 This group is also referred to as the Uganda Muslim Liberation Army (UMLA).
 Kristof Titeca and Koen Vlassenroot, ‘Rebels without borders in the Rwenzori borderland? A biography of
the Allied Democratic Forces’, The Journal of Eastern African Studies : , , pp. –.
 Testimony of Mr Benz Tushabe to the Uganda Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Illegal
Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
, CW//,  Sept. .
 Gerard Prunier, ‘Rebel movements and proxy warfare: Uganda, Sudan and the Congo (–)’, African
Aairs: , , p. . For more on NALU, see Lindsay Scorgie-Porter, ‘Militant Islamists or borderland
dissidents? An exploration into the Allied Democratic Forces’ recruitment practices and constitution’, Journal
of Modern African Studies : , , pp. –.
INTA92_5_FullIssue.indb 1192 25/08/2016 13:12:09
The many faces of a rebel group: the ADF in the DRC
International Aairs 92: 5, 2016
Copyright ©
2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
links with Zaire’s Nande community. Between  and , NALU carried
out several attacks within Uganda, but remained an ineectual fighting force
until its alliance with the ADF. From the moment the alliance began, the ADF
appears to have dominated the leadership, and by  the Ugandan government
was already describing the ADF as ‘the successor organization to NALU’. By
the mid-s, the few remaining NALU elements had either left or converted to
Islam and remained with the ADF. For simplicity, this article refers to the ADF
except where NALU was specifically involved.
ADF/NALU launched their first joint attack in November  on the border
post at Mpondwe, Uganda, during the First Congo War. The ADF and UPDF
fought a series of battles in eastern DRC and western Uganda during  and
. At the same time, the ADF carried out several attacks in Uganda, including
one in June  on a school, in which the rebels killed at least  young people
and captured  more. By August , the UPDF had , troops involved in
an operation against the ADF, and appeared to be on the verge of defeating the
Additional elements of ADF’s history are discussed in the sections that follow,
but a few key points about the period between  and  deserve mention.
First, the Ugandan army invaded the DRC in August  and remained as an
occupation force for nearly five years, but failed during this time to defeat the
ADF. Second, between  and , the Congolese army carried out several
operations against the ADF, but in each case failed to defeat them. Third, UN
peacekeepers provided direct and/or indirect support to the Congolese army
during each operation, but were generally more concerned with other armed
groups in the eastern Congo during this period than with the ADF.
ADF leaders consistently claimed their goal was to overthrow the Ugandan
government and create an Islamic state, but over the past decade at least their
actions have not demonstrated a clear commitment to this goal beyond using it as a
narrative to maintain cohesion among their members. By the early s, the ADF
had established a well-organized society in the forest north-east of Beni town
that was supported by international networks and sustained by local connections
with the area’s Nande community forged decades earlier by NALU. Although
 Lindsay Scorgie, ‘Rwenzori rebels: the Allied Democratic Forces conflict in the Uganda–Congo borderland’,
dissertation. University of Cambridge, Oct. , pp. –.
 International Court of Justice (ICJ), ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Demo-
cratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda), counter-memorial submitted by the Republic of Uganda’, vol. ,
 April , p. .
 Kristof Titeca, ‘The “Masai” and Miraa: public authority, vigilance and criminality in a Ugandan border
town’, Journal of Modern African Studies : , , pp. –.
 J. Tumusiime, ‘Museveni shues Kazini, Mugume’, The Monitor,  June .
 ICJ, ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v.
Uganda)’, General List ,  Dec. , paras –.
 Daniel Fahey, Rethinking the resource curse: natural resources and polywar in the Ituri district, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Ph.D dissertation, UC Berkeley, Fall , pp. –.
 In , , , , ,  and .
 UN Security Council, ‘Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’,
S//,  Jan. , para. .
 UN Security Council, ‘Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’,
S//,  Jan. , paras –.
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Kristof Titeca and Daniel Fahey
International Aairs 92: 5, 2016
Copyright ©
2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
the ADF faced regular military operations, first by Ugandan and later by Congo-
lese and UN troops, its leaders nonetheless created and maintained a series of
camps that contained mosques, schools, health centres, courts, a police force, an
internal security force, a prison and even a marriage counselling committee. The
ADF’s leaders also maintained regular relations with local business and political
leaders, as well as episodic contacts with national and international actors. By
January , just before a major military operation devastated and fractured the
group, the ADF consisted of ,–, men, women and children, led mainly
by Ugandan nationals but with a sizeable Congolese component.
As the ADF’s leaders focused on survival in the Congo rather than overthrowing
Uganda’s government, they became highly secretive, which both concealed their
activities from outside observers, and made their image susceptible to manipula-
tion by outsiders for diverse purposes. Specifically, by the late s, the ADF’s
leaders had ceased making public proclamations, stayed away from social media
and harshly punished people caught trying to escape, leading to a sharp reduction
in escapees. Also, the ADF tightly controlled movement within and between
its forest camps, allowing very few members to travel ‘outside’ to places such as
Beni; these restrictions also enabled them to minimize interactions that might shed
light on the ADF’s objectives and activities. By , when it came under attack
from the Congolese army in its forest strongholds, the ADF was functioning more
like a criminal group than a rebellion still pursuing the quixotic goal of taking
over Uganda.
In March or April , Tanzanian authorities arrested Jamil Mukulu, who
had reportedly been living since June  in Dar es Salaam. Ugandan authorities
requested Mukulu’s extradition on the grounds of his alleged involvement in the
murder of Muslim clerics in Uganda in late  and early . Ugandan govern-
ment ocials hailed Mukulu’s arrest as ‘the latest in a string of victories we have
registered against ADF’, which included recent arrests of  people. Neverthe-
less, as of mid-, the ADF continues to operate in the DRC.
The framing of the ADF
The ADF and Uganda
The Ugandan government has fairly consistently framed the ADF as a terrorist
group that poses an existential threat to the country. This frame has served
multiple objectives, most of which have little to do with eliminating the ADF.
 ICG, Eastern Congo, pp. –.
 UN Security Council, S//, para. ; S//, para. .
 UN Security Council, S//, para. .
 UN Security Council, ‘Midterm Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’,
S//,  June , annex .
 Most press reports indicated the arrest took place in April , but one suggests it was in March: Risdel
Kasasira, ‘Who is ADF’s Jamil Mukulu’, Daily Monitor,  Aug. .
 There are several versions of how Mukulu was arrested. See Risdel Kasasira, ‘Aide betrayed ADF’s Mukulu’,
Daily Monitor,  May ; ‘Who is ADF’s Jamil Mukulu?’, Daily Monitor,  Aug. .
 Charles Etukuri, ‘Kayihura parades two more ADF suspects’, New Vision,  July .
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
The ‘terrorist’ frame accurately describes the ADF’s actions from  to ,
a period during which it carried out attacks in Uganda, but the government has
invoked this label for a variety of reasons, depending on the particular context: on a
regional level, it was used to justify invading and occupying the DRC; on an
international level, it was used to gain a place in the US-led ‘war on terror’; and
on a national level, it was useful to rationalize arrests and acts of torture, to assign
blame for unsolved murders and to slander opposition politicians.
When the government of Uganda sent thousands of troops into eastern DRC
beginning on  August , it publicly denied the invasion for several weeks.
On  August , President Museveni stated: ‘If unilateral intervention intensi-
fies [in the DRC] Uganda may be forced, after due internal consultations, to take
its own independent action in the protection of its own security interests.’ Later,
after Uganda’s involvement in the Congo wars became clear, the government
justified its action as a legitimate response to a national security threat, arguing
to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that ‘as long as the ADF and other
anti-Uganda insurgents remained armed and mobilised in Congolese territory,
the security of Uganda and its citizens—especially the most helpless and vulner-
able of them—remained tenuous’. It is interesting to note that this framing of
the ADF as an immediate threat to national security was not invoked at the time
of the invasion, but was developed ex post facto when the government needed to
rationalize its action to the ICJ and the international community.
The ICJ ultimately rejected Uganda’s claim, stating that its actions were not
‘proportionate to the series of transborder attacks it claimed had given rise to the
right of self-defence, nor ... necessary to that end’. The ICJ determined that the
government of Uganda was responsible for wide-ranging violations of human
rights, as well as ‘looting, plundering, and exploitation of Congolese natural
resources’ by the Ugandan army.
After the  September  terrorist attacks in the United States, the Ugandan
government found new utility in reframing the ADF as a group with links to
international terrorist networks. Thus it was able to claim a place in the new,
US-led ‘war on terror’, and thereby to gain new political and economic opportu-
nities. In December , the US government added the ADF (but not NALU)
and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to its ‘Terrorist Exclusion List’, thus
transforming a local conflict along the DRC–Uganda border into part of the
rapidly evolving ‘fight against terrorism’. Four months later, in March , the
Ugandan parliament passed an Anti-Terrorism Act that designated the ADF (but
not NALU) and the LRA as terrorist groups.
 Emmy Allio, ‘DRC crisis: what you didn’t know’, New Vision,  Aug. .
 ‘Museveni threatens to join Congo war’, Sunday Monitor,  Aug. .
 ICJ, ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v.
Uganda), counter-memorial submitted by the Republic of Uganda’, vol. ,  April , para. .
 ICJ, ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v.
Uganda)’, General List no. ,  Dec. , para. .
 ICJ, ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v.
Uganda)’, General List no. ,  Dec. , para. .
 IRIN, ‘LRA, ADF on American terrorist list’,  Dec. .
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
During the s, the Ugandan government repeatedly asserted that the ADF
had links with terrorist groups, or blamed it for specific attacks. As early as , it
was claiming that the ADF was linked to Al-aeda, a claim it has been repeating
ever since. In , the Ugandan authorities claimed to have thwarted an ADF
attack on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in
Kampala; media accounts identified the ADF as linked to Al-aeda, and suggested
they had colluded on the planned attack. On  July , two terrorist bombings
in Kampala killed more than  people. While Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility
for these attacks—which were reportedly in retaliation for Uganda’s participa-
tion in the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM)—Ugandan authorities
quickly asserted an ADF link and suggested that the ADF and Al-Shabaab had
collaborated. In , on the anniversary of the  bombings, the Ugandan
authorities announced a manhunt for ADF leaders, and alleged that the ADF was
working with Al-aeda in the Maghreb, Al-Shabaab, and Al-aeda in the Horn
of Africa. In , a UPDF spokesman stated: ‘There is no doubt; ADF has a
linkage with Al-Shabaab. They collaborate. They have trained ADF on the use of
improvised explosive devices.’ Other Ugandan authorities have since repeated
this last claim.
Despite these varied assertions, evidence of a clear link between the ADF and
other terrorist groups has never materialized. The UN Group of Experts in ,
 and  found no evidence of links between the ADF and Al-Shabaab or
Al-aeda. The findings of the  Group are particularly convincing because
they are based on a large amount of primary source information that emerged
from a major military operation against the ADF, as well as on the statements of
DRC government ocials and the UN panels on Al-aeda and Somalia. Explo-
sives experts have also doubted any link between the ADF and Al-Shabaab or other
foreign terrorists, based on their examination of the ADF’s homemade bombs.
Notwithstanding the absence of credible proof for these links, the alleged
connection between the ADF and terrorist groups has attracted considerable polit-
ical capital and financial assistance to the government of Uganda, particularly in
 Fawzia Sheikh, ‘New danger from Ugandan rebel group?’, Institute for War and Peace Reporting,  June ,.
 Grace Matsiko, ‘CHOGM: how security averted a terror strike’, Daily Monitor,  Dec. ; Grace Matsiko,
‘Terror suspects still in detention’, The Daily Monitor,  May .
 Sudarsan Raghaven, ‘Arrests made in bomb attacks on World Cup fans in Uganda’, Washington Post,  July
 Max Delany, ‘Uganda bombings’, Christian Science Monitor,  July ; ‘Security find new clues on the terror
attacks’, Independent,  July .
 ‘Terrorism is alive in region, says CMI boss’, Daily Monitor,  July .
 IRIN, ‘DRC-based Uganda rebel groups “recruiting, training”’,  July ,
 IRIN, ‘DRC-based Uganda rebel groups “recruiting, training”’,  July .
 Human Rights Watch, Open secret: illegal detention and torture by the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force in Uganda (New
York: Human Rights Watch, ), pp. –.
 UN Security Council, ‘Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’,
S//,  May , para. ; UN Security Council, S//, para. ; UN Security Council, S//,
para. .
 Alan Barlowe, C-IED Assessment Report (Mogadishu, Somalia: United Nations Mine Action Service),  June
, p. .
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the context of the ‘war on terror’. According to the US Congressional Research
Service, ‘The State Department considers Uganda to be a key regional partner and
a valuable ally in combating terrorist threats in the region.’ Indeed, between 
and  overall US military and economic assistance to Uganda rose steadily from
US$ million to US$ million. This included substantial military training,
equipment and financing allocations to the UPDF.
The US government has collaborated with the Ugandan government on
several ‘anti-terrorist’ endeavours. Most importantly, Washington has financially
and militarily supported Uganda’s participation in AMISOM. The US has also
provided key financing, military training, intelligence and US special forces for
the Ugandan government’s war against the LRA. The fight against the ADF, as
well as the war against the LRA, allows the Ugandan government to increase its
defence budget. For example, in , government ocials justified a  per cent
increase in the defence budget in part by claiming the resources were needed to
fight the ADF.
The Ugandan government is alleged to have perpetrated a range of human
rights violations under the cover of fighting terrorism and terror groups. Uganda’s
Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force ( JATT)—created in  to deal with the ADF—
has been accused of a variety of abuses including illegal detention and torture.
Others have criticized the Ugandan government for having ‘used the rhetoric
of counterterrorism and anti-terrorism laws to suppress freedoms of expression
and assembly’. The US State Department’s annual human rights reports contain
numerous mentions of the Ugandan government’s actions, including harassment
and arrest of Muslims during  and , and the torture and murder of an
alleged ADF collaborator in . The State Department reports also contain
numerous examples of attacks on and arbitrary arrest of members of the political
opposition in the name of fighting terror.
More recently, the government of Uganda has tried to blame the ADF for
a series of murders and attacks in and around Kampala. In December  and
January , after unknown assailants killed three Muslim clerics in Kampala,
Ugandan authorities blamed the killings on the ADF and arrested six alleged
ADF agents. However, the government did not disclose any evidence that
 Lauren Ploch, Countering terrorism in east Africa: the US response (Washington DC: Congressional Research
Service,  Nov. ), p. .
 US Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook), Values are
current year US$.
 Princeton N. Lyman, ‘The war on terrorism in Africa’, in John H. Harbeson and Donald Rothchild, eds, Africa
in world politics: reforming political order (Boulder, CO: Westview, ), pp. –.
 US State Department, ‘Cable KAMPALA_a; Uganda: continued US support for anti-LRA eorts criti-
cal’,  Jan. ; posted on Wikileaks,KAMPALA_a.html; Kristof
Titeca and Theophile Costeur, ‘An LRA for everyone’, pp. –.
 Levi Ochieng, ‘World Bank backs Uganda on increased defense cash’, East African,  Sept. .
 Human Rights Watch, ‘Open secret’, p. .
 Open Society Foundations, Counterterrorism and human rights abuses in Kenya and Uganda: the World Cup bombing
and beyond (New York, ), p. ; Human Rights Watch, ‘Open secret’, pp. –.
 US State Department, country reports on human rights practices,
 Agaba et al., ‘Muslim clerics’.
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linked the ADF to the crimes. Similarly, after an unknown gunman killed govern-
ment prosecutor Joan Kagezi on  March , government spokesmen initially
blamed the ADF, and then shifted blame to Al-Shabaab, but again oered no
evidence for these claims.
In sum, the Ugandan government has consistently portrayed the ADF as a
terrorist movement that poses an existential threat to the government. In this
master frame, the rebel movement has served a range of objectives, diering
according to the political context and more particularly to the level of interac-
tion. At the regional level, the Ugandan government invoked the actions of the
ADF in Uganda as a pretext for invading the DRC, although its actions demon-
strated that after the invasion it was less interested in the ADF than in various
political and economic objectives. At the international level, the Ugandan govern-
ment secured a spot in the US-led ‘war on terror’—and the political and financial
benefits this provided—by alleging links between the ADF and organizations such
as Al-aeda and Al-Shabaab. Lastly, on a national level, the framing of the ADF
has served a range of political purposes, including human rights violations and
assigning blame for various murders and attacks.
The ADF and the DRC
The DRC has adopted not one uniform master frame for the ADF but rather
multiple framings that suit diverse political and economic interests. An early
DRC government framing of the ADF countered the Ugandan government’s
characterization of the group as a puppet of the DRC state, while more recent
framings have portrayed the ADF as a group that presented a grave danger to
local communities, as the group responsible for a series of massacres, and as the
group that murdered a national hero. As noted above, the government of Zaire
played an important role in the creation of the ADF in  as a force that could
harass the government of Uganda, and potentially defend the Mobutu regime.
Following Mobutu’s defeat in , the new regime of President Laurent Désiré
Kabila allowed Ugandan troops into eastern DRC to fight the ADF; in some cases
the Ugandan troops collaborated with Congolese forces in attacking the ADF.
With the ADF at the centre of Uganda’s defence in the ICJ case, the DRC
government responded by denying such control, and succeeded in convincing
the ICJ not only that it was not controlling the ADF, but also that Uganda was
invoking the ADF merely as a justification for the pursuit of other objectives,
including access to the DRC’s resource wealth. In this way, the DRC govern-
ment turned Uganda’s framing of the ADF on its head, and achieved a symbolic
victory in winning the ICJ case against the Ugandan government.
 Haggai Matsiko, ‘Prosecutor Kagezi case puts focus on target killings’, The Independent,  April .
 ICJ, ‘Aaire relative aux activités armées sur le territoire du Congo (République Démocratique du Congo c.
Ouganda), réplique de la République Démocratique du Congo’, vol. , May , para. ..
 ICJ, ‘Aaire relative aux activités armées sur le territoire du Congo (République Démocratique du Congo c.
Ouganda), réplique de la République Démocratique du Congo’, vol. , May , para. ..
 ICJ, ‘Case concerning armed activities on the territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v.
Uganda)’, General List ,  Dec. , paras –, .
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
After the Ugandan army withdrew from north-east DRC in May , the
Congolese state slowly re-established its presence and control in the region where
the ADF was active. Over the next decade, the DRC government repeatedly
attacked the ADF, but paid more attention to other rebel groups. The operations
against the ADF were partial successes, each weakening the group but all failing
to defeat it. Whether this outcome was intentional or the result of corruption or
incompetence is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth noting that by its
actions, the DRC treated the ADF as an enemy whose continued existence was
tolerable, at least to the government.
The ADF acquired new utility to the DRC government in , when the latter
came under strong pressure—particularly from Rwanda, but also the United States
and MONUSCO—to attack another rebel movement: the Forces Démocratiques
de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). During the second half of , the Congolese
armed forces FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo)
and MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) were fighting the Rwandan-
backed M (Mouvement du  mars) rebels in North Kivu. There was widespread
speculation that the FARDC and the FIB would (or should) attack the FDLR after
defeating the M.
However, the DRC authorities decided to attack the ADF instead. The reasons
for this decision are complex, and extend beyond the collaboration between the
FARDC and the FDLR. The latter was in eect a tool in the continental power
struggle in which Rwanda competed with Tanzania, South Africa and the DRC.
On  November , shortly after the M’s defeat, President Kabila ‘denounced
harassments against the civilian population [by the ADF] and promised urgent
measures before the end of the year’.Although these harassments had been going
on for years, Kabila found it useful to invoke them only in late , when he was
under pressure to attack the FDLR. Kabila thus reframed the ADF from an enemy
whose presence had largely been tolerated into an enemy that posed a grave threat;
the ultimate objective appears to have been to avoid having to attack the FDLR.
In January , the FARDC launched operation Sukola I against the ADF; this
too, like past such operations, weakened but failed to defeat the ADF.
In October , the ADF’s survival after the operation became very useful to
the DRC government, which created new framings of the group as mass killers,
insurrectionists and assassins. Starting in October , a series of massacres and
killings took place in the Beni area, which DRC government ocials—and
MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler—attributed to the ADF. Although the ADF
 Most notably in ,  and .
 Stuart A. Reid, ‘Did Russ Feingold just end a war?’, Politico,  March ; ICG, Eastern Congo, p. .
 ICG, Eastern Congo, pp. –; UN Security Council, S//, paras. –, , –.
 MONUSCO report,  November .
 UN Joint Human Rights Oce (UNJHRO), ‘Rapport du Bureau conjoint des Nations Unies aux droits de
l’homme sur les violations du droit international humanitaire commises par des combattants des Forces alliées
démocratiques (ADF) dans le territoire de Beni, province du Nord-Kivu, entre le er octobre et le  décembre
’, May , para. .
 Daniel Fahey, ‘New insights on Congo’s Islamist rebels’, Washington Post, Monkey Cage,  Feb. ;
MONUSCO, ‘Martin Kobler, Head of MONUSCO, is in Beni to express his support to the families of the
victims of massacres perpetrated by ADF’, press release,  October .
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
had a long history of attacking civilian populations, information soon emerged
suggesting that it was not responsible for all of the attacks. For example, in some
cases, attackers spoke languages that were not used by the ADF, and some attacks
took place far from the area where the ADF was active. From various sources,
information emerged that individual FARDC soldiers were directly involved
in some of the massacres, and possibly indirectly involved in others through a
failure to protect civilian populations.
Nevertheless, the Congolese government clearly framed the ADF as being solely
or predominantly responsible for the massacres. This not only limited under-
standing of the true nature of the violence and the identities of the attackers, but
also enabled the government to link the ADF to its political opponents and critical
media outlets. In October and November , the DRC authorities arrested
approximately  people, including members of the political opposition, and on
 November the government shut down five radio stations in Beni-Butembo for
alleged complicity with ‘negative forces in acts of terrorism’. In December ,
the DRC authorities arrested dozens more people and claimed that the ADF was
working with other rebel groups as part of a new insurrection against the DRC
government. ADF elements were thus framed as mass murderers, an identifica-
tion that not only provided a ready attribution for these attacks, but also justified
a range of politically useful arrests.
Lastly, the ADF was also politically useful as a scapegoat for the murder of
FARDC Colonel Mamadou Ndala, who was assassinated in an ambush in Beni
in January . Mamadou had become a national hero just months before, in
November , after leading the Congolese Army to its greatest victory in years,
against the Rwanda-supported M rebel group. However, Mamadou’s popularity
became a threat to some within the Congolese politico-military establishment.
From various sources, information emerged that some FARDC ocers were
involved in his death, but the government deflected this suspicion, producing a
mysterious witness called only ‘Mr X’ (see further discussion below), who deftly
accused several ‘rogue’ FARDC ocers of collaborating with the ADF in the
 UN Security Council, S//, paras. –.
 UNJHRO, May , para. ; UN Security Council, ‘Final Report of the Group of Experts on the Demo-
cratic Republic of the Congo’, S// ,  May , paras –.
 UNJHRO, ‘Rapport’, May , para. ; UN Security Council, S//, paras –; République
Démocratique du Congo, Assemblée Nationale ème législature de la ème République, ‘Rapport de la
mission d’information et de réconfort auprès des populations de la ville de Beni et des agglomérations du
territoire de Beni. Victimes des Tueries du  au  Octobre ’, Nov. .
 UNJHRO, ‘Rapport’, May , para. . Radio France International, ‘RCD: que se passe-t-il à Beni?’, 
Nov. ; UN Security Council, S//, para. .
 Radio France Internationale (RFI), ‘Tueries à Beni: Kinshasa annonce des dizaines d’arrestations’,  Dec.
 Juakali Kambale, ‘DR Congo: was Col. Mamadou Ndala’s death a conspiracy?’, Africa Review,  Jan. ;
Kris Berwouts, ‘Congo after M: the prophet Mukungubila and the death of Colonel Mamadou’, African
Arguments,  Jan. .
 Lea-Lisa Westerho, ‘RDC: aaire Ndala, un témoin clé charge un colonel congolais’, RFI,  Nov. ;
UN Security Council, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, S//,  Dec. , para. .
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The many faces of a rebel group: the ADF in the DRC
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
To summarize, then, the DRC government has been framing the ADF in
dierent ways: it did not use a particular master frame, but instead adapted its
framings to particular political contexts and objectives. At the regional level, the
ADF has been useful in averting military action against the FDLR. More gener-
ally, between  and , the DRC government found the ADF to be useful for
justifying the occasional military operation but not so important that it needed to
be eliminated. That changed in  and , when the ADF took on new impor-
tance as a group that could be framed as mass murderers, insurgents and assassins,
thus enabling the DRC government to divert attention from and subvert investi-
gation into the role of its army and other local actors in the violence and insecurity
in and around Beni. Moreover, it allowed the government to take action against
the political opposition. In other words, it also played an important domestic
political role, further demonstrating how the framing of a rebel movement is
determined by the particular political context.
Up to now, we have shown how governments have politically instrumentalized
the ADF as a ‘useful enemy’. In other words, there has been clear strategic intent
on the part of particular actors—the Ugandan and Congolese authorities—to
invoke the ADF in dierent ways to achieve various political and economic objec-
tives. We now wish, through a discussion of the UN peacekeeping force in the
Congo (MONUSCO), to show how the framing of the rebel movement is related
not only to strategic intent or instrumentalization, but also to organizational and
individual dynamics; or, more particularly, how information is collected and
analysed by an organization. To put this another way, both the politics and the
process of knowledge production help to explain how MONUSCO understood,
described and reacted to the ADF.
The initial UN mission in the Congo, called MONUC (–), displayed
only marginal interest in the ADF. During , when MONUC started to
expand its footprint in the eastern Congo, the mission leadership accorded greater
importance to neutralizing armed groups in the Ituri district and the FDLR than
to dealing with the ADF. An August  MONUC briefing on armed groups
noted: ‘Ugandan claims that the ADF constitute a serious threat to their stability
are exaggerated as reports indicate that the ADF have little equipment other than
basic infantry weapons and light mortar [sic]’. The MONUC leadership viewed
ADF as a ‘lesser threat to destabilization in North Kivu’ than other armed groups,
and by  was describing the ADF as ‘largely inactive’. When the FARDC
launched a unilateral operation against the ADF on  June , MONUC (which
 Keen, Useful enemies.
 MONUC, ‘Division commander’s operational directive’,  May , pp. –.
 MONUC, ‘Update and assessment of armed groups operating in the DRC’, Aug. .
 MONUC, ‘Division commander’s operational directive’,  May , p. B-.
 UN Security Council, ‘Twenty-ninth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, S//,  Sept. , para. .
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
became MONUSCO on  July ) had troops in the area, but remained passive
as , people were displaced, and as both the FARDC and ADF committed
human rights violations against local populations.
During  and , MONUSCO continued to pay little attention to the
ADF, focusing instead on the M and FDLR rebel groups. Following the joint
MONUSCO–FARDC defeat of the M in November , MONUSCO was
planning to support a new operation against the FDLR, but the Congolese
government chose instead to attack the ADF unilaterally. MONUSCO provided
limited support for the Congolese operation, which failed to defeat the ADF.
In August , MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler told the Security Council:
‘FARDC—at great cost to its troops—has reduced the ADF to a shadow of its
former self.’ In the same speech, Kobler also rearmed MONUSCO’s focus on
the FDLR over and above the ADF, stating: ‘The first priority of the Mission has
been to put an end to the FDLR.’
For nearly a decade, MONUC and MONUSCO repeatedly framed the ADF
as a relatively minor group, and a local nuisance. MONUSCO viewed claims of
its strength as ‘exaggerated’, and considered the group a ‘lesser threat’, at times
‘largely inactive’ and by mid- reduced to a ‘shadow of its former self ’. Then,
however, this framing underwent a radical change.
Starting in August , internal MONUSCO reports began to describe
the ADF as having extensive links to international terrorist groups including
Al-aeda, Al-Shabaab, Hezbollah, Al-aeda in the Maghreb, Boko Haram and
the Taliban; the reports also claimed the ADF was working with the governments
of Sudan, Iran and Afghanistan. Moreover, MONUSCO reports stated that the
ADF leader Jamil Mukulu had travelled to Pakistan to pick up Taliban-trained
Boko Haram jihadists; the reports added that, after collecting these terrorists,
Mukulu would return to Beni in September  and attack MONUSCO.
After October , when the mass killings in the Beni area began,
MONUSCO’s intelligence units and leaders routinely identified the ADF as an
international terrorist movement (embracing the framing of the Ugandan govern-
ment) that was uniquely responsible for the massacres (reiterating the framing
of the Congolese government). For example, MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler
repeatedly referred to the ADF as ‘terrorists’ and denounced their deeds as acts
 UN Security Council, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, S//,  Nov. , paras –; ICG, Eastern Congo,
p. .
 UN Security Council, ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, S//,  March , para. .
 UN Security Council, S//, para. ; UN Security Council, S//, paras –.
 Martin Kobler, ‘Statement to the United Nations Security Council’, New York,  Aug. , p. .
 Kobler, ‘Statement’,  Aug. , p. .
 Daniel Fahey, ‘Congo’s “Mr X”: the man who fooled the UN’, World Policy Journal : , Summer , pp.
, ; authors’ interviews with former UN ocials, non-governmental organization ocials and academics,
Feb.–Oct. .
 Daniel Fahey, ‘Congo’s “Mr X”’, p. .
 AFP World News, ‘UN warns of long fight against DR Congo massacres’,  Dec. ; MONUSCO, ‘Beni:
le chef de la MONUSCO visite les lieux des massacres des civils à Eringeti’, A la une / MONUSCO, http://&mid=&ItemID=
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The many faces of a rebel group: the ADF in the DRC
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
of terrorism. In February , Hervé Ladsous, the Head of the UN’s Depart-
ment of Peacekeeping Operations, singled out the ADF as responsible for the
killings in the Beni area and stated that it had clear links to Al-Shabaab.
This profound shift in MONUSCO’s framing emerged from MONUC/
MONUSCO’s history of downplaying and ignoring the ADF, which left it largely
ignorant about the group and its goals. MONUSCO’s intelligence analysts—who
were primary filters of information for the MONUSCO leadership—had focused
for several years on other armed groups (specifically the CNDP—Congrès National
pour le Développement et la Paix, M and FDLR) in geographic regions at some
distance from the ADF; one consequence of this was a lack of any permanent
intelligence presence in Beni, where the ADF was active, which aected the
quality of the information available to MONUSCO leaders. The MONUSCO
leadership compounded this problem in February , when it instituted strict
security measures in Beni following the murder of a Congolese UN disarma-
ment worker; this further limited MONUSCO’s access to primary sources of
information on the ADF and made them reliant upon information of dubious
quality provided by the Congolese Army and Ugandan military ocers operating
in Beni. In October , Martin Kobler acknowledged MONUSCO’s limited
knowledge of the ADF, telling the Security Council that MONUSCO had been
preoccupied with the FDLR ‘even possibly to the detriment of our focus on the
ADF threat’.
In June , the UN Group of Experts expressed concern about the poor quality
of MONUSCO’s intelligence on the ADF, noting that ‘unverified or unsubstan-
tiated claims about ADF allies, actions, capabilities and intentions may lead to
misguided and ineective decisions at the strategic and operational levels’. In
July , MONUSCO created a Joint Intelligence and Operations Centre (JIOC)
in Beni to address this criticism; but the JIOC, which became MONUSCO’s
primary source of information about the rebels, was staed by military ocers
who had no prior understanding of the ADF or the Beni area. Our field research
found similar problems in MONUSCO’s intelligence units, including sta with
little or no intelligence training, little or no prior knowledge of conflict in the
Congo and Uganda, and little or no skill in French or local languages. Moreover,
the regular rotation of UN sta limits institutional knowledge and memory, and
results in assemblages of analysts who often have only a superficial understanding
of the conflict in the DRC. Compounding these limitations is the phenomenon
noted by Autesserre, in which MONUC and MONUSCO have often relied on
 Martin Kobler, ‘Overcoming the stalemate’, statement to UN Security Council,  Oct. .
 Christophe Boisbouvier, ‘Mali, RDC, RCA: le chef des casques bleus fait le point sur les missions en cours’,
RFI,  Feb. .
 ‘Nord Kivu: un agent de la MONUSCO tué à Beni’, Radio Okapi,  Feb. .
 Author’s interview with UN ocial, Brussels, Feb. .
 Kobler, ‘Overcoming the stalemate’.
 UN Security Council, S//, para. .
 This included interviews with UN ocials, Congolese sources, journalists and independent researchers
conducted during  in the DRC and Uganda, as well as remotely through social media and email and
Skype communications.
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
a very limited pool of informants when gathering and analysing information,
leading to partial and superficial assessments, as well as an inability to distinguish
between relevant and irrelevant actors and messages.
The limitations of MONUSCO’s abilities to collect and analyse informa-
tion became particularly evident in August , when a self-proclaimed ADF
commander surrendered to MONUSCO. This man, called ‘Mr X’ in a DRC
government report, became the sole source for MONUSCO’s new framing
of the ADF as a group with extensive terrorist links that was importing Taliban-
trained Boko Haram jihadists to attack MONUSCO. Mr X’s claims built upon
the longstanding Ugandan narrative about the ADF, which MONUC and
MONUSCO had downplayed or ignored for more than a decade. Although
Mr X’s claims were not deemed credible by local sta and other analysts,
MONUSCO’s intelligence analysts believed his stories, and made his claims the
centrepiece of their understanding of the ADF and its intentions.
In October , when the massacres began in the Beni area, MONUSCO’s
analysts believed Mr X had prophesied the attacks. As noted above, Martin
Kobler denounced the ADF as terrorists, and MONUSCO portrayed the group
as directly or indirectly responsible for virtually all of the killings. In response to
MONUSCO’s embrace of these dubious framings, giving them credibility and
international visibility, some analysts questioned this narrative; they included the
UN Group of Experts, which noted that ‘as of late November [], there is still
a lack of independent and critical analysis of ADF and the causes of violence in
the Beni area’. Nonetheless, the problems continued, and in a rather spectacular
example of MONUSCO’s intelligence shortcomings, in May  the mission
blamed ADF ‘terrorists’ for an ambush near Beni that killed two and wounded
 Tanzanian peacekeepers, when in fact it was later shown that Congolese Army
soldiers were responsible for the attack.
To summarize, then: starting in late , MONUSCO’s narrative about
the ADF shifted radically. After years of marginalizing and downplaying the
group’s capacities and threats, suddenly the UN mission presented the ADF as a
rampaging terrorist force with ties to half a dozen international groups. We have
shown how these new framings were rooted in MONUSCO’s flawed intelligence
 Séverine Autesserre, Peaceland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ), pp. –, , –.
 The DRC court decision refers to this man as ‘Mr X’: Government of DRC, Operational Military Court of
North Kivu, ‘Pro-Justicia, Arret,’ RP nos ,  and /; RMP nos ,  and ; BBM/, undated
(), p. . In , the UN Group of Experts identified this man as being Adrian Muhumuza: UN Security
Council, S//, para. .
 Authors’ interviews with Congolese sources, non-governmental organization leaders and independent
researchers, Oct.–Dec. . Local sta, who doubted Mr X’s claims because of their own extensive knowl-
edge of the ADF, remained silent because they believed their opinions were not valued, and because they
believed speaking up could aect their job security: authors’ discussions with MONUSCO sta, Oct.–Dec.
 Internal MONUSCO report, Oct. ; Fahey, ‘Congo’s “Mr X”’, p. .
 Authors’ interviews with independent researchers by phone and email, as well as in Goma, DRC, July and
Oct. .
 UN Security Council, S//, para. . See also Caroline Hellyer, ‘Congo/Uganda: high profile military
operations against ADF will not rebuild local stability’, African Arguments,  Oct. .
 UN Security Council, ‘Group of Experts progress update’,  Jan. , p. . For the mission’s viewpoint, see
Radio Okapi, ‘La MONUSCO annonce “une action très forte” contre les rebelles des ADF’,  May .
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The many faces of a rebel group: the ADF in the DRC
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
assessments, which are indicative of what Yarhi-Milo calls ‘selective attention’ by
political leaders and intelligence agencies in understanding an adversary’s inten-
tions. By basing its analysis on very limited information—most particularly
a single dubious source—and consequently repeating questionable government
claims about the ADF, MONUSCO’s political and intelligence leadership exhib-
ited ‘individual perceptual biases and organizational interests and practices’ that
influenced ‘which types of indicators observers regard as credible signals of the
adversary’s intentions’.
The available evidence, then, suggests that MONUSCO embraced politically
charged—but inherently flawed—narratives about the ADF’s allies and actions
because of shortcomings in the process of knowledge production by MONUSCO
analysts, rather than as a result of strategic intent. The intelligence failure that
began in mid- was rooted in a history of institutionally marginalizing the
ADF, and flourished as a result of bias, groupthink and poor leadership.
In this article, we have shown how a dynamic process of knowledge construction
has framed the ADF rebel group in myriad ways for a variety of purposes. As
highlighted in the introduction, while the framing literature pays extensive atten-
tion to this process, little attention is given to how national actors in the global
South frame information. Written from a dierent perspective, Bayart’s concept of
‘extraversion’ looks at a similar phenomenon in the African context, specifically
‘the creation and the capture of a rent generated by dependency’, a phenomenon
in which image construction plays an important role. Bayart has shown how Afri-
can states can successfully export a particular ‘institutional image’ in a ‘game of
make-believe’ in ‘communication with their Western sovereigns and financiers’.
With respect to the DRC, Kevin Dunn’s work shows how former President
Mobutu consciously used particular constructions of national identity for various
audiences, and to achieve particular aims. Dunn has shown how Mobutu
managed to articulate a ‘counter-discourse’ on Zaire and alter the dominant image
of the country ‘through the appropriation of Third World discourses on nation-
alism, Western philosophical rhetoric, colonial imagery and the narratives of Cold
War competition’. In doing so, Dunn managed to demonstrate how internal
actors have ‘discursive agency and do not passively have their identity written for/
upon them’. Jourde similarly noted the ‘process of identity construction and
 Keren Yarhi-Milo, ‘In the eye of the beholder’, International Security : , , pp. –, –.
 Yarhi-Milo, ‘In the eye of the beholder’, p. .
 This does not preclude that MONUSCO’s intelligence analysts were driven by political forces to create certain
narratives, but the authors do not have any evidence that this was the case; more evident and glaring are the
individual and organizational limitations that resulted in flawed analyses.
 Jean-François Bayart, ‘Africa in the world: a history of extraversion’, African Aairs : , , p. .
 Bayart, ‘Africa in the world’, p. .
 Kevin Dunn, ‘Imagining Mobutu’s Zaïre’, Millennium : , , pp. –.
 Dunn, ‘Imagining Mobutu’s Zaïre’, p. .
 Dunn, ‘Imagining Mobutu’s Zaïre’. See also Jonathan Fisher, ‘Managing donor perceptions: contextualizing
Uganda’s  intervention in Somalia’, African Aairs: , , pp. –, for a description of Uganda.
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2016 The Author(s). International Aairs © 2016 The Royal Institute of International Aairs.
representation, by which decision makers simultaneously define the identity of
their own state and interpret the identity of other states’.
This article has further contributed to the understanding of knowledge
construction, framing and extraversion by analysing how two states and the UN
missions have understood and described a particular rebel group—the ADF. First,
we have shown that knowledge production on a rebel group can facilitate rent-
seeking behaviour in a process similar to Bayart’s notion of extraversion. This is
particularly evident in this case in respect of Uganda, which obtained various
political and economic ‘rents’ through the ‘war on terror’. This extraversion
happened primarily through the construction of a particular image of the ADF, in
which certain elements were emphasized and others neglected, in a process used to
‘authorize, enable, and justify specific practices and policies ... while precluding
Second, this article has shown how particular framings of the ADF equally
enable a process of what can be called ‘introversion’: the domestic political use of
a rebel group. Rent-seeking in this way primarily happens along political lines: for
both the Congo and Uganda, we have shown how the construction of knowledge
about a rebel group provides access to a range of national political benefits, such
as the suppression of opposition or the finding of a scapegoat.
Third, this article has demonstrated how MONUSCO’s intelligence failure
interacted with pre-existing processes of extraversion and introversion in ways
that enabled rent-seeking behaviour by regional governments.
One clear eect of the various forms of framing has been a failure to protect
civilian populations, most recently (and currently) by MONUSCO and the
Congolese government. Indeed, during  years of operations by and against
the ADF, thousands of people in the Congo and Uganda have been killed or
wounded, and tens of thousands more have been displaced, imprisoned, tortured
or otherwise aected. We do not suggest that the failures to protect civilians
are entirely attributable to the way in which each entity framed and understood
the ADF; but, to the extent that narratives inform policies and operational plans,
we argue that MONUSCO’s intelligence failure and governmental actors’ disin-
formation campaign contributed to a failure to protect civilians, as well as to a
failure to hold perpetrators accountable.
‘Knowledge production’ is not merely fodder for academic theorists: it can
and does have real and grave consequences for civilian populations in places such
as the DRC. The politics and processes of knowledge production are thus impor-
tant considerations in understanding both the context of armed conflict, and the
nature and consequences of interventions on the ground.
 Cédric Jourde, ‘The international relations of small neoauthorian states’, International Studies Quarterly: ,
, p. .
 Séverine Autessere, ‘Dangerous tales: dominant narratives on the Congo and their unintended consequences’,
African Aairs : , , p. .
 See ICG, Eastern Congo, pp. –; UN Security Council, S// paras , –; UN Security Council,
S//, paras , 
 Cf. UN Security Council, S//, paras –.
 Cf. UN Security Council, S//, paras –.
INTA92_5_FullIssue.indb 1206 25/08/2016 13:12:09
... Moreover, it shows the historical continuity in how the Museveni regime has been able to evade accountability on corruption with regard to donors; and how the refugee success story is the latest manifestation of the ways the regime has benefitted from its image as a success story. Previous manifestations include Uganda's image as a developmental success story (Harrison 2001;Khisa 2019;Wiegratz 2010) and its role in the 'war on terror' , especially by contributing troops to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) (Fisher 2012;Titeca and Fahey 2016). Each of these played an important role in deflecting accountability for good governance transgressions. ...
... Each of these images has been of particular interest to specific donors. Its image as a central ally in the war on terror by being a key partner of the AMISOM mission, for example, has been of particular interest to the US and UK security community (Fisher 2012;Titeca and Fahey 2016). Its image as an 'economic success story' has been of particular interest to international financial institutions, allowing them to showcase Uganda as an economic success story, prompting the World Bank to 'at last claim that SAP (Structural Adjustment Programs) was worthwhile after all' and touting Uganda as 'a justification for the Bank's actions over the last twenty years or so' (Harrison 2001, 672; see also Tangri and Mwenda 2006, 101;Khisa 2019;Wiegratz 2010, 123-124;Reuss and Titeca 2017). ...
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The progressive refugee policy of the Ugandan government has been widely applauded as a success story, and Uganda has been depicted as a role model. This article argues how the perceived success created a situation of mutual dependency between the Ugandan government and the international community. While the Ugandan government relied on aid from the international community, the international community had interests in the success story as proof that their policies work (for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and in response to the European migration crisis (for bilateral donor governments). Nevertheless, in 2018, it emerged that the Ugandan refugee policy suffered from large-scale corruption. The article argues that the mutual dependency provided a fertile breeding ground for corruption, and negatively impacted accountability. Similarly to how the Museveni regime has been able to benefit from an image of success to deflect accountability on governance transgressions in the past, it has now largely managed to evade accountability for corruption in its refugee policy.
... Recent claims to greater autonomy in terms of local development have included demands for a more adequate partition of customs revenues. The issue of local development has also taken centre stage in ongoing debates about state decentralisation and democratic institutional reform -including debates about the role of "traditional" authorities such as the Rwenzururu Kingdom (Raeymaekers, 2009;Titeca and Fahey, 2016). With Paul Nugent, therefore, one could argue that such ethnic affiliations between Congolese and Ugandan communities increasingly serve to constitute power on the border, notably by working on state institutions, community relations, and basic concepts of political space (Nugent 2002, p. 232). ...
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The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling offers a comprehensive survey of interdisciplinary research related to smuggling, reflecting on key themes, and charting current and future trends. Divided into six parts and spanning over 30 chapters, the volume covers themes such as mobility, borders, violent conflict, and state politics, as well as looks at the smuggling of specific goods – from rice and gasoline to wildlife, weapons, and cocaine. Chapters engage with some of the most contentious academic and policy debates of the twenty-first century, including the historical creation of borders, re-bordering, the criminalisation of migration, and the politics of selective toleration of smuggling. As it maps a field that contains unique methodological, ethical, and risk-related challenges, the book takes stock not only of the state of our shared knowledge, but also reflects on how this has been produced, pointing to blind spots and providing an informed vision of the future of the field. Bringing together established and emerging scholars from around the world, The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling is an indispensable resource for students and researchers of conflict studies, borderland studies, criminology, political science, global development, anthropology, sociology, and geography.
... Despite a huge budget, UN peace-keepers cannot stabilise Eastern Congo or South Kivu (Kuele and Cepik, 2017). We explain how they could do better, perhaps, if they managed to understand the situation on the ground (see Titeca and Fahey, 2016). ...
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Recent warfare in Eastern DRC, especially since 2015, is marked by violence inspired by ‘race’ narratives. Identity politics around ‘race’ is used to legitimise ‘expressive’ or reprisal-oriented violence against ‘Hamitic’ or ‘Tutsi’ minorities. The case of the Banyamulenge of South Kivu is examined in this article. Following Autesserre, we show that one-dimensional narratives – in this case of ‘race’ – tend to over-simplify the dynamics of political violence. Anti-Hamitic racism is derived from colonial ideas around race hierarchies, and has resulted in systematic killings of Banyamulenge civilians in what resembles a ‘slow genocide’. Expressive violence has, in turn, produced a lack of concern for the plight of Banyamulenge civilians among the military, humanitarians, media, scholars and NGOs. Given armed alliances between local Maimai forces, Burundian and Rwandan opposition and the DRC army, such ‘race’ narratives cruelly legitimise violence against civilians from ‘Tutsi’ communities, associated by neighbouring communities with Rwanda. Resultant displacement, starvation and killing of Banyamulenge civilians in this context amount to an on-going, slow-moving genocide. As the COVID-19 crisis unrolls, the decolonisation of identity politics in Eastern DRC, and in South Kivu in particular still seems very remote.
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This study aims to explain and demonstrate to what extent China's increasing engagement in Africa presents itself as both an opportunity and a futurisk for the sustainable development of African countries in general and of DRC in particular, in this new era of globalization, tinged with new global stakes turning around the energy and digital transition. By virtue of its assets and potential, with China's increasing engagement in Africa, DRC, known for its "paradox" due to its suffering to the "resource trap", a specific opportunity is opening up for its development, which responds to the well-being of its current generation without compromising the ability of its future generation to meet theirs. With the rise of new global stakes turning around the energy and digital transition, especially in the automotive sector, in this new era of globalization, competition is increasingly created in different parts of the globe between the various global actors for the control and supply of both strategic and necessary resources that can serve as food for the effectiveness and materialization of this transition, projecting opportunities, but also likely negative impacts for fragile areas. Africa, endowed with both its strategic and necessary resources, is once again attracting the attention of the various global actors in its various corners considered strategic by each other, formerly in the bosom of the West, with China's increasing engagement on its territory; two trends are increasingly observed in the different corners of the continent, namely: "Conservative" and "progressive". DRC, by virtue of the strategic (particularly cobalt) and necessary resources that abound in its territory, once again attracts the attention of the various global actors on its territory, by its fragility due ostensibly to the problems of its political governance, located in the African Great Lakes Region, formerly in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons, their mutual rapprochement with China, projects competition between "conservatives" and "progressives", here represented respectively by United States and China, for the control and supply of both strategic (particularly cobalt) and necessary resources that abound in its territory, at the risk of pushing it once again into the "resource trap", futurisk for its sustainable development. Hence, the need for it, in a strategic approach, to rethink its internal and external balances vis-à-vis the rest of the world, for its better future in this new era of globalization.
The Eastern DRC has, for decades, been experiencing recurring violence originating from several motives and causes. However, colonialism and racial categorization coupled by the reified post-colonial autochthony has left the Banyamulenge identified as “immigrants” and locally stateless as their local chiefdoms were abolished by colonial administrators. Regardless of evidence that the Banyamulenge have settled in what become the Democratic Republic of Congo for centuries, they have been contested and massacred as “non-native”, facing a slow genocide frozen within the complexity of violence in Eastern DRC that followed the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Since the 1960s post-independence violence in DRC, the Banyamulenge have been specifically targeted by Congolese state and non-state actors such as MaiMai and other militias across the Congolese territory and abroad. Banyamulenge’s killings have been preceded by public officials calls dehumanizing the entire community. For a half century, men, young boys, and unarmed military soldiers have constituted the primary target of the perpetrators. The intent to annihilate the Banyamulenge has also resolved to use indirect methods such as besiegement, impoverishment, inhuman treatment while erasing or hiding evidence. The slow annihilation using similar modus operandi for roughly five decades is ideologically linked to 1960s Simba rebellion. Considered by the Mai-Mai and local militias as ‘invaders’, the Banyamulenge have been forced to flee their homeland en masse that largely narrows accessible territories. The remaining Banyamulenge in South Kivu are currently besieged, starved; their villages destroyed; their economy and source of livelihood annihilated. Against this backdrop of the Banyamulenge’s situation, the Eastern DRC complexity of violence and constructed denial arguments overshadow this plight widely reported as tit-for-tat violence opposing armed groups affiliated to ethnic communities or simply as inter-community clashes.
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"The reader's interest in the substrates of Congolese democracy is deeply revived through the writing of Jean Bofane, the place where reality and fiction become one. The start of 2019 has been a historic moment for the DRC as it is the first time that a former president has peacefully handed over power. Outgoing President Joseph Kabila cedes power to Félix Tshisekedi while maintaining the mystery of his deep and future intentions. The new President, Felix Tshilombo Tshisekedi, operates literally like the character Tshilombo in the novel Mathematiques congolaises. Starting from this resemblance, we’ve created a political-literary analysis around the events that took place both in the book and reality. Keywords: literature, politics, democracy, conflict, Democratic Republic of Congo "
This book examines Africa’s internal and external relations by focusing on three core concepts: orders, diplomacy and borderlands. The contributors examine traditional and non-traditional diplomatic actors, and domestic, regional, continental, and global orders. They argue that African diplomats profoundly shape these orders by situating themselves within in-between-spaces of geographical and functional orders. It is in these borderlands that agency, despite all kinds of constraints, flourishes. Chapters in the book compare domestic orders to regional ones, and then continental African orders to global ones. They deal with a range of functional orders, including development, international trade, human rights, migration, nuclear arms control, peacekeeping, public administration, and territorial change. By focusing on these topics, the volume contributes to a better understanding of African international relations, sharpens analyses of ordering processes in world politics, and adds to our comprehension of how diplomacy shapes orders and vice versa. The studies collected here show a much more nuanced picture of African agency in African and international affairs and suggest that African diplomacy is far more extensive than is often assumed. This book will be of much interest to students of diplomacy studies, African politics and International Relations.
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Depuis le début de 2019, une série de meurtres, de vols qualifiés avec violence et d’enlèvements frappe les quartiers périphériques de Goma. L’aggravation rapide de cette criminalité violente a alarmé les habitants de la ville et les a poussés à réclamer une réponse plus efficace au gouvernement local et aux services de sécurité. L'insécurité à Goma: Expériences, acteurs et réponses présente les dynamiques et les diverses expériences de l’insécurité urbaine à Goma, et les réponses qui y sont apportées. Le report fait valoir l’idée selon laquelle les décideurs politiques nationaux et internationaux devraient se pencher sérieusement sur la dimension urbaine de l’insécurité à l’est du Congo. Le Projet Usalama est une initiative de recherche menée par des partenaires dont l’objectif est d’étudier la dynamique du conflit et de la violence et les effets de ces deux phénomènes sur la société congolaise. La troisième phase est quant à elle consacrée à « l’insécurité en ville » et au rôle des acteurs étatiques et non étatiques dans la mise à disposition d’outils pour la sécurité, ainsi qu’à la façon dont les citoyens perçoivent l’insécurité, leur vécu à cet égard et les réponses qu’ils y apportent. Cette troisième phase a été menée en partenariat avec le Groupe d’études sur les Conflits et la Sécurité humaine (GEC-SH), basé à Bukavu. Le projet part d’une série de questions: qui sont les principaux agents de la sécurité et de l’insécurité dans la ville? Quels sont les moteurs, les logiques et les tendances en matière d’insécurité urbaine? Comment les résidents perçoivent-ils l’insécurité? Et comment la gèrent-ils au quotidien?
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This article provides a detailed analysis of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel movement that is operating from Congolese soil but so far has attracted very limited scholarly attention. Having its roots in Ugandan Islamic community, it has become part of larger transborder dynamics of rebellion and resistance. It is argued that although its institution is linked to several internal dynamics in Uganda, the movement's character has been largely shaped by the specific characteristics of the Uganda–DRC Rwenzori borderland, where it became a key player of local power struggles and conflicts. The article provides a detailed account of the origins, characteristics and strategies of the ADF, its integration into Congolese society and its impact on local and regional dynamics of conflict.
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Recent studies on vigilante groups show how they often begin as popular schemes for imposing order, before degenerating into violent militias which contribute in turn to social and political disorder. The Masai, a group of khat sellers and consumers in the Ugandan border town of Bwera, represent a more complex case. By using vigilance tactics in the provision of security, the Masai actually help to shape public authority within Bwera town instead of creating institutional chaos. They also provide a range of services, imposing a degree of order on illegal cross-border activities in the area. However, a closer look at the Masai shows that their vigilance activities are mainly performed out of self-interest, as a quid pro quo enabling them to continue their illegal activities of smuggling, general criminality outside town and illegal drug use. Therefore they straddle the ‘crime or social order’ dynamic, representing a criminal gang of illegal drug traffickers which also provides services for public community interests. As such, they contribute to both order and crime.
Explanations for the persistence of violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo blame the incendiary actions of domestic and regional leaders, as well as the inefficacy of international peace-building efforts. Based on several years of ethnographic research, this article adds another piece to the puzzle, emphasizing the perverse consequences of well-meaning international efforts. I argue that three narratives dominate the public discourse on Congo and eclipse the numerous alternative framings of the situation. These narratives focus on a primary cause of violence, illegal exploitation of mineral resources; a main consequence, sexual abuse of women and girls; and a central solution, extending state authority. I elucidate why simple narratives are necessary for policy makers, journalists, advocacy groups, and practitioners on the ground, especially those involved in the Congo. I then consider each narrative in turn and explain how they achieved prominence: they provided straightforward explanations for the violence, suggested feasible solutions to it, and resonated with foreign audiences. I demonstrate that the focus on these narratives and on the solutions they recommended has led to results that clash with their intended purposes, notably an increase in human rights violations.
How do policymakers infer the long-term political intentions of their states’ adversaries? A new approach to answering this question, the “selective attention thesis,” posits that individual perceptual biases and organizational interests and practices influence which types of indicators a state’s political leaders and its intelligence community regard as credible signals of an adversary’s intentions. Policymakers often base their interpretations on their own theories, expectations, and needs, sometimes ignoring costly signals and paying more attention to information that, though less costly, is more vivid (i.e., personalized and emotionally involving). In contrast, intelligence organizations typically prioritize the collection and analysis of data on the adversary’s military inventory. Over time, these organizations develop substantial knowledge on these material indicators that they then use to make predictions about an adversary’s intentions. An examination of three cases based on 30,000 archival documents and intelligence reports shows strong support for the selective attention thesis and mixed support for two other approaches in international relations theory aimed at understanding how observers are likely to infer adversaries’ political intentions: the behavior thesis and the capabilities thesis. The three cases are assessments by President Jimmy Carter and officials in his administration of Soviet intentions during the collapse of détente; assessments by President Ronald Reagan and administration officials of Soviet intentions during the end of the Cold War; and British assessments of Nazi Germany before World War II.
The literature on democratization and authoritarian survival has rightfully studied the role external forces play in such processes. These external actors and structural constraints are said to be especially substantial when dealing with small and poor authoritarian states. Although this literature acknowledges that small states are not entirely powerless when confronting hegemonic external forces, little effort has been made to refine and specify the role they play and the actions they undertake to engage international democratization pressures. This paper addresses this lacuna by using the framing approach and the concept of “extraversion” to analyze the process by which weak African authoritarian states draw on and change the representations that Western powers hold about them. These representations provide a specific lens through which Western governments and experts look at political dynamics in developing countries, and eventually shape policies toward these countries. This paper analyzes how two small authoritarian African regimes, Guinea and Mauritania, have enacted a series of performances such as the arrests of alleged “Islamists,”“warlords,” and other transnational “subversive threats,” thereby framing their domestic and foreign policies in ways that can resonate with hegemonic international discourses, seeking to obtain either more support from Western states or to lower their democratization pressure (or both).
Document collected by the University of Texas Libraries from the web-site of the Reseau Documentaire International Sur La Region Des Grands Lacs Africains (International Documentation Network on the Great African Lakes Region). The Reseau distributes "gray literature", non-published or limited distribution government or NGO documents regarding the Great Lakes area of central Africa including Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. UT Libraries
At one level, the question posed in the title of this contribution can be quickly dispensed with: war is violent and peace is, well, peaceful; in other words, peace is the antithesis of war. This is certainly the common-sense view, and it is one usually reinforced by the media. Journalists, after all, are interested in change: theirs is a world of news (what is new), of events, discontinuities and drama. What could be more dramatic than the change from one thing into its opposite? Historians, by contrast, are often interested in continuities, and it is this approach that informs this essay. What do war and peace have in common? Answering this question is particularly important if we hope to understand transitions: the transition from peace to war and the transition from war to peace. Perhaps we can also take a cue here from the natural sciences: how can one thing change into another - a bulb into a plant, a liquid into a gas - unless it has already begun to resemble it?
DRC-based Uganda rebel groups "recruiting, training 58 Human Rights Watch, Open secret: illegal detention and torture by the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force in Uganda
57 IRIN, 'DRC-based Uganda rebel groups "recruiting, training"', 11 July 2013. 58 Human Rights Watch, Open secret: illegal detention and torture by the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force in Uganda (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2009), pp. 23-5.