Congress and the administration must work in common interest and show genuine U.S. leadership that works with regional and international partners to address the root causes of instability and strife. Any solution must address grievances of armed groups, hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable for their crimes, strengthen the Congolese government including security sector changes, and most importantly, ensure that neighboring countries respect and refrain from challenging the territorial integrity of the DRC.
An initial step toward this goal is to elevate the status of the special adviser to the DRC and Great Lakes region to the status of a presidential special envoy. Doing so would send a clear signal that the United States is not only serious about resolving this conflict, but that this is a moral imperative that compels us to act.
Furthermore, it empowers the person who holds this position with the authority to report directly to the president and secretary of State. It positions the special envoy to work within an interagency capacity to ensure the DRC is elevated to the top of the president’s second-term Africa agenda.
The president set the standard in his inaugural address for what American leadership must be when dealing with crises around the globe. Now that he has laid the marker for where America will stand during his second term, the time for decisive action on the DRC is now.
Democratic Rep. Karen Bass represents California’s 37th District and serves as ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.