Open Letter to Gordon Brown and European Heads of State
Group of High Profile Signatories
27 November 2008
Former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Diplomats, Nobel Peace Prize winners, religious leaders, and Military Commanders wrote an Open Letter to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other European heads of State calling for an EU force to be deployed to the Eastern DRC.
Dear Prime Minister,
As you will be aware, the situation in the Eastern DRC is a clear humanitarian catastrophe. The United Nations has already documented massacres, rape and the forced recruitment of children and the peacekeeping force on the ground is currently unable to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk.
To those of us who have worked on such issues for some time, current events bring back painful memories of Rwanda and Srebrenica, mass atrocity crimes world leaders promised to prevent when they agreed at the World Summit in 2005 that they had a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
() We all strongly support an end to impunity; an army that protects it own civilians rather than preys on them and an inclusive political process. It will be critical for President Olusegun Obasanjo in his role as Special Envoy to receive high level support over the coming months if it is to be successful.
But it is also clear that the political track will take time to yield results and would suffer badly from any sudden destabilisation that could take place at any moment. While the UN has authorised an additional 3,000 troops it will likely take between three and six months to deploy them. The Congolese people cannot wait.
The UN Special Representative to the DRC has called for an interim force to deploy immediately to protect civilians and support the UN peacekeepers until reinforcements can arrive. It is increasingly clear that the EU is best placed - through its standing battle groups - to play this role and deploy now.
We urge you to speedily agree to the temporary deployment of an EU force. In our view this would help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians currently at risk.
It needs your personal political leadership to make sure this happens and ensure ever again really means never again.
Lloyd Axworthy, former Canadian Foreign Minister
Jorge Castaneda, former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Lieutenant-General Romo Dallaire (Retired), Canadian Senator and former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda
Vaclav Havel, writer and former President of the Czech Republic
Frederik Willem de Klerk, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of South Africa
Jan Egeland, Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, former UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
Joschka Fisher, former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor
Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
Juan Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, former Special Advisor to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide
Mike Moore, former Director General of the World Trade Organisation, former Prime Minister of New Zealand
Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Bishop Monsengwo Pasinya Laurent, Head of the Catholic Church in Kinshasa
Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Institute
El Hassan bin Talal, Prince, Jordan
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate
The Rt Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester
Richard Dowden, Author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
Tom Stoppard, Playwright