Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: December 2012

Three - Fragile States, Elites, and Rents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)



The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire and Belgian Congo, was theater to one of the most extensive post-Cold War wars in Africa, following the collapse in 1997 of the long-standing Mobutu regime. Often seen as the archetypal African kleptocracy, Mobutu’s formal ascension to the presidency in 1965 temporarily stabilized the Congo in the wake of political instability and regional secession attempts following independence in 1960. Throughout various regime phases, natural resource extraction has played a central role in the governance of this vast country of 68 million people and 250 ethnic groups, with four times the area of France and as many as 700 local languages and dialects.

By 2012, the international community had devoted significant resources to the stabilization of the Congo and the government of President Joseph Kabila. Following its initial deployment in 1999, the UN continues to maintain a force of almost twenty thousand troops in the DRC under the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO). Despite its resource wealth, the DRC continues to be subject to large aid. At the same time, concerns linger over poor governance and a predatory civil and military apparatus (including extensive human rights violations and sexual violence), as well as over the army’s inability to defend the country’s population or its international borders. The latter phenomenon is most vividly reflected by instability in the country’s east.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Carter Center 2011
Carter Center 2011
Chevallier, JérômeKaiser, Kai-Alexander. 2010 The Political Economy of Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)Washington, DCWorld Bank
Collier, Paul. 2009 Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in a Dangerous PlaceNew YorkHarperCollins
Devlin, Larry. 2007 Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot ZoneCambridge, MAPublic Affairs
EIU 1998 DRC Country ReportLondonEconomist Intelligence Unit
Garrett, NicholasMitchel, Harrison 2009 Trading Conflict for Development: Utilizing the Trade in Minerals from Eastern DR Congo for DevelopmentLondonResource Consulting Services
Haskin, Jeanne. 2005 The Tragic State of Congo: From Decolonization to DictatorshipNew YorkAlgora Publishing
Herbst, JeffreyMills, Greg. 2009
Hochshild, Adam. 1999 King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial AfricaNew YorkMariner Books
International Crisis Group 2007 Consolidating the PeaceBrusselsICG
Kaiser, KaiMulumba, Jean MabiVerheijen, Tony. 2010
Kiakwama, GilbertChevallier, Jerome. 2010 Aid and Reform: The Case of the Democratic Republic of CongoWashington, DCDevelopment Research Group, Project on World Bank on Aid and Reform in Africa
Lee, Armistead M. 1978 The Congo DeskThe New York Review of Books 25
Ndikumana, LeonceEmizet, Kisangani. 2005 Collier, PaulSambanis, NicolasUnderstanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis (Africa)Washington, DC
North, Douglass C.Wallis, John JosephWeingast, Barry. 2009 Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human HistoryCambridgeCambridge University Press
Nziem, Ndaywel e. 1998
Putzel, JamesLinderman, StefanSchouten, Claire. 2008 Drivers of Change in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The Rise and Decline of the State and Challenges for ReconstructionLondonLSE Crisis States Research Centre
Union Europeenne, Mission d’Observation Electorale, Republique Democratique du Congo 2011
United Nations Security Council 2009 Thirtieth Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of CongoNew YorkDecember
Weingast, Barry R. 2006 Decentralization and Democratic Local Governance Programming HandbookWashington, DCUSAID
Weiss, Herbert F. 2007 Voting for Change in the DRCJournal for Democracy 18 13851
Wolters, Stephanie. 2011
World Bank 2005 Governance, Service Delivery, and PovertyWashington, DCPublic Sector Reform and Capacity Building [AFTPR]
Wrong, Michaela. 2001 In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s CongoNew YorkHarper Collins
Young, CrawfordTurner, Thomas. 1985 The Rise and Decline of the Zairian StateMadison, WIThe University of Wisconsin Press
Young, CrawfordTurner, ThomasThe Rise and Decline of the Zairian StateThe University of Wisconsin Press 1985
Ndaywel e Nziem 1998