Why Congo Persists: Sovereignty, Globalization and the Violent Reproduction of a Weak State

Date: Feb, 2003
ODID Working Paper No. 95
Author(s): Pierre Englebert (Pomona College)

Wherever one looks, many elements conspire to suggest that the Democratic Republic of Congo should have collapsed some time ago under the multiple assaults of its own inadequacies as a state, the extreme heterogeneity and polarization of its populations, and the dislocations of globalization and foreign occupation. Yet, Congo has gone on defying such expectations and has continued to display a stunning propensity for resilience. This paper tries to explain why Congo persists amid these overwhelming structural obstacles. It focuses particularly on the more recent period when state weakness, foreign invasions, the exploitation of its natural resources by transnational and informal networks, and the multiplicity of domestic rebellions linked to foreign interests have not managed to dent, however slightly, the generalized support that exists for the reproduction of the Congolese state among its elites and regular citizens, foreign political and economic interests, and the international community at large. Observing that, in many parts of Congo, local grievances against the state and the greed of political elites have been magnified by the circumstances of post-Cold War Africa, it takes as paradoxical the continued broadly unchallenged existence of Congo

ODID Author(s)