Since April 2012, a group of rebel forces calling themselves the March 23 Movement (M23) has engaged in violence with the Congolese national army, or FARDC. Not only has the insurgency led to constantly rising death tolls, but it has also heightened tensions between Great Lakes countries concerning North Kivu's porous borders and the authors of this violence. The violence is also linked to the region's vast mineral wealth, making the situation more pressing. The international community is currently trying to work with leaders from the Great Lakes region, governments and civil society to calm the region's upheaval.
Baudouin Hamuli Kabarhuza will be skyping into the event from Kinshasa, DRC. He has been an active leader within the Congolese civil society for the past 15 years. From 1990 to 1999, Mr. Kaburhuza was elected Executive Secretary of the National Council for Development NGOs in Congo. Since 1998, he has also been coordinating DRC’s civil society research on the causes of war in the country and launched the National Campaign for Peace. Today, Mr. Karbhuza is the DRC’s National Coordinator for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Executive Director of the Centre National d’Appui à l la Participation Populaire (CENADEP). In 2001, CENADEP launched the DRC’s civil society advocacy network on exploitation of natural resources with the support of Partnership Candada. He has also published several books, including “La société civile congolaise: état des lieux et perspectives."
Steven Koutsis is the Acting Director of the Office of Central African Affairs, which covers U.S. government relations with ten countries in Central Africa. Prior to joining the Office of Central African Affairs, Steven served as Team Leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Diyala, Iraq. He also was the Political and Economic Counselor in Monrovia, Liberia from 2007-2010 where he worked directly on rebuilding Liberia’s security sector, especially its national police force. The Central African Affairs director also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania from 2005-2007, during the country’s critical period of transition to democracy. During this time, Steven arrived five days before the leadership was overthrown in a coup d’etat in 2005, and he departed shortly after the inauguration of the first truly democratically elected government in Mauritania’s history.
Steven Koutsis has over 22 years of experience in foreign diplomacy. He also has held leadership positions in Syria, Iraq, France, and Haiti, and Cote d’Ivoire. His knowledge on US Foreign Policy and Diplomacy is expansive and his current position as Central African Affairs director puts him at the forefront of the situation in North-Kivu.
Steve McDonald is the consulting director of the Africa Program as well as the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity at the Woodrow Wilson Center. McDonald has worked with both the National Endowment for Democracy and with the African-American Institute in implementing democratization activities. He has worked on assessment teams to design civic education, monitoring and training for elections officials for elections in South Africa and Uganda and has done assessments of the human rights situation in Nigeria. He initiated and organized a series of regional conferences with USAID, Department of Defense, World Bank and United Nations funding on the role of the military in democratization in Africa. McDonald also oversaw the African Regional Electoral Assistance Fund which engaged in training elections officials, civic voters' education and observation and monitoring of elections throughout Africa, including 34 separate country activities in partnership with the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, and the Carter Center at Emory University. McDonald holds a Master's degree in African Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a Bachelor's in French and Political Science from Southwest Missouri State University.
Mark L. Schneider joined the International Crisis Group (ICG), a multinational non-governmental conflict prevention organization, in spring 2001 as Senior Vice President and Director of its Washington office. Schneider’s areas of expertise include post-conflict reconstruction and nation-building and U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century. He directs the Washington advocacy office, conveying Crisis Group analyses and recommendations to the U.S. Government to the World Bank, OAS and the IDB. With Crisis Group, Schneider has traveled multiple times to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Nigeria, Guinea and Liberia; Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia; the Balkans; Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Haiti. He has testified frequently before the Congress on conflict issues. Schneider served as the Director of the Peace Corps from 1999-2001 and as the Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 1993-1999 for Latin America and the Caribbean. He was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs from 1977-1979 and a foreign policy advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy 1970-76. He earlier served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador.