Cablegate: The Icglr Takes Stock, and Seeks Its Niche


DE RUEHJB #0531/01 2790618
R 060618Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) (Summary) The International Conference of the Great
Lakes Region (ICGLR) is preparing a November 5-6 Roundtable
and Summit in Bujumbura, to be preceded by a November 4
"Friends of ICGLR" for donor countries. At an October 3
preparatory meeting, ICGLR Ambassador Liberata Mulamula said
that the upcoming Roundtable would take stock, and assess the
developing capacity of the three year old Secretariat.
Diplomats in attendance urged the ICGLR to focus on a few key
priorities and find its niche among the plethora of other
regional organizations in eastern Africa. (End summary.)

2. (U) Ambassador Mulamula hosted the October 3 breakfast
meeting to outline preparations for the Roundtable for the
Bujumbura diplomatic corps, the World Bank and the African
Development Bank (which manages the ICGLR's funding.) She
delivered an overview of the ICGLR's history, reminding the
diplomats that the organization grew out of the 1996
Conference on Great Lakes, mandated in the wake of the
Rwandan Genocide and the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, to
develop a mechanism for the region's states to resolve their
own proliferating and intertwined conflicts. The ICGLR now
includes eleven member states: an organization map shows a
wide swath of contiguous countries spanning the continent
from Sudan to Angola. An additional seven "coopted"
countries, including some as far afield as Egypt and
Mozambique, provide additional support. A "Pact" ratified by
ICGLR member states in 2008, articulates four programs of
action for the region: peace and security; democracy and
good governance, economic development and regional
integration; and humanitarian social and environmental
issues. Ambassador Mulamula turned the floor over to Peace
and Security Program Officer Stephen Singo who describe these
ambitious programs in greater detail. Singo said that
ultimately their success would be measured not just by
savings of UN peacekeeping costs, but also the use of natural
resource revenues for human development, and the
transformation of fragile states into effective states.
Singo also took note of the three operating principles of the
ICGLR, which he described as "international partnership,
regional ownership, and national stewardship."

3. (SBU) Ambassador Mulamula said that among its activities,
the November 5-6 Roundtable would take stock of how the ICGLR
had developed to date, and assess the effectiveness of the
ICGLR Secretariat, established in 2007 to manage ICGLR
activities on a daily basis. She recognized that the ICGLR
needed to focus on a few key priorities. Ambassador Mulamula
hoped that partner countries would pledge increased support
at the November 4 session of the "Friends of the ICGLR" just
prior to the roundtable. She noted that the ICGLR was
working closely with the World Bank to identify "bankable"

4. (SBU) The diplomatic corps was supportive of the ICGLR's
aspirations, but not entirely without reservations.
Beginning with the Charge d'Affairs from the Netherlands
(which co-chairs the Friends group with Canada) a series of
diplomatic speakers took note of the ICGLR's ambitious
agenda, but urged the ICGLR to find its niche and identify
its value added in a field that was already crowded with
overlapping regional organizations. The German Ambassador
said that natural resources management, primarily the control
of illegal minerals, was a reasonable area for ICGLR
endeavor. The Norwegian representative suggested that the
regional integration was not an appropriate venue of activity
since other organizations such as the EAC and COMESA have
already made significant advances in this area. The
strongest words came from the top ranking UN official, the
Executive Representative of the Secretary General Youssef
Mahmoud, who heads the United Nations Integrated Office in
Burundi, BINUB. Mr. Mahmoud suggested that the regional
transformation the ICGLR sought needed to come from within.
He said the organization should therefore reverse the order
of its three principles: only if its member states first
demonstrated competent national stewardship and the ICGLR
assumed regional ownership would partner states have the
confidence to provide the organization additional financial
support. The ICGLR, Mr. Mahmoud said, needed to demonstrate
to the partners that it could put its money where its mouth
was. He noted that some member states such as Angola and DRC
were capable of providing the resources for the ICGLR's
operation, and should do so.

5. (SBU) The representatives of the ICGLR who were present
put up a vigorous defense of the organization. Ambassador
Mulamula noted that the member states had themselves offered
up the initial "seed money" to establish the ICGLR.
Furthermore, the member states continued to pay all of the
Secretariat's operational costs through a system of
proportional assessments. Program Officer for Peace and
Security Singo made an eloquent defense of the organization's
priorities. He emphasized that resolution of the region's
conflicts could not be taken in isolation from issues such as
border management, food security, government corruption, or
illicit trafficking in minerals. All of these cross-border
issues had to be dealt with, in order to establish the
conditions for a sustainable peace in the region. Singo
reminded his interlocutors that, unlike other organizations
in the region, the ICGLR did not implement projects. Rather,
the role of the ICGLR was to identify a course of action,
facilitate member states activities in implementing it, and
hold member states accountable for doing so through the ICGLR
Pact. The Ambassador from ICGLR member state Tanzania was
somewhat less helpful with an intervention that suggested
that the international community owed the ICGLR its support,
and should pay fully on its pledges, in order to compensate
for Western colonial exploitation of Africa over the past

6. (SBU) Comment: The ICGLR, still a young organization,
appears to have a clear understanding of the region's deeply
intertwined conflicts, and a clear vision of the end state of
regional stability and human development it aspires to
achieve. The evidence suggests that ICGLR has not yet fully
developed a workable mechanism that can take the region to
there from here. The November 5-6 Roundtable could provide
the push the ICGLR needs to set it on the right path. End


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