ResCongo held its inaugural annual conference from September 27–28, in collaboration with the SSRC’s Understanding Violent Conflict (UVC) program, the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN), Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Bukavu (ISP-Bukavu), and the Conflict Research Group (CRG) at Ghent University, at the Centre Culturel Boboto in Kinshasa. UVC director Dr. Tatiana Carayannis and program manager Aaron Pangburn were invited to attend as members of the advisory committee. ResCongo was created in October 2016 and is coordinated by Professor Jose Bazonzi (UNIKIN) and Professor Godefroid Muzalia Kihangu (ISP-Bukavu).
ResCongo, the first national Congolese network of researchers working on peace and security issues, is a virtual platform that promotes and facilitates exchanges among Congolese scholars, connecting and enhancing the participation of these researchers in international academic and policy discussions. ResCongo invited members and interested researchers to submit abstracts, draft papers, and present their work through a call for proposals. Twenty applications were selected after a competitive assessment process. The theme of the inaugural conference was “Insecurity and the Provision of Justice in Urban and Semi-Urban areas in the DRC: Actors, Practices and Perspectives.”
The conference began with opening remarks from Noël Obotela Rashidi, professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Politics (CEP) at the University of Kinshasa. Over the course of two days, conference leaders and participants held panels on topics ranging from “Insecurity and National Resources” to “Land Conflicts, Customary Authorities, and Justice.” Prominent Congolese researchers led most of the panel discussions, while Dr. Carayannis was asked to co-lead a discussion on methodologies, the challenges of conducting research in the DRC, and how scientific research can best inform public policy.
Support for the creation of the website and virtual presence of ResCongo comes from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), while funding for the inaugural conference was provided by LSE’s Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) through the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Global Challenges Research Fund (ESRC-GCRF). For more information on ResCongo, please see their website: http://rescongo.org/ and Twitter handle @ResCongo.