Fourth, there is no credible senior mediator from either the African Union or the United Nations who has the gravitas and international backing to introduce an agenda that would go beyond short-term deals cut by those with the biggest guns. The United States has supported the current peace effort -- putting a particular emphasis on Rwanda's participation in the talks -- but has not addressed the fundamentally flawed structure of the process itself.
Fifth, there are no expert teams such as those that supported previous African peace deals everywhere from Sudan to Mozambique to Burundi to support protracted negotiations over tough issues and draw on best practices from other peacemaking efforts around the world.
Sixth, there is no internationally coordinated leverage -- in the form of additional sanctions, aid suspensions, or war crimes investigations -- to compel intransigent parties to consider compromises and no effective approach to create real accountability for committing, orchestrating, or funding crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for a few Congolese militia leaders, but no plans have been developed to execute the warrants of those who remain at large, including M23 leader Bosco "The Terminator" Ntaganda.
Seventh, there are no special envoys from the United Nations and United States at the talks, which only adds to the vacuum of diplomatic leadership and undermines any chance for peace.
There is no excuse for this sorry state of affairs. And rectifying the situation does not require huge amounts of money or wrenchingly divisive moves within the U.N. Security Council. It requires leadership -- from the African Union, from the U.N. secretary general, and from President Barack Obama, who has a history of clarity on Congo going back to his days in the U.S. Senate, when he sponsored legislation that -- had it been implemented -- would have long ago cut aid to neighboring countries for destabilizing Congo and supporting proxies that plunder Congolese resources.
The answers to this diplomatic train wreck lie in the successful peace processes that have ended previous African wars. First, a highly respected senior U.N. envoy should be appointed to work with an African Union envoy to craft and lead a transparent and inclusive peace process. Beyond the Congolese, Rwandan, and Ugandan governments, the initiative should involve armed and unarmed representatives from throughout eastern Congo -- in particular civil society representatives and political party officials -- to ensure that any agreement has the buy-in of a wide swath of stakeholders. Key regional governments such as Angola and South Africa must also be involved to apply leverage for a solution. A senior U.S. special envoy should be appointed to support the mediation and identify opportunities for the international community to exert leverage, including U.N. sanctions and war crimes accountability.
For the first time ever in a Congolese peace process, stakeholders must address root causes and adopt creative approaches -- informed by best practices from successful mediation efforts -- to incentivize the peaceful and legal development of Congo's natural resource sector. And once a comprehensive deal is struck, special forces should be added to the existing U.N. peacekeeping force to counter the Rwandan FDLR militia and other armed groups that could undermine progress toward peace.
A credible international process in eastern Congo doesn't guarantee peace. Its absence, however, guarantees further war.