12 April 2013

A Much Closer Look at the Howard G Buffett Report on Rwanda, DRC and the UN Group of Experts

Howard G. Buffett is pushing the international community to fully restore aid to Rwanda.

When a UN Group of Experts (GoE) report found that Rwanda was supporting rebels fighting a deadly conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a number of countries including the U.S. and Britain cut or suspended foreign aid in protest.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame steadfastly denied supporting the Congo militias that have been wreaking havoc along the Rwanda-Congo border, but the evidence was strong enough to convince even some of Kagame’s biggest supporters that the Western powers needed to send a message of disapproval.

That didn’t include Howard Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son, and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Buffett and Blair argued against the move, contending that reducing aid to Rwanda would just cause more harm than good to the unstable Great Lakes region of central Africa.

“Cutting aid does nothing to address the underlying issues driving conflict in the region, it only ensures that the Rwandan people will suffer — and risks further destabilizing an already troubled region,” Blair and Buffett wrote in a recent Foreign Policy article

This was followed by a report from the Howard G Buffett Foundation echoing the same points made in the Foreign Policy Op-Ed. The report went further by questioning the reliability of the GoE – the group that originally reported evidence the the Rwandan government was supporting rebels in the eastern DRC.

It’s worth noting that the Buffett Foundation report was written by unknown authors and using unnamed sources.

Families on the move to escape fighting, eastern DRC

The Buffett Foundation report attacks the UN experts and then makes the case that pointing fingers is counterproductive. Says the report; “Our Foundation is not interested in apportioning blame for what we view is a fundamental failure in the GoE process in 2012….”

“We will let the report – and the information on our website – speak for itself,” replied the foundation’s chief of staff, Ann Kelly when asked about the unnamed contributors.

Lake Partners Strategy Consultants and the Crumpton Group LLC are listed as organizations that worked with the Buffett Foundation on the report, but they too were unwilling to talk about the report or how they reached their conclusions.

So, I spoke with regional experts about the report both on and off the record and a consensus emerged. The Buffett Foundation report is simply inaccurate, they told me.