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Trouble in the Congo; Quest for Justice; Mideast Peace

Aired March 28, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: This week, a new approach to the quest for justice and an old problem in a contested land.

Plus, one of the most famous faces in the world travels to one of the most dangerous places on Earth.

Hello. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

This week, we look at the fight for world justice. The United States has just changed its game plan, and we have an exclusive interview about the new attitude of the U.S. towards the international criminal court.

And the fractious state of relations in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington this week, still defending his policy of expanding settlements in largely Arab East Jerusalem.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement, it's our capital.


AMANPOUR: We'll hear from two experts on the Middle East.

Plus, drumming for peace in one of the most troubled places on Earth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. We'll hear what film star Ben Affleck found traveling to Eastern Congo and how he thinks the world can help.


BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: The more I traveled, the more I was struck about it, the more I fell in love with the people, the more I was horrified by what was happening.


AMANPOUR: But first, the International Criminal Court.

Many hailed it as a triumph for global justice when it was established in 2002. But the ICC has faced an uphill battle ever since, and not just because it's difficult to prosecute war crimes, but because it never had the support of the most powerful member, the United States.

The Bush administration had refused to sign on, saying the court could put U.S. citizens in legal jeopardy.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, as the United States works to bring peace around the world, our diplomats and/or soldiers could be drug into this court.


AMANPOUR: But under President Obama, the White House has now shifted course somewhat. It's just announced that it still won't sign on to the treaty, but it will seek ways to support some of the key ICC prosecutions.

Earlier this week, I spoke to Stephen Rapp, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes, about what this change would really mean.


AMANPOUR: Thank you very much for joining us.


AMANPOUR: So the obvious first question is, why? Why now?

RAPP: Well, the Obama administration is dedicated to an approach of engagement, engagement with international institutions, engagement with countries in our interests and consistent with our values.

AMANPOUR: But you're still not signing on to the so-called Rome statute?

RAPP: No, we remain concerned that it might be possible for a prosecutor who's not accountable to anyone to target an American who's out doing the work that three million Americans are doing around the world today, protecting people from terror and atrocity.

AMANPOUR: So what exactly will you be doing? What does this shift indicate? What does it mean?

RAPP: Well, first of all, we're engaging with the ICC again. There are some very important issues that are being dealt with, issues like potentially them moving forward with a crime of aggression, and we have to engage in that to protect our interest and to protect international justice.

But we also recognize that we've been a leader since Nuremberg in bringing justice to victims of atrocities in Rwanda, with the Rwanda tribunal where I worked, and Sierra Leone, and Yugoslavia, et cetera. And in the future, there is not going to be a new international court created for specific situations. The ICC is where justice will be delivered, if it is to be delivered.

AMANPOUR: Well, we're going to talk about how that will be implemented. But, first, you just said the crime of aggression. What is that?

RAPP: Well, aggression is the crime that we prosecuted in a way at Nuremberg, but when a massive, aggressive war by the Nazis against the countries in Europe. And we -- and that is recognized in international law.

However, as defined in a proposed amendment to be considered at the ICC review conference at Kampala, it could include almost any act of crossing a border or assisting or allowing another country --

AMANPOUR: So you're concerned about U.S. citizens again, troops, diplomats?

RAPP: Well, particularly. And our allies, as well. If we're taking protective action in various places, like we did in Kosovo, for instance, people that are involved in trying to protect people could end up being unfairly targeted.

AMANPOUR: Let me play this part of an interview from the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations about this.


ABDALMAHMOUD ABDALHALEEM, SUDANESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: America is an opportunist country. They want to use the ICC without becoming a member. They use the ICC to exempt their soldiers, and they use it through Resolution 1593 also to exempt it from any jurisdiction. So they are using the is a double standard in its worst shape.


AMANPOUR: Is it not a double standard?

RAPP: It's not a double standard, because one of the principles of international justice -- and a principle of the ICC -- is that if you commit crimes, you commit genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, you will hold the people to account in your national system for those crimes.

We have a very tough system of military justice and civilian justice in this country that's, really, a model for the rest of the world. There's no question that, if Americans violate these rules, they'll be prosecuted.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to play something that Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, has said, particularly about the indictment in Sudan against President Bashir.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that it is very significant that a criminal indictment was returned by the International Criminal Court against President Bashir. The actions by the ICC sent a clear message that the behavior of Bashir and his government were outside the bounds of accepted standards.


AMANPOUR: So there are two issues to follow up on that statement from the secretary of state. Number one, what will you do now, as the ICC continues to try to get Bashir into the court at The Hague? Will you support that indictment and the arrest of Bashir or the prosecution? And particularly, I ask you, because the United States is obviously in engagement with Sudan right now.

Ambassador-at-Large Gration has talked to us and elsewhere about carrots, as well as sticks, but a lot of carrots going to Bashir. So how do you square this round hole with this peg?

RAPP: Well, you have -- keep in mind, the policy on Darfur has changed very little between the last administration and this administration.

AMANPOUR: Well, not really, because...

RAPP: The last administration allowed the indictment to go forward, opposed any effort to stop it in the United Nations, and became one of its -- the strongest supporters of accountability for Sudan. And we're following that policy.

AMANPOUR: Well, actually, the ICC says that the last administration was even stronger on this issue and on Bashir than this administration is being.

RAPP: Well, I dispute that. And, I mean, our position has been clear, that the -- that the prosecutor needs to go forward with this investigation, that it shouldn't be stopped, it shouldn't be derailed, or, you know, stayed for a year.


RAPP: And as we said in our statement before the assembly of the ICC yesterday, we've had a lot of experience working with the other international tribunals in bringing leaders to account, and we're willing to share that experience with the ICC to determine the most effective strategies for bringing all of the people that have been indicted by this court before the bar of justice.

AMANPOUR: Let's take the other issue. This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking about vast breaches beyond the bound of accepted standards, and that's why she, you know, praised the -- praised the indictment of Bashir.

But what about the vast breaches -- and this gets back again to the United States -- of acceptable standards by, for instance, those who've been accused of torture at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo? Again, many are saying that there is a double standard, and how can the United States lecture the world about other such indictments if it's not going to prosecute its own cases?

RAPP: Well, understand that the principle of complementarity, which I've described, requires countries to conduct genuine investigations. In this administration, the attorney general, a former colleague of mine, a fellow United States attorney, Eric Holder, is examining the question in regard to what was called enhanced interrogation, is making decisions about what kind of cases could be reviewed, has appointed a consul that's outside the normal sort of system, not a fully independent consul, but someone that answers directly to the attorney general.

And what the ICC requires is that you proceed with that process genuinely. Any case that could be brought may have difficulties factually, legally, et cetera. Those are all being examined by the Department of Justice, and that's what the law requires, and that's what the United States is doing in this case, as it's doing in others.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you a personal question. You really came to all of this, a long legal journey, but you were the prosecutor at the Sierra Leone tribunal. You were responsible for what finally ended up, Charles Taylor in court there.

How do you personally square that professional work that you've done with now the political work of not really signing up to the Rome statute? How does that play in your mind?

RAPP: Well, it's very consistent. I mean, what all of these courts require is the political, economic, judicial, legal support of various member states, and of the United Nations, of the ICC. You have to have countries that will work in support of bringing accountability.

The United States is a leader in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia, a whole variety of these international courts. Now we're looking at a situation with the ICC, where we have concerns about our own interests, but on the other hand, we see four cases that are being pursued in Africa that cry out for justice. Where there's been genocide, mass murder, crimes against humanity, accountability needs to be achieved.

And we have to figure out a way, if we can, that we can assist that process, because that's consistent with our values as Americans, consistent with the work to which I've dedicated my life.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Ambassador Rapp, thank you so much for joining us.

RAPP: Enjoyed it. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Next, we'll ask one of the ICC's prosecution team what this shift in U.S. policy will really mean.



COURTENAY GRIFFITHS, LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL: Were you regularly receiving mayonnaise jars full of diamonds from the RUF?

CHARLES TAYLOR, FORMER LIBERIAN PRESIDENT: Never, ever did I receive whether it is mayonnaise or coffee or whatever jar, never receive any diamonds from the RUF. It's a lie. It's a diabolical lie. Never.


AMANPOUR: That was Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia who's now on trial at a special tribunal set up to prosecute war crimes sin Sierra Leone.

The ICC was established to replace all those ad hoc war crimes tribunals that have been set up over the past two decades.

After speaking with Ambassador Stephen Rapp, I asked Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen, the special adviser to the ICC, about how the shift in U.S. policy would help the court.


AMANPOUR: Thank you for joining us.


AMANPOUR: First and foremost, how big a shift and how big a support is the United States' new policy of engagement with the ICC?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: It's essential for us. It's -- we're really excited about the announcement by the Obama administration yesterday. We have our shopping list ready of requests for assistance from the -- from the American government.

The American government first has to lead on one particular issue, the arrest of sought war criminals. President al-Bashir, Joseph Kony in Uganda, Bosco Ntaganda, the "Terminator in the Congo," all those people have arrest warrants against them, arrest warrants issued by the ICC judges, and they need to be arrested now.

AMANPOUR: So what do you expect the United States to do, send in troops and pick them up?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: In the case of Joseph Kony in Uganda, he is a militia leader surrounded by armed men. We need the support of -- the operational support of countries like the U.S. to the DRC, to Uganda, to the Central African Republic to assist them in mounting an operation to arrest him.

They have the will, so it's a totally legitimate operation, politically, legally, but they need this kind of assistance. And the U.S. has to be the leader. The Europeans will follow, but we need the U.S. in the lead.

AMANPOUR: Beyond the arrest, which the U.S. does have very significant capacities to do that, what else are you looking for? What else will this support mean in terms of -- I don't know. I asked Ambassador Rapp about whether it would mean being allowed to investigate and interrogate or question people on U.S. soil.

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: Again, for us, Christiane, the most important is diplomatic support. You know, in the case of al-Bashir, it's not a matter of arresting him or -- we don't need an information for -- on the crimes committed by President al-Bashir. We know. We have all the evidence. What we need is leadership in isolating him, in making him clearly a fugitive.

AMANPOUR: OK, on that note, let me play something from Judge Goldstone, Richard Goldstone, who was the first prosecutor of one of these first tribunals, the one for former Yugoslavia in The Hague.



JUDGE RICHARD GOLDSTONE, FORMER CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL: But I think what's really important is that double standards need to stop. It's really unfair that international criminal justice only -- only involves the smaller, weaker -- weaker powers. I think it's very important for that reason that the United States should become much more active and much more involved in the International Criminal Court.


AMANPOUR: Well, we've been debating the U.S. role, and we've been talking about that, but also what he's talking about, weaker powers, there is a perception that it is just Africa that is being targeted at the moment.

Do you have a sort of a credibility gap in terms of who you're targeting?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: No, we are very proud of what we're doing. We think that the most serious crimes under our jurisdiction in the last -- in the last few years have been committed in the countries where we have intervened.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Beatrice Le Fraper, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: Next, we turn to the Middle East. What will it take to get the peace process back on track?


AMANPOUR: Another challenge for the Obama administration, getting the Middle East peace process back on track.

Earlier this week, both Israel and the United States addressed the contentious settlement issue head on.


CLINTON: New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides say they want and need.



NETANYAHU: The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement, it's our capital.


AMANPOUR: Now, shortly after that speech, the deputy Israeli prime minister, Dan Meridor, told me that there would be no actual building in that settlement in East Jerusalem for two years.

To get more understanding of this whole issue, I spoke with two analysts on the region, Sari Nusseibeh, who's president of Al Quds University in Jerusalem. And from Washington, Daniel Levy, an adviser to the Israeli government in previous peace talks.


AMANPOUR: Gentlemen, thank you both very much for joining us.

Let me turn first to you, Mr. Nusseibeh.

As a Palestinian, you, yourself, have glumly forecast that the two-state solution is fading away. Is that what you really think, that there is less and less hope from that?

SARI NUSSEIBEH, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY: From a theoretical point of view, of course everything is still possible. But from a practical point of view, if you're looking at what's practically happening, then of course what you're seeing is a situation in which, in fact, the two-state solution is no longer possible, from a practical point of view.

And when you're talking about settlements, I know that the focus today is on 1,600 new housing units in a particular area in Jerusalem, Ramat Shlomo, or whatever. But you forget the fact that Israel has been building across the green line in East Jerusalem for the past 42 years. And we already have more than 250,000 people living across the green line in Jerusalem, in East Jerusalem, and in the surrounding areas.

Now, I don't see how a two-state solution, based on East Jerusalem being the capital of a Palestinian state, is going to be possible under the circumstances.

AMANPOUR: All right.

AMANPOUR: Let me just quickly as you this. The Israeli government -- you heard Mr. Meridor say it again -- you know, they feel that they don't even have a Palestinian partner. Yes, Mahmoud Abbas, but he doesn't bring the entire Palestinian people with him.

NUSSEIBEH: The Palestinian elected Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, because of his peace program. And they were hoping that, through having elected him, he is going to bring about a two-state solution based on the '67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital. And this was our last hope.

But Abu Mazen has been in office now for several years since he was elected, and every day reality is going in the opposite direction. So, yes, we support Abbas, but the Palestinian people see that the Palestinian people really have no partner for peace. We've been seeking peace on the basis of two states, but I believe that we haven't found a partner on the Israeli side consistent, powerful enough to bring about the solution.

AMANPOUR: All right.

Let me ask you, Daniel Levy, it's just incredible that there have been so many years of direct peace negotiations, and now they can't even get to that point and there's going to be proximity talks using the United States as mediators and go-betweens.

What can the United States do right now, particularly given the current state of tension?

DANIEL LEVY, MEMBER OF ISRAELI DELEGATION TO TABA: Well, I think you could use the fact that the United States is driving the process by being in direct talks, America with Israel, America with the Palestinians. There's urgency. We've heard it from the deputy prime minister and from what Professor Nusseibeh said.

I think you need a plan on the table. You need something concrete for the Israelis and the Palestinians to say yes or no to.

The question of the Palestinian partner is secondary. If Israel's ready for peace, it could stop settlements, it could say to the international community you guarantee security, you run this. I think we need now a concrete American plan not to deal with one settlement, but to deal with the entirety and to get a border.

AMANPOUR: When you say a concrete plan, there are the plans. The Israeli ambassador to the United States has said, "We do not want an American plan. It's like forcing people to fall in love." That's what he was quoted as saying.

Is there any way other than having an American plan?

LEVY: I don't see it. No one is asking Israelis and Palestinians to fall in love.

One is saying if you're serious about two states, let's go ahead and do it. Israel, unfortunately, is addicted to the settlements. The settlers and their sympathizers are everywhere in the Israeli system. That's why even the prime minister was possibly surprised by what happened 10 days ago.

A plan which has clear terms of reference, specifically on the borders, including borders in Jerusalem, then there'll be no question of a where's a settlement because you'll have a border. You'll know where's Israel, where's Palestine? If you want to states, you have to do that. If not, it's going in the direction Professor Nusseibeh described.

AMANPOUR: Professor Nusseibeh, do you think that even at this date, there is a possibility for America to break the logjam, that maybe these proximity talks can achieve what direct talks or no talks have not achieved?

NUSSEIBEH: I quite agree. I mean, if the Americans were to do more than simply point out the facts, which is what Secretary Clinton did the other day, if the Americans were actually to push for a particular solution as they see it, as they find possible, as they find probably acceptable on the two sides, on both parts, then I think that will probably be the only way forward.

We need American intervention at this moment in time in order to break the deadlock we're in. Otherwise, I think I quite agree with what's been said. I think we're certainly going into a default option of a one-state scenario, an (INAUDIBLE) reality.

AMANPOUR: Professor Nusseibeh, Daniel Levy, thank you both so much for joining us at this critical juncture.


AMANPOUR: And on our Facebook page, we're discussing this question: If Israel continues to build in East Jerusalem, how will it affect the country's long-term relationship with the United States?

So weigh in at

And next, one of the most famous actors in the world takes on one of the worst humanitarian crises. What can Ben Affleck do to heal the wounds of war in Congo?


AMANPOUR: We turn once again to one of the great humanitarian tragedies of our time, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has left an estimated five million people dead. It's been seven years since a peace deal was signed and rebel militias began disarming. And it's nearly four years since landmark elections made Joseph Kabila the first freely-elected president in decades.

And yet, literally millions of people in Eastern Congo are still being brutalized by the conflict. Rape persists as a weapon of war. The United Nations estimates that 160 women are raped every week by armed groups, and especially by the Congolese Army itself.

And the fighting goes on for most of the world out of sight, and therefore out of mind. So it often takes high-profile people to remind the world of a massive injustice happening.

Earlier this week, I spoke with the film star Ben Affleck, who has launched the Eastern Congo Initiative. It's an effort to raise money, awareness, and also to lobby governments for help.

He had just returned from there and joined us from Los Angeles.


AMANPOUR: Ben Affleck, thanks for joining us.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

AMANPOUR: What made you take up this cause? Why Congo?

AFFLECK: Well, as you explained, obviously, it's a tremendous humanitarian crisis. And, you know, I began -- I had heard about it briefly. I was shocked that I didn't know more about it. And I started traveling there to learn about it, because, while I wanted to take up the cause, I was really insecure about being a kind celebrity dilettante getting involved. And this was about three or four years ago.

And the more I traveled, the more I was struck about it, the more I fell in love with the people, the more I was horrified by what was happening. And I just, you know, started to want to learn about what was happening there. And the more I did, I started to develop this idea of partnering with the Congolese people and wanting to empower community-based organizations there that were doing extraordinary work.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me get to that in a minute, because that's your Eastern Congo Initiative. So briefly tell me, what does that mean, community-based partnerships? Precisely how?

AFFLECK: Well, you know, what oftentimes we don't see and the pictures in the media are -- is the fact that there are so many of these organizations throughout Africa, but particularly as I've seen in Eastern Congo that, despite this extraordinary crisis, are doing immeasurable good and overcoming extraordinary odds in Eastern Congo.

There are folks who are working to protect those who are suffering from gender-based violence, who help child soldiers to, you know, advance the educational needs of the citizens there. There are people who live in the communities, who are from there, who understand the relationships there, and who are really, you know, Africans finding solutions to African problems.

And when I was there, what I saw was that those were, in my view, the most effective folks at meeting those goals.

AMANPOUR: I want to play some video that you shot, your people shot there, and you've sent it to us. And it's you going to a prison and what happens in the prison. And I want to -- I want you to describe it a little bit. You're going in and I think you're talking to the prisoners and then a scuffle breaks out?

AFFLECK: Yes, this is the Goma prison, which is, you know, I think not a place you want to find yourself in prison. It's in Eastern Congo. It's the only main prison there in the city. It's madly overcrowded and quite miserable.

I was there looking at causes of gender-based violence interviewing some rapists, in fact, and then, you know, this is one of several incidents that took place there, and, you know, it just -- it wasn't really dealt with. It just seemed like just, you know, quite common, in fact, and --

AMANPOUR: When you say you were interviewing them, what was -- what was the purpose of that? What were you trying to get out of those prisoners there?

AFFLECK: I was trying to find out a couple of things.

One, you know, because impunity is such an issue there, I was trying to find out who, if anyone, was, in fact, convicted? And, two, trying to get to the bottom of this sort of culture.

Everybody asks, well, what's going on? Why is this happening? Why are so -- why has this become such a prevalent cultural norm? And no one could provide any answers to that, and so I, in partnership with some other of the local organizations there, kind of set out to find some answers about that.

AMANPOUR: And we also have a picture of Laba Kamana. Tell me about story, about this woman.

AFFLECK: This is a woman who worked with one of the organizations that we ECI want to partner with, LAV, which is a French acronym for Let Africa Live. These folks have helped this woman.

She was taken prisoner by the FDLR, which is the former -- it's a bit of a long story, but the former group that caused the genocide in Rwanda. They're now the principal militia in Congo. They took her prisoner three years ago. They, in her words, treated her like an animal and a slave. She was a bush wife to six men who raped her.

She became pregnant. She eventually escaped by asking basically permission to take a bath and making a mad run for it.

She barely escaped with her life. She walked for a week and made it back to the city. She was homeless, pregnant, destitute in the city.

She was discovered by folks from this organization. They took her in. They brought her into this community.

They teach basically trade -- they teach you a trade, like, you know, carpentry and auto mechanics and sewing and that kind of thing. But even more, they sort of bring you into a community and sort of bring folks back, former child soldiers and the like.

She is now -- when she spoke to us, she was going to law school. She wanted to teach -- she wanted to practice law, to protect women's rights. She's an extraordinary woman, and that was the kind of group that we want to partner with and support so that we can broaden their capacity to do more.

AMANPOUR: Right, so what do you think is the most important for you to want to focus on, in terms of really trying to effect change?

AFFLECK: It's important to kind of do top down and bottom up. That's why we want to do grassroots grant-making, as well as a sort of top-down advocacy, so that you can do kind of cause and effect, because if you're just putting Band-Aids on something, it has the potential to go on forever, and you're just catching water at the bottom of a waterfall.

So we want to do policymaking both at the United States level and at the international level and through local African countries' level. You know, the United States really needs to develop a comprehensive policy towards Congo as a whole, much in the same way it did toward Sudan in late 2009, which it doesn't have toward Eastern Congo, despite what a sort of mess the place is.

And I think that's really the smartest approach.


AMANPOUR: Next, we'll be back with a look at what the world is doing or not doing to stop the war in Eastern Congo. But one glimmer of hope is in the extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate child soldiers.

Check out our Web site,, where we have a special look at these efforts and the group's search for common ground. They use music and theater to help these children find their way back to a civilian life.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): The Congolese government either could not or would not maintain discipline over its troops here. People here say that soldiers roamed freely through the camp, abusing the population. In the first six months since the camp was established, more than 100 women reported being raped by government troops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are many problems: cases of rape of our daughters, cases of rape of our mothers, cases of rape of our wives. This is what happens here.

AMANPOUR: The soldiers of the Congolese Army's 6th Brigade did not want to be filmed, but one did respond to the rape charges and talked about their mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We came here and through combat re-took the territory. Some of the population was together with the militia. There is no problem of rape here. We are calm. You can ask the chief here. We are doing our mission of guarding the population.


AMANPOUR: That was a report shot by one of our producers, George Lerner.

And we continued our conversation with Ben Affleck, as well as two experts on the situation in Eastern Congo, Sylvie Maunga Mbanga, who is a Congolese human rights lawyer, and Jason Stearns, who's worked with the International Crisis Group and also with the United Nations.


AMANPOUR: Let me first -- I just want to continue with you, Ben, you have talked about using celebrities' currency to do something. Just explain that so that we can take that as a jumping off point.

AFFLECK: I think as a celebrity, you know, you have to be very judicious, because, you know, you do have an opportunity to get on camera, and so it's really important to make sure that you do learn a lot and spend a lot of time learning and be humble and learn from folks like Jason and also, perhaps even more importantly, you know, the Congolese, if you're going to work in Congo.

And then, you know -- you know, you have to -- I think in general, one has an obligation to do something important with one voice and so choose what that is, dedicate yourself to it, and then, you know, follow through.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, we're going to take these issues right now.

And since you mentioned Jason, and you're sitting right next to me, let's me ask you -- and we have this map there.

Number one, is this the kind of help you need to raise the profile of what's happening in Congo? And show us where the desperate emergency is right now.

JASON STEARNS, COORDINATOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS GROUP OF EXPERTS ON THE CONGO: Well, it's really difficult to isolate the worst areas. The area where the worst violence has been over the last several months has been this sort of axis around here. But, really, all across this area that you see here, about the size of California, there is ongoing violence.

I think the response to your question about what Ben is doing, I think, is great. I think, however -- I can only applaud what he's doing -- I think the key challenge in the Congo is actually to try to reform the state and state institutions.

And so while what he's doing with local NGOs is wonderful, I think that we're not going to have a solution to the problem and to the rapes, for that matter, until we have a Congolese state and army that serves the people, rather than preys on the people.

AMANPOUR: So can you -- how do you do that?

STEARNS: Well, it's a very good question. It's something the United States is trying to do in Afghanistan, if not with, you know, hundreds of thousands of troops. And in the Congo, we have 20,000 peacekeepers who are now supposed to leave, because President Kabila has asked them to leave.

So it's very difficult, especially if a state is unwilling. But $4 billion is currently the amount the international community gives to the Congo for various things, and yet -- and they've done a great job in emergency stuff, in feeding displaced people, but, really, a very poor job in reforming the state institutions that would prevent such a crisis in the future.

AMANPOUR: So let me turn to Sylvie in Washington.

You are a lawyer. You're dealing with the victims of rape and other such sexual violence. In terms of -- I guess not just on the individual level, but on the big level, can you -- can you make a difference here? Is there some way of bringing accountability for these crimes?

SYLVIE MBANGA MAUNGA, CONGOLESE LAWYER AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Yes, like my colleague talked about, the justice and the responsibility of the state, I think the problem -- the policy at the national level, even if the victim had -- they are ready to go to talk about the issue, but the problem is the government should make sure that the justice will be there to do a great job about to get the justice to the victims.

They think it's the corruption -- even if we have lots of cases -- when I used to work with the victim in the case of the Congo, their problem is not we are -- we have many testimony, but to prove, to have an affidavit, to prove the (INAUDIBLE) that is the (INAUDIBLE) is what is very difficult, and --

AMANPOUR: So what you're saying, Sylvie, is that you need all the legal weapons at your disposal to be able to go to court and to actually prosecute these crimes.

Let me just put up a quote about rape. It says, "Rape is not just a byproduct of the conflict in Congo. It is a combat strategy, systematically used to terrorize and humiliate, and it cannot be tolerated to achieve a larger military goal." That's from Sarah Spencer (ph), who's the director of the IRC's program.

And in this regard, given what you've both been saying about taking this to a government level, Ben Affleck, let me ask you, because you did talk to the president of Congo, to Joseph Kabila. You sat with the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. You had an opportunity to speak truth to power and use your high profile.

What did you say to them? What did they say to you?

AFFLECK: I mostly take the opportunity that I get when I'm talking to anybody in a position of power and influence or expertise to learn at this point, you know? And one of the things that I learned from those gentlemen is that -- which is interesting -- is that they really have a genuine commitment to a stable Eastern Congo, that there's a point now which I don't think there used to be where they now both feel like they have a pretty -- at least according to them -- at least in terms of what they said to me -- an investment in -- you know, they would like Eastern Congo to be stable and secure for their own political agendas.

AMANPOUR: Is there any hope that at any time soon there's going to be stability? Or is -- or are the factors that are creating this war still hot and boiling?

STEARNS: Well, we've come an awful long way from the peak of the war in, I would say, 2000, 2001, where you had nine African countries involved, where the whole country was really engulfed in war. Now you have a small area of the country that's engulfed and terrible violence, but it's much better than it used to be, so we've come a long way.

But I would say that the key factors that initially brought the war about in 1996, the collapse of the Congolese state and the overflow of the genocide in Rwanda, those factors are still prevalent today. And I think that we have not yet done enough to really root out those causes and to prevent further conflict in the future.

AMANPOUR: Let me play this bit of an announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was in Goma a few months ago. Goma, which is in the Congo.



CLINTON: And today, I'm announcing that we will provide more than $17 million in new funding to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence in the DRC.


AMANPOUR: So, Sylvie, Secretary of State Clinton, on behalf of the United States government, is talking about $17 million to prevent gender-based violence. Is that going to help? Will that make a difference? And how?

MAUNGA: Yes, I think it's a good initiative, but the problem is how they're going to use this money. That I say that the government should make sure that it's addressing the need of the population, Congolese population.

And the first, like others said, is the justice, we need to punish the perpetrators of the sexual violence against women. And the other side, the policy which the government is supposed to do should make to address -- to make the sexual violence against women like the priority of the government, but in the way we are -- we are seeing like it's not the priority of the government. And we need to address this one.

AMANPOUR: This is a war crime. Rape, Jason, as a tool of war is a war crime. It's not just a crime. It's a war crime, and it's been enshrined as that at the war crime tribunal.

Is there -- do you know of any progress or developments on any of the investigations into the war crimes, any of the U.N. investigations? Are there going to be any announcements?

STEARNS: Well, let me, if I may, Christiane, come back to what you were talking about with Hillary Clinton. I think this is very important.

She said $17 million, primarily giving money to hospitals. This is great. We are giving $4 billion to the Congo.

AMANPOUR: To who in the Congo?

STEARNS: We're giving $4 billion to the World Bank, to the IMF, to the U.N. peacekeeping mission --

AMANPOUR: But to the government?

STEARNS: In part to the government. This is everything together, humanitarian aid, but a large chunk of that goes to the government. Despite the fact that we're giving $4 billion to this wide array of different causes, but much of it's the government, we have failed to reforming state institutions.

Seventeen million -- for me, this is propaganda. I mean, there's nothing else, in terms of the U.S. government. I'm a -- I was a big supporter of President Obama. He mentioned numerous points in his campaign that he would address Darfur and the Congo, but you cannot -- I mean, it's almost - - $17 million? This is -- this is nothing.

AMANPOUR: Ben, you know, you have this role now. You've taken it on. You have access to the halls of power and to -- and to people like President Obama, presumably.

Is this a message that you want to convey? Do you feel this is your work now, to make this visible and unavoidable?

AFFLECK: Well, I wouldn't overstate my access to President Obama, but I would -- I would definitely -- I tend to agree with Jason in some respects. I think the -- I think the important thing -- what happens is that we have a very sort of scattershot approach here.

You've got, you know, USAID over here, Defense over here. You have all -- this very scattershot approach to our policy with DRC. And so what happens is that, when we spend money, it's very ineffective. And so, you know, adding more money in various ways sometimes, you know, doesn't work.

What we need to do is have this comprehensive policy where we sort of understand what we're doing collectively.

AMANPOUR: That's the challenge, and I thank you all for joining me.

Ben Affleck, Sylvie and Jason, thank you so much for being here in the studio.

And next, our "Post-Script," how politics today are imposing themselves on a treasure of the past.

Stay with us.


AMANPOUR: Now our "Post-Script."

Earlier this hour we focussed on the troubled Middle East peace process. We also want to highlight one of the hazards of coexistence in this region, even between those who have made peace.

The Egyptian government has completed reconstruction on the Maimonides synagogue in Cairo. It's named for a 12th century Jewish philosopher who used to live there.

The government spent nearly $2 million to rebuilt the site, but earlier this month officials cancelled the inaugural festivities, allowing only a quiet opening and no press. Egyptian officials tell CNN that they scaled back the celebrations because of the tensions now in Jerusalem.

And that's our report.

Thanks for joining us. And during the week you can watch our program every day on CNN International and catch the entire program on our daily podcast on

For all of us here, goodbye from New York.