During 10 – 15 August 2017, Globethics.net provided a series of training sessions on ‘Integrity and Elections' as part of the FIER (Integrity Training for Responsible Elections) Programme. The trainings have been provided for the national leadership of the Protestant Church in DR Congo.
Over the course of 5 days, training sessions conducted by Christoph Stückelberger, President of Globethics.net, were provided for the National Election Synod (Parliament) of the Protestant Church in DR Congo (DRC) with over 400 delegates and three National Election Congress bodies, which consist of the Federation of Women, the federation of Youth and the Federation of Lay Persons. Each session was attended by 80-120 delegates.
The focus of the trainings was on ‘the ethics of integrity in elections', ‘the roles and responsibilities of the different actors in elections' and ‘conflicts and mediation in elections'. The training for the Synod looked at 500 years of Reformation and its ethical renewal as well the relation between Church and State. Additionally, a workshop on media ethics and protection of journalists was held with a group of 20 journalists in view of the mounting difficulties that the profession faces in DRC (over 20 journalists have been arrested and in 2016 a number have been killed).
The FIER programme, now in its third successive year, is an ambitious project with the ECC and Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation (CIME) that trains mediators, observers, religious and political leaders and media personnel. The protestant church in Congo has a collective membership of over 40 million people, so by strategically ‘training the trainers', the programme hopes to have a broad impact on both national and provincial levels of society, effecting the church leaders, women, youth, media, political parties and election processes.
When speaking of his own experience in the country, Christoph Stückelberger challenged the western perception of DR Congo, which focuses mainly on the conflicts and political tensions in the country, and provided a more optimistic perspective. He said, ‘a number of positive developments can be observed, especially in the large number of people—including many youths—who want to make a positive difference in their country and take initiatives against youth violence, toward innovative projects and for fairer elections in church and society. In this very difficult environment, it's encouraging.'