Jason Stearns is Director of the RVI’s Usalama Project, which documents armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An American writer, he has worked in the DRC since September 2001, when he volunteered at a Bukavu human rights organization, Héritiers de la Justice (Heirs of Justice). He went on to work for the International Human Rights Law Group and the United Nations peacekeeping operation, MONUC.
Between 2005 and 2007, Stearns was based in Nairobi, Kenya, as a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, working on the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi. In 2007, he left to spend a year and a half researching and writing Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (New York: Public Affairs, 2011). This history of the Congo wars of 1996-2003, based on interviews with leading protagonists of the conflict, was described by Adam Hochschild in the New York Times as ‘the best account so far: more serious than several recent macho-war-correspondent travelogues … lucid and accessible … made painfully real by a series of close-up portraits’.
In 2008, he was appointed by the UN Secretary General as coordinator of the UN Group of Experts on the Congo, responsible for researching support and financing of armed groups in the eastern DRC. Jason Stearns is currently working on a PhD in political science at Yale University.