Peacekeepers in DRC in traditional dress
The UK is supporting the international community's efforts to reach a long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including those of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Roger Meece.
The UN has one of its biggest peacekeeping missions in the DRC with around some 20,000 military and police personnel. The mission, which has been in DRC for over 10 years, was last mandated in Resolution 1991, unanimously adopted by the Security Council on 28 June 2011. Since May 2010, in recognition of the comparative increase in stability in the DRC, the mission has been recast as a stabilisation mission, and since July 2010 has been known by its French acronym MONUSCO. MONUSCO’s mandate focuses on protection of civilians and is also tasked to work on stabilisation and peace consolidation, which it is expected to do together with the UN Country Team in the DRC.
In addition to the support the UK provides through the UN and EU, the UK is one of the largest and most active humanitarian donors in the DRC. DfID recently announced a major increase to their aid programmes in DRC and will now provide an average of £200 million per year in support over the next five years. You can read more about the UK’s support to the DRC on our embassy in Kinshasa's website.
Revenue generated by the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the east of the DRC is a key financial source for armed groups and is a significant contributing factor to conflict. The UK, alongside international partners, is working to ensure that the DRC’s mineral wealth is brought under legitimate control, as a source of revenue for the state and the local population, and to restrict financial support to armed groups. DFID is working with the World Bank on the Growth with Governance in the Mineral Sector Technical Assistance Project (Promines), which went into effect on 19 October 2011. DFiD is providing £27 million towards the total cost of £61 million with the balance coming from the World Bank. Promines aims to improve conditions, strengthen governance, and improve accountability to encourage investment and improve the socio-economic contribution of the mining sector. The programme is in its early stages but this will include working to develop an effective traceability scheme. This will help to legitimise the sector and shift the control of mines away from armed groups and elements of the Congolese army (FARDC).
In November 2010, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1952, which set forth guidelines on due diligence specifically addressed to individuals and entities trading, processing and consuming minerals from eastern DRC. The guidelines aim to mitigate the risk of their providing direct or indirect support to Congolese armed groups, sanctioned individuals and entities, and both criminal networks and perpetrators of serious human rights abuses in the Congolese national army, the FARDC.
On 29 March 2011, the Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, launched guidance for British businesses and others dealing in the four minerals commonly known as conflict minerals - Cassiterite, Coltan, Wolframite and Gold.
Mr Bellingham said: “Conflict minerals have already shown that they have the power to destroy lives. While we all want to see British business prosper, we also want to see companies respecting agreed international standards of corporate social responsibility.”
The United Nations imposed an arms embargo in July 2003 – Security Council Resolution 1493 (2003), most recently extended by SC Resolution 2021 (2011). The sanctions regime also provides for targeted sanctions to be imposed on:
The full list of those subject to targeted sanctions is available here.
In October 1996 dissident groups, led by Laurent Kabila, and supported by Rwanda and Uganda, rose in revolt against the then President Mobutu. They entered Kinshasa on 17 May 1997 and Kabila declared himself President. Mobutu fled to Morocco, where he subsequently died. Internal and external dissatisfaction with the new president grew until late summer 1998, when a new rebel group announced itself, again backed by Rwanda and Uganda, and a second conflict broke out. SADC states led by Zimbabwe and Angola intervened on the side of the Kabila Government. (Laurent Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in 2001, and was replaced as President by his son, Joseph Kabila.)
By mid-1999 front lines had stabilised, with three belligerent groups respectively controlling a third of the country, each backed by different regional states. A cease-fire was signed in Lusaka in August 1999. The Security Council established MONUC to facilitate the implementation of the Lusaka Accord.
The DRC continues to be affected by violence and insecurity, especially in the east where the 2008 insurgency of rebel General Nkunda, and the continued presence of Rwandan rebels, have displaced hundreds of thousands and created an ongoing humanitarian disaster.
The security situation in the east of the country remains a concern, although there has been some progress in reducing the threat of the FDLR who are widely viewed as the biggest threat to stability in the east. Ill-disciplined elements in FARDC remain a significant component of the conflict. Civilians continue to suffer with Sex and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) used as a weapon of war. Instability, extreme poverty and lack of protection measures remain throughout the country.
Military operations led by FARDC with support from MONUSCO are less frequent but ongoing military pressure is clearly taking its toll on most militia groups. More results-driven effort is needed. Little tangible progress has been made against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but efforts are ongoing and improved information gathering techniques will help concentrate military assets against them.
Fully integrating former militia into FARDC remains a significant challenge as is the need to tackle impunity. MONUSCO needs to secure a greater role coordinating international support to SSR and greater efforts from GoDRC implementing reform. Building on its limited gains on police reform and the justice sector might be a good starting point
Armed groups and elements of the Congolese army (FARDC) continue to commit serious human rights abuses against the civilian population, including mass rape, killings, kidnapping, forced labour, conscription of child soldiers, and looting. The problems are compounded by widespread impunity due to weak institutions and limited state authority in large parts of the country. DRC is a country of concern in the FCO Annual Human Rights Report which contains further information on UK work to address these issues.