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Country Reports
Congo DRC

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions at UN Headquarters in New York on 18 March 2009, becoming the 96th state to sign.

The DRC is not believed to have produced or transferred cluster munitions. It is unclear if the DRC has used cluster munitions in the past or if it currently has a stockpile. Deminers from the NGO DanChurchAid have documented the presence of submunitions from BL-755 cluster bombs in Kasu village in Kabalo, Katanga province.[1] It is not known which party to the various conflicts in the DRC used these weapons or when.

The DRC is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

While the DRC did not attend the initial meeting to launch the Oslo Process in February 2007 or the next international conference in Lima in May 2007, it participated in the Belgrade conference for cluster munition affected states in October 2007, the final two international conferences to develop the convention text in Vienna and Wellington, and the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. It also participated in African regional conferences in Livingstone in March/April 2008 and Kampala in September 2008.

During the Wellington conference in February 2008, the DRC stated that all cluster munitions should be prohibited without exception.[2] The DRC called for strengthening the language of the article on international cooperation and assistance from an obligation for states “in a position to do so” to provide assistance to states “shall” provide assistance.[3]

During the Livingstone conference from 31 March to 1 April 2008, the DRC supported the inclusion of special obligations for past users of cluster munitions, for both clearance and the provision of international assistance. The DRC continued to emphasize the necessity of international assistance to ensure that affected states, like itself, would be able to meet obligations for clearance and provision of assistance to victims. The DRC endorsed the Livingstone Declaration, which called on African states to support the negotiation in Dublin of a comprehensive treaty with a prohibition that should be “total and immediate.”[4]

During the Dublin negotiations, the DRC joined other African states in opposing efforts to weaken the convention text. At the conclusion, it joined the consensus adoption of the convention.

In September 2008, during the Kampala regional conference, the DRC called on states to develop national implementation legislation, to start the process of stockpile destruction, to provide information on the type and quantities of stockpiled cluster munitions, to establish national action plans for victim assistance with the involvement of survivors, and to appoint a national coordinator for this work. The DRC said the convention was a victory for the victims of cluster munitions and must be signed by all that adopted it. [5]

It endorsed the Kampala Action Plan, which declared that states should sign and “take all necessary measures to ratify the convention as soon as possible.”[6]

The DRC attended the signing conference in Oslo in December with the intention to sign, but had difficulties with proper paperwork and authorization.[7]

Ambassador Atoki Ileka signed the convention for the DRC in New York on 18 March 2009 at a special event attended by more than 70 countries, high-level UN officials, and representatives of the CMC and the ICRC.[8]

[1] CMC, “Africa and the Oslo Process to Ban Cluster Munitions,” September 2008, Prepared by Human Rights Watch, www.hrw.org. The United Kingdom produces the BL-755 cluster bomb.

[2] Statement of the DRC, Session on Definitions, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 19 February 2008.

[3] Statement by François Aberi Moska, Minister of Interior, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18–22 February 2008.

[4] Livingstone Declaration, Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 1 April 2008.

[5] Statement of the DRC, Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 29 September 2008.

[6] CMC, “Report on the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” 30 September 2008; and Kampala Action Plan, Kampala Conference, 30 September 2008.

[7] The “Full Powers” document necessary to sign was assigned to a diplomat who was not able to be in Oslo. Email from Laura Cheeseman, Campaigning Officer, CMC, 12 December 2008.

[8] CMC, “Report on the Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions – United Nations , New York, 18 March 2009.”