Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ICJ Orders Uganda to Pay Damages to the Democratic Republic of Congo for Illegal Incursion

The ICJ yesterday handed down a decision in Democratic Republic of Congo v. Uganda, ruling that Uganda violated the principles of non-intervention under Art 2(4) of the UN Charter and further violated international human rights and humanitarian law when it launched military operations in the DRC between 1998 and 2003. The Court explicitly rejected Uganda's claim of self defense in the case, holding that Uganda should pay reparations, which the government of the DRC estimates will be in the $6-10 billion range. From the ruling:

(p. 57) The Court considers that the obligations arising under the principles of non-use of force and non-intervention were violated by Uganda even if the objectives of Uganda were not to overthrow President Kabila, and were directed to securing towns and airports for reason of its perceived security needs, and in support of the parallel activity of those engaged in civil war.

In the case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) case, the Court made it clear that the principle of non-intervention prohibits a State “to intervene, directly or indirectly, with or without armed force,in support of an internal opposition in another State” (I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 108, para. 206). The Court notes that in the present case it has been presented with probative evidence as to military intervention. The Court further affirms that acts which breach the principle of non-intervention “will also, if they directly or indirectly involve the use of force, constitute a breach of the principle of non-use of force in international relations”(ibid., pp. 109-110, para. 209).

In relation to the first of the DRC’s final submissions, the Court accordingly concludes that Uganda has violated the sovereignty and also the territorial integrity of the DRC. Uganda’s actions equally constituted an interference in the internal affairs of the DRC and in the civil war there raging. The unlawful military intervention by Uganda was of such a magnitude and duration that the Court considers it to be a grave violation of the prohibition on the use of force expressed in Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter.


The Court further held that both IHL and human rights obligations were binding on the Ugandan troops then occupying the DRC, and that the Ugandan government was liable under the doctrine of responsibilityiblity for those acts:

(p. 71) In view of the foregoing, the Court finds that the acts committed by the UPDF [Ugandan People's Defense Force] and officers and soldiers of the UPDF (see paragraphs 206-211 above) are in clear violation of the obligations under the Hague Regulations of 1907, Articles 25, 27 and 28, as well as Articles 43, 46 and 47 with regard to obligations of an occupying Power. These obligations are binding on the Parties as customary international law. Uganda also violated the following provisions of the international humanitarian law and international human rights law instruments, to which both Uganda and the DRC are parties:

. Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 27 and 32 as well as Article 53 with regard
to obligations of an occupying Power;
. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 6, paragraph 1, and 7;
. First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, Articles 48, 51, 52, 57, 58 and 75, paragraphs 1 and 2;
. African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Articles 4 and 5;
. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38, paragraphs 2 and 3;
. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 1, 2, 3, paragraph 3, 4, 5 and 6.

The Court thus concludes that Uganda is internationally responsible for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by the UPDF and by its members in the territory of the DRC and for failing to comply with its obligations as an occupying Power in Ituri in respect of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied territory.

The full opinion in English is here.

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