Uganda was ordered by The International Court of Justice to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) $325 million in reparations by the United Nations’ top court on Wednesday, following a terrible conflict between the African neighbors that began in the late 1990s.
The court’s president, US judge Joan E Donoghue, said: “The court notes that the reparation awarded to the DRC for damage to persons and to property reflects the harm suffered by individuals and communities as a result of Uganda’s breach of its international obligations.”
The reparation order came more than fifteen years after a UN court decided that Ugandan forces fighting in the DRC had violated international law in a convoluted, 119-page ruling. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Uganda to pay reparations in 2005, however they were never paid. The amount given was far less than the DRC’s request for more than $11 billion in damages for the invasion of its fragile northeastern Ituri area.
The damages were divided into various categories by the court. It assessed $225 million for “loss of life and other damage to individuals,” which included rape, child soldiers’ enlistment, and up to 500,000 people’s relocation.
It also estimated $40 million in property loss and $60 million in natural resource damage, including the looting of gold, diamonds, lumber, and other products by Ugandan soldiers or rebels they sponsored.
After a protracted legal struggle for compensation over the catastrophic 1998-2003 violence that killed thousands of people, the Hague-based court’s decision represents a setback for DRC.
“Insufficient evidence to sustain the DRC’s allegation of 180,000 civilian fatalities for which Uganda owes restitution,” Judge Donoghue stated.
“According to the information provided before the court, the number of deaths for which Uganda owes reparations falls between 10,000 and 15,000 people,” Judge Donoghue continued.
The conflict dragged nine African nations into it at its peak, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting rebel troops fighting the Kinshasa government for control of the mineral-rich Ituri territory.