October 01, 2010
New U.N. Report on Atrocities in Congo
In a new “Mapping Report” released today, the United Nations (U.N.) details horrific mass atrocities committed against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003. The 550-page report lists hundreds of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and seeks to draw attention to the “culture of impunity” in the DRC that continues today. Human Rights First calls for justice for the victims of these terrible human rights violations in Congo, and highlights the ongoing atrocities in the eastern part of that country, which demand an urgent U.S. and international response. The Mapping Report released today includes a focus on the link between natural resource exploitation and the perpetration of human rights abuses in Congo. It describes a pattern that has been well-documented: armed groups generate significant revenues from the illicit extraction and trade of precious minerals, enabled by a web of third-party actors, and this dynamic helps to sustain the commission of atrocities against civilians. Human Rights First continues to draw attention to the role of third-party enablers in sustaining atrocities such as those described in this new report, and to urge they be subjected to pressure and consequences by the U.S. and other countries. The report reiterates the findings of earlier U.N. expert groups, which stated that the illicit exploitation of natural resources in the DRC and the accompanying serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law “could not have taken place on such a large scale had there not been customers willing to trade in these resources.” Today’s report also identifies neighboring countries in central Africa that “could be held responsible for serious violations of human rights committed by their national armies” during the period on which the investigation focused, and it highlights Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola for particular mention. It notes that “further investigation could result in determination of the extent to which other countries—and possibly foreign companies—carried some responsibility.” The report released today was originally commissioned following the discovery of three mass graves in eastern Congo in 2005. The final report has been greeted with some hostility by several of the countries named in its pages as having had a role in the commission of human rights violations in DRC during that period. For more on the ways in which third parties enable mass atrocities, see our fact sheet.