Government of Uganda has protested the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Uganda to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 325 million dollars (One Trillion Uganda Shillings) in reparation for the effects of the 1998-2003 war, describing it unfair and wrong.
Both Kiryowa Kuwanuka, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have in different statements said the decision did not meet the standard of fairness.
“We challenge and reject the findings of wrong doing on the part of the UPDF which was singled out notwithstanding the acknowledgement by the court of the existence of so many belligerents in the conflict. The UPDF was and remains a disciplined force and a force for the good in all the countries it has operated in to this day,” says the Attorney General.
“The conflict which this dispute arose was resolved in a peace accord in Lusaka which confirmed the existence of the problems faced by the countries neighboring the DRC”
“As it turns, thr court’s decision is yet another failure to understand and appreciate African matters and makes no contribution to current efforts at resolving on our own the security issues that persist,” he adds.
On their part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that whereas the amount awarded is far less than that sought by the DRC (US $11.5 billion), Uganda nevertheless considers the Judgment unfair and wrong, just as the previous 2005 Judgment on liability was unfair and wrong.
In its 2005 Judgment, the Court ordered that at the compensation phase the DRC would be required to “demonstrate and prove the exact injury that was suffered as a result of specific actions of Uganda constituting internationally wrongful acts for which it is responsible.”
“The DRC did not meet the burden the Court placed on it. Indeed, during the compensation phase, it did not come forward with evidence of even a single specific injury suffered as a result of any actions of Uganda,” reads the statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in part.
“It is, therefore, deeply unclear why the ICJ decided to depart from the requirement it previously imposed on the DRC, let alone how it arrived at the figure of US$325 million”
“For the record, Uganda disputes and rejects the findings of wrongdoing by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), widely known as one of the most disciplined forces in the world,” adds the statement.
The Ministry says that Uganda respects the principles on which the ICJ was founded, says its (ICJ) central mission is to facilitate the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
“In Uganda’s view, the Court’s Judgment on reparation does not contribute to peace and security, or the spirit of cooperation between the two countries and in the wider Great Lakes Region, nor does it inspire confidence in the Court as the fair and credible arbiter of international disputes that the framers of the UN Charter intended it to be,” notes the Ministry.
“This is all the more true given that the Court awarded compensation for alleged injuries that were not even mentioned in the 2005 Judgment on liability (including, for example, rapes)”
“Uganda regrets that this decision comes at a time when the two countries are continuing to strengthen their relations, and when Uganda is doing all in its means to assist, and work with, the Government of the DRC in different areas, including security, infrastructure, regional economic integration,” it adds.
The Ministry says the problems that led to Uganda’s presence in the DRC between 1998 and 2003 were not solved then and they are still not solved even now, adding that the country continues to discuss the matter with DRC Government for purposes of securing a lasting and mutually acceptable solution.
“Uganda considers the Judgment an undue interference in this process and in African affairs generally, a fact towards which the Court appears insufficiently sensitive. It is precisely because of such interference by external actors that there is so much chaos on the African continent,” explains the Ministry.
“As already stated, Uganda was not alone in the DRC during the relevant period. The Court itself acknowledged the presence of numerous other belligerents. Let it not be forgotten that the conflict was resolved through a peace accord signed, the Lusaka Agreement, which confirms the existence of other players during the material period”
“It is, therefore, regrettable that Uganda has been singled out in this fashion,” adds the statement.
The DRC Government dragged Uganda to the International Court in 1999 and in 2005 the court ruled that Uganda had to pay compensation for invading Congo. The court asked the two neighboring countries to settle compensation out of court but negotiations failed hence returning the case to the court to determine the reparations.
The Congo demanded 11 billion dollars in damages from a war that left hundreds of thousands of her people dead and millions displaced.
Uganda can pay the amount in installments of 65 million dollars annually.
In 1998, a war erupted in DRC with Uganda and other neighbors like Rwanda and Burundi participating directly and indirectly by supporting several groups fighting then-president Joseph Kabila.
During the war, Uganda was accused of committing internationally wrongful acts against the people of Congo. Consequently, in a 2005 judgment, the court found Uganda liable for committing internationally wrongful acts which resulted in injury to the DRC and to persons on its territory.
The acts included illegal use of force, violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military intervention, occupation of Ituri, violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law, looting, plunder, and exploitation of the DRC’s natural resources.