Uganda must pay the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) $325 million in reparations related to the brutal conflict between the two nations from 1998 to 2003, the UN’s highest court ruled on Wednesday.
The Ugandan government has however rejected the ruling, with Uganda’s Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka saying in a statement “the decision did not meet the standard of fairness.”
“We challenge and reject the findings of wrongdoings on the part of the UPDF which was singled out notwithstanding the acknowledgment by the court of the existence of so many belligerents in the conflict,” Kiwanuka said.
In its ruling, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) broke down the compensation, awarding the DRC $225 million for damage to persons, which includes loss of life, rape, recruitment of child soldiers and displacement of civilians.
The country will also receive $40 million for damage to property, and $60 million for damage to natural resources, including the looting and plundering of gold, diamonds and timber.
“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,” said Judge Joan Donoghue, the ICJ President.
The DRC initially filed the case with the ICJ in June 1999, citing acts of armed aggression perpetrated by Uganda on its territory “in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity.”
The Hague-based Court ruled in December 2005 that Uganda had to make reparation to the DRC, and ordered the two countries to negotiate reparations, but in 2015 the DR Congo returned to the tribunal saying there had been no progress in the talks.
Kiwanuka however in his statement said the Ugandan government would continue engaging the DR Congo government to resolve the matter.
“As it turns out, the court’s decision is yet another failure to understand or appreciate African matters and makes no contribution to current efforts at resolving, on our own, the security issues that persist,” he noted.
Under the ICJ ruling, Uganda is ordered to pay the $325 million in five annual instalments of $65 million, starting in September.
The ICJ rules in disputes between countries, and its decisions are final and cannot be appealed.