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Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)

International Court of Justice
2005 I.C.J. 168 (2005)


After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to camps in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (plaintiff). The refugees included Hutu extremists called “genocidaires” who were involved in the genocide against the Tutsis. Those extremists allied with the Congo government and used the refugee camps as a base for continued attacks inside Rwanda. In 1998, Uganda changed its policy position toward the Congo and joined Rwanda in backing a rebel force attempting to oust Congo leadership. Uganda issued a High Command document authorizing an operation called “Safe Haven” that greatly increased its troops in the Congo. At the time, Uganda had not notified the UN Security Council of any acts of aggression that would justify self-defense. Instead, the High Command document specified that Uganda’s actions were necessary to “secure its legitimate security interests,” listed as neutralizing dissident groups that the Congo and Sudan supported, ensuring protection from the rebel fighting, preventing future genocidal attacks in Uganda from inside the Congo, and safeguarding its territory from invasion threats. Meanwhile, other neighboring states sent troops to help the Congo government. As the conflict spread rapidly throughout the region, the United Nations (UN) brokered a ceasefire called the Lusaka Agreement that required all foreign forces to withdraw and sent in peacekeepers, but the fighting continued. The Congo sued Uganda in the International Court of Justice, claiming the acts of armed aggression within Congo territory violated the UN charter. Uganda countered that its acts were justified as self-defense because of acts of aggression and attacks on Ugandan diplomatic premises and nationals inside the Congo. Uganda also accused the Congo of resupplying and equipping the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group that opposed Uganda and intensified its cross-border attacks after the Congolese government changed its policies.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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