Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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

Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo
(Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
2005 I.C.J. (Dec. 19)

Link to case: 

Case Facts
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was involved in a civil war.
  • Uganda, Rwanda, as well as other countries were all helping various rebel groups which were fighting to overthrow the DRC's government.
  • At this time, various other rebel groups were hiding in the DRC and launching attacks at Uganda's governments.
  • The DRC brought a case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), with the claim that Uganda was involving itself an internal DRC conflict.
  • Uganda made the argument that they were only protecting themselves from anti-Uganda rebel groups that were being given safe harbor in the DRC.
  • The argument stated that this would count as self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
The ICJ ruled for the DRC.

Can rebel attacks being launched from a failed-state's territory constitute an armed attack to trigger Article 51?

Based on the decision in this case, the answer appears to be no.

The ICJ looked to their previous decision in Nicaragua v. United States (1986 I.C.J. 14 (June 27)), where the issue was the legality of a third-party country intervening in an internal conflict.
The ICJ found that Uganda did not have the consent of DRC to enter.
As a result, it was a grave violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.
There was no defense of Article 51, because no one in DRC had performed an armed attack against Uganda.
Technically, armed Ugandan rebel groups were launching attacks against Uganda from DRC territory, but that was not being controlled by the DRC, and the DRC did not have the capability to stop these groups.

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