The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been plagued by almost two decades of conflict that has resulted in the suffering of millions of men, women and children. Crimes under international law including unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and sexual violence have been committed on a large scale by national and foreign armies, armed groups and militias. A UN Mapping Report published in October 2010 documented over 600 serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed between March 1993 and June 2003, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Congolese security forces and armed groups continue to commit violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
The proliferation and misuse of arms in the DRC is the result of many years of irresponsible deliveries to government forces, unlawful trafficking to armed groups and the failure to achieve sustained security sector reform in the context of wider efforts to bring peace and respect for human rights to the country. This report describes some of the horrific attacks on civilians by security forces and armed groups using various types of arms, and identifies the main suppliers of arms to the
DRC. It does not address in detail the wider problems of security sector reform.
The continued transfer of arms into abusive hands in the DRC underscores the urgent need for the UN arms embargo system to be strengthened and complimented by an effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to ensure that all governments adopt rules to prevent the transfer of arms internationally where there is a substantial risk that the arms will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. A UN arms embargo is a measure applied by the Security Council to entities once they are already using arms to threaten international peace and security, and once a human rights and humanitarian crisis is already affecting a population. As such a UN arms embargo is often imposed too late to prevent serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.