Despite certain recent progress made by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government to enhance human rights protection and mechanisms, the situation in the DRC remains dire. During the 30th session of the Human Rights Council, WILPF has thus been actively advocating for the human rights situation in the DRC to remain on the international community’s agenda.
Raising awareness on the current human rights situation in the DRC
In collaboration with Franciscans International, FIDH and World Council of Churches, WILPF organised and hosted an event at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council concerning the current human rights situation in the DRC. Even though the government of DRC wanted to avoid scrutiny of the UN system, we believe that only continued international pressure can lead to sustainable peace and improvement of the human rights situation. Several critical issues have been raised during the event such as repression on freedom of expression and of assembly ahead of the 2016 elections, persisting sexual violence and uncontrolled flows of weapons, threats and reprisals faced by human rights defenders and the impact of the mining industry in fueling the conflict. Read our latest blog to learn more about these discussions.
Pushing for a resolution that tackles root causes of the conflict
In coordination with WILPF DRC and in particular with its President, Ms. Annie Matundu Mbambi, WILPF made a statement calling on the Human Rights Council resolution to take into account that there are multiple and complex factors contributing to the perpetuation of sexual violence and of conflict in the DRC.
Apart from the context of conflict, the socio-economic exclusion of women and generalised discrimination against women, gender stereotypes and the uncontrolled flow of small arms are all factors contributing to the scourge of sexual violence in the country. Further, central factors to the conflict such as the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources by multinational companies and the uncontrolled flows of small arms are often ignored by multilateral bodies such as the UN for geo-strategical interests. WILPF of course called for a change and detailed why these factors are central.
In addition, WILPF called the government of the DRC to live up to its commitment to implement Security Council Resolution 1325 and to effectively include women and a gender perspective in its laws and policies. WILPF also called on the government of the DRC to deliver in due time its report on the implementation of CEDAW.
In its response, the Government of the DRC insisted that major improvements have recently been made in the human rights situation in the country and that the conflict is coming to an end.
The final resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on the DRC mainly encourages the DRC in continuing its efforts but falls short of expectations: reference to sexual violence only acknowledges an obligation for the State to provide indemnification regardless of the need for other types of support (psychological, medical, etc.) and overlooks the root causes of this phenomenon.
The nomination of the Personal Representative of the Head of State on Sexual Violence is a welcome step and national prosecutions against perpetrators have increased. However, justice and fight against impunity is still far from being a reality for victims of sexual violence as further evidenced in a new report by Human Rights Watch which calls on the DRC to urgently reform the country’s justice system to better prosecute atrocities. In addition, despite strong calls from civil society to acknowledge the role of illicit extraction and trade of natural resources in fueling the conflict, no reference is made to this root cause of war in the Human Rights Council resolution.
WILPF will continue alongside its WILPF section in DRC to monitor the situation and to actively advocate at national and international level on these key issues.