The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been subject to a United Nations arms embargo since 2003. In 2008 the UN Security Council lifted the last remaining restrictions on arms acquisitions by the Congolese Government, but maintained a requirement that states supplying arms notify the Sanctions Committee on the DRC prior to delivery. Ensuring that the Congolese system works as intended is of importance for improving the situation in the DRC but also has implications for the use of such systems in other conflict zones.
Supplier states’ record of conformity with the reporting requirements has been mixed. While some suppliers have notified the Sanctions Committee of transfers, others have been less forthcoming. Even in situations where notifications have been provided, information is often incomplete or provided late.
To improve levels of notification, the Sanctions Committee needs to clarify its rules on which state must report arms transfers that involve a number of intermediaries. The UN’s Group of Experts on the DRC could also draw on practices used in monitoring other arms embargoes. Presenting information on incomplete or absent notifications more systematically could serve to highlight the challenges in implementing the notification system.
II. The arms embargo on the DRC
III. Arms transfers to the DRC and the system of notifications
About the authors
Mark Bromley (United Kingdom) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms
Transfers Programme, where his work focuses on European arms exports and export
controls and South American arms acquisitions. Previously, he was a Policy Analyst for
the British American Security Information Council (BASIC). His publications include
Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 24 (May 2009,
co-author). He has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 2004.
Dr Paul Holtom (United Kingdom) is the Director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers
Programme. Previously, he was a Research Fellow with the University of Glamorgan
Centre for Border Studies. His recent publications include Transparency in Transfers of
Small Arms and Light Weapons: Reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional
Arms, 2003–2006, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 22 (July 2008) and ‘Nothing to report: the lost
promise of the UN Register of Conventional Arms’, Contemporary Security Policy (April
2010). He has contributed to the SIPRI Yearbook since 2007.