On March 26, 2023, in committee sessions three and four of the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), judges discussed and debated their majority opinion in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo filed a case against Uganda in 1999 for acts of armed aggression against it and its citizens. It accused Ugandan soldiers of looting and human rights violations. Numerous armed groups have been wreaking havoc in the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is rich in minerals, for decades.
The ICJ ordered the institution of a tribunal for a thorough investigation of the alleged Ugandan war crimes on Congolese soil, which can investigate and provide the proper reparations for the role of Ugandan government officials responsible for the crimes against the Congolese government, economy, and innocent civilians.
The justices reasoned their decision by the following: The Ugandan military was justified in its efforts to combat armed anti-Ugandan terrorist rebels, which posed a direct threat to the citizens of Uganda and the stability of both states as a whole under an Article 51 self-defense exemption (provides for the right of countries to engage in self-defense, including collective self-defense, against an armed attack). However, the subsequent violence committed by the Ugandan military against the Congolese people, including, but not limited to, massacres, rape, illegal seizure of power sources, and widespread violence against otherwise innocent civilians, is unjustified under the provisions of the Geneva Convention, New York Convention on the use of torture, and other relevant international law.
All the justices signed the Majority opinion in the ICJ (Justice Nolte of Germany, Justice Bulusu of Jamaica, Justice Tomka of Slovakia, Justice Abraham of France, Justice Upton of Somalia, Justice Bennouna of Morocco, Justice Sebutinde of Uganda, Justice Donahue of United States of America, Justice Bhandari of India, Justice from Australia, Justice Gevorgian of Russian Federation). There were no dissenting opinions on this case.
“This decision really shows the true nature of the ICJ in being a objective decision maker for the United Nations and shows the complex opinions of all of our judges and the through deliberation that ICJ has to go through to come up with a final decision,” said the Dalveer Bhandari, Justice from the Republic of India.