Jean-Michel Dumont: "There is No Embargo on the Weapons DRC Would Like to Purchase"
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2641 (2022) on the notification regime for the purchase of arms in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), adopted on June 30, 2021, gave rise to a wave of reactions among the Congolese people, interpreted as a ban on the purchase of arms by the DRC, thus preventing the latter from acquiring weapons to ensure the security of its territory.
Contrary to what many people believe, the United Nations Security Council does not prohibit the Democratic Republic of the Congo from buying weapons to protect its national integrity and deal with the local and foreign armed groups.
In an interview to Radio Okapi, Jean-Michel Dumont, MONUSCO Political Affairs Officer, clarified that DRC is no longer concerned by any arms embargo, but rather by a weapons notification regime. “There is no embargo on the arms DRC would like to purchase. DRC can buy all the weapons it wants, as long as the weapons are intended for the regular Forces,” he explained.
Expressing its concern about the persistent local and foreign armed groups in eastern DRC and the suffering they inflict on the civilian population in the country and to maintain, consolidate or restore peace to the regions plagued by the armed groups activism, UN Security Council decided to take the necessary actions to stop these armed groups’ activities.
The main measure provided for in the Resolution 2641 is the renewal of the notification regime for the purchase of arms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is not to be confused with arms embargo, specified Jean-Michel Dumont.
The notification regime requires from “arms suppliers to notify the Security Council that the said weapons have been supplied to the regular forces of the DRC’s government. And the type of weapons concerned has been reduced in the last Resolution. So, now it's all about small arms. So, if the government buys tanks, or planes or ships etc., the suppliers don't have to notify. It's just if about the small arms and light weapons and ammunition. There is no embargo on the weapons the DRC would like to acquire”, explains Jean-Michel Dumont.
Why did the UN decide to establish a notification regime on the purchase of arms in the DRC?
Jean-Michel Dumont explained: the notification is a request made by the Security Council to the countries which supply weapons to notify, to inform that it has supplied weapons and to give the details of such weapons so that the UN could possibly, if these weapons were to end up in non-addressee hands, ensure their traceability and determine how they would have arrived, for example, in the hands of an armed group.
In addition, this notification only concerns the purchase of light weapons, he specified. “If the government buys tanks or ships or planes or any other material, the suppliers do not have the obligation to notify the Security Council, but simply when it comes to small arms and light weapons. ammunition”.
The UN believes the circulation of weapons, especially light weapons, in an area like eastern DRC represents a permanent danger for local communities. “When weapons end up in enemy hands, they allow them to take control of some areas; this is what we see in large chunks of the territory in some provinces, particularly in the eastern DRC,” notes Mr. Dumont.
Speaking of the Security Council's motivations behind the notification regime, the MONUSCO Political Affairs Officer said the purpose of such measures is to ensure the traceability of weapons and "to asphyxiate armed groups and better control the circulation of small arms” in the DRC. “The fact of the matter is that a certain number of weapons end up in the hands of armed groups and this is one of the reasons for the persistent conflicts we have unfortunately seen, in particular in the east of the DRC for so many years. What the Security Council is seeking is to put an end to this situation and to help prevent any weapons supply to these groups. It will then become difficult for them to fight against the DRC”, explained the MONUSCO Political Affairs Officer.
African countries hit by arms embargo
In his interview to the UN radio, Jean-Michel Dumont recalled this kind of Resolution has already existed in the past for a number of African countries. “This kind of resolution has existed before, and it still in existence today. The DRC is not the only country concerned by it for a few years”.
By way of example, he alluded to the embargoes on the purchase of arms in Mali, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire for a short period, Somalia, and South Sudan, to name but a few.
“Currently, there is not only the DRC which is concerned by a Resolution which results from this type of text, but there are also Libya and the Central African Republic. The latter, since the last Resolution was placed in a regime similar to that of the DRC, with notification as the sole obligation”, recalled Mr. Dumont.