DRC: A New Conflict in Ituri involving the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is engaged in several non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) on its territory against a number of armed groups in Ituri, Kasai and Kivu.

‘Our research found that the Cooperative for Development of the Congo’s (Coopérative de développement économique du Congo, CODECO) level of organization and the intensity of its armed confrontations with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) meet the international humanitarian law criteria to classify the situation as a NIAC’ explains Dr Chiara Redaelli, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties and applicable international law.

This new NIAC complements the DRC entry, which already entails regularly updated information about the four NIACs opposing the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) – supported by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) – to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Mai-Mai Yakutumba and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Increased Armed Violence involving 2,350 Fighters

CODECO is a coalition of militia founded in the 1970s as a Lendu agricultural cooperative and operating in Ituri. The group actively participated in the so-called Ituri War, which took place between 1999 and 2003.

At the end of the war, the group did not completely dissolve and stockpiled the weapons used during this conflict in a number of communities. In 2018, CODECO started engaging in armed attacks again with the objective of defending the Lendu population against the Hema.

Currently led by Justin Ngudjolo, it uses the Wago forest as a training base. The total number of its members amounts to approximately 2,350 fighters.

‘The steady increase of the armed violence between CODECO and the FARDC since 2018, as well as the group’s capacity to coordinate attacks and engage in negotiations with the government allow us to classify the situation as a NIAC’ says Dr Redaelli.

Fighter in DRC

Peace Negotiations: Not the End of the Conflict

In July 2020, peace negotiations started and the following month rebel forces signed a unilateral commitment to end hostilities. However, armed confrontations continued and multiple clashes subsequently took place between CODECO and the FARDC

‘The conclusion of a unilateral commitment to end hostilities is not enough to determine the end of a NIAC. As shown in this case, armed confrontations have resumed and IHL, therefore, continues to apply to these instances of violence’ explains Dr Redaelli.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

The 2021 Pictet Team in front of the Geneva Lake News

Introducing our 2021 Pictet Team

8 February 2021

Tamara Aburamadan, Stephanie Mutasa and Mina Radoncic – enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights – will represent the Geneva Academy at the 2021 Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition.

Read more

LLm Pleadings on Gaza at the Geneva Academy News

LLM Students Successfully Plead Face-to-Face and Online on the Gaza 2014 Conflict

27 April 2021

In the framework of our LLM in IHL and Human Rights, students pleaded during the entire day of 24 April 2021 for Israel and for Palestine arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.

Read more

Syria, destroyed building and ambulance Short Course

Basic Principles of International Humanitarian Law

29 September - 3 November 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the sources of international humanitarian law (IHL). It provides an introduction to the key principles and terminology of IHL.

Read more

Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

17 March - 8 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.

Read more

A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

Read more

Séléka rebels patrol in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Project

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Completed in June 2018

This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.

Read more

Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

Read more