Congo, Republic of

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 26 June 2017

Summary: State Party Congo ratified the convention on 2 September 2014. It has prepared draft implementing legislation for the convention that requires Cabinet approval before it can be introduced in parliament. Congo has participated in meetings of the convention, most recently in 2015, and voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2016. It has elaborated its views on several important issues relating to the interpretation and implementation of the convention. Congo states that it has never used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions, and does not stockpile them or possess any for training or research purposes. It has yet to formally confirm this by submitting its initial transparency report.

Policy

The Republic of the Congo(Congo-Brazzaville) signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 2 September 2014, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 March 2015.

Congo is believed to be preparing domestic implementing legislation for the convention. In September 2015, Congo informed States Parties that it is reviewing the national implementation measures required to enforce the convention’s provisions.[1] Its representative told the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) that Congo has drafted implementing legislation that will require Cabinet approval before it can be introduced in parliament.[2]

As of 20 June 2017, Congo has not yet submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was originally due by 28 August 2015.

Congo attended several meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention in Dublin in May 2008.[3]

Congo has participated in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties and the First Review Conference with the exception of the Sixth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in September 2016. Congo participated in intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011 and 2014.

At the First Review Conference, Congo expressed the gratitude of its president, Dénis Sassou Nguesso, for a letter he received from the CMC praising Congo’s active support for the convention, describing the correspondence as “an encouragement to continue the policy of peace that leads our government.”[4]

Congo voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2016.[5]

Congo has expressed deep concern at the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[6]

Congo is party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Interpretive issues

In 2013, Congo elaborated its views on several important issues concerning interpretation and implementation of the convention. Congo’s National Mine Action Focal Point informed the Monitor that Congo “is not willing to assist any country with prohibited acts” under the convention, nor “to use its national territory for transit of these weapons or the stockpiling of cluster munitions and landmines belonging to a foreign army.”[7] The official also informed the Monitor that Congo agreed with the views of a number of States Parties to the convention and of the CMC that investment in the production of cluster munitions is also prohibited by the convention.[8]

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Congo stated in 2011 that it has never used, produced, or exported cluster munitions.[9]

Congo also stated that it has no stockpiles of cluster munitions on its territory, including for training or research purposes.[10] However in 2010, Congo reported that the possession of stocks of Soviet-era cluster munitions that were supplied for use with MiG-21 aircraft.[11] In September 2011, Congo informed States Parties that following the attack on a central arms depot in Maya-Maya during the 1997–1998 conflict, explosive weapons consisting mainly of Soviet OFAB unitary aircraft bombs, RBK-250 and RBK-500 cluster bombs, mortars, artillery shells, and C-250 rockets were dispersed over an area of more than 0.26km2, making the territory inaccessible for the local population. After the end of the conflict, the area was abandoned without being marked.[12] After an accident in May 2011, a demining unit of the Congolese armed forces cleared the depot site in cooperation with humanitarian demining NGO Mines Advisory Group (MAG), destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO) including PTAB-2.5M and AO-1SCh submunitions.[13]

Cluster munitions were not found among unexploded ordnance resulting from a disastrous series of explosions at a munitions storage depot in Brazzaville on 4 March 2012 that killed more than 200 people and injured more than 1,500.[14]



[1] Statement of Congo, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 8 September 2015.

[2] Interview with Col. Jean-Aimé Ignoumba, Acting Director-General for Strategic Affairs and Military Cooperation, Dubrovnik, 7 September 2015.

[3] For details on Congo’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 61–62.

[4] Statement of Congo, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 8 September 2015.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016. It voted in favor of a similar UNGA resolution in 2015. See, “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[6] Statement of Congo, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 14 October 2013.

[7] Interview with Col. Nkoua, National Focal Point of the Struggle Against Mines, 13 May 2013.

[8] Telephone interview with Col. Nkoua, National Focal Point of the Struggle Against Mines, 8 June 2013.

[9] Statement of Congo, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 15 September 2011.

[10] In September 2011, Congo stated that it had no stockpiles of cluster munitions on its territory. In May 2013, Congo reported that it had destroyed its remaining 372 antipersonnel mines held for training and research purposes following the massive explosions in a weapons depot in Brazzaville in March 2012 and was now a country fully free of landmines and cluster munitions. Statement of Congo, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 15 September 2011; statement by Col. Nkoua, National Focal Point of the Struggle Against Mines, Seminar to mark the 20th Anniversary of the ICBL hosted by the Congolese Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, Kinshasa, 19 December 2012; and statement of Congo, Lomé Regional Seminar on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Lomé, Togo, 22 May 2013. Notes by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

[11] Email from Lt.-Col. André Pampile Serge Oyobe, Head of Information Division, Ministry of Defense, 13 July 2010.

[12] Statement of Congo, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 15 September 2011.

[13] Ibid. Cluster munitions were also apparently part of weapons stockpiles destroyed in 2008–2010 with the assistance of United Kingdom-based humanitarian demining organization MAG. Email from Lt.-Col. Oyobe, Ministry of Defense, 13 July 2010.

[14] An assessment found that cluster munitions were not found among the UXO or other stockpiled munitions in the depot. Simon Conway, “Mpila Munitions Depot Explosion, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, Field Assessment 26 March 2012 – 1 April 2012”; and AOAV and MAG, “Brazzaville Response Situation Report 2,” 16 March 2012.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 October 2012

Policy

The Republic of the Congo (Congo) acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 May 2001, becoming a State Party on 1 November 2001. It indicated as early as September 2002 that legislation had been drafted to implement the treaty domestically, but this still had not occurred as of October 2012.[1] In meetings in November and December 2011, a Congolese official informed the Monitor that the draft national law, with amendments by the ICRC, had been sent to the government secretariat and would be discussed within the Ministerial Council. Following this, the legislation would need to be passed through the Commission of External Affairs and on to parliament for approval.[2]

The last year that Congo submitted a Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report was in 2009 for calendar year 2008. As of October 2012, Congo had not submitted a report covering calendar year 2011.

Congo attended the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November–December 2011, where it presented a request for an extension of its Article 5 deadline for clearance of mine contaminated areas. Congo did not attend the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2012.

Congo is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and retention

Congo is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. In September 2003, Congo reported the destruction of its stockpile of 5,136 antipersonnel mines.[3] In its Article 7 report submitted in 2009, Congo reported that it had discovered 4,000 antipersonnel mines (2,500 PPM-2 and 1,500 PMN) in an abandoned warehouse and destroyed them on 3 April 2009 in Mongo-Tandou. Congo reported that an additional 508 POMZ-2 mines were awaiting destruction.[4] Mines Advisory Group (MAG) oversaw the destruction of the 4,000 mines along with a local explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team. It said that the mines came from the Pointe-Noire regional stockpile and that the destruction was witnessed by a large group including the minister of defense, 100 international representatives, and members of the press. MAG stated that a further 509 POMZ mines would be destroyed in the coming days at the Pointe-Noire Foundry.[5]

In its Article 7 report submitted in 2009, Congo stated that it retained 322 antipersonnel mines for training purposes, after it used 50 mines (30 PPM-2 and 20 POMZ-2) in the April 2009 destruction of the newly discovered stockpile.[6] Previously, in November 2007, Congo had cited a figure of 372 mines retained.[7] It has not provided details on the intended purposes of its remaining retained mines.

Use

No mine use has been reported in Congo since 1997, when mines were used during its civil war.[8]

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 12 September 2002. In November 2007, Congo stated that it required assistance from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) in order to draft national legislation. In August 2008, GICHD reported that support had been provided. No further progress on national legislation has been reported, including in Congo’s Article 7 report submitted in 2009. Congo has not submitted an Article 7 report since 2009.

[2] Meeting with Col. Lucien Nkoua, National Focal Point, CIMAP/CASM, Phnom Penh, 28 November and 1 December 2011.

[3] Statement by Col. Léonce Nkabi, Project Coordinator, Ministry of Defense, Mine Ban Treaty Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 19 September 2003. Copies of the destruction records were attached to the statement. The details of types and numbers of mines destroyed were not reported in Congo’s subsequent Article 7 report. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 357. Congo reported, in November 2007, destroying 4,718 stockpiled mines. Statement of Congo, Mine Ban Treaty, Dead Sea Eighth Meeting of States Parties, 18 November 2007.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form G; See also Statement of Congo, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 28 May 2009.

[5] MAG, “4,000 anti-personnel landmines destroyed,” 6 April 2009, www.alertnet.org. MAG said the explosive charges from the POMZ mines were used as priming charges to destroy the 4,000 mines, and that the bodies of the POMZs would be melted at the foundry.

[6] Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form D. The mines are: 66 German PPM-2, 50 Soviet PMN-58, 156 Soviet POMZ-2, and 50 Soviet PMD-6.

[7] Statement of Congo, Mine Ban Treaty Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Dead Sea, 18 November 2007.

[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 188.

Mine Action

Last updated: 16 December 2012

Contamination and Impact

Mines

The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) appears not to be contaminated with mines. Congo previously reported a possible mine threat left over from the conflict in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. According to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report covering April 2003 to April 2004, “the border zone with Angola in the southwest of the country is mine suspected.”[1] Its latest Article 7 report, covering calendar year 2008, indicated “no change” in the situation.[2] The area concerned is approximately 2,250km2 in size.[3]

In February 2008, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) carried out a survey in Kimongo district along the border with Cabinda, an area suspected to be contaminated. The findings of the survey “did not confirm a current mine threat on the Republic of Congo side of the border,” but MAG hoped to carry out additional spot verification to validate the results. This did not subsequently occur.[4]

In May 2009, Congo informed the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies that surveys had not identified any new mine victims since the 1970s, although the indigenous populations had claimed, “without much evidence,” that mines were present.[5] In 2006, it had been claimed that civilians in the suspected areas were reluctant to return to their communities to carry out forestry and farming because “they have not received any guarantees for their security from the authorities.”[6] Given the uncertainty, in June 2011 Congo declared that it would seek an extension to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline to enable it to conduct the necessary surveys of the suspected region.[7]

In October 2011, a rapid survey by Demeter, a French demining NGO, identified six mine-contaminated villages in the southwest of the country, based on a meeting with local community leaders. In January 2012, at the request of the Congolese Ministry of Defence, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) conducted an assessment mission together with a representative of the Mine Ban Treaty Implementation Support Unit to determine whether a mine threat remained. On the basis of the assessment, NPA decided to conduct non-technical survey (NTS) over a small number of specific locations.[8] NPA’s Democratic Republic of Congo program manager conducted survey operations in neighboring Congo-Brazzaville in October 2012, concluding that there were no mined areas requiring release.[9]

Cluster munition remnants

Cluster munition remnants have been a threat in the past,[10] although it is believed that the problem has now been addressed.[11] In February 2011, MAG re-established its program in Congo to clear the Maya-Maya site of unexploded ordnance (UXO), including unexploded submunitions.[12] Clearance of the site was completed in early 2012 by Congolese deminers working under technical assistance from MAG.[13]

Other explosive remnants of war

Congo is contaminated with explosive remnants of war (ERW), both abandoned explosive ordnance and UXO. At the Maya-Maya site, items of UXO, including unexploded submunitions, were scattered on open ground being cultivated.[14] Unsafe explosive ordnance storage conditions also increase the likelihood of fires or explosions at ammunition storage areas (ASAs); these have already occurred several times.[15] Indeed, MAG has noted that unsafe storage conditions “were partly responsible for the explosion at the Maya-Maya ammunition depot that scattered explosive material on 26 hectares of land adjacent to Brazzaville International Airport, contaminating land that will need clearance.”[16]

On 4–5 March 2012, a series of blasts at an ASA in Brazzaville killed more than 200 people and injured a further 1,500, trapping many underneath collapsed buildings. The blast was believed to have been caused by a fire that resulted from an electrical fault.[17] Munitions were projected across a range of several square kilometers in a densely populated civilian area.[18]

Mine Action Program

 

Key institutions and operators

Body

Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority

None

Mine action center

None

International demining operators

MAG

National demining operators

Congolese armed forces

There is no national mine action authority or mine action center, although a colonel within the Ministry of National Defense has served as the national mine action focal point.

MAG has been the only international clearance operator in Congo. It has been conducting capacity building for Congolese Armed Forces personnel.[19] As of early 2012, it was planning to leave Congo but remained following the explosion of the ASA in Brazzaville. In addition, Handicap International sent an emergency team to Congo to conduct risk education and other risk reduction activities.[20]

Land Release

MAG continued its battle area clearance operations in 2011, working with Ministry of Defence clearance personnel.[21]

Survey in 2011

No survey activities were conducted in 2011.

Mine clearance in 2011

No mine clearance activities were conducted in 2011.

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the 14-month extension request granted in 2011), Congo is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 January 2013.

At the Second Review Conference in Cartagena, Congo had declared that “before the expiry of the treaty deadline, with the assistance of the GICHD, Congo will fulfill all the obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty, in particular the obligation under Article 5.”[22] Congo declared at the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in June 2011 that it would seek a one-year extension to its Article 5 deadline to enable it to conduct the necessary surveys of the suspected region.[23] It did not, however, submit an extension request prior to the expiry of its deadline and was therefore in violation of the treaty from 1 November 2011 until the decision of the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties on 2 December 2011 to grant Congo a 14-month extension.

Congo’s extension was finally submitted on 18 November 2012. The Eleventh Meeting of States Parties agreed “with regret” to grant the request for an extension until 1 January 2013. In granting the request, States Parties noted that Congo had been “non-compliant with respect to its Article 5.1 obligations since 1 November 2011. The States Parties expressed that the unprecedented failure of … Congo to complete implementation of Article 5 by 1 November 2011 or to have requested and received an extension on its deadline prior to that date represents a matter of serious concern.”[24] It was also noted at the meeting that since Congo submitted its initial transparency report in 2002, it had provided “no appreciable additional information to confirm or deny the presence of mines in the reported suspected area.”[25]

Based on the results of NPA’s NTS project, Congo was expected to be in a position to declare completion of its Article 5 obligations at the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in December 2012.

Clearance of cluster-munition contaminated area in 2011

During clearance of 165,500m2 across the Maya-Maya site in 2011, a total of 63 unexploded submunitions were destroyed (34 PTAB 2.5M and 29 AO1 ScH submunitions).[26] A further 117,300m2 had been cleared through 10 February 2012, which represented almost total clearance of the site. A further 38 submunitions were found during this clearance (33 PTAB 2.5M and 5 AO1 ScH submunitions).[27]

Compliance with Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Congo is a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but had not yet ratified as of mid-July 2012. It is believed that all cluster munition remnants have been destroyed, although it is possible that a residual risk may remain.

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 4 May 2004.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form C.

[3] GICHD, “République du Congo: Synthèse d’informations de l’action contre les mines et les restes explosifs de guerre - dont sous-munitions” (“Republic of the Congo: Overview of information on mine action and ERW - including submunitions”), Second African Francophone Seminar on Mine Action and ERW, Dakar, Senegal, 2–4 November 2009.

[4] Email from Anna Kilkenny, Programme Manager, MAG, 7 April 2008.

[5] Statement of Congo, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 27 May 2009.

[6] Ibid., 10 May 2006.

[7] Ibid., 21 June 2011.

[8] Email from Aksel Steen-Nilsen, Thailand Programme Manager, NPA, 2 February 2012.

[9] Email from Quartim Carlos Matongueiro, Programme Manager, NPA DR Congo, 19 November 2012.

[10] Email from Frédéric Martin, MAG, 1 February 2010; and MAG, “Where we work: MAG ROC in depth,” November 2009, www.maginternational.org.

[11] Discussions with Ministry of Defence personnel and MAG staff during NPA assessment mission in January 2012.

[12] Email from Rebecca Letven, Desk Officer for Republic of Congo, MAG, 21 February 2011.

[13] NPA, “Final Non-Technical Survey Report, Republic of Congo,” November 2012.

[14] MAG, “Where we work: MAG ROC in depth,” November 2009, www.maginternational.org.

[15] MAG, “Where we work: Republic of Congo,” April 2010, www.maginternational.org.

[16] Ibid.

[17] See, for example, David Baker, “More than 200 people killed following series of explosions at weapons depot in Congolese capital,” Daily Mail, 5 March 2012; and MAG, “Brazzaville Response, Situation Report 1, 9 March 2012,” received by email from Claire Hargreaves, Media and Communications Officer, MAG, 12 March 2012.

[18] Handicap International, “Handicap International deploys an emergency response mission to Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) to protect the civilian population,” Press release, 9 March 2012.

[19] MAG, “R.O. CONGO: 750,000 dangerous items demolished in two years,” 11 December 2009, www.maginternational.org.

[20] Handicap International, “Handicap International deploys an emergency response mission to Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) to protect the civilian population,” Press release, 9 March 2012.

[21] Email from Lionel Cattaneo, Programme Manager, MAG, 10 February 2012.

[22] Statement of Congo, Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 3 December 2009.

[23] Statement of Congo, Standing Committee on Mine Action, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 21 June 2011. The actual statement as delivered concerned the intention to seek a four-month extension, but the formal statement in writing declared that Congo would seek a 12-month extension. The written statement also suggested that this would extend Congo’s deadline to 1 November 2013, but this was believed to be a typographical error as the correct date, if the extension is granted by the States Parties at the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, will be 1 November 2012.

[24] “Decision of the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties on Congo’s Article 5 deadline extension request,” 2 December 2011.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Email from Lionel Cattaneo, MAG, 10 February 2012.

[27] Ibid.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 10 September 2012

In 2011, the European Commission provided €579,530 (US$807,343) for battle area clearance and community liaison activities to Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to clear unexploded ordnance around a former munitions depot on the outskirts of Brazzaville.[1]

 



[1] Email from Carolin J. Thielking, Directorate for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, European External Action Service, European Commission, 15 April 2012. Euro average exchange rate for 2011: €1 = US$1.3931. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2012; MAG, “How MAG is needed in the RoC,” undated but 2011.