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

World Map News

Three Papers Map Contentious Issues Related to the Application of International Law to Military Cyber Operations

22 June 2021

Three new Working Papers – researched by the Geneva Academy in the context of our joint project with the ICRC on the digitalization of armed conflict – address some of the main issues of contention concerning the application of international law to military cyber operations.

Read more

Portrait of Collins Odhiambo News

Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict: What Participants Say

1 June 2021

Collins Odhiambo is a Captain in the Kenyan Air Force and just completed a one-and-a-half-year assignment with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). In this interview, he tells about the programme, distance learning and what it brings to his daily work.

Read more

Portrait of Dr Helen Durham Event

Opening Lecture – Respect for International Humanitarian Law in the 21st Century: Utopian Dream or Pragmatic Reality?

18 October 2021, 18:00-19:30

Dr Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC, will address the legal, operational and political imperative of the international community continuing to work towards the application and implementation of IHL.

Read more

UNSC Session on Yemen Event

A Tale of Two Cities: Humanitarian Affairs and Multilateralism in New York and Geneva

25 October 2021, 19:00-20:30

This IHL Talk, co-organized with the International Peace Institute (IPI), aims at contrasting approaches to, and decision-making on, humanitarian affairs in the relevant multilateral fora in New York and Geneva.

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

Ukraine, damaged bicycle and car in front of a destroyed building Short Course

Protection of Persons and Property in International Armed Conflict

18 November - 23 December 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the conduct of hostilities in situations of international armed conflict, also known as the Law of The Hague.

Read more

Computer screen with warning: civilian infrastucture: do not attack Project

Digitalization of Conflict Joint Initiative: Humanitarian Impact and Legal Protection

Started in September 2020

This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.

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

Cover of the publication Publication

The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

published on October 2021

Émilie Max

Read more