Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo
(Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
2005 I.C.J. (Dec. 19)

  • DRC was involved in a civil war.
    • Uganda, Rwanda, and other countries were all helping various rebel groups that were fighting to overthrow the government of the DRC.
    • In addition, various other rebel groups were hiding in the DRC, launching attacks at the governments of Uganda
  • DRC brought a case to the International Court of Justice, claiming that Uganda were involving themselves an internal DRC conflict.
    • Uganda argued that they were only protecting themselves from anti-Uganda rebel groups that were being given safe harbor in the DRC.
      • That would count as self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
  • The ICJ found for the DRC.
    • The ICJ looked to their previous decision in Nicaragua v. United States (1986 I.C.J. 14 (June 27)), where they considered the legality of a third-party country intervening in an internal conflict.
    • The ICJ found that Uganda did not have the consent of DRC to enter. Therefore it was a grave violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.
      • There was no defense of Article 51, because no one in DRC had performed an armed attack against Uganda.
      • Technically, armed Ugandan rebel groups were launching attacks against Uganda from DRC territory, but that wasn't being controlled by the DRC, and the DRC didn't have the capability to stop them.
  • Can rebel attacks being launched from a failed-state's territory constitute an armed attack to trigger Article 51?
    • Based on the decision in this case, the answer appears to be no.
      • Then what can a country do about it?
    • Should there be an "implied consent" if there is no centralized government capable of giving consent?