For its role in conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s resource-rich Ituri province, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday ruled that Uganda must pay $325 million in reparations to Congo.
The ICJ ruled Uganda had violated international norms as an occupying force between 1998 and 2003.
The judges found that Uganda was responsible for the deaths of 10-15,000 people in the eastern Ituri region.
Ugandan troops were also found to have looted gold, diamonds and timber.
In its judgment, the court said: “The reparation awarded to the DRC for damage to persons and to property reflects the harm suffered by individuals and communities as a result of Uganda’s breach of its international obligations.”
Uganda must pay the sum in five yearly instalments of $65 million to start in September of this year and end in 2026, presiding Judge Joan Donoghue said.
DR Congo had demanded $11bn but the judges dismissed several parts of the claim and decided on a far lower amount. The dismissed several claims include broad compensation for macroeconomic damage, saying a clear link between Uganda’s actions and alleged economic damage was not shown.
Uganda in hearings in April had argued that the billions demanded by DR Congo would destroy its economy.
The $325m covers $225m for damages to persons, $40m for damages to property and $60m for the looted resources.
The long-running dispute for acts of armed aggression committed against Congo and its citizens was first brought before the United Nations’ highest court in 1999. It accused Ugandan soldiers of looting and human rights violations.
Numerous armed groups have been wreaking havoc in mineral-rich eastern DR Congo for decades. In the 1990s, troops from Uganda and Rwanda twice invaded their much larger neighbour DR Congo, working with local militias to topple the government. They argued that they had intervened to stop the conflict in DR Congo from spilling across their borders.
After lengthy proceedings, the court ruled in 2005 that Uganda had violated international law by occupying parts of the eastern Congolese province with its own troops and supporting other armed groups during a war that raged from 1998 to 2003.
The court ordered the African neighbours to negotiate reparations, but in 2015 Congo returned to the tribunal, saying the talks had stalled.
The court’s decision is final with no recourse to appeal, but the world court has no means of enforcing its verdict.