Report Highlights

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1. The discovery by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in late 2005 of three mass graves in North Kivu was a painful reminder that past gross human rights violations committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had remained largely uninvestigated and that those responsible had not been held accountable. Following a number of consultations within the UN system, an initial idea to “reactivate” the Secretary-General’s 1997–1998 investigative Team  was abandoned in favour of a plan with a broader mandate.

11. Throughout the implementation of the Mapping Exercise, contacts were established with Congolese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in order to obtain information, documents and reports on serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that occurred in the DRC during the period covered by the ToR. To this end, meetings were held with over 200 NGO representatives to present the Mapping Exercise and request their collaboration. Thanks to this collaboration, the Mapping Team had access to critical information, witnesses and reports pertaining to the violations committed between 1993 and 2003. Without the courageous and outstanding work of the Congolese NGOs during these ten years, documenting the many violations committed would have been incredibly difficult.  

The Mapping Exercise report is presented chronologically, reflecting four key periods in the recent history of the DRC, each preceded by an introduction explaining the political and historical background in which the violations were committed.
A. March 1993–June 1996: Failure of the democratisation processes and regional crisis
B. July 1996–July 1998: First Congo War and the Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo-Zaire (AFDL) regime
C. August 1998–January 2000: Second Congo War
D. January 2001–June 2003: Towards transition

94. Mapping remains a preliminary exercise that does not seek to gather evidence of sufficient admissibility to stand in court, but rather to “provide the basis for the formulation of initial hypotheses of investigation by giving a sense of the scale of violations, detecting patterns and identifying potential leads or sources of evidence”.  With regard to human rights and international humanitarian law violations, the Mapping Exercise should provide a description of the violation(s), their nature and location in time and space, the victim(s) and their approximate number and the – often armed – group(s) to which the perpetrators belong(ed), among others. As a result, the findings of such an operation should be very useful for all transitional justice mechanisms, whether they be judicial or not.   

126. The period examined by this report is probably one of the most tragic chapters in the recent history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), if not the whole of Africa. Indeed, the decade was marked by a string of major political crises, wars and multiple ethnic and religious conflicts that brought about the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.  Very few Congolese and foreign civilians living on the territory of the DRC managed to escape the violence, and were victims of murder, maiming, rape, forced displacement, pillage, destruction of property or economic and social rights violations.

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