In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa. Canada has had an ambassador accredited to the DRC since 1962 and has had an Embassy in Kinshasa since 1965, closing from 1993-97 to protest the Mobutu regime’s human rights abuses. The DRC has been represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa since 1965.
Canada’s relationship with the DRC is focused on long standing support for efforts to establish sustainable peace, particularly in the country’s eastern region. Canada continues to emphasize the importance of addressing the root causes and drivers of the conflict: ethnic tensions, land and resources conflicts, and conflict financing through traffic of minerals. Canada encourages the DRC to continue its reform of the security sector in order to durably enforce the rule of law on its territory. Canada is also pre-occupied by the prevalence of human rights violations, including sexual violence, in eastern DRC. Canada encourages the DRC to hold those who commit violations of international humanitarian law and human rights accountable. Canada has issued several press releases expressing these concerns; these statements are available on the Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) website. Canada continues to work with international and regional partners in the Great Lakes region through diplomatic engagement, humanitarian commitments, development assistance and peacekeeping, for which Canada has contributed over $500 million since 2006 in the DRC.
The DRC hosted the XIV Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa in October 2012. Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the Summit, and took this opportunity to express his preoccupations with regards to respect for human rights, advancing democracy, and stabilizing the security situation in Eastern DRC. He also announced further Canadian funding to fight against sexual violence and assist in the responsible and transparent management of natural resources. This funding will notably be used to ensure that perpetrators of violence are held accountable.
Canadian support to the DRC contributes to the reconstruction and development of the country. Canada has an important development assistance program with the DRC. This includes country-to-country assistance as well as contributions to regional and multilateral initiatives in the areas of peace, good governance, health, sustainable natural resource management, protection of human rights and humanitarian assistance, as well as support for Canadian organizations active in the DRC. DFATD provided $25.68 million in development assistance to the DRC in 2011-2012, including more than $13 million in humanitarian assistance.
Under the thematic priority Children and Youth, Canada’s bilateral assistance strengthens the capacity of the health system in the DRC, and contributes to improving the quality and accessibility of primary health care, particularly for the most vulnerable, women and children. In addition, Canada contributed to an Electoral Assistance Project that worked to strengthen electoral processes.
Canada also supports victims of sexual violence in the DRC by providing essential services to victims such as health and psychological care. Programming in this area is focussed on preventing sexual violence and helping to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. As this issue extends beyond the DRC, DFATD also funds a project to prevent and fight sexual violence in the Great Lakes region. In addition, Canada funds a regional project to strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities so they can become regional centers of excellence in the sustainable management of natural resources.
Canada contributes to the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), managed by the African Development Bank, to help local communities in forest zones secure sustainable livelihoods and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, therefore alleviating poverty while maximizing carbon storage. The CBFF finances projects in the DRC and in nine other Central African countries.
Between 2010 and 2013, Canada contributed up to $4 million to projects in the DRC through DFATD’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START), with a focus on security-related issues, fighting the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and land conflict mediation.
Since 1999, Canada has contributed more than $300 million toward MONUC/MONUSCO to support peacekeeping efforts. The Canadian Forces (CF) currently occupy up to twelve positions in MONUSCO where they provide highly valued leadership and expertise in fields such as military and information operations, training, and military liaison. In addition, a Canadian police officer was deployed as the UNPOL mission’s Deputy Police Commissioner until the end of October 2013.
The DRC is a member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a forum that has helped to strengthen dialogue among eleven countries in the region. Canada supports the ICGLR in its central role in the fight against exploitation and trafficking of minerals in the Great Lakes region, particularly through the implementation of a regional certification process inspired by the Kimberley Process for diamond certification. As of January 2012, Professor Ntumba Luaba from the DRC is the ICGLR Executive Secretary.
Although there is substantial Canadian investment in the DRC, particularly in the mining sector, Canada-DRC trade relations are limited and the DRC currently has no bilateral trade agreements with Canada. According to Statistics Canada, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and the DRC amounted to $24.2 million in 2012. Top Canadian merchandise exports to the DRC, include miscellaneous textiles, machinery, and motor vehicles; and top merchandise imports from the DRC, are wood, precious stones, and electric machinery. The DRC market is enormously varied. However, the business and investment environment poses challenges for most companies. Canadian exporters and investors need to be aware of the inherent risks of doing business in the DRC.
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