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 is concerned by the deteriorating security situation in eastern DRC, and by the prevalence of human rights violations, including sexual violence. 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 on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website at www.international.gc.ca. 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, accompanied by the former Minister of State for the Francophonie Bernard Valcourt and Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino, attended the Summit. The Prime Minister voiced concerns about the situation in the DRC and made it clear that concrete progress in improving respect for human rights, advancing democracy, and stabilizing the security situation in the east must be made. Then Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, discussed respect for human rights and the protection of civilians while she was on a state visit to the DRC in 2010.
Canadian support to the DRC contributes to the reconstruction and development of the country. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) 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. CIDA provided $52 million in development assistance to the DRC in 2010-2011.
CIDA’s bilateral program focuses its resources on health issues and the strengthening of public institutions. Under the thematic priority Children and Youth, the program strengthens the capacity of the health system, and contributes to improving primary health care, particularly for women and children. In addition, the program contributed to an Electoral Assistance Project that worked to strengthen electoral processes. Through CIDA, Canada also supports victims of sexual violence in the DRC by providing essential services to victims such as health and psycho-social care. New programming in this area will be focussing on preventing sexual violence and helping to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. As this issue extends beyond the DRC, CIDA also funds a project to prevent and fight sexual violence in the Great Lakes region. This project helps to integrate the specific needs of women, girls and vulnerable groups in programs for the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC. CIDA also 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 supports the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), whose objective is to strengthen implementation of the Central African Forests Commission’s (COMIFAC’s) action plan for conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems. The DRC is a member of the CBFP and COMIFAC. Furthermore, Natural Resources Canada collaborates with the DRC on participatory resource governance in the context of the International Model Forest Network, providing support through the African Model Forest Initiative. In addition, from 2010 to 2013, Canada funded various projects in the DRC through DFAIT’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, 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, Canada currently deploys one police officer as the mission’s Deputy Police Commissioner.
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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