Canada - Democratic Republic of Congo Relations
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Kinshasa. The first Canadian ambassador was accredited in the DRC in 1962 and the embassy in Kinshasa opened its doors in 1965. The embassy was closed from 1993 to 1997 to protest against human rights abuses by the Mobutu regime. The DRC has been represented in Canada by an embassy in Ottawa since 1965.
Canada's relations with the DRC are mainly focused on the longstanding support of efforts to ensure the establishment of a durable peace, particularly in the eastern part of the country. Canada continues to emphasize the importance of addressing the root causes and the drivers of the conflict in the East, among others, the ethnic tensions, the disputes over resources and territories and the funding of the hostilities through the traffic of blood minerals. We urge the DRC to pursue its reform of the security sector so as to establish its capacity to maintain order on its territory. Canada is also concerned about the prevalence of human rights violations, particularly acts of sexual violence in the eastern DRC. Canada encourages the DRC to prosecute those who commit such violations. In this regard, Canada issued press releases expressing its strong concerns, available on the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Internet site. Canada continues to work with its international partners and those in the Great Lakes Region through its diplomatic and humanitarian commitments, development and peacekeeping aid, for which Canada gave more than $500 million since 2006.
The DRC hosted the 14th Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa in October 2012. Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the Summit, and took this opportunity to express his preoccupations about the situation in the DRC and stress the necessity of making progress in the area of human rights, promoting democracy and stabilizing the situation in the East. He also announced additional assistance for the transparent and responsible management of natural resources and to fight and prevent sexual violence. This additional support will mainly be aimed at ensuring that those who commit such violence are brought to justice and given appropriate sentences.
Canada's support to the DRC contributes to the reconstruction and development of the country, through a major development assistance program. This includes bilateral assistance and contributions to regional and multilateral initiatives for peace, good governance, health, protection of human rights and humanitarian aid, as well as support for Canadian organizations in operation in the DRC. Canada has contributed $51.31 million in development assistance in the DRC between 2012 and 2013, including over $21 million in humanitarian aid.
Under the thematic priority of Children and Youth, Canada's bilateral assistance strengthens the capacity of the DRC health system and helps improve access to primary health care, especially for those most vulnerable: women and children. Furthermore, Canada contributes to the protection of children and youth and to long-term peace and stability in the DRC.
Canada also provides support to victims of sexual violence in the DRC by providing essential services such as physical and psychological health care. Programming in this area is focussed on preventing sexual violence and the prosecution in court of the perpetrators of these acts. Since this problem goes beyond the DRC, the DFATD also finances a project to prevent and fight sexual violence in the Great Lakes Region.
Canada has allocated $20 million to the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), managed by the African Development Bank and aimed at helping local communities, located in forested areas, to find ways to build sustainable livelihoods and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus alleviating poverty while maximizing carbon storage. The CBFF funds projects in DRC and in nine other Central African countries. Canada is also cooperating with the DRC as part of the International Model Forest Network. Between 2011 and 2014, Canada contributed nearly $1 million to the development of model forests in the DRC, and $4 million a year from 2010 to 2013, through the DFATD's Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, for projects relating to the reform of the security sector, the fight against illegal exploitation of natural resources and land dispute mediation.
Since 1999, Canada has contributed more than $300 million toward MONUC/MONUSCO to support peacekeeping efforts. The Canadian Forces occupy up to twelve positions within MONUSCO where they provide leadership and expertise in fields such as military and information operations, training and liaison. Furthermore, until the end of October 2013, the position of Assistant Commissioner of the United Nations Police Mission was held by a Canadian.
Canada particularly supports the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), of which the DRC is a member, a forum that fosters a stronger dialogue among the region’s eleven countries. The ICGLR plays a pivoting role in the fight against mineral exploitation and trade in the Great Lakes Region, in particular through the implementation of a regional mineral certification mechanism modeled on the Kimberley Process for diamonds.
There are major Canadian investments in the DRC, notably in the mining sector. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and the DRC reached $21.2 million in 2013. The Congolese market is extremely diversified; however, the business and investment environment raise serious challenges to most companies. Canadian investors and exporters must be aware of the inherent risks of doing business in the DRC.
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