Following comfortable majorities for the Kabila government in two national elections, the UNSC lifted the limited arms embargo against the armed forces of the DRC (UNSCR 1807, 31 March 2008). The resumption of violence and renewed military challenges to the DRC from the Nkunda faction, the FDLR, and the LRA in the eastern DRC persuaded the UNSC of the need to maintain and strengthen individual sanctions against non-integrated parties and against regional actors from Rwanda and Uganda to cease hostilities against the DRC in the eastern DRC.
A joint DRC/Rwanda offensive was launched against the Nkunda faction in January 2009 (ending in his arrest), followed by an offensive against the FDLR, a general amnesty offered to Congolese armed groups in the east in May 2009, and high profile arrests of FDLR leaders in Germany in November 2009. At the same time, peace processes linked to SSR and DDR were underway (the Goma and Nairobi processes), culminating in the 23 March 2009 agreements (which called for the amnesty offer to Congolese armed groups in May).
UNSCR 1807 lifted the restrictive measures of the arms embargo against the DRC government, while UNSCR 1857 (22 December 2008) extended restrictive measures to individuals supporting non-integrated parties through the exploitation of natural resources.
Coerce non-integrated parties to cease hostilities (to consolidate the authority of the DRC in the east and thereby reduce human rights abuses).
Constrain the ability of rebels to garner support within the DRC and from neighboring countries.
Signal support for the legitimacy of the government to rebel factions and regional actors.
Ongoing arms imports embargo on non-governmental entities, travel ban, and asset freeze.
Sanctions were imposed for a limited time period (9 months – 1 year) and periodically renewed. Sanctions Committee and Group of Experts in place. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated (maximum number of designees during the episode – 20 individual designees, 6 entities). Enforcement authorities specified, PKO had enforcement role.
Some combatants began to negotiate a ceasefire and sign agreements (following joint DRC/Rwanda military operations against them), but others who were integrated became renegade DRC army forces within the region; some of the relevant neighboring countries (Rwanda) began cooperating with the DRC government.
ICC prosecutions, diplomatic pressure on Rwanda, arrests of belligerents from the FDLR in Germany and France, and use of force appeared more important than sanctions.
Integration and renaming indicated a change of strategy for some groups, and some pushed out of resource rich areas (the Governor of North Kivu did not allow planes to leave with resources or to land with weapons); Rwandan joint operations with DRC resulted in arrest of Nkunda and weakening of rebel forces.
Sanctions triggered a political process through donors who put pressure on Rwanda (naming and shaming were critical during this episode), but the final outcome cannot be attributed to the sanctions alone, but to other factors, particularly the military offensives.
Many combatants appeared to respond to the DDR process by abandoning militia groups, but poor integration of rebel forces into the armed forces of the DRC (which legitimates them) limited the overall effect.
Military offensives and arrest or capture of key rebel leaders appeared more significant than sanctions.
Strengthening of authoritarian rule, resource diversion, increase in corruption and criminality.