An arms embargo was imposed on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2003 due to continued violence in the country. It has at various times covered both certain areas and the entire DRC. It currently permits transfers of major arms to the government of DRC. It permits transfers of small arms and light weapons to the government of the DRC when notified in advance to the relevant UN Sanctions Committee.
In July 2003 Security Council Resolution 1493 was adopted unanimously in reaction to continued violence in Ituri, North and South Kivu, and illegal exploitation of natural resources. The Resolution demanded "that all States and in particular those in the region, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ensure that no direct or indirect assistance, especially military or financial assistance, is given to the movements and armed groups present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.' The embargo is time limited.
The embargo covers arms supplies and other military assistance to armed groups (both Congolese and foreign) operating in North and South Kivu and Ituri in the eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and against groups not party to the 17 Dec. 2002 peace agreement (the 'Global and All-inclusive Agreement on the Transition') in the DRC.
In July 2004 Security Council Resolution 1552 extended the embargo until 31 July 2005.
In April 2005 Security Council Resolution 1596 expanded the embargo's coverage to include 'any recipient in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo'. However, the resolution states that these measures 'shall not apply to:
(a) Supplies of arms and related materiel or technical training and assistance intended solely for support of or use by units of the army and police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provided that the said units:
- have completed the process of their integration, or
- operate under the command, respectively, of the état-major intégré of the Armed Forces or of the National Police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or
- are in the process of their integration, in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo outside the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri district,
(b) Supplies of arms and related materiel as well as technical training and assistance intended solely for support of or use by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC),
(c) Supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance and training ... '.
States are also required to notify in advance to the Sanctions Committee any shipment of arms and related materiel for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Such notifications must contain all relevant information, including the end-user, the proposed date of delivery and the itinerary of shipments.
The embargo was extended regularly in the years 2006-2008.
In March 2008 UN Security Council Resolution 1807 lifted all restrictions on arms transfers to the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The requirement to notify to the Sanctions Committee shipments of arms to the DRC and the embargo on non-governmental Forces remained in place.
In 2022 Security Council Resolution 2641 decided that notification requirements would no longer apply for (a) supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training, and (b) shipments of major arms and related materiel for the DRC government. However, types of weapons with a calibre up to 14.5mm and associated ammunition; mortars with a calibre up to 82mm and associated ammunition; grenade and rocket launchers with a calibre up to 107mm and associated ammunition; man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and anti-tank guided missile systems.
The arms embargo has been extended annually and is currently in force until 1 July 2023.