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DR Congo: Security Council extends arms embargo and monitoring group

31 March 2008 – The United Nations Security Council today extended until the end of the year its arms embargo and other sanctions meant to keep weapons out of the hands of militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which it said continue to threaten stability in the eastern part of the vast country.

Council members voted unanimously this morning to maintain, with some modifications, the sanctions – consisting of the arms embargo, a travel ban and an assets freeze on those who violate the embargo – until at least 31 December.

The Group of Experts that monitors the embargo and develops recommendations for its improvement was also extended until the same date.

In the resolution extending the sanctions regime, the 15-member Council expressed its continued concern about the situation in the provinces of North and South Kivu and in the Ituri district, close to the border with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

It noted, however, an improved exchange of information between the Council committee monitoring the sanctions, other parts of the UN and Governments of the region, and in that light modified the rules for importation of military supplies for the national army and police of the DRC.

At the same time, it continued to stress the urgent need for progress in security sector reform in the country, which has suffered from decades of war and misrule but in 2006 held its first free elections in more than 45 years.

The embargo was first imposed in 2003 amid concerns that the growth and trafficking of arms was serving to fuel and exacerbate conflicts across the Great Lakes region. The Council also noted the link between the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources in the DRC and the proliferation of arms.

The embargo does not apply to arms and related materiel intended for the use of units of the national army or police as long as those units meet certain criteria.

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