The United States Provides Immediate Assistance to Respond to Drought in Kiribati

Source: USAID

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing $500,000 in humanitarian assistance to respond to the drought across Kiribati due to below normal rainfall exacerbated by the ongoing impacts of climate change. So far this year, some areas have recorded less than 2.3 inches of rainfall total. The resulting drought has affected all 123,000 people residing in Kiribati, including 94,000 people in the severely impacted Gilbert Islands, which is heavily dependent on rainwater harvesting. 

This funding allows USAID partner United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to immediately strengthen the capacity of the government to monitor groundwater, including the salinity levels, and provide critical water conservation and treatment messaging to affected populations. U.S. officials in the region and Washington, D.C. are closely monitoring humanitarian impacts of this drought in coordination with partners throughout the region. The United States stands with communities in Kiribati as they continue to face the impacts of this drought.

USAID has long supported early recovery, risk reduction, and resilience initiatives throughout the Pacific, including in Kiribati, to support disaster preparedness and response capacities. In Kiribati, this includes efforts to mobilize youth and volunteers in disaster preparedness through the Kiribati Red Cross Society (KRCS) and capacity building for the KRCS through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. USAID will continue to work with partners year-round to equip communities to withstand disasters.

Administrator Samantha Power Launches up to $30 Million TradeBoost Program in Zambia in Support of the Prosper Africa and Feed the Future Initiatives

Source: USAID

Today, Administrator Samantha Power launched a groundbreaking new $30 million, subject to appropriations, trade and investment program, called TradeBoost Zambia, that will advance the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa and Feed the Future initiatives. TradeBoost is among the first projects to be launched as part of USAID’s new continent-wide Africa Trade and Investment program, the Agency’s flagship effort in support of Prosper Africa. TradeBoost will amplify market intelligence, increase investment in Zambian businesses, and direct targeted trade facilitation support to Zambian businesses to reach regional and international markets. TradeBoost prioritizes locally-led development with all sub-contracts and grants going to local partners. The program will focus on businesses led by women and young people who invest in climate smart production.    

As part of this new trade and investment program, Administrator Power announced two private sector partnerships that will enhance Zambia’s ability to grow food for people across Africa.

First, the Administrator announced deals with two Zambian companies – Zdenakie and NewGrowCo – to export 17,500 metric tons of maize and soybeans from Zambia valued at $8.5 million. These companies expect to move at least 1,300 metric tons of grain to East Africa in a matter of days. To accelerate these exports, USAID is structuring a revolving credit facility that will give Zambia grain traders the finance they need to rapidly buy, aggregate, and export grain. The facility is projected to support the export of an additional 30,000 metric tons of needed grain across Africa going forward.  

Second, through a $200,000 grant, USAID unlocked a $4.5 million investment in Zambia’s macadamia sector. Macadamia nuts are a high-value export, bringing in additional investment and further strengthening Zambia’s role as an agricultural exporter. South African investment firm Foxfin Financial Services will purchase a 165 hectare farm from Golden Dawn Zambia, develop an irrigation system, install solar energy, and plant 45,000 macadamia nut trees. This deal will support sustainable, climate smart agriculture and create nearly 100 jobs, the majority of which will be held by women. 

Through the Prosper Africa initiative, USAID is leveraging private sector partnerships to ensure all people have the opportunity to create a better life for their children, their families, and their communities. USAID is committed to strengthening trade and investment ties between African nations and the United States – creating jobs, advancing solutions to pressing global challenges, and spurring private investment at a scale that could never be matched by foreign aid alone. 

With more than $1 billion per year in funding, Feed the Future is leveraging existing technical expertise, programs, and partners in more than 35 countries to mitigate the impacts of this latest global shock. In these countries, the U.S. government takes a coordinated approach to its investments and in turn, paves the way for further resources and investment from other actors, such as the private sector, donors, and local governments. 

For more information about Prosper Africa, visit

For more information about Feed the Future, visit

USAID Announces $14.2 Million to Boost Inclusive Economic Development in Zambia

Source: USAID

The United States government has announced the launch of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Business Enabling Project, a five-year, $14 million initiative, subject to appropriations, designed to spur economic development in Zambia.

Specifically focused on the development of rural communities, the project will generate incentives for private-sector investments in agriculture, eco-tourism, energy, sustainable natural resource management, and trade across Zambia, and expand women’s economic participation. By targeting legislation, procedures, and regulations that hinder women’s access to finance and their ability to own and expand businesses, the project seeks to unleash the power of Zambia’s greatest untapped resource—women entrepreneurs.

Built on a collaborative approach, the USAID Business Enabling Project will strengthen communication across the Zambian government, private sector, and civil society. Aligned with the Zambian government’s newly launched Public-Private Dialogue Forum, the project will also promote greater engagement from the public on key challenges to businesses. 

By driving innovation and digital solutions to Zambia’s most challenging business roadblocks, improving government regulations, and creating more business-friendly processes and requirements, Zambia will be open for U.S. investment and well positioned for increased two-way trade with the United States.

The new project will lay the groundwork for fully opening Zambia up for business, and create opportunities for women and others who have often been excluded from economic opportunities in Zambia, thereby benefiting all Zambians.

Administrator Samantha Power Good Nature Agro Visit Lusaka, Zambia

Source: USAID

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good morning everyone, and thank you, Sunday, for that introduction. It’s been the highlight of my trip to Zambia so far to hear about all that Good Nature Agro has accomplished in the fight against food insecurity and poverty, and thank you for the tour of the warehouse. I can honestly say, I’ve learned more about legumes than I ever thought I would!

It was also wonderful to speak with Samson Nyendwa from Corteva Agriscience. Samson and his team work closely with USAID and our coalition of private sector partners to provide smallholder farmers with healthy seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, while also working with global NGOs and partners like John Deere to increase access to updated farming equipment. Thank you for being here Samson.

It was a pleasure to meet the rest of the Good Nature team, and I was fortunate enough to hear a little bit about how they got started. 

Back in 2014, Sunday Silungwe, Carl Jensen, and Kellen Hayes started Good Nature Agro to solve a problem: 90 percent of the food in Zambia is produced by smallholder farmers. But they lacked access to good, high quality seeds that could reliably produce what they expected.

So Sunday, Carl, and Kellen founded a business to produce seeds. They started by recruiting commercial farmers to grow key legumes like soybeans, groundnuts, beans, and cowpeas—crops that reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer and actually replenish the soil, and whose seeds can then be sold to smallholder farmers. 

Of course in Zambia, a healthy seed is half the battle. If their harvest was successful, farmers rarely had means of storing and selling their crop, and lacked access to capital or lending to pursue upgrades. So Good Nature Agro sought to address those problems too. They gave each of their partner farmers a customized package of agricultural inputs tailored to meet their individual farming needs—and they gave them access to the financing to help them produce as many seeds as possible. 

But it doesn’t stop with a packet. Throughout their time with Good Nature, in both the growing season and off-season, farmers receive advice and assistance from a network of agents. And they get access to competitive markets where they can sell the seeds that they’ve harvested, resulting in profits that are higher than what they could achieve elsewhere. 

In 2017, we at USAID took notice of Good Nature’s success. Through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s principal food security program, we gave Good Nature a grant of less than $500,000. 

And with that relatively modest investment, Good Nature used it to launch a new program, Good Nature Source, to provide the same services they give to commercial seed growers—customized inputs, financing, agricultural extension services, and a guaranteed market to sell their output—to smallholder farmers. 

In just a few short years, and with a little jumpstart from USAID, Good Nature has helped to feed literally millions of Zambians and established an entire network of farmers who made enough money to escape poverty and enter the middle class. 

Good Nature is such a strong testament as to why private sector engagement is crucial. As much as I wish we could, the United States cannot tackle the problem of global food security alone. The commitment and resources it will take to tackle food insecurity here in Zambia is going to take far more than government assistance alone. 

Before the war in Ukraine, more than 1.2 million Zambians were food insecure, and that number is surely higher now with skyrocketing food, fertilizer and fuel prices. 

The United States understands the acute needs and unpredictable repercussions stemming from the war in Ukraine, so with our allies in Congress, we are pledging an additional $9 million to immediately address the high cost of fuel, fertilizer and food in Zambia. 

But Zambia’s potential is such that we must not only work to overcome this crisis, but bet on the country’s future as an agricultural power. Zambia can not only grow enough food to feed its people—it already grows 84 percent of calories consumed in the country—it can become a leading exporter of food across its eight regional neighbors.

As we know, Good Nature Agro is embracing this opportunity, marshaling our support and that of other partners and investors to generate new and creative solutions that will help meet the needs of the people of Zambia and beyond.

And USAID is eagerly looking for the next Good Nature throughout Zambia, so that in this time of crisis, we can stretch our development dollars to tackle food insecurity.

A few weeks ago, in partnership with the U.S Development Finance Corporation, we launched a $20 million loan guarantee with ABSA Bank that will spur them to extend badly needed credit for small and medium-sized enterprises that are advancing food security and climate solutions in the agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and clean cooking sectors, with a specific focus to lend to underrepresented borrowers. 

This partnership will lead to further investments into agribusinesses throughout Zambia that will bolster food production domestically while providing high-value exports to surrounding neighbors.

And I’m pleased to announce that today, USAID will launch a new, $30 million trade and investment program that we are calling TradeBoost Zambia. This program is designed to bring expertise to Zambian agricultural enterprises to help them boost their productivity and fuel regional exports. Though we’re launching this program today, this work is already beginning. We crafted export deals with two Zambian trading companies––Zdenakie and NewGrowCo––to provide Kenya and Rwanda with 17,500 metric tons of Zambian-grown maize and soybeans valued at $8.5 million. By next week, at least 1,300 metric tons will be exported to East Africa, with the ambition to move an additional 30,000 metric tons of grain. 

TradeBoost is also making deals to expand other agricultural sectors that have the potential to produce high-value exports.  

In partnership with the South African investment company Foxfin, we will make an investment in Zambia’s growing macadamia nut sector. Because of a $200,000 investment from USAID, Foxfin has committed $4.5 million to purchase a 165 hectare farm and build an irrigation system, install solar panels, and plant 45,000 macadamia nut trees, creating nearly 100 jobs, more than three-quarters of them designated specifically for women. 

Here in Zambia, women make up over half of the rural labor market, but entrenched social norms have locked them out of not just employment, but accessing the tools they need to start their own business. 

With the support of our allies in Congress, we plan to launch a five-year, $14 million Business Enabling Project, focused on making it easier for women to start businesses. Through this effort, we will work with key ministries within the Zambian government to break-down structural barriers that inhibit womens’ ability to access capital, legal services, marketing assistance and digital tools they need to start competitive businesses.

And earlier this week, President Biden announced that the U.S will expand our Feed the Future initiative—the U.S. government’s landmark food security initiative—to eight new target countries, including Zambia. As a Feed the Future focus country, our teams will work with Zambia to identify targets and goals for its agricultural sector and provide increased levels of data collection and market analysis that we can use to drive more and more effective private and public investment. 

In the coming months the global fight against food insecurity will be daunting, no doubt. All told, the world will invest billions to attend to the emergency humanitarian needs that are spiraling around the world in dozens of countries. 

But what Good Nature’s success demonstrates is that ingenuity exists throughout our world to end global hunger and drive agricultural productivity. With just a little effort—a small grant or loan at the right time, the right connections, a dose of expertise, a better enabling environment, or access to new markets—that ingenuity can quickly be harnessed to feed millions of people, and help smallholder farmers escape lives of grinding poverty. 

Thank you, and with that, I look forward to your questions. 

Administrator Samantha Power Meets with Zambia’s Cabinet Ministers

Source: USAID

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Let me just say how thrilled I am to be here on behalf of President Biden in Zambia. Let me express my thanks to Cheryl, of course, who’s our chargé here at the mission, but also longtime USAID mission director. The partnership between the United States and Zambia is strong. It’s always been strong, but it is getting stronger. And I hope to use my visit, this meeting, the outreach that I’m doing also to Zambian farmers and business people and civil society members, as well as later today my meeting with your President, to hear what more we can do to support the aspirations of the Zambian people. 

And I think you mentioned a couple longstanding initiatives that the United States has supported here in Zambia. The fact that Zambia’s life expectancy is up 20 years, you know, over a 20 year period I think is one testament to the strength of the collaboration in the health sector. We’ve seen that also on COVID with vaccine donations, but also with support for the community organizers who are out there making these vaccination campaigns happen.

I was just out at an agricultural project. It’s no secret that there is significant food insecurity in Zambia and across the continent, and around the world. We are working now really intensively to try to extend additional support to small farmers, small scale farmers here, to expand loan guarantees to small and medium sized enterprises, to support the effort to secure fertilizer at a time when fertilizer is scarce. The main thing I just want to stress is that the United States really wants to show up for those in the world who want to strengthen, not weaken, the rule of law. To strengthen, not weaken, democratic accountability. And, you know, President Biden really did notice the election of President Hichilema here. He really noticed the commitments that the New Dawn party has made to political and economic reform. President Biden has noticed the initial steps that have been taken, and I have been sent here to talk about what we can do to accelerate the path to reform. Because the job growth and economic opportunities that USAID has long supported Zambia being — trying to increase, that effort goes hand in hand with the political reform, the anticorruption, the better business environment reforms that the President and your administrators have committed to.

So, I hope in this meeting and subsequent meetings we can talk about how USAID can help you accelerate that reform path that you are on, so as to increase the economic returns and the number of jobs, and the amount of food security and prosperity that the people of Zambia can enjoy. Thank you.

Library’s Packard Campus Theater Resumes Film Screenings

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

The Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater will reopen its doors to patrons with a new season of film screenings on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning July 15.

The relaunch of the film screenings at the art deco theater has several new offerings focused on a different theme every month. In July, “Packard Campus Potpourri” will include a selection of fan favorites and staff requests. Themes for future months include the “National Film Registry” (August); “Films of Futures Past” (September) and “Monsters Among Us” (October). The theater will conclude the year with a month of film noir in November and some great snow movies in December.

Click here for more information.

Join Us on 7/21 for Our Webinar: “Regulating Remote Work During the Pandemic and After: Global Perspectives”

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

Join us on July 21 at 2 p.m. EDT for a webinar titled, “Regulating Remote Work During the Pandemic and After: Global Perspectives.”

Please register here.

Our upcoming July Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar Series’ entry will provide an overview of the considerations undertaken by the U.S., the European Union (EU), and selected foreign countries in regulating offsite work. The webinar will focus on rules adopted by different jurisdictions prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for work performed outside of employers’ premises, often termed as “telework” or “remote work.”

Increased access to computer and communications technology had facilitated the growth of offsite work by enabling the use of computer and communications technologies away from a central location. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated global employment patterns involving offsite work and has further propelled faster adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), especially in work areas with high physical proximity. These developments were necessitated by restrictions imposed on the labor force in numerous countries by closures, social distancing, and vaccination requirements. The technological ability in many parts of the world minimized the impact of state-wide closures and other measures taken by states to reduce transmission of the virus.

The July webinar will examine legal developments propelled by the pandemic, in legislation and in case law, and other initiatives regarding the place of telework and remote work post COVID-19.

The webinar will be presented by Senior Foreign Law Specialist Ruth Levush. Ruth conducts research on Israeli domestic law, as well as comparative and international law, for the U.S. Congress, executive agencies and the U.S. judiciary. Her work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and her reports have been admitted into evidence as expert testimony by various U.S. federal courts. She has presented to academic and foreign parliamentary audiences on topics such as foreign development assistance and parliamentary oversight and her articles on a variety of comparative law issues have been published in legal periodicals in the U.S. and abroad. Ruth previously served as a special assistant to Justice Aharon Barak, former president of Israel’s Supreme Court, and practiced law in Israel as an attorney both in government and in private practice. She holds a Master of Comparative Law (American Practice) from The George Washington University Law School and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Tel Aviv University Law School. Ruth is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and was admitted to the Israeli Bar.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Gross Domestic Product (Third Estimate), GDP by Industry, and Corporate Profits (Revised), First Quarter 2022

Source: United States Bureau of Economic Analysis

Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2022, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2021, real GDP increased 6.9 percent.

The “third” estimate of GDP released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month.  In the second estimate, the decrease in real GDP was 1.5 percent. The update primarily reflects a downward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE) that was partly offset by an upward revision to private inventory investment (refer to “Updates to GDP”).

The decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending, while imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. Nonresidential fixed investment, PCE, and residential fixed investment increased (table 2).

COVID-19 Impact on the First-Quarter 2022 GDP Estimate

In the first quarter, an increase in COVID-19 cases related to the Omicron variant resulted in continued restrictions and disruptions in the operations of establishments in some parts of the country. Government assistance payments in the form of forgivable loans to businesses, grants to state and local governments, and social benefits to households all decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or tapered off. The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the first quarter because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified. For more information, refer to the Technical Note and Federal Recovery Programs and BEA Statistics.

The decrease in exports reflected widespread decreases in nondurable goods. The decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in defense spending on intermediate goods and services. The decrease in private inventory investment was led by decreases in wholesale trade (mainly motor vehicles) as well as mining, utilities, and construction (notably, utilities). The increase in imports was led by an increase in goods (notably, nonfood and nonautomotive consumer goods).

The increase in nonresidential fixed investment reflected increases in equipment and intellectual property products. The increase in PCE reflected an increase in spending on services (led by housing and utilities and “other” services) that was partly offset by a decrease in spending on goods. Within goods, widespread decreases in nondurable goods (led by groceries as well as gasoline and other energy goods) were largely offset by an increase in durable goods (led by motor vehicles and parts).

Current‑dollar GDP increased 6.6 percent (revised) at an annual rate, or $383.9 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $24.39 trillion. In the fourth quarter, GDP increased 14.5 percent, or $800.5 billion (table 1 and table 3). More information on the source data that underlie the estimates is available in the “Key Source Data and Assumptions” file on BEA’s website.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 8.0 percent (revised) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 7.0 percent in the fourth quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 7.1 percent (revised), compared with an increase of 6.4 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 5.2 percent (revised), compared with an increase of 5.0 percent.

Personal Income

Current-dollar personal income increased $247.2 billion (revised) in the first quarter to a level of $21.26 trillion. In the fourth quarter, personal income increased $186.2 billion. The increase primarily reflected an increase in compensation that was partly offset by a decrease in government social benefits (table 8). In the first quarter, government assistance payments in the form of social benefits to households decreased as provisions of several federal programs expired or continued to taper off.

Disposable personal income decreased $58.8 billion (revised), or 1.3 percent, in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of $72.4 billion, or 1.6 percent, in the fourth quarter. Real disposable personal income decreased 7.8 percent (revised), compared with a decrease of 4.5 percent. Personal saving was $1.02 trillion in the first quarter (revised), compared with $1.45 trillion in the fourth quarter. The personal saving rate—personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income—was 5.6 percent (revised) in the first quarter, compared with 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

Gross Domestic Income and Corporate Profits

Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 1.8 percent (revised) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 0.1 percent (revised) in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter (table 1).

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) decreased $63.8 billion (revised) in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of $20.4 billion in the fourth quarter (table 10).

Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $51.1 billion (revised) in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased $4.8 billion (revised), in contrast to an increase of $5.0 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits decreased $7.9 billion (revised), in contrast to an increase of $16.8 billion. In the first quarter, receipts increased $17.7 billion, and payments increased $25.6 billion.

Updates to GDP

The decrease in first-quarter real GDP was revised down 0.1 percentage point from the second estimate, reflecting downward revisions to PCE and federal government spending that were mostly offset by upward revisions to private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. Imports were revised up. For more information, refer to the Technical Note. For information on updates to GDP, refer to the “Additional Information” section that follows.

Advance Estimate Second Estimate Third Estimate
(Percent change from preceding quarter)
Real GDP -1.4 -1.5 -1.6
Current-dollar GDP 6.5 6.5 6.6
Real GDI 2.1 1.8
Average of Real GDP and Real GDI 0.3 0.1
Gross domestic purchases price index 7.8 8.0 8.0
PCE price index 7.0 7.0 7.1
PCE price index excluding food and energy 5.2 5.1 5.2

Real GDP by Industry

Today’s release includes estimates of GDP by industry, or value added—a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP. In the first quarter, private goods-producing industries decreased 6.9 percent, private services-producing industries decreased 0.8 percent, and government increased 2.0 percent (table 12). Overall, 9 of 22 industry groups contributed to the first-quarter decline in real GDP.

  • Within private goods-producing industries, the leading contributors to the decrease were nondurable goods manufacturing (led by petroleum and coal products) and mining (table 13).
  • Within private services-producing industries, the leading contributors to the decrease were retail trade and finance and insurance. These were partly offset by an increase in real estate and rental and leasing.
  • The increase in government reflected an increase in state and local government that was partly offset by a decrease in federal government.

Gross Output by Industry

Real gross output—principally a measure of an industry’s sales or receipts, which includes sales to final users in the economy (GDP) and sales to other industries (intermediate inputs)—increased 2.0 percent in the first quarter. Private services-producing industries increased 3.3 percent, private goods-producing industries decreased 0.7, and government increased less than 0.1 percent (table 16). Overall, 15 of 22 industry groups contributed to the increase in real gross output.

Annual Update of the National Economic Accounts

BEA will release results from the 2022 annual update of the National Economic Accounts, which includes the National Income and Product Accounts as well as the Industry Economic Accounts, on September 29, 2022. This update will present revised statistics for GDP, GDP by Industry, and gross domestic income that cover the first quarter of 2017 through the first quarter of 2022. For details, refer to Information on Updates to the National Economic Accounts.

Next release, July 28, 2022, at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product, Second Quarter 2022 (Advance Estimate)

Democratic Republic of the Congo: State of Siege in Ituri and North Kivu Extended

Source: US Global Legal Monitor

On May 21, 2022, the Congolese Parliament adopted legislation that extended the state of siege for the 22nd time since May 2021 in the North-Kivu and Ituri regions. According to article 144 of the country’s Constitution, a state of siege is declared for a period of 30 days and may be extended every 15 days by authorization of Parliament.

The decree establishing the state of siege gives the provincial military authorities operating in these two regions the authority to implement several measures, including conducting day and night searches in people’s homes, prohibiting meetings and publications that they deem likely to excite or undermine public order, prohibiting traffic at the locations and times they indicate, establishing “zones of protection or security” where the residence of civilians is regulated, arresting any person implicated in disruptions of peace and public order, and “[taking] any decision they deem useful in the accomplishment of their mission.” (Decree art. 4.) In addition, the criminal jurisdiction of civil courts is devolved to military courts. (Art. 6.)

Background on the Regions Under the State of Siege

The implementation of the state of siege was aimed at securing and putting an end to the 100 or so  armed groups that have been spreading terror in the region for over 25 years. Each prorogation has been justified by the government as a need to contain “all the forces of evil,” to quote the Ministry of Justice. For over a month now, the Congolese army has been gaining strength on the ground, marked by the dismantling of several positions of foreign militias active in the far north.

Multiplication of Protests

The U.N. assistant secretary-general for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, Martha Pobee, has stated that despite the Congolese government’s efforts to combat insecurity in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, violence by armed groups continues to take a heavy toll on the civilian population.

Human rights organizations report that the number of civilians killed has increased since the introduction of the state of siege. They also argue that the military courts tend to undermine the rule of law, with the military authorities “persistently us[ing] their powers under the state of siege to suppress any protest and silence critical voices,” including by harassing members of Parliament.

While an overwhelming majority of members of Parliament voted in favor of extending the state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri, the number of votes against the measure has increased over time. Since April, several members of Parliament from North Kivu and Ituri have been increasingly protesting the extensions.

On May 4, Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde presented the report of his mission in the North Kivu and Ituri regions  at a “state of siege assessment meeting” requested by President Félix Tshisekedi.  According to several media reports, the president announced later the same day that a round table would be held soon to decide on the future of this measure. While this declaration has been seen as a source of change, no modifications have been made yet to the act defining the state of siege.

Accusations Against Rwanda

The Congolese government alleges that Rwanda supports rebel forces in Kivu. This situation has been brought to the U.N. Security Council’s attention. Rwanda saw these accusations of support “as a pretext used by some Congolese troublemakers [fauteurs de troubles] to externalize the conflict and gain political points.” The Security Council called for dialogue and confidence to be restored between the two countries, to which the Congolese minister of foreign affairs replied: “Like the tango, it takes two to dialogue.” A few days later, the Rwandan ambassador was summoned in Kinshasa to discuss the conflict in the Kivu region.

Prepared by Baptiste Beurrier, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist