Lay of the Land: The DRC, located in Central Africa, is bordered by Angola and Zambia to the south, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to the east, the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north, and the Republic of the Congo to the west.
The United States first established diplomatic relations with the DRC in 1960. A crisis soon erupted in the country that drew the attention of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. For 14 months after the outbreak of the crisis in July 1960, the threat of Soviet domination of the Congo through Soviet influence on the charismatic Patrice Lumumba and on his followers was a major concern of both Eisenhower and Kennedy. The formation of a moderate coalition government in August 1961 seemed to bring an end to the crisis, but the outbreak of hostilities in Katanga in September 1961 initiated a new phase.
Overall, relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the US are positive. The US has played a part in the DRC’s peace process. In 2004, the US facilitated the signing of a regional security agreement between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Burundi joined this Tripartite Commission in September 2005, and when this happened, the group was renamed Tripartite Plus.
US imports from the DRC include feedstuff and food grains, which increased from $678,000 in 2006 to $1.1 million in 2007; crude oil, which increased from $0 in 2006 to $41 million in 2007 (which was down from $85.8 million in 2003); “miscellaneous nonferrous metals,” which increased from $744,000 in 2006 to $1.37 million in 2007; “artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles,” which increased from $4.1 million in 2006 to $6.1 million in 2007; and “gem diamonds-uncut or unset,” which increased from $67 million in 2006 to $147.9 million in 2007 (up from just $31 million in 2003).
Human Rights Abuses Tied to DRC Copper Mining Company
In all areas of the DRC, the government’s human rights record remained poor, according to the 2007 State Department report, and security forces acted with impunity, committing numerous serious abuses, including unlawful killings, disappearances, torture and rape, and engaging in arbitrary arrests and detention. Other problems included harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities, prolonged pretrial detention, lack of an independent and effective judiciary, and arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home also remained serious problems. Security forces recruited and retained child soldiers and compelled forced labor by adults and children. Members of the security forces also continued to abuse and threaten journalists, contributing to a decline in freedom of the press. Government corruption remained pervasive. Security forces at times harassed local human rights advocates and UN human rights investigators. Discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, trafficking in persons, child labor, and lack of protection of workers’ rights continued to be pervasive throughout the country.
Note: The Embassy in Leopoldville (now Kinshasha) was established on Jun 30, 1960, with John D. Tomlinson as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
Serge Mombouli has served as ambassador of the Republic of Congo to the United States since July 2001.
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo
James F. Entwistle’s first chance to be a U.S. ambassador, after a career in the Foreign Service, has brought him to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a nation with a long history of exploitation, violence and repression and no shortage of troubles. He presented his credentials in the DRC on November 4, 2010.