More information about the Democratic Republic of the Congo is available on the Democratic Republic of the Congo Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO RELATIONS
The United States established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) in 1960, following its independence from Belgium. Post-independence, the country saw a mix of unrest, rebellion, secession movements, a long dictatorship, armed conflict, and foreign intervention, including on the D.R.C.’s territory. The D.R.C.’s last protracted conflict, commonly known as Africa’s World War (1998-2003), involved nine African countries and resulted in a death toll of an estimated 5 million people in the D.R.C. from the fighting and ensuing humanitarian crisis. In January 2001, Laurent Kabila, who led the rebel movement that overthrew the 32-year regime of Mobuto Sese Seko in 1997, was assassinated and his son, Joseph Kabila, was named head of state. The D.R.C. held multiparty elections in 2006 and 2011. The presidential elections, which should have been held in 2016, are now scheduled to take place in December 2018. These elections would result in the D.R.C.’s first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, as President Kabila is prohibited from running for a third term under the D.R.C.’s constitution.
Regional stability and security is dependent on durable peace in the D.R.C., as it is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, borders nine other nations, and is home to substantial natural resource wealth, including an estimated $25 trillion in mineral reserves. The country faces challenges, including inadequate infrastructure and human resources; the government’s inability to project authority across the sizable country; rampant corruption; a limited capacity to raise and manage revenues; outbreaks of Ebola, cholera, polio, and other health concerns; and presence of numerous armed groups, particularly in eastern D.R.C.. The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping presence in the D.R.C. for 23 of the 58 years since the country’s independence in 1960. The mandate for the UN’s current peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, was renewed in March 2018 with a troop ceiling of 16,215 military personnel.
U.S. relations with the D.R.C. are deep and longstanding. U.S. foreign policy in the D.R.C. is focused on supporting the country to uphold democratic processes and effective governance, promoting stability and peace within the country and with its neighbors, improving the rule of law to strengthen state authority across its territory, and developing institutions that are accountable and responsive to the basic needs of its citizens. The State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs leads U.S. engagement aimed at supporting a peaceful democratic transfer of power following the December 2018 elections and addressing the root causes of conflict and instability in the region. The United States is the D.R.C.’s largest bilateral donor and the single largest financial contributor to MONUSCO.
U.S. Assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The D.R.C.’s development and humanitarian needs are vast. The U.S. government is the largest bilateral donor in the D.R.C., with approximately $500 million in development and humanitarian programming per year. U.S. assistance supports a more stable, democratic nation through improving the capacity and governance of core national-level institutions, creating economic opportunities, responding to urgent humanitarian needs, and addressing the root causes of conflict. The United States has also served as a lead donor to the recent Ebola outbreaks in the D.R.C..
The United States remains the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of the D.R.C., providing more than $87 million for the D.R.C. and Congolese refugees since FY 2017, representing approximately 50 percent of all humanitarian assistance in the D.R.C.. USAID provides life-saving food, safe drinking water, emergency medical care, critical nutrition services, improved hygiene and sanitation conditions, psychosocial services and other support for vulnerable children, as well as essential household supplies for families who were forced to flee violence and leave everything behind. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) supports countrywide protection programs and multi-sector assistance, including gender-based violence prevention and response, targeting refugees and conflict victims in the D.R.C.. U.S. government FY 2017 development assistance to D.R.C. totaled $317 million. USAID development assistance integrates programs in education, stabilization, democracy and governance, health, social protection, and economic growth. The United States also works to promote Security Sector Reform (SSR), with an emphasis on professionalization of the armed forces, human rights, and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) prevention, as well as improving the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the civilian justice system.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Leading U.S. exports to the D.R.C. include pharmaceutical products, poultry, machinery, used clothing, and wheat. The top U.S. import from the D.R.C. is copper, accounting for over 50% of D.R.C.’s total exports to the United States. Other leading D.R.C. exports to the United States include antiques, diamonds, coffee and coffee beans, propane, and tantalum. The two countries have signed a bilateral investment treaty. The United States also has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which the D.R.C. is a member.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Membership in International Organizations
The D.R.C. and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
The U.S. Ambassador in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Michael Hammer; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo maintains an embassy in the United States at 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036: tel. 202-234-7690.
More information about the Democratic Republic of the Congo is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook Democratic Republic of the Congo Page
USAID Democratic Republic of the Congo Page
History of U.S. Relations With the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics (see “Congo (Kinshasa)”)
Export.gov International Offices Page (see “Congo – Kinshasa”)
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies (see “Zaire (Former)”)