The Democratic Republic of Congo is seeking $4.3 billion (£3b) in compensation over its conflict with Uganda in the 1990s, as the top UN court began hearing the dispute on Tuesday.
The lawyer representing DR Congo told the court that “large scale” conflict which included Uganda’s invasion and subsequent occupation caused “breaches of human rights that were verging on barbarity”.
Paul-Crispin Kakhozi Bin-Bulongo told judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Uganda had not acted in good faith and had not assumed responsibility for the damage it had caused.
Hearings over the dispute began on Tuesday and will last for 10 days, with Uganda expected to make its submissions to the court later in the week.
Between 1996 and 2003, several countries and militia fought in eastern DR Congo, in a series of brutal wars that claimed thousands of lives and involved exploitation of natural resources like minerals and timber.
In June 1999, DR Congo filed a case at the ICJ accusing its neighbours Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi of committing acts of armed aggression, abuse of human rights and looting of resources, in violation of the UN and African Union charters. But it withdrew the accusations against Burundi and Rwanda in 2001.
Uganda claimed that it had invaded its neighbour in self-defence, due to DR Congo providing political and military support to anti-government rebels based in its territory, as well as following attacks on its embassy and abuse of the rights its citizens in the capital Kinshasa.
But in 2005, the ICJ ruled that Uganda invaded its neighbour illegally and DR Congo had not consented to the Ugandan military operating in its territory.
It ordered the countries to negotiate reparations but DR Congo told the court in 2015 that the talks had failed.