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The DRC-Angola offshore oil dispute: how regime (in)security outweighs sovereign claims
Edmond, P.; Titeca, K.; Kennes, E. (2019). The DRC-Angola offshore oil dispute: how regime (in)security outweighs sovereign claims. Journal of Southern African Studies 45(5): 841-857.
In: Journal of Southern African Studies: Abingdon. ISSN 0305-7070; e-ISSN 1465-3893, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Democratic Republic of Congo; Angola; oil; maritime borders; governance;resource curse; political economy

Authors  Top 
  • Edmond, P.
  • Titeca, K., more
  • Kennes, E., more

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a legitimate claim under international law to large areas of oil-rich maritime territory currently held by Angola. Access to this territory would make the DRC the second or third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the DRC has repeatedly and consciously avoided making effective claims to this territory and its oil. By analysing the history of the Congolese actions (and inaction) towards this territory, this article demonstrates why this is the case. Primarily, both Kabila regimes became reliant on and indebted to Angola, and, as a consequence, effective and final claims to maritime zones were never made. These claims were, however, not absent: non-regime figures in the DRC kept some claims alive, and the regime has at different times used the dispute as political leverage in order to secure Angolan backing, which would otherwise be uncertain. Within this, we show how an apparent attempt at compromise was both skewed in Angola's favour and undermined by DRC regime actions. Overall it is demonstrated that the DRC's concerns about regime security are the primary determinant of outcomes in this dispute, and it has consistently prioritised regime survival and short-term rent-seeking over oil development.

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