8491st Security Council Meeting: Situation in Great Lakes region

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26-Mar-2019 01:55:26
Political will can drive concerted action to overcome even most protracted challenges, special envoy for Great Lakes Region tells Security Council, at 8491st meeting.

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Progress can be made on even the most protracted issues when national leaders of Africa’s Great Lakes demonstrate political will, the United Nations Special Envoy for that region told the Security Council today as it discussed the presence of armed groups, the refugee crisis and the illicit exploitation of and trafficking in natural resources, among other persistent challenges.

“Indeed, since the 1990s and early 2000s, the region has made important steps towards durable peace and stability,” Said Djinnit, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, told members in his final briefing in that capacity. Despite persisting insecurity in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, “the region today is largely peaceful”, he said.

“Where cross-border clashes frequently occurred, differences between member States are now mostly addressed through dialogue, albeit not always conclusively,” he continued, while sounding the alarm over the continued presence of negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which perpetuates insecurity and mistrust between some countries.

Allegations of support for such groups by regional Governments or their proxies, and claims of cross-border interference, continue to threaten cordial relations and stability, he pointed out. They are compounded by the continuing illegal trade in natural resources, he added, urging sustained regional and global attention to these issues.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlighted regional efforts to eradicate armed groups, citing the ferocity of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which threatens the United Nations peacekeeping mission in that country and recruits from countries in the region. ADF also has an international recruitment network and demonstrates a tendency towards fundamentalism, he said, urging the Council to focus more closely on that issue since ADF has sworn allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) since October 2017, and receives financing for its activities in his country.

He went on to point out that the Secretary-General’s report also mentions the P5 armed group, which is active in South Kivu Province and associated with Rwandan opposition groups. It receives ammunition and weapons from a neighbouring country, he said, urging the Council’s Panel of Experts to shine a light on the supply circuit and on those violating the arms embargo, and for regional efforts to implement the Framework Agreement.

Council members expressed mixed views on the progress made and the remaining challenges. The Russian Federation’s representative said that full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, adopted in 2013, will have a favourable impact on an otherwise tense situation in the region.

Belgium’s representative said that, despite the Special Envoy’s excellent efforts, the overall situation remains complex, characterized by a growing number of cross-border incidents, particularly on the borders of Burundi, but also between Rwanda and Uganda. Eliminating the threat posed by certain negative forces will require strong political engagement by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others, he stressed.

China’s representative cited the positive political and security developments, notably the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in South Sudan, the elections held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the continuing stabilization of the situation in Burundi — all of which demonstrate that regional cooperation among countries can lead to African solutions to African problems. It is also imperative to address poverty and underdevelopment as causes of conflict, he emphasized, calling for increased official development assistance (ODA) and the scaling up of investment in health.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative said that the responsibility of building an Africa free of conflict falls on the continent’s States, as well as civil society and the institutions of the African Union. However, the destabilizing activities of armed groups, as well as intercommunal conflict expose civilians to malnutrition and disease, she noted, calling upon the African Union, the International Organization of La Francophonie and other entities to build synergies with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to implement the Framework Agreement and foster regional good-neighbourliness while bolstering the fight against armed groups and the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Poland, Peru, Germany, Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Kuwait and France.

The meeting began at 3:28 p.m. and ended at 5:23 p.m.

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