8630th Security Council Meeting: Situation in the Great Lakes Region

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03-Oct-2019 01:40:32
Despite governance gains, urgent attention needed to deal with human right abuses and insecurity in Great Lakes Region, special envoy tells Security Council at 8630th meeting.

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Despite recent advances in governance and regional cooperation in the Great Lakes, insecurity and human rights abuses, particularly in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, still require urgent attention, the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for the region told the Security Council today.

“There is now a golden opportunity to address the root causes of instability in the region, which must be seized by strengthening regional cooperation to permit the populations to benefit from the region’s wealth,” Huang Xia said as he briefed on the latest report on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region (document S/2019/783).

Positive developments, he said, include the formation of a new Congolese Government, as well as steps taken by the country’s new President, Félix Tshilombo Tshisekedi, to strengthen relations with neighbouring countries and similar efforts by Angola, Rwanda and Uganda to advance regional cooperation to counter the continued ravages of armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He said that all stakeholders in the region must focus on accelerating development programmes and regional integration, so the region will be able to engage in a proactive approach to stability. Intensified action must be taken to counter illicit trade in resources, combat Ebola and stem displacement through regional integration. Justice, greater equity and more respect for human beings must be promoted, he added.

To support those goals, he said his Office is working with the guarantors of the Framework Agreement to facilitate cooperation of the various national security services. It is also supporting non‑military measures that could support military efforts, such as reintegration of ex‑combatants and aid to affected communities. Regional cooperation on the issue of natural resources has also made gains.

He called on Council members to support the upcoming conference on the region’s development planned for Kigali, which, he commented, will also require support from the private sector. His Office, he said, is also promoting the empowerment of women, youth and society at large, including through joint solidarity missions to boost women’s participation in all areas and combat gender‑based violence. Consultations between the guarantors and civil society are being facilitated so that the population has a voice in all such areas.

Following that briefing, Council members welcomed the political progress in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region that Mr. Huang described. Most urged further cooperation between the countries of the region to tackle the pressing problems of armed groups, displacement and Ebola, as well as the overarching development needs, calling for further support for those efforts by the international community. The representative of the Russian Federation said such support should be provided in concert with International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and other regional actors in accordance with the maxim “African solutions to African problems”.

While many speakers today welcomed positive political developments in Burundi, the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom, affirming the importance of good governance in the region, cautioned the leaders of that country that rule of law and freedom of expression must not be abridged, calling on the Council to carefully monitor the situation. South Africa’s representative described his country’s support to the ongoing inter‑Burundian dialogue process.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking last, said that his President has been working tirelessly to address the sources of instability in the country, launching a peace and security initiative based on capacity‑building for the country’s defences and security services, national reconciliation and regional diplomacy. In support of his efforts, he called for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to be rendered leaner, better equipped and with a mandate well adapted to the realities on the ground. He affirmed that action to neutralize armed groups in the east will continue until those factions are totally eliminated.

Drawing attention to the successful repatriation of elements of the FDLR to Rwanda, he reiterated his country’s determination to fulfil all its commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and called for support from both regional States and Council members. “A wind of hope and confidence is currently blowing across the Great Lakes,” he said, urging its leaders to continue to “sing from the same hymn sheet”.

Also speaking today were the representatives of France, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, China, Equatorial Guinea, Peru, Poland, Indonesia, Germany, Kuwait and South Africa.

The meeting began at 10:01 a.m. and ended at 11:42 a.m.

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