The situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Security Council, 9007th Meeting

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29-Mar-2022 02:24:40
Comprehensive political strategy needed to tackle structural causes behind conflict in Democratic Republic of the Congo, mission head tells Security Council.

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Delegate Says Country ‘Victim of the Richness of its Mineral Resources’

The activities of armed groups in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo present a grave threat to efforts to improve national security and regional stability, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, stressing the need for a comprehensive political strategy to address the conflict’s structural causes.

Presenting an overview of the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2022/252), Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), said that the security situation in the east had degraded despite the military efforts of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).

Ms. Keita stressed that both the causes and the symptoms for the country’s instability must be addressed due to the “inherent limits of only having security operations to resolve conflicts”. An exhaustive political strategy is the only way forward, she said, noting that it must include reforms and measures to tackle the root causes of the conflict. She welcomed the 15 March opening of the new parliamentary session and the inclusion of draft bills on its agenda of proposals, including a text on the electoral process and another on combating racism.

Outlining the precarious security situation in the east, she delineated tenacious challenges in several areas. She described a spiral of violent retaliations by groups in South Kivu in the upper and middle plateaus of the Fizi and d’Uvira territories. Both civilian losses and population displacement are on the rise due to “bloody reprisals” by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) against the people of North Kivu and Ituri. There has also been an uptick in attacks carried out by the M23 rebel movement in North Kivu, targeting communities near Rutshuru. As a result, the Mission, alongside FARDC/UPDF operations, has scaled up its work to protect civilians in Ituri, while in North Kivu, it has deployed support units for FARDC to deter the activities of M23.

In the ensuing discussion, several delegates highlighted the continued illegal plundering of natural resources to fund armed group activities, with Norway’s representative underscoring that such theft is a major driver of conflict. This not only detracts from the country’s revenue streams, but also increases the damage that armed groups are able to enact on civilian populations.

Gabon’s representative, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, said that the country was a “victim of the richness of its mineral resources” and named the exploitation of these resources by armed groups as one of the main sources of the country’s continued destabilization. Against that backdrop, he welcomed the Government’s National Strategic Plan for the Exploitation and Certification of Mineral Resources and highlighted the importance of enacting sanctions against those involved with the illicit trafficking of such resources.

France’s delegate spoke of the vital importance of the upcoming elections, welcoming the progress made in preparing for the presidential and legislative polls slated to take place in 2023. Work in that regard should continue in accordance with the road map of the Independent National Electoral Commission, he stressed.

Delegates also spoke of the importance of regional cooperation, with Brazil’s delegate highlighting the joint military operation of FARDC and UPDF, as well as increased cross-border collaboration with Rwanda. These initiatives may help create more conducive conditions to help stabilize the region, he said.

In a similar vein, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said that common security challenges can best be addressed with an integrated, regional approach key to addressing common security challenges and strengthening diplomatic relations and economic cooperation. Existing cooperation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours and regional partners is also important.

India’s representative said that as a major troop-contributing country, his Government is especially interested in the Mission’s operations. He noted with alarm that armed groups continue to kill civilians and attack peacekeepers in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He stressed that it is the Government that has the primary responsibility to protect its citizens, with the Mission playing a supporting role.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s delegate said that the security situation in his country was “calm”, except for the movements of armed groups in the east. The success the joint operations of FARDC and UPDF have had in targeting terrorists has resulted in the destruction of some of their strongholds, leading them to become smaller, mobile groups that utilize such methods as kamikazes and parcel bombs to attack civilians. These deadly attacks have created the current humanitarian situation in the country, he said. A humanitarian response plan has been created by his Government and the United Nations to address the matter.

On the elections, he said that Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi is committed to his country becoming a “genuinely democratic State”. He added that the Electoral Commission has been created successfully, alongside a road map for the ongoing electoral process.

Also speaking were representatives of the Russian Federation, United States, China, United Kingdom, Mexico, Ireland and Albania.

Lea Babite, a project coordinator at civil society organization Jeunes Ennemis de la Faim, submitted a written text as she was unable to join due to technical difficulties.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:57 a.m.

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