7 August 2014 - Security Council - The situation in RDC - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargé d’Affaires a.i.
I would like, at the outset, to thank you, Sir, for your presence among us today, which bears witness to your commitment to the Great Lakes region and especially to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I also thank Mrs. Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and Mr. Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the Ministers who have honoured the Council by participating in the meeting.
The path undertaken in just over 18 months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is remarkable. In November 2012, Goma — the main city in the eastern part of the country — fell into the hands of a rebel group in less than 24 hours, and almost all of the Kivus was controlled by various armed groups that competed in carrying out violent, barbaric attacks against civilians.
Today, the Mouvement du 23 mars (M-23) has been defeated and a number of armed groups have surrendered their weapons. The Congolese Government, thanks to its armed forces and with the support of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is gradually regaining control of a part of its territory that has been out of reach for too long, while displaced persons have started a timid return to their villages.
But enormous challenges remain, and together we must work towards durable progress. The commitment of the international community, notably the Council and the deployment of the largest United Nations peacekeeping operation, should help to put an end to the spiral of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of the Congolese Government, whose action is clearly essential.
There are both short- and long-term challenges to overcome. In the short term, as stated by the Special Representative and the Special Envoy, the fight against armed groups must continue in accordance with resolutions 2098 (2013) and 2147 (2014).
Although the M-23 has been militarily defeated it has not disappeared. The demobilization of combatants is incomplete and the prospects for the military regrouping of the M-23 remains a significant threat. It is crucial to ensure that the signatory parties to the Nairobi declarations implement the relevant provisions in that regard. On the one hand, we call upon the Democratic Republic of the Congo to boost efforts to operationalize the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; on the other hand, we call on Uganda and Rwanda to work together to ensure a definitive end to the group’s actions.
The major offensive launched by the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) with the support of MONUSCO against the Allied Democratic Forces has dealt a blow to the group. It resulted in heavy losses among the FARDC, and we salute them for their courage during the difficult combat.
We also cannot forget actions taken against various Mai-Mai groups, including the Mai-Mai Cheka and the Alliance des patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain, which have also spread terror among the local population.
Finally, regarding the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the Council’s mandate has for many years been exceedingly clear. Resolution 2147 (2014) requires the immediate and permanent demobilization of the FDLR. We have taken note of the decisions of the Southern African Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to extend the process for an additional six months, with a meeting scheduled at the end of three months. The time frame for the process, in which regard the FDLR has shown no tangible sincere commitment, seems inconsistent in view of the tensions and abuses on the part of the FDLR for more than 20 years. Only the swift disarmament of that armed group, and the other groups, will reduce tensions and restore confidence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region. Maximum pressure must focus on the FDLR leadership to ensure its good faith commitment. The military option must remain on the table.
In the medium- and long-term, only the implementation of the structural reforms set forth in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region in Addis Ababa will guarantee peace and lasting security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Security sector reform regarding the police and the army, good governance, decentralization, judiciary and local administration are not only slogans that the international community likes to chant; they are also conditions for a long-term solution for the country’s development. There is no way out of the crisis without effective capacity-building for the Democratic Republic of the Congo to guarantee the protection of its people throughout the country and continue the fight against corruption and trafficking. The good conduct of the electoral process is an essential aspect of peace and stability. This process must be conducted in accordance with constitutional rules and in the spirit of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, to which the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a signatory. In particular, a credible and legitimate road map should be drawn up as quickly as possible, including a timeframe and a specific budget for the elections.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a key role to play in the implementation of all of those reforms. MONUSCO is there to support and assist it, but cannot act in its stead. We reiterate our full support for Martin Kobler and his activities. We would like to pay particular tribute to his efforts, along with those of the Force Commander, to ensure that MONUSCO’s protection-of-civilians mandate is implemented. Mr. Kobler’s response following the Mutarule incident was commendable, and he has our full support in his dialogue with the troop-contributing countries for the implementation of the mandate with which we have entrusted him.
It is up to us all, in the Council and in the region, as well as neighbours, donors and troop-contributing countries, to provide Mr. Kobler with the means to undertake his broad-reaching mission. The commitment of the United Nations must be durable and determined and live up to the hopes raised by the successes achieved in recent months.
Finally, I, too, wish to pay tribute to Mary Robinson for her commitment and her tireless efforts over the past 18 months to build trust between the leaders of the region and to implement the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement, which we are convinced remains pivotal to the sustainable settlement of the crisis in the Great Lakes region. We wish every success in this endeavor to his successor, Mr. Said Djinnit.