DRC : a situation not yet normalized [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 24 July 2019
I warmly thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, and my Kuwaiti colleague, Mr. Mansour Alotaibi, for their very informative briefings.
As we noted prior to the last meeting of the Security Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (see S/PV.8563), the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been enjoying an atmosphere of optimism since the 30 December elections. President Tshilombo Tshisekedi has pledged his willingness to respond to the desire for change expressed by the Congolese during the elections, and several measures have been taken to satisfy this desire. Several opponents have returned to the country, prisoners of conscience have been released and the country is experiencing a certain opening of the political space.
On the security front, President Tshilombo Tshisekedi has committed to working to put an end to the conflicts affecting the country, particularly in the east, and the intercommunal clashes that have affected some regions recently. Several rebel groups have announced that they want to lay down their arms and return to civilian life.
France is encouraged by such developments and hopes that the path mapped out in recent months will continue, both in terms of civil liberties and national reconciliation.
Attending to the combatants wishing to demobilize is a pressing need so as to prevent them from being tempted to return to the bush and renounce civilian life. The Security Council has mandated the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to assist the Congolese authorities in this regard, but the Mission will not be able to do so without their determined leadership.
New steps must be taken very soon in the country’s institutional sphere to confirm the path upon which it has embarked. I am thinking, in particular, of the Government, the formation of which will facilitate a re-engagement of partners and the holding in 2020 of the first local elections in the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At the regional level, President Tshilombo Tshisekedi has undertaken commendable initiatives to revive the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. Meetings of the Heads of State from the Great Lakes in recent months have been positive. France encourages the countries of the region to respond to this call and mobilize to fully implement the Framework as they approach the next follow-up summit, scheduled to be held in Kinshasa in the fall.
But the situation is not yet normalized. Several challenges remain to be addressed.
- First, in the east, the predatory action of armed groups persists, financed by the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Efforts have been made with the support of MONUSCO, which is positive.The announcement of the rotation of troops of the Congolese armed forces, some of whom have remained far too long at the front, is very encouraging, and I hope that this will materialize soon. The sustained professionalization of the army and the police is crucial. However, military involvement will always be insufficient without political dialogue, at both the provincial and national levels, to convince the armed groups to disarm. The restoration of the State and the development of these regions will be essential for a lasting return of peace. France therefore calls on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on all the countries in the region to act in a concerted and determined manner to put an end to these conflicts.Women and children are the first victims of the atrocities committed by these armed groups. France is determined to protect them, which is why President Macron has mobilized the Group of Seven to support the foundations of Dr. Mukwege and Nadia Murad for the benefit of victims of sexual abuse in conflict.
- Coordinated regional action is also needed to drain the finances of armed groups and put an end to their trafficking. The work of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo has demonstrated that we need to tackle them firmly and collectively if we want to stop their abuses. The region will receive unparalleled benefit from the formalization of the mining sector, trade, economic advantages and peace. After all, Europe was built after the Second World War on regional collaboration in the mining sector. Natural resources can be a factor of peace when the political will is there.
- The Ebola epidemic continues in the east of the country and must be controlled. I wish to commend the exemplary commitment of the Congolese authorities, the World Health Organization and humanitarian actors in the fight against this epidemic, as well as the support provided by MONUSCO. France welcomes the appointment of Mr. David Gressly as the United Nations Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator. We all know his qualities as we have seen his work in the past within MONUSCO. Once again, on behalf of France, I would like to strongly condemn the attacks on humanitarian personnel who come to the aid of the sick and who must continue to receive our full support.
- The humanitarian situation remains very worrying. The tensions in Ituri and in the Kivus, in particular, have provoked the displacement of people. There is no funding to support these displaced persons. France calls on the partners of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to rally to provide the necessary resources.
In all the aforementioned areas, France will continue to stand alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During his visit on 20 May, our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced the relaunch of a long-term partnership between France and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a pledge of €300 million euros over five years in three priority areas. The first is education, with the increase of our aide to training schools. The next priority area is health, wherein we will continue our cooperation with referral hospitals and do more in the fight against Ebola. Accordingly, Professor Yves Lévy has been appointed French special envoy in charge of the fight against the epidemic. The final priority area is stabilization assistance via the training of senior executives and our support for security sector reform.
I would like to conclude by commending the exemplary action of Ms. Zerrougui and her entire team at MONUSCO. The Council mandated MONUSCO to protect civilians and support the Government in the fight against armed groups. With the determined involvement of the Congolese authorities and those of its neighbours within the framework of an approach that combines military pressure, if necessary, and dialogue, it is possible to normalize the situation throughout the country. France’s stands ready to lend its support to achieve this objective.