Great Lakes Region: a strong political will is being mustered at the heart of the region [fr]
Great Lakes Region
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 26 March 2019
I wish to start by warmly thanking Mr. Said Djinnit, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, for his very informative briefing, as usual. I would like once again, on behalf of France, to convey our deep gratitude to him for his exemplary commitment, which is worthy of the highest praise. I would also like to wish his successor, Mr. Huang Xia, every success and assure him of our full support.
The time is ripe, at the end of his mandate, to take stock realistically of the progress made and of what remains to be done in order to find a way towards lasting peace. Six years after the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, in Addis Ababa, strong political will is being mustered at the heart of the region, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, born of the expectations of the Congolese people. This should serve as an example, because to use an expression that is fully reflective of the efforts made by Mr. Djinnit, destinies there are interlinked — those of the DRC and its neighbours, of the Great Lakes region and our own.Our dear friend Said endeavoured to generate political momentum through shuttle diplomacy among the capitals of the region, with support from ad hoc regional mechanisms and the relevant regional institutions. He has contributed to underscoring the relevance of the multilateral framework to overcoming existing challenges, which, in this region in particular, cannot be addressed in isolation.
Since Brazzaville, in October 2017, the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework has been the focus of attention at the highest levels of capitals of the region. Since Kampala, in October 2018, partners have had the ability to share their assessments on the state of the region and its development.
As I said last October, the Addis Ababa Framework agreement remains a key instrument for building confidence among the countries of the region. This inclusive agreement seeks to harmonize the efforts of all stakeholders concerned: the countries of the region, the relevant regional institutions and external partners. It sets out a long-term vision encompassing all possible pathways towards human and economic development in this very promising region.
However, in order to pool efforts and work together with the same goal, it is important to have the appropriate forums and tools. True to that aspiration, France reiterates its commitment to pursuing a high-quality dialogue among all stakeholders in the Great Lakes region, in line with the spirit of the Framework agreement. It trusts in the ability of the future Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to ensure that this dialogue is an ongoing one and is as effective as possible.
The Framework should serve as a catalyst towards action. However, it is not yet functioning at a level that would allow it to make full use of its considerable potential. France shares the concerns of the Secretary-General regarding persisting tensions between certain signatories. These tensions are exacerbated by the threat posed by armed groups and by the harm caused primarily to communities living in the affected areas as a result of the ongoing illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources. However, as has been noted, the recent repatriation of certain members of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda and the Mouvement du 23 mars shows that surrenders are possible when they are accompanied by mutual guarantees of social and economic reintegration.
Moreover, new threats have emerged in the region that require joint responses. Here I am referring to the Ebola epidemic, the radicalization of youth and environmental damage related to the illicit exploitation of natural resources. Appropriate means to collectively respond to these challenges are not always available, although some progress has been made. Here we would refer in particular to the lack of regional legal and technical capacity to support the customs authorities, the police and judicial cooperation in combating trafficking and impunity.
The relationship between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its regional environment is at the heart of the Framework agreement process. Political alternation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wish expressed by President Tshilombo Tshisekedi during his regional tour to pursue closer relations with his neighbours is a sign of normalizing relations between the countries of the Great Lakes region, which is favourable to development. France welcomes this resolve and calls on all countries in the region to come together in this spirit around a revitalized regional road map that could lead to fresh modalities for interaction between neighbours and make it possible to collectively address the remaining challenges.
The solution to regional tensions requires not only a sustained political dialogue among the leaders of the region but also an improvement in the shared management of natural resources. The concerted development of the mining sector would be especially beneficial for all concerned, enabling the region to clean up its export channels and cut off revenues for the armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. In that regard, France welcomes the action that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region has taken, particularly with regard to strengthening the traceability of mineral supply chains, and calls on States that have not yet done so to adopt its legislative and regulatory provisions on certificates of origin for minerals. France would like to support the region in that area and will therefore host the Global Conference of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in June.
France reaffirms the importance it attaches to the Great Lakes region and its solidarity with the countries concerned, and will continue to honour the commitment it made in 2013. We share the common goal of forging long-term regional stability, and we are ready to work with all stakeholders in the region to achieve that goal and overcome the challenges involved.