Situation concerning the DRC: a major source of concern [fr]
Briefing on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo - Intervention of Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative, chargée d’Affaires a.i. - Security Council - 17 August 2017
"Reversing this unhappy dynamic necessarily calls for increased efforts to prevent impunity on the part of perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law", Anne Gueguen
I thank the President for organizing today’s meeting and for his briefing as Chair on the activities of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) — the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Committee — in recent months.
Today’s meeting cannot be a meeting like any other. The killings, last March, of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp deeply struck and saddened us. The presence of the families of Zaida and Michael in the Chamber today reminds us again, if there were such a need, of the dreadful nature of these crimes. On behalf of France, I would like to address Mrs. Maria Moresby, Mrs. Elizabeth Moresby, Mr. John Sharp and Mrs. Michele Sharp to express once again our sincere condolences for the loss of their children and sister and to express our admiration and gratitude for Michael’s and Zaida’s remarkable work. The entire United Nations family shares their sorrow. They can rest assured that France is at their side in this time of trial.
As France did in its national capacity, the Security Council, too, condemned these killings in the strongest terms. It has repeatedly called for an in-depth investigation to identify the perpetrators of the crimes and bring them to justice. In that regard, we would like to thank the Secretary-General for transmitting the findings of the Board of Inquiry that was established last April. The elements that the Board of Inquiry provided have caught our attention, including its finding that further research and investigation are required. In that regard, we renew our call for the Secretary-General to establish, as soon as possible and as he is able to do, a special investigative mechanism to enable the competent legal authorities to effectively prosecute these crimes and achieve justice. In Guinea in 2009 and South Sudan in 2016, for example, similar mechanisms proved particularly useful in shedding light on related dire events before the Council. We owe it to the memory of these two experts that justice be done. We owe it to their loved ones, to the many groups of experts set up by the Council and to all United Nations personnel and to the long-suffering Congolese people themselves.
Today’s meeting is also of particular importance because the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains a major source of concern. In that regard, I welcome the presence of the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Léonard She Okitundu. The final report of the Group of Experts (see S/2017/672/Rev.1), which is of a high quality despite these particularly tragic circumstances, underlines once again the gravity of the situation and the risks of its continuing deterioration.
The violence in the Kasaï region, which remains at an unsustainable level, is compounded by the spread of insecurity to Tanganyika, the increase in intercommunal conflicts in these areas and even the escape of prisoners in unusual proportions. Civilian populations continue to be the primary victims of this growing insecurity, as is illustrated by the flow of displaced persons and refugees. The Deputy Secretary-General highlighted this point last week: the humanitarian situation remains very difficult, especially for women (see S/PV.8022).
Reversing this unhappy dynamic necessarily calls for increased efforts to prevent impunity on the part of perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, irrespective of their affiliation. It is up to the Congolese authorities to get involved, including by fully cooperating with the team of international experts set up by the Human Rights Council last June. The team, established by consensus and with the consent of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, must be able to enjoy unrestricted access to the places and persons concerned in order to identify those responsible for the violations committed.
As the deadline for holding elections approaches, the accumulation of delays in the implementation of the 31 December agreement generates questions and tensions that cannot contribute to the country’s peace and stability. The agreement, which is the framework agreed by all the Congolese parties for the transition towards the holding of elections, remains the only credible road map for an end to the crisis in the country. As the Council recalled in its presidential statement of 26 July (S/PRST/2017/12), it is urgent that the agreement be implemented in good faith and in all its components. It is up to the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures as soon as possible to ensure that credible and inclusive elections are held as agreed in the agreement no later than December 2017. It is particularly urgent for the electoral calendar to be released.
The tragic deaths of Zaida and Michael remind us of the responsibility we must collectively exercise to put an end to the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A large number of civilians have already lost their lives. Faced with this intolerable threat, we call on all Congolese political actors to be responsible and to act decisively in order to respect the commitments made last December. The stability of the country and its inhabitants depends upon it, as does that of the region as a whole.