21 March 2016 - The Great Lakes region still remains a cause for concern for the international community [fr]
Debate on the Prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Counciml - 21 March 2016
The Great Lakes region has been the subject of a great deal of attention on the part of the Security Council for many years. The commitment of the United Nations demonstrates the importance attached to stability in that region at the heart of Africa. With over a third of United Nations peacekeepers deployed around the world, today the Great Lakes region still remains a cause for concern and the subject of great attention for the international community.
That is why we thank you, Sir, both as President of the Security Council and as the head of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, for having organized this important meeting. Our efforts must continue. We also welcome the presence of the Secretary-General, several ministers from the countries of the region and the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, Mr. Chergui, as well as the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Pillai. We thank them as well as Mr. Said Djinnit, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, for his commitment and we support the road map that he has put forward for implementation.
In his report (S/2016/232) on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General outlines certain positive developments in the region, in particular the holding of largely peaceful elections in Tanzania, but also in the Central African Republic, where the challenges were immense. Today a new era is opening in that country. The end of the transition and the establishment of elected authorities requires our continued commitment to help the country in stabilizing and developing.
On the other hand, the political crisis in Burundi, which is also accompanied by a serious security and humanitarian crisis, is a sad reminder that we must never be complacent. After a decade of commitment on the part of the United Nations, which has enabled Burundi to begin its journey on the road towards stability as outlined in the Arusha Accords, we are concerned by the developments in the country. It is crucial that all regional and international actors join efforts to ensure that violence ends and that a genuine dialogue begins without any delay. France, together with the United Nations and the African Union, will continue to act to end that crisis and to re-establish peace and stability while respecting human rights.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are on the eve of a crucial period for the future of a country where the United Nations has been so committed. The situation has improved since 1999, when the Council decided to create the United Nations Observer Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nevertheless we remain concerned by the continuing fragility of the country. In several regions, the security situation has stabilized and the restoration of the State’s authority is taking place across much of its vast territory. The capacity of the Congolese armed forces and the Congolese national police have also been reinforced. However, instability in the east of the country remains a reality, with dozens of armed groups still contributing to the expansion of a spiral of violence. They are illegally exploiting natural resources and are committing abuses against the population, who has already suffered too much. Everyone must play their part to put a definitive end to the threat posed by those groups. Most concerned in that regard, of course, are the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in cooperation with the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the countries of the region.
Efforts to restrict political space also concern us, on the eve of important electoral deadlines for the country’s future. The deadlines stipulated for those elections, envisaged in the Constitution as taking place by the end of the year, concern us, especially as they risk causing a new period of instability in the country. Respect for civil liberties is essential, and that calls for vigilance on our part. We urge the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo to respect their constitutional commitments as well as their international commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and we encourage all stakeholders to move towards dialogue in all its forms, and not to resort to violence. In that regard, again, the Security Council will have to be particularly vigilant, at a time when we are considering the renewal of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
France is a long-time friend of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the countries of the region. Our greatest wish, as a close partner and member of the Security Council, is to see those countries consolidate their momentum towards sustainable peace and stability. That would allow them finally to profit from the wealth of their natural resources and to focus on their development and the well-being of their populations. In that vein, we welcome the holding in Kinshasa on 24 and 25 February of the Private Sector Investment Conference for the Great Lakes Region, which brought with it hopes for the essential economic development of the region. Better regional economic cooperation will be crucial to creating common and shared interests and for overcoming divisions. The regional strategic plan presented today and the commitment of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region will be key to keep moving in that direction. France, along with the European Union and the United Nations, remains at your side, Sir, in your capacity within the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, to help the whole of the region along that path.