To ensure the stability and development of the Great Lakes region [fr]
Great Lakes - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council – 10 April 2018
I would like to begin by warmly thanking Mr., Djinnit, not only for his very informative briefing but also for his outstanding work and unwavering commitment to peace in the Great Lakes region. I also wish to thank Ambassador Balé, Permanent Representative of the Congo, in his dual capacity as the representative of the chairmanship of the Joint Follow-up Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agreement and the chairmanship of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
Five years after the signing of the Framework agreement, it was important for the Security Council to take stock of its implementation and to consider ways to move forward with its implementation. The regional dimension of the Great Lakes crisis must not be overlooked.
As a close partner of the countries of the region and a permanent member of the Security Council, our most cherished wish is to see them build on the trajectory towards lasting peace and stability, which will finally allow them to benefit from the wealth of their natural resources in order to ensure the well-being of their people and to focus on their development.
1/ That trajectory involves strengthening political stability, the democratic legitimacy of institutions and the fight against impunity. In that context, the political and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is of particular importance. The elections scheduled for 23 December should allow, for the first time, a peaceful transition of power. Without credible elections that are accepted by all, the stability of the country and of the entire region is at stake. To achieve that, it is essential to ensure respect for the electoral calendar and trust in the process of organizing the elections through their openness and transparency. There must also be a peaceful environment, in which all candidates can declare themselves and campaign freely without fear of reprisals.
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is crucial to holding free, credible, transparent and peaceful elections. In that context, we welcome the commitment of countries in the region to follow-up and support for the Congolese people on the path towards the open, free and peaceful organization of the elections.
2/ That trajectory also requires better regional integration to ensure good cooperation among the States of the region. By establishing such interdependence, thanks to the comparative advantages of each for the benefit of all, the region will experience real economic change and development. It is a priority objective of the African Union and France, which has adapted its support policies and mechanisms to make its action part of a regional perspective.
The French institute of Goma, the Hall of Volcanoes, which was inaugurated six months ago and brings together French-speaking countries, multilingualism, training and new technologies, therefore seeks to be accessible to the young people of the entire region. That tool is aimed at not only the young people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo but also, beyond its near borders, those of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, to create projects and common aspirations for an effective regional partnership.
3/ To achieve that, the full and complete implementationof the Addis Ababa Framework agreement is essential. France welcomes the renewed commitment of the countries of the region to that end. The meeting of the Follow-up Mechanism on 19 October set ambitious goals, in particular for the repatriation of disarmed combatants. France encourages the countries of the region to do their utmost to ensure that those objectives are fully implemented.
Such commitment is all the more essential given that negative forces continue to operate in the region. A lasting resolution of that problem requires decisive action in three areas, and regional organizations, the ICGLR and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have a key role to play.
First, with regard to military engagement against armed groups, a key role will be played by the Force Intervention Brigade of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), provided by SADC. The renewed mandate of MONUSCO should enable it to rebuild its capacity for mobility in order for it to engage in decisive offensive actions, as it did with respect to the Mouvement du 23 mars (M-23).
Secondly, political action must be taken in order to demobilize, repatriate and reintegrate those combatants in their countries of origin. I am thinking in particular of the Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda and former members of the M-23, as well as those of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), WHO will soon have been in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for nearly two years. There has been progress with regard to the SPLM/A-IO and commitments have been made with respect to other groups. I am pleased about that.
Lastly, I turn to the issue of tackling the illicit trafficking in natural resources, which sustains those armed groups, contributes to their survival and fuels an economy of war and predation. As long as such trafficking continues, no lasting stabilization can be envisaged. There is a need for strong consistent action by the countries of the region, as well as the ongoing commitment of international partners to transparency in the mining industry and a better traceability of minerals. In that context, the resolve of the ICGLR and its consultation with the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, demonstrated by the annual meeting in Paris of the ICGLR-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-United Nations Group of Experts Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, deserves to be welcomed.
Five years after the signing of the Framework agreement, visible and notable progress in its implementation would be an extremely positive sign of the commitment of all signatory countries to the stability and development of the Great Lakes region. Rest assured that France will continue to fully support the countries of the region in that undertaking.