Towards reconciliation and regional development in the Great Lakes region [fr]
Situation in the Great Lakes region
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 3 Octobe 2019
At the outset, I thank Mr. Huang Xia very much for his briefing.
For several months, the Great Lakes region has seen a new dynamic, energized by President Tshisekedi and the support of President Lourenço and the commitment of Presidents Museveni and Kagame. Such resolve to reduce insecurity has already allowed for tangible progress. The meetings held in Kinshasa on 31 May and in Luanda on 12 July and 21 August led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Rwanda and Uganda intended to improve their political and economic relations. The decision of the Southern African Development Community to strengthen its cooperation with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region is also a part of that momentum.
The situation in the region, however, continues to be unfortunately all too often characterized by the tensions and insecurity that have been on the rise over the past months in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has also been characterized by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the forced displacement of populations. Foreign armed groups and various militias are carrying out illicit and criminal activities in violation of the most basic rights. We commend the continuous efforts in the eastern part of the country by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which faces that situation on a daily basis.
In his effort to address those challenges, I commend the announcements made by President Tshisekedi with regard to combating impunity, improving the capacities of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo and managing natural resources. I hope that those announcements will soon be translated into action, and I encourage the neighbouring countries to implement similar initiatives.
The development of good-neighbourly relations and the strengthening of border cooperation are vital to achieving the shared goal of bringing peace to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is necessary to address the root causes of regional instability at the same time, first by stopping all forms of trafficking and the efforts of those who finance them, and developing economic opportunities based on the legal and beneficial use of natural resources for all, with a view to achieving genuine development of the region.
Those root causes must also be addressed by encouraging a reconciliation process among communities so that everyone can enjoy their civil and political rights, as well as economic opportunities, including fair access to land; by supporting the fight against impunity and respect for human rights — as Mr. Huang Xia said earlier — as well as by maintaining full humanitarian access to ensure the provision of assistance to those most vulnerable; by addressing land conflict resolutions to allow for peaceful co-existence among the various communities; and by implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for armed groups to allow for the effective reintegration of former combatants within their countries and their communities.
Such mechanisms have been initiated for the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda and the Mouvement du 23 mars. Progress has been made, which France commends, and it must lead to its natural conclusion. In Ituri the process began with the Congolese group known as the Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri. That is encouraging, and the process must be rapidly pursued in order to avoid any relapse into conflict. Time is not on our side.
In other instances it will require a combination of military and police action underpinned by incentives for demobilization and cooperation among countries of the region. The handing over of Rwandan rebels by the Burundian authorities to the Kigali authorities in April represents such an example.
Lastly, we must respond decisively to the humanitarian and health crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the region owing to conflicts and the Ebola, malaria, measles and cholera epidemics. In that regard, France calls on all international partners to take action to respond to the latter. Only 30 per cent of the funds required for the humanitarian response plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been provided. That is grossly inadequate.
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General has a crucial role to play in all of those aspects through his support for the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region and its Oversight Mechanism. France reassures him of its full support, as well as reaffirms its solidarity with the Great Lakes region and its support for reconciliation and regional development. France will remain faithful to the commitment made in 2013. We share the common goal to help forge long-term regional stability. We stand ready to work with the region to overcome current challenges.