24 January 2000


Press Release
SC/6789



SEVEN AFRICAN HEADS OF STATE ADDRESS SECURITY COUNCIL IN DAY-LONG MEETING ON DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

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Call for Support for Lusaka Agreement, Speedy Establishment of UN Peacekeeping Mission

Seven African Heads of State addressed the Security Council’s day-long meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo today, stressing the need for resolute international support for the peace process and for speedy establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in that country

Speakers stressed that the unprecedented number of regional leaders taking part in the meeting testified to their commitment to the July 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement and their will to inject a fresh momentum into the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Twenty-four representatives addressed the Council including: seven African Presidents; nine Ministers; the Secretary-General of the United Nations; the Secretary-General of Organization of African Unity (OAU); and the facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue envisioned by the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Council that, with the necessary cooperation, the Organization’s mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could foster confidence among the parties and keep the peace process on track. To make the difference in the Democratic Republic and avoid the wrong turns that had led to tragedies elsewhere, the United Nations must not only be ready to act, but act in a way that was commensurate with the gravity of the situation. Whether that meant intense political engagement, a sustained commitment of resources or decisive action in the face of unforeseen circumstances, it was necessary to see its involvement through.

[Provided the parties agreed to take the necessary steps, the Secretary- General -- in his report before the Council -- recommended the deployment of four reinforced protected infantry battalion groups, accompanied by up to 500 military observers, two marine companies and the supporting military personnel and equipment, and the additional civilian personnel required.]

Frederick J.T. Chiluba, President of Zambia, said resolution of the conflict should not be an “us-versus-them” situation. The parties to the conflict, and its immediate victims, might be African, and the Ceasefire Agreement might have been signed by Africans, but it was not “their” conflict or “their” Agreement. The fact that the matter was today being discussed by the Council was an acknowledgement of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.


Security Council -1a - Press Release SC/6789 4092nd Meeting (AM & PM) 24 January 2000

If the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement failed, it would be a failure of each and every Member State.

Laurent-Desire Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he had signed the Lusaka Agreement because he was a man of peace, and his people wanted peace. The Agreement, however, was not working and peace had not been achieved. Today, he was prepared to offer a hand of reconciliation to all the parties, without prejudice. Nevertheless, for peace to work, it must be mutual. The Agreement had failed in its objectives, for it could not restore peace without an immediate and complete ceasefire. It also envisioned the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of aggressor forces. He hoped those objectives could be reached by the end of this week.

Referring to the fact that since 1959, approximately 2.5 million people in the Great Lakes region had been extra-judicially killed, Yoweri Kaguti Museveni, President of Uganda, emphasized the security needs of neighbouring States, saying “We are not chickens to be slaughtered by demented political actors. We expect the international community to support us in this. That is why the Security Council was set up". A neutral international peacekeeping force established under Chapter VII of the Charter should be deployed “as an inter-position force in the Congo”, under the auspices of the United Nations. All foreign troops must withdraw in accordance with a timetable to be worked out by the United Nations and the OAU, and to be supervised by the United Nations force.

Pasteur Bizimungu, President of Rwanda, said the Lusaka Agreement was not an end in itself. It was meant to facilitate a process of bringing durable peace to the region. However, he warned against the tendency to praise the Agreement so much that the important matter of implementation was forgotten. There could be no peace and security in the region if some provisions of that Agreement were taken lightly. He said the very first step for the Council was to ensure that the ceasefire held, while other mechanisms were being put in place. “That is why we believe plans to deploy a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be elaborated now and not tomorrow.”

Addressing the difficulties in the process of the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, Salim Ahmed Salim, Secretary-General of the OAU, said that his organization had worked hard to mobilize the necessary financial and logistical support to facilitate the establishment of the Joint Military Commission at its temporary headquarters in Lusaka and the deployment of the local Commissions in three out of the four identified areas within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the enthusiasm and goodwill that had been demonstrated by the partners at the negotiations and signature of the Agreement were not accompanied by the required level of support. The support given to the Joint Military Commission to perform its tasks had been far below the essential requirements.

Sir Ketumile Masire, former President of Botswana, who was appointed by the OAU in December 1999 as facilitator of the Inter-Congolese dialogue, said the most critical challenge to facilitating the political dialogue would be to determine the nature and content of the dialogue, establish the criteria for participation and determine how to organize the infrastructure that would provide the necessary


Security Council -1b - Press Release SC/6789 4092nd Meeting (AM & PM) 24 January 2000

backstop for negotiations. The current pronounced goodwill of the international community should be translated into concrete assistance.

In her opening remarks, Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State of the United States, as President of the Council, said her country was providing $1 million to assist the work of the Joint Military Commission. “We will work with Congress to provide $1 million this year to the former President of Botswana, Ketumile Masire’s efforts to facilitate the Congolese national dialogue”, she added. That was vital because such a dialogue could be a critical step, not only towards ending the current conflict, but also in preventing future ones.

Statements were also made by: President Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique; Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe; and Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola.

Also speaking today were: Foreign Minister of Namibia Theo-Ben Gurirab; Foreign Minister of South Africa Nkosazana C. Dlamini-Zuma; Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burundi Severin Ntahomvukiye; Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium Louis Michel; Minister of Armed Forces of Mali Mohamed Salia Sokona; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada Lloyd Axworthy; Minister of States for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom Peter Hain; and Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie of France Chales Josselin. Abdellatif Rahal, Diplomatic Advisor to the Chairman of the OAU, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, spoke on behalf of the OAU Chairman.

The representatives of Bangladesh, Tunisia and Argentina also spoke. The President of the Council, Richard Holbrooke (United States), also read out a message on behalf of the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The meeting, which began at 10:08 a.m., was suspended at 1:30 p.m., resumed at 3 p.m. and adjourned at 5:20 p.m.


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Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6789 4092nd Meeting (AM) 24 January 2000

Committee Work Programme

As the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had before it a report of the Secretary- General on the United Nations Organization Mission in that country (MONUC) (document S/2000/30), which was established by Council resolution 1279 (1999) of 30 November 1999.

The Secretary-General states that since his November 1999 report, the situation in the Democratic Republic has deteriorated. Fighting between Government troops and the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) and other armed groups has been reported in different parts of the country. According to witnesses, the armed groups have acquired new equipment. Reports from South Kivu strongly suggest the danger of large-scale violence among different ethnic groups there. Among several alleged massacres and atrocities is the burial alive of 15 women in Kivu province by rebels, apparently in suspicion of contacts with Mayi-Mayi forces.

As explained in the report, the 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, which provides for holding of an inter-Congolese national dialogue leading to national reconciliation, also envisioned the establishment of a Joint Military Commission (JMC), which, together with the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), would be responsible for peacekeeping operations until the deployment of the United Nations peacekeeping force. Under another provision of the Agreement, a ministerial-level Political Committee was to be established.

The Secretary-General concludes that the deployment of additional United Nations military personnel should contribute to restoring momentum for the implementation of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. In that connection, the signatories bear a crucial responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the Agreement. The international community’s willingness to lend its full support and allocate the significant resources that will be required will depend upon their renewed commitment to the Agreement. In that context, no new military offensives should be launched, the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel should be guaranteed, and the spreading of hostile propaganda, especially incitements to attack unarmed civilians, should cease.

The Secretary-General states that, in view of its essential role, the Joint Military Commission must be established soon on a permanent basis, so that it can react swiftly to events and provide credible and authoritative decisions. Efforts to integrate its activities with those of MONUC should continue. Designation in December of the former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, as the neutral facilitator for the inter-Congolese dialogue has elevated the prospect that the rest of the Lusaka peace process will now be implemented, with the assistance of the OAU. On 11 December 1999, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Kamel Morjane (Tunisia), assumed his duties in Kinshasa.

Regional efforts and initiatives undertaken in support of the peace process, including those by heads of State in the region, are to be commended, the Secretary-General states. Provided the parties agree to take the necessary steps, he recommends the deployment of four reinforced protected infantry battalion groups, accompanied by up to 500 military observers, two marine companies and the supporting military personnel and equipment, and the additional civilian personnel required. Until full deployment of a United Nations force, the role of the Joint Military Commission will remain crucial.

In order to permit the Joint Military Commission to fulfil its functions, the Secretary-General appeals to donors to provide the resources necessary to support its operations. Information from MONUC personnel confirms previous assessments that, in order to be effective, any United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would require the deployment of thousands of international troops and civilian personnel. It would face tremendous difficulties and risks. Despite the fact that the deployment of a MONUC peacekeeping operation might create inflated and unrealistic expectations, the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement remains the best hope for the resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, for the time being, the only prospect of achieving it.

With the renewed commitment of the parties to the Lusaka Agreement, fully supported by the international community, diplomatic efforts may yet succeed in resolving the crisis, the Secretary-General states. If the Agreement is to be carried out as signed, the formidable tasks expected of the United Nations will need to be carefully evaluated. In particular, it will be necessary to reflect on the question of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the armed groups in order to develop a realistic plan of action.

The United Nations can play an important role if it receives the necessary mandate and resources, the Secretary-General continues. A large-scale United Nations peacekeeping operation would provide assistance in the disengagement and withdrawal of combatant forces; provide security for the operations of United Nations military personnel; and work towards eventual disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, including the armed groups identified in the Lusaka Agreement.

The latest developments described in the report include the Joint Military Commission meeting in Harare in December 1999, at which the Commission adopted for approval by the Political Committee papers on the determination of humanitarian corridors, release of hostages, exchange of prisoners of war and relations with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It also addressed the mechanisms of disarming armed groups and handing over war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity; drafting mechanisms and procedures for the disengagement of forces; and withdrawal of foreign forces.

The Joint Military Commission also adopted a proposal for a peaceful resolution of the situation at Ikela, where Congolese, Namibian and Zimbabwean troops are encircled by rebel forces. It also considered the question of stationing United Nations liaison officers and further deployment of the Joint Military Commission’s own regional structures, accompanied by OAU observers, within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

To address the questions of security and freedom of movement for the technical survey team, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Moustapha Niasse, met with President Kabila during his visit to Kinshasa in November. Since then, the survey team has visited seven locations in rebel-held territory and one in Government-held territory; and teams of United Nations military liaison officers have been positioned at several locations. Seventy-nine United Nations military liaison officers are currently deployed on the Democratic Republic, in the capitals of the belligerent parties and elsewhere in the subregion.

Regarding the humanitarian situation in the country, the report states that there are some 960,000 internally displaced persons in eight of the 11 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and over 300,000 refugees from six of its neighbouring countries. Recent humanitarian assessments reveal that over 2.1 million people (internally displaced persons, refugees, urban vulnerable), or 4.3 per cent of the population of the country, face critical food insecurity. Another 8.4 million, or 17 per cent of the population, face moderate but rapidly growing food insecurity.

The Secretary-General further reports that a major improvement in funding and resources is needed to address the humanitarian needs in the country. In December 1999, the United Nations Consolidated Appeal for 2000 was launched at Geneva, requesting $71.3 million. The 1999 Consolidated Appeal for $38.6 million had only a 17 per cent response rate, making it impossible to provide the necessary life- saving interventions. Recent exceptional floods and river overflows in Kinshasa created an additional group of approximately 9,000 vulnerable families in several areas of the capital. The Governments of Belgium, France, Japan, United States, Canada and the United Kingdom contributed over $500,000 to address immediate humanitarian needs, along with the European Community Humanitarian Office and United Nations agencies.

The Secretary-General also states that children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo face displacement, separation from and loss of families, physical injuries and exposure to chronic violence and forced recruitment into fighting forces. Thousands serve as combatants with the various fighting forces. Large numbers of unaccompanied minors have been reported in several provinces. The recruitment of child soldiers continues, especially in the eastern part of the country. Among the positive developments in that regard, the report mentions a Forum on the Demobilization of Child Soldiers and the Protection of Human Rights, which was organized in December 1999 by the Congolese Ministry of Human Rights, supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Regarding financial aspects of the situation, the Secretary-General reports that pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1258 (1999), 1273 (1999) and 1279 (1999), he has obtained from the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) commitment authorities totalling $41 million for the United Nations preliminary deployment in the subregion and for the establishment and maintenance of MONUC for the period from 6 August 1999 to 1 March 2000. That amount includes the funds necessary for equipping 500 military observers and an additional 100 civilian support personnel, expected to be deployed subject to a further decision by the Council. The Secretary-General intends to seek assessment of these requirements from the General Assembly during its resumed fifty-fourth session.

Statements

MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT, Secretary of State of the United States and President of the Security Council, said the deliberations this month on Africa were a particularly creative use of the Council Chamber. Of note last week was the appearance of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. She said most of the citizens of her country held different views to those expressed by Senator Jesse Helms last week. The United States Administration also believed in leading with other nations. It supported the Organization’s Charter and respected its will. The United States also believed that the United Nations provided a vital forum for consideration of matters regarding peace and security.

She said the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be described as Africa’s first “world war”. Because of the size of that country and the number of other countries involved in the conflict, the African continent could not hope to meet the aspirations of its people until that war was history. She hoped decisive progress would be made in both today’s session and in the days ahead. For that to happen, however, reciprocal action would be required. The parties must detail, in a credible fashion, their plans for meeting the commitments they had made. In turn, the Council and the international community must respond with their plans for supporting the transitions from conflict to cooperation.

She said a firm foundation for progress had been established with the Lusaka Agreement. Under the principles contained within it, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be restored and thereafter respected. Foreign troops would be required to withdraw in a lawful and orderly manner. Concrete mechanisms would be established to ensure that the Democratic Republic of the Congo would not be used as safe haven for illegal armed groups. The primary responsibility for implementing those steps rested with the parties, including the rebel groups. The international community, including the United States, condemned the violation of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by foreign troops, but could not compel their withdrawal “Nor can we conduct internal dialogue”, she stressed.

She said her country was providing $1 million to assist the work of the Joint Military Commission. “We will work with Congress to provide $1 million this year to the former President of Botswana, Ketumile Masire’s efforts to facilitate the Congolese national dialogue”, she added. That was vital because such a dialogue could be a critical step, not only towards ending the current conflict, but also in preventing future ones. The United States also supported efforts to curb human rights abuses, prevent atrocities and expand humanitarian relief. There must be a vow today to halt crimes that brutally abused human rights. She cited reports on the recent live burial of women in eastern Congo in that regard. Those who committed such crimes must be brought to justice.

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Lusaka Agreement was the most viable blueprint for resolving grievances and achieving a comprehensive negotiated solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, if the peace was to take hold, and if international engagement was to be sustained, the warring parties faced a paramount challenge: they needed to demonstrate the political will to apply the Agreement fully, without further delay. Everything else flowed from that essential requirement. Unfortunately, a sustainable solution to the crisis would only be found if the root causes of the conflict were addressed. That was why the drafters of the Lusaka Agreement placed the inter-Congolese dialogue at the heart of the process. That dialogue was indispensable.

He said the United Nations had been actively involved in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Organization’s mission in that country, MONUC, if given the necessary cooperation and allowed to do its job, could help foster confidence among the parties and keep the peace process on track. If the United Nations was to make the right kind of difference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and avoid the wrong turns that had lead to tragedies elsewhere, it must be ready to not only act, but to act in a way that was commensurate with the gravity of the situation. Whether that meant intense political engagement, a sustained commitment of resources, or decisive action in the face of unforeseen circumstances “we must see this involvement through”, he said.

“At the same time”, continued the Secretary-General, “we must guard against creating inflated expectations of what could be realistically expected from the United Nations”. The Organization must also never lose sight of its central dependence on the compliance of the parties involved. The parties must themselves bear the primary responsibility for adhering to commitments and creating conditions conducive to the peace process. His latest report recommended an expansion of MONUC, and the further deployment of peacekeepers if the momentum of the peace process was maintained and strict conditions were met. The peace process was fragile. Leadership could strengthen it, he said.

Time had made Member States profoundly uneasy and raised the threshold of persuasion for new involvement, “even when suffering claims our attention and solidarity demands that we act”, he said. “If this is an illness of our international system, leadership can provide and antidote.” The challenge to the leaders present today was to reach consensus with each other and to transform that consensus into action. It would offer a convincing argument in favour of the international support that Africa merited and which could help bring about a decisive change for the better

FREDERICK J.T.CHILUBA, President of Zambia, said that his country shared its longest international boundary and close historical and cultural ties with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the calendar for the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, which the parties had agreed upon, most of the activities should have been completed by this time, including the inter-Congolese national dialogue, establishment of new institutions and disarmament of armed groups. Deployment of the United Nations peacekeeping mission would long have begun and the orderly withdrawal of foreign forces from the Democratic Republic would be in its final stages of completion. However, it was common knowledge that the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement was way behind schedule in almost all respects.

“I would be the first to admit that we have encountered a number of difficulties that have contributed to delays”, he said. There had been problems of accessibility for MONUC and OAU investigators to some parts of the Democratic Republic. It had also taken some time to sort out coordination between MONUC, the OAU and the Joint Military Commission. However, those problems were not so big as to become insurmountable. The parties had remained committed to the Agreement and had repeatedly reaffirmed it. They had made every effort, particularly through the Joint Military Commission, to address the problems.

When reports of ceasefire violations were becoming persistent, the Joint Military Commission established four regional commissions inside the country and deployed OAU investigators to three of them, he continued. The Joint Military Commission also appointed a neutral committee comprising Zambia, MONUC and the OAU to find an amicable solution, when a stand-off between the allied forces and those of the Congolese Rally for Democracy occurred at Ikela. Another positive development had been the acknowledgement by the parties that the calendar needed to be adjusted. A proposed new calendar had since been worked out and approved in principle by the Political Committee. Also, former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, had been appointed the neutral facilitator for the inter-Congolese negotiations in December.

One of the major causes of the delay in implementing the Ceasefire Agreement had been lack of funds for the Joint Military Commission, he continued. The pledged contributions by the international community had not been adequate. Worse still, most of the pledged contributions were yet to be made available to the Commission. As a result, it had taken time for the Commission to be effectively established and deployed. For some time, there was a vacuum in areas where the Commission should have had a presence to ensure the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement.

He said he felt compelled to highlight some of the positive developments not so much to deny the existence of any problems, but to demonstrate that the parties were irrevocably committed to the Ceasefire Agreement, "contrary to the notion that seems to have gained currency among some members of the international community, that the Lusaka Agreement is all but dead". The difficulties that had arisen were to be expected and did not invalidate the Agreement.

He was very concerned when he heard about what appeared to be preconditions being raised in regard to the Democratic Republic, he continued. The international community was reluctant to send peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic, unless the Lusaka Agreement registered “a perfect score on some performance chart”. No other ceasefire agreement had been subjected to that test. There was no peacekeeping that did not involve some degree of risk. He was not suggesting that the international community should indulge in reckless adventure in the name of peacekeeping. It was incumbent on all, and in particular the parties to the conflict, that the peacekeepers were given all necessary support and protection.

By attending today’s meeting, the regional leaders had come to demonstrate their commitment to the Agreement and their determination to implement it, he said. He hoped that the discussion would lead to greater support for the Agreement from the international community. Specifically, there should be support from the Security Council and the international community for quick deployment of the United Nations military observers and peacekeepers. He also wanted to appeal to the international community to make more resources available to the Joint Military Commission and in support of the national dialogue. The facilitator urgently needed resources – human, financial and material – to sustain his important functions during the national dialogue.

Resolution of the conflict should not be an “us-versus-them” situation, he said. The parties to the conflict, and its immediate victims, might be African, and the Ceasefire Agreement might have been signed by Africans but it was not “their” conflict or “their” Agreement. The fact that the matter was today being discussed by the Security Council was an acknowledgement that the Council bore primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The conflict was a collective responsibility. If the Ceasefire Agreement failed to be implemented, it would be a failure of each and every Member of the United Nations.

JOAQUIM ALBERTO CHISSANO, President of Mozambique, said that a durable solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo required strong concerted action from the subregion, the continent and the international community as a whole. The leaders of the region and of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were deeply concerned with the conflict in the Democratic Republic, in view of its strategic position for peace, security and stability in central and southern Africa, in particular, and in Africa in general. The success of all socio-economic policies and of any plans for development rested upon the eradication of conflicts in the region and the attainment and maintenance of peace and security.

The SADC believed that the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement remained the only valid instrument for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Democratic Republic, he said. The ceasefire in the Democratic Republic was fragile and sensitive. Any solution for the conflict demanded a strong and structured partnership between the United Nations, the OAU and the SADC. The international community should not wait for a perfect ceasefire in the Democratic Republic before playing a meaningful role in that country’s peace process, or sit idle and witness the collapse of the process.

The actions of the United Nations must also be seen as supportive to quick confidence-building necessary to the parties for smooth disengagement, demobilization, disarmament, and more importantly, for a successful internal dialogue, he said. The appointment by the parties of Sir Ketmule Masire, former President of Botswana, to facilitate the dialogue constituted a great breakthrough.

The Security Council had the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and should not, therefore, transfer that responsibility solely to the belligerents, to the neighbouring countries or to the region, he continued. The moment had now come for the United Nations to assume its responsibility with regard to the Democratic Republic. The SADC member States called upon the Security Council to adopt concrete measures to implement the Lusaka Agreement. Time was of the essence, because a lost opportunity might never be recovered.

The SADC supported the Secretary-General’s proposal and urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution authorizing the deployment of the military liaison officers as the next step for a subsequent robust United Nations presence in the Democratic Republic, he said. It should be made clear that that was only an intermediary phase for the speedy deployment of a full-fledged United Nations peacekeeping operation. The situation in the Democratic Republic could no longer afford further delays in the establishment of a full-fledged United Nations peacekeeping mission with an appropriate mandate under Chapter VII and adequate numbers, taking into account the size of the country and the magnitude and complexity of the conflict.

The situation demanded urgent action, he said. The international community must also provide humanitarian assistance for those in need, as well as resources for the process of national reconstruction. He asked what credibility would the Security Council have if its role was to keep the peace only in countries where the people themselves had already done that job fully? He recalled that Mozambique had to wait six months after a peace agreement had been signed for the arrival of peacekeepers. Mozambicans knew the damage caused by such delay and hesitation.

LAURENT-DESIRE KABILA, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that only if every Member of the United Nations strictly complied with the Charter of the Organization, would it be possible to maintain international peace and security. He welcomed the fact that the Security Council was undertaking the question of the Democratic Republic. In 1997, the brave people of his country had put an end to a corrupt dictatorship. They wanted their democratic country to resume its place among nations. He had signed the Lusaka Agreement, because he was a man of peace, and his people wanted peace.

Today, the Agreement was not working, he continued, and peace had not been achieved. Today, he was prepared to offer a hand of reconciliation to all the parties, without prejudice. However, for peace to work, it must be mutual. The Agreement had failed in its objectives, for it could not restore peace without unless it reached an immediate and complete ceasefire. It also envisioned the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of aggressor forces. His Government hoped that at the end of this week’s session, those objectives could be reached.

The presence of foreign troops on the territory of his country was contrary to the principles of the Charter, he said. Currently, together with the SADC, his Government was trying to ensure peace in the subregion. As for the arguments regarding pursuit of Interahamwes and other armed groups on the territory of the Democratic Republic, they were as fallacious as before. His Government would not align itself with people who had committed genocide. It condemned the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, as it condemned recent reports of massacres of women, children and old people. Today, it was necessary to put an end to foreign occupation, which constituted a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter.

The Government had announced a political programme for democratization of the country, and only the war had prevented it from completing it, he said. At the regional level, his Government, with the support of specialized agencies had tried to organize a conference on security and development in the Great Lakes region in the spring of 1998. Unfortunately, the Conference did not take place due to a boycott on behalf of today’s aggressors. The desire for peace, respect for human rights and democratization had led the Government to accept the holding of the inter-Congolese dialogue within the framework of the Lusaka Agreement.

The Government would support national consultations with a view to the national dialogue. It was resolved to work with anybody, so that the country could emerge from the insecurity and instability of war. The aggressors should make similar efforts to work towards peace. He welcomed the fact that the initiative on the international conference on the Great Lakes region had been incorporated into Security Council resolution 1234.

In conclusion, he assured the neutral facilitator – Sir Ketumile Matsire -- of his support and said that his country, indeed, needed the United Nations, which had long experience in the area of peacekeeping. He also supported the United Nations Mission in his country, despite some problems and misunderstandings at the beginning. His Government would do its utmost to ensure the safety and security of international personnel in the Democratic Republic, for it sought nothing but peace and stability in the country and in the region.

JOSÉ EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, President of Angola, said that the intensification and escalation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo threatened to involve more and more neighbouring countries. The country, one of the largest and richest in Africa, was ruled for many years by a dictatorship which transformed the country into a permanent base of aggression and regional destabilization. When the internal political opposition organized itself to confront the regime, the affected countries supported the forces of liberation and change for the establishment of democracy. Angola, together with Rwanda and Uganda, joined in that regional effort.

The Lusaka accords provided for a military and a political process for the solution to the conflict of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. It was important to recognize that, after the signature of the accords, significant change had occurred in the region. The new situation allowed for a better understanding of the different links between the rebel forces in the region and, at the same time, created better conditions for a rapid solution to the conflict. For that reason, the United Nations had the responsibility to position and separate the warring forces not only to uphold the ceasefire, but also to avoid new violations. To that effect, Angola requested the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces and to increase logistical and financial support.

To speed up the implementation of the Lusaka accords, the process of disarming rebel forces should be accelerated and a single national army be formed, he said. The authority of the present government should be recognized as the transitional government that would lead the country to legislative and presidential elections, under the supervision of the international community. During the political transition, guarantees of security for the installation of the rebel leaders in the capital of the country should be established. The national debate should be centred on the discussion of the provisional constitution of the Republic, electoral law and mechanisms for voter registration, as well as laws to regulate the political parties. The elected parliament should play the role of the constituent assembly and be entrusted with the responsibility of approving the constitution of the Republic.

The United Nations should commit itself to the search for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis with the same seriousness that it had pledged during crises in other countries, he added.

R.G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that the SADC allied forces had no territorial or other hidden ambitions or agendas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Indeed, the defence objective of the allies was code-named “Sovereign Legitimacy”. The SADC was there to uphold one of the most fundamental principles of the Charter, namely respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the States and non-interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country. The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a tragedy for the entire region. The SADC acknowledged that if there had been sufficient consultation in the region, the tragedy could have been avoided. Negotiations were the logical and sensible way of resolving the conflict. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was a vindication of the collective wisdom of the parties to the conflict in choosing dialogue over arms as the best way to end the conflict.

The SADC called upon the Security Council to assume its duty by immediately sending both observers and peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. To date, the Council had been slow and hesitant in welcoming and strengthening the regional peace agreement. The months that had elapsed since the signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement exposed the dangers inherent in delayed action by the Council in supporting the peace process. Despite a number of violations that had occurred in the context of the unsupervised and unmonitored Ceasefire Agreement, full-scale war had not resumed and the Agreement had continued to remain in place.

The countries of the region were disappointed and frustrated by what they perceived as the lethargic manner in which the Security Council had responded to their call for assistance and urgent action, he said. “Good intention, but no action” was the way they characterized the Council. After months of procrastination and foot dragging, they were no closer to any action by the Council on the deployment of the much needed, long-awaited peacekeeping force in the Congo. Considering the alacrity with which the questions of Kosovo or Bosnia were handled, Africa felt marginalized, neglected and segregated.

The time had come for prompt action if the Security Council genuinely desired to buttress the peace process in the Congo, he said. The Council had the unique opportunity to redeem itself and restore faith in the United Nations among the people of the Congo and Africa. He called upon the Council to heed the heartbeats of the people of the Congo. What the people of the Congo required from the session was not more talk of sending observers to their country, but the invoking of Chapter VII of the Charter and the urgent dispatch of peacekeepers to keep the peace.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, said that today’s occasion was not one in which the international community should dwell on the background to the unfortunate situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that had made the political and security situation in the Great Lakes region so precarious and fragile. Therefore, he only wanted to restate that Uganda and other neighbouring countries had legitimate security concerns, which had now been recognized by the region and the international community. The region, which had witnessed a most gruesome genocide in 1994 in Rwanda, was on the verge of yet another catastrophe of ghastly proportions as a result of the fall-out from the ouster of the murderous regimes of the late presidents Habyarimana of Rwanda and Mobutu of Zaire. The events that followed were well known. The Security Council must be cognizant of the terrorist role played by the Islamic regime of the Sudan, sometimes using the territory of the Congo with or without cooperation from Kinshasa.

Africans were not new actors on the international political stage, he continued. They had fought injustice and oppression as a united front for many years. That was one of the reasons why his country had signed the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, as a concrete framework for ending the sad events in the region. It took the Lusaka accord very seriously and challenged all the parties to do likewise, for it addressed, in a comprehensive way, all the concerns of all the parties. It addressed the long drawn-out internal problems of the Congo from the time of Mobutu, as well as the concerns of the neighbouring countries, including Uganda. It also restored the unity of Africa and promised peace and prosperity to the region. For all those reasons, his country would oppose all parties that would adopt an adventurous attitude, flouting the Agreement.

Turning to the provisions of the Agreement, he urged that the work of the Political Committee be supported by the international community and that, when a full-fledged international involvement was agreed upon, the Committee’s activities be coordinated with those of the United Nations. To address the security concerns of the neighbouring countries, a committee had been established. In that regard, he agreed with the Secretary-General that it was vital to create the conditions for a lasting peace in the subregion to include the security of the borders of the States concerned. At the appropriate time, a regional conference on peace and security must be convened. Since 1959, he said, approximately 2.5 million citizens of the contiguous countries of the Great Lakes region have been extra-judicially killed. That was something the patriots of the area had rejected for good. “We are not chickens to be slaughtered by demented political actors", he said. “We expect the international community to support us in this. That is why the Security Council was set up.'

To ensure full cooperation in the peace process, the opposition groups in the Congo should be involved in it, he said. A neutral international peacekeeping force should be deployed “as an inter-position force in the Congo”, under the auspices of the United Nations. Such a mission should be established under Chapter VII of the Charter in order to enable it to effectively deal with questions of disarmament, demobilization and the protection of civilians. All foreign troops must withdraw in accordance with a timetable to be worked out by the United Nations and the OAU, and to be supervised by the United Nations force. That aspect presupposed active cooperation of all the parties to the Lusaka accord, especially concerning the obligation to guarantee the security of the United Nations and related personnel. A national conference should be held as soon as possible, involving all Congolese political stakeholders, to determine the political future of the Congo. Uganda supported the appointment of former President Masire as the facilitator and reaffirmation of President Chiluba as a coordinator of the peace process.

Those were complex undertakings, he said. The renewal and strengthening of the peace process should provide the first concrete step forward. The regional leaders must lead the way. However, the international community also had to demonstrate clear and concrete support to the efforts that the Africans were undertaking. The response of the international community must be even-handed and not lopsided.

PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU, President of Rwanda, said a debate on the situation in the Great Lakes region, and more particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was a debate on “how we can get our act together to prevent and punish the crime of genocide, mass murder and international terrorism”. When there had been a failure to stop the genocide in his country, those who committed it got away into the now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two subsequent United Nations investigations established that those criminal elements were utilizing refugee camps and enjoying protection under international humanitarian law. It was later established that those forces, with other negative forces, mainly from Uganda and Burundi, had set up a crime-driven network of arms supply and wreaked havoc in “our countries”. Once again, there had been no action on the part of the United Nations.

He said there had been numerous efforts in the past to look for solutions at both regional and international levels and a number of Council resolutions on the matter could be recalled. The Lusaka Agreement was not an end in itself. It was meant to facilitate a process of bringing durable peace to the region. He declared his country’s commitment to the principles of the Agreement. He also wished to state that Rwanda had faithfully respected the ceasefire and regretted the many violations that had so far been committed by some of the signatories. He warned against the tendency to praise the Agreement so much that “we tend to forget that what matters is its implementation”.

He said there could be no peace and security in the region if some provisions of that Agreement were taken lightly. The question to be asked was what could the United Nations do for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. The Agreement stated that the Council, under Chapter VII of the Charter and in collaboration with the OAU, should be requested to constitute, facilitate and deploy an appropriate peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to ensure the implementation of the Agreement. Also, taking into account the peculiar situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the peacekeeping force should be mandated to track down all armed groups in that country.

The United Nations, in collaboration with the OAU, was also expected to: neutralize and remove from the Democratic Republic of the Congo all the criminal forces; neutralize and disarm armed Congolese who were non-signatory forces and civilians; organize a national army, as agreed by the Congolese parties to the Agreement; and organize an orderly withdrawal of foreign forces. On the Congolese national political agenda, the Agreement called on Congolese to engage in negotiations that would culminate in a new dispensation or new institutions comprising all the political forces of the country. His delegation was, therefore, here to urge the Council to favourably consider the request contained in the Lusaka Agreement. “You have got the capacity”, he said. "It is your responsibility. All you need is to muster the moral authority and courage to do it”.

He said the very first step for the Council was to ensure that the ceasefire held, while other mechanisms were being put in place. There were already many and predictable ceasefire violations. The proper deployment of United Nations monitors, although of paramount importance, was not a sufficient deterrent. The commitment to the Agreement could only be tested or, better, reinforced through implementation. “That is why we believe plans to deploy a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be elaborated now and not tomorrow”, he said. “We have to send a clear message to those who violate the Agreement that the other signatories will nail them to their responsibilities.”

He said, in deploying monitors, the United Nations should work closely with the signatories to the Agreement to ensure that “we know what is going on behind the lines”. He said the various representatives on the Joint Military Commission had made recommendations on a number of issues. Those issues were: the determination of humanitarian corridors, exchange of prisoners of war and working relations with the ICRC; mechanisms and procedures for disengagement; mechanisms for disarming and tracking perpetrators of crimes against humanity; and a withdrawal plan for foreign forces. Those, however, would remain a dead letter if the Council’s commitment and mandate remained vague.

He said Rwanda would have had no business in the Democratic Republic of the Congo if the problem of its security and survival as a nation had been addressed. He, therefore, called on the Council to adopt a resolution that would give comprehensive support for the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement.

SALIM AHMED SALIM, Secretary-General of the OAU, said that hardly a day passed without initiatives, measures and efforts being made by Africans to address the various challenges confronting the continent. As crucial as those efforts were, they needed to be strongly supported by the rest of the international community. The unprecedented presence of so many distinguished African leaders at today’s meeting was clear testimony to the seriousness with which Africa viewed the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also represented their hopes for greater solidarity and support by the rest of the international community, to complement Africa’s own efforts.

For its part, the OAU, working in tandem with the regional and other partners, had spared no efforts to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic, he continued. Those efforts had culminated in the signing of the Lusaka Agreement, which constituted a unique instrument for forging peace and understanding, based on the cooperation and good faith of the parties and support of the international community. In the implementation of the Agreement, the OAU worked closely with African leaders. At every stage, it also endeavoured to coordinate its efforts with those of the United Nations.

Turning to the difficulties in the process of the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, he said that the OAU had to work hard to mobilize the necessary financial and logistical support to facilitate the establishment of the Joint Military Commission at its temporary headquarters in Lusaka and the deployment of the local commissions in three out of the four identified areas within the Democratic Republic. The enthusiasm and goodwill that had been demonstrated by the partners at the time of negotiations and signature of the Agreement were not accompanied by the required level of support. The support given to the Joint Military Commission to perform its tasks had been far below the essential requirements.

The support of the African States and of the rest of the international community would also be needed for the commencement of the inter-Congolese political negotiations and dialogue, he continued. He urged the international community at large to provide the necessary political, logistical and financial support to sustain the efforts of the facilitator in assisting the Congolese parties in their search for a new political dispensation for their country. However, it was necessary to be mindful of the fact that the role of the international community was, of necessity, to be limited in scope. It should allow the people of the Democratic Republic, through an all-inclusive process, the time and space they needed to negotiate.

There was an urgent need for the effective presence of United Nations military observers and peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic, he said. In that respect, he hoped that the parties concerned would extend the necessary cooperation to facilitate such a deployment. Reported violations of the Cease-fire Agreement were a cause of concern, but the Agreement continued to hold. Moreover, the violations had not irreversibly eroded the commitment of the parties to the Agreement. Although –- being the product of compromise -- the Ceasefire Agreement was not a perfect document, it remained the only instrument of the collective will of the different parties to the conflict. Therefore, the international community had a collective responsibility to make it work. As the international community continued to insist that the parties show good faith in the implementation of the Agreement that they had freely signed, it was also necessary to assist them. Any procrastination in that respect would be to the detriment of the peace process.

Africa expected that the deliberation of the Council would result in a clear commitment for the speedy deployment of United Nations military observers and peacekeeping forces, the size and mandate of which should be commensurate with the magnitude of the crisis, he said. Indeed, the perception that the Council had been hesitant in mandating the deployment of a force for the Democratic Republic had served to undermine the speedy implementation of the Lusaka Agreement. It had also served to strengthen the conviction that there was an unfortunate imbalance in dealing with African crises. It was necessary to recognize the indivisibility of the challenges that confronted humanity, and the Democratic Republic provided a unique opportunity to match words with deeds.

Sir KETUMILE MASIRE, former President of Botswana and facilitator of the inter-Congolese dialogue, said the unprecedented session of the Council dedicated to the discussion of African issues would help alleviate suspicions, fears and concerns over the commitment of the United Nations and the wider international community to matters related to peace, security and stability on the African continent.

He said the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo represented a real threat to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. That was why the involvement of the Council was both timely and welcome. Efforts aimed at facilitating a peaceful resolution of the conflict had not been easy. However, the perseverance of all concerned seemed to be paying off at last and “we can claim to be cautiously optimistic”.

He said it was precisely in recognition of the linkage between the military and political aspects of the conflict that the ceasefire document underlined the need for inter-Congolese political negotiations. For the success of the all-inclusive inter-Congolese political negotiation leading to national reconciliation, he, as the facilitator, should be responsible for, among other things, making the necessary contacts aimed at the convening of the inter-Congolese political negotiations within an environment conducive to all participants.

He said he was under no illusion that the negotiations would be anything but difficult and arduous and he could not claim to have answers to the problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the current time. Also no one in the international community should be so presumptuous as to think they knew more about what was best for the Congolese themselves. “I have come to the process with an open mind” but a strong determination to help the people of the Congo shape their own destiny.

He said the most critical challenge to facilitating the political dialogue would be to determine the nature and content of the dialogue, establish the criteria for participation, and determine how to organize the infrastructure that would provide the necessary backstop for negotiations. The current pronounced goodwill of the international community should be translated into concrete assistance. International pressure should continue to be exerted on all the parties to remain committed to resolving problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through peaceful means.

In addition, he said for the inter-Congolese dialogue to succeed, the international community should continue to provide all the requisite resources necessary for the successful completion of the peace process. "If we falter in this regard, then the entire peace process will be in jeopardy", he warned.

THEO-BEN GURIRAB, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Namibia, said that today’s meeting was a historic one. By their presence, the leaders of Africa were demonstrating their collective determination to do everything possible to inject a fresh momentum into the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Notwithstanding problems and uncertainties, everyone wanted “the bleeding and crippling bickering to end forthwith and be replaced by partnership, re-dedication and comprehensive and durable peace". The whole of the Great Lakes region needed peace and rebirth.

Continuing, he urged the Security Council to act on the recommendations of the Secretary-General. The rotation of the Council’s Presidency did not nullify continuity of its previous undertakings. Namibia, as a member of the Council, would certainly play its part to ensure that vital focus. In search of practical and lasting solutions, it was necessary to keep in mind the important views and concerns expressed in today’s debate. Destabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would do nothing but harm in Africa, and particularly to the immediate neighbours. Regardless of the frustrating and needless delays, the Lusaka Agreement was presenting a political solution. Now was the time for peace and for a new beginning in the Democratic Republic.

Last July, he continued, the African leaders at the last Summit of the OAU in the twentieth century had eloquently and forcefully emphasized the sanctity of African life, and called for an end to military coups in favour of democratic elections. They also resolved that 2000 would be Africa's year of peace, security and tolerance. To that end, they also renewed their commitment to the United Nations and its Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security and deplored unilateral use of force in international relations. Namibia shared that view.

He had resisted the urge to deal with all the burning issues and give reasons why Namibia was in the Democratic Republic, at the expressed invitation of the legitimate Government of President Kabila and in response to the request by a fellow SADC member State. However, he wanted to underscore that his country reiterated its unwavering adherence to the Lusaka Agreement, excepting the obvious need to update the timetable and the related technical modalities. It was not the negotiated and signed text of the Agreement that was the problem, but the demonstrated lack of political will on behalf of certain parties. There was also the problem of interference by some of the other interlocutors, who were not being too helpful, because they seemed to have their own hidden agendas. Clearly such acts were a blatant violation of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Joint Military Commission, which faced an acute lack of resources, should at all times consult, coordinate and act together with MONUC, he said. Whatever declaration emerged from New York, it must be clear and helpful to the peace process and not create any room for new misunderstandings or tampering with the text of the Lusaka Agreement. Most needed now was an explicit reaffirmation of the political will to move the process forward. To succeed, the facilitator would require adequate resources, as well as strong political and technical backup from the United Nations and the rest of the international community. Africa needed the same political consideration and mobilization of resources as Kosovo and East Timor. In that regard, he called for a speedy deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6789 4092nd Meeting (AM & PM) 24 January 2000

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a unique problem, which should be treated as such, he said. The resolution expected from the Council should be consistent with that requirement. It should also take into consideration the recent decisions taken by African regional leaders. In conclusion, he called upon the international community to respond generously to the United Nations Consolidated Appeal for 2000.

The Council suspended at 1:30 p.m.

When the Council resumed at 3 p.m., NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, said the Lusaka Agreement must be implemented by all concerned. Her country reaffirmed its neutral role in the search for lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and her Government was committed to assisting the Joint Military Commission by providing logistical support. He strongly urged an immediate and complete deployment of the Joint Military Commission to enable it to undertake the tasks prescribed by the Lusaka Agreement as soon as possible.

She said the Security Council should, without delay, authorize the deployment of the United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the context of the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, South Africa believed that the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force was critical to the successful implementation of the Agreement and needed the support of the international community. Any delay by the Council in carrying out its fundamental duty might lead to the worsening of the situation in the Great Lakes region. South Africa found the delay in United Nations involvement in bringing about security, lasting peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo unacceptable.

She said it was important to disarm and resettle armed groups that further compromised the security of the countries of the region. For that reason, “we believe that as a minimum requirement, the Council will conclude this Democratic Republic of the Congo week by a resolution in support of the peace process as detailed in the Lusaka Agreement”, she went on to say. Her country called on all the Congolese political and other interest groups to give their full support to Sir Ketumile Masire in his endeavour to assist with the creation of a more democratic political system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the long run, it was only the Congolese who could assist in creating a conducive atmosphere to underpin the Congolese commitment.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) and President of the Security Council, reading a message of goodwill sent to the Council by the President of Nigeria, said today demonstrated the commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was gratifying that so much time was being devoted to peace and security in Africa. The early resolution of the conflict would have a positive effect on the security of the entire subregion and would help make 2000 truly the year of peace and solidarity. The United Nations should also give concrete support to regional and continental arrangements in Africa.

LOUIS MICHEL, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said that his country fully subscribed to the efforts by the European Union. European involvement was a prime factor for the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the stabilization in the region. The return to peace and regional stability required the re-establishment of the respect for fundamental principles, clearly reaffirmed by the Lusaka Agreement. The first and foremost of them were the territorial unity and integrity of the Congo and the inviolability of its borders. Those were a prerequisite for the recovery of the Congo. At the same time, the Congo’s neighbours had the right to live in peace within secure borders, without destabilizing actions being undertaken from Congolese territory.

The other essential factor for the stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was that of national reconciliation, he continued, for which the Lusaka Agreement provided. Today’s meeting should create an unstoppable momentum leading to the full implementation of the Agreement. One should not remain passive. All parties involved must fulfil their responsibilities. The prerequisites for the successful implementation of the Agreement included the political will of the signatories and the support of the international community. The contributions pledged should be paid into the Trust Fund without delay. Also needed was a better coordination among MONUC, the Joint Military Commission and the OAU.

A peacekeeping operation to help in the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement was important, he said. To succeed, such an operation would have to be sufficiently equipped, with a clear mandate and the necessary logistical and financial resources. It was necessary to withdraw all foreign troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He urged the Council to take its responsibility in that respect. Belgium would contribute financially and logistically, both in its national capacity and with its partners in the European Union. The Council should provide sufficient protection and means of transportation and communications for the Mission. Disarmament of all armed groups was also essential, as well as the implementation of the inter-Congolese dialogue. The international community should not remain on the sidelines, while the Congolese attempted to build a political system involving all dynamic elements of society.

Turning to the concept of “African ownership”, he said that it could mean neither rejection, nor withdrawal. It must involve collaboration and partnership. The efforts of the international community should be seen within the framework of partnership with the countries of Central Africa. That partnership first of all concerned the countries of the region themselves. It was necessary to ensure that the errors committed in Rwanda were not repeated. There existed a peaceful alternative to war, based on economic cooperation and development.

SEVERIN NTAHOMVUKIYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Burundi, said the problem of security in the Great Lakes region was of utmost importance for his country. He hoped that the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement would create a climate for peace and prosperity in his country. The coalition of armed groups was creating problems not only for his country, but also for its neighbours. Burundi was ready to participate in the implementation of all the provisions of the Lusaka Agreement.

He went on to say that today, more than ever before, his country wanted to participate in the disarmament of armed groups, the voluntary repatriation of refugees, the return of former combatants to the society and normalizing the situation along its border with the Democratic Republic. In keeping with its policy of good neighbourliness, Burundi was prepared to participate in the peace process together with other signatories of the Lusaka Agreement.

ABDELLATIF RAHAL, Diplomatic Adviser to the President of Algeria, the current Chairman of the OAU, speaking on behalf of the OAU Chairman, said Mr. Holbrooke’s recent trips to Africa had enabled him to accurately assess the gravity of the situations on the continent. The countries of the region, more sensitive than others to the dangers of the Great Lakes conflict, had done a great deal to try and bring together the conditions for peaceful settlement of the fratricidal conflict. The Lusaka Agreement had paved the way for a lasting settlement to the conflict and remained the appropriate framework for settling the crisis in the entire Great Lakes region.

The Chairman of the OAU was endeavouring to promote the initiatives of the countries of the subregion and had called on all parties to respect the commitments made under the Lusaka Agreement. He had also called for frank and faithful cooperation in the implementation of the Agreement. The Chairman of the OAU had also endeavoured to make the international community aware of the many African undertakings to achieve peace, and called upon the members of that community to make a meaningful contribution to the Lusaka Agreement. Unfortunately, that appeal had met with only a timid response, so far. The peace enterprise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was suffering from a shortage of resources.

He said the OAU Chairman was continuously working with the United Nations Secretary-General. He wanted to make it possible for speedy and effective involvement of the United Nations in the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement However, today that was still not possible. Responses to date were still not commensurate with the challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, while progress today did not meet expectations, the Lusaka Agreement was an achievement that should be protected. The Agreement of today must make yesterday’s adversaries determined partners. The present cooperation in the Joint Military Commission attested to that. He hoped the Commission would be encouraged to continue its work.

He deeply deplored the recent events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had once again made victims of the civilian population. The Council tended to be selective in its approach to different conflicts. Africa expected diplomatic resolution from the United Nations.

MOHAMED SALIA SOKONA, Minister of the Armed Forces of Mali, said the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was critical and was worsening with the deteriorating military and humanitarian situation. What was to be done? he asked. The Security Council and the international community must act swiftly.

His country believed that stopping the fighting must be the top priority, since there could be no military solution to the conflict. The parties must respect the Lusaka Agreement. The United Nations must also support the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement by deploying a peacekeeping operation.

He said lasting peace and stability required peace and reconciliation among all the Congolese. His Government felt that a lasting settlement required arrangements among the parties to guarantee the future, security and development of the region. Among the critical issues that had to be addressed were: the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; ensuring security along the border; the re-establishment of the Government throughout the country; respect for humanitarian law; and the question of refugees. The convening of an international conference on peace, security and development under United Nations and OAU auspices was a welcome proposal.

LLOYD AXWORTHY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo jeopardized regional peace and undermined the already fragile prospects for stability in an African country central to the continent’s interests. It was also taking the lives of many innocent people and destroying the hopes of countless others. The conflict and turbulence in the Democratic Republic reflected many of the realities of modern war. It was clearly a human security challenge, and it was one of the most complex conflicts facing the global community. The Council’s active involvement was, therefore, indispensable.

The Democratic Republic’s territorial integrity had been contested by foreign military forces occupying vast parts of its eastern provinces, he said. Internal and external forces were thwarting dialogue on the country’s future institutions and on the path to democracy. The influence of new war economies was significant. The country’s economic development was languishing, with some of its rich endowment of resources shamelessly pilfered to support war-making. Most important, civilians were the principal victims of violence.

The people of the Democratic Republic ardently desired peace, with open and unimpeded dialogue, he said. They sought to achieve a representative government that would realize and anchor their aspirations for stability and economic development. The Lusaka Agreement was central to ending the conflict. It addressed the principal issues that needed to be resolved. The global community could and should play an active role in reviving the peace process and achieving the goals set by the Lusaka Agreement.

The time had come for the international community to assume its share of the burden, he said. The responsibility could not be contracted out to an ad hoc coalition, but must be met by collective efforts. That meant the early deployment of 500 United Nations observers, as already agreed to by the Council last November. The observers would need to be supported with a clear mandate and adequate resources. Canada would endorse the creation of a United Nations mission to assist in the implementation of a peace agreement, with a mandate including the clear provision for the protection of civilians.

The Joint Military Commission played a key part in ensuring that the Lusaka Agreement was respected, he said. Canada would contribute $500,000 to the operation of the Commission. Canada had been helping in other ways and would reinforce its efforts by providing an additional $2 million to support the peace and reconciliation process in the Democratic Republic and in the region, with $1 million earmarked for the inter-Congolese dialogue lead by Sir Ketumile Masire at the request of OAU Secretary-General Salim Salim.

The tragic problem of child soldiers demanded particular attention, he added. To consolidate peace efforts, still more concerted action aimed at war-affected children was needed. Canada would contribute $1 million to help with disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration, with part of that sum going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Commission on Child Soldiers.

PETER HAIN, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said the United Nations had failed Africa in the past. It was important not to fail it now. Lusaka was a good agreement, which provided the right formula for peace. And, it was an African agreement, which, at present, was the only solution. It was necessary to back it. He welcomed the statements by the African heads of State, who had reaffirmed their support for Lusaka principles and their commitment to their implementation. That was a strong foundation on which the international community could build.

The progress in the Lusaka peace process included the mechanisms for overseeing the implementation of the Agreement, he continued. However, the progress had still been too slow. The national dialogue was crucial for the future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He hoped that a date would be set now for the start of the dialogue. He welcomed President Kabila’s affirmation of his readiness to begin the dialogue immediately and his commitment to see that process lead to free and fair elections and lasting national reconciliation. Britain was prepared to consider further support in assisting the dialogue.

It was necessary to move forward on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the militia groups. Without such measures, Lusaka would fail. Next, it would be necessary to improve the mechanisms established by Lusaka to monitor and implement the ceasefire and eventual troop withdrawal. The Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee, the OAU and the United Nations had crucial parts to play in that regard. He encouraged them to work more closely together to drive the peace process forward. They needed to exercise leadership and to hold the parties accountable for their actions. Also, Lusaka’s implementation mechanisms would only work properly if they had proper resources. Britain had already provided funding to the Joint Military Commission. It had also provided personnel to the United Nations. He encouraged other countries to do so, too.

The humanitarian situation needed to be addressed urgently, he said. There must be access for non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies to make the assessments, in order to provide assistance. It was also absolutely crucial to agree on the next phase of the United Nations mission, which should involve the deployment of a force to monitor the ceasefire and the redeployment of troops to defensive positions. Such a force should have adequate protection and the right logistical support. It also needed to be on the ground as soon as possible.

His country reaffirmed its readiness to support a full United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as soon as conditions allowed. However, it was necessary to be clear on the mandate. The risks needed to be minimized, not just to protect individual United Nations personnel, but to sustain the international momentum. The Congo crisis was now the major challenge facing Africa, and one of the biggest ones facing the United Nations. His Government would stand with those leaders of Africa who were the peacemakers of the continent.

CHARLES JOSSELING, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie of France, said the international community was well aware of the seriousness of the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, it had to fully shoulder its responsibilities and support the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement, which was the only existing agreed instrument for achieving peace in the country. The Joint Military Commission and the Political Committee had been set up, which was a very important development, and support from regional organizations lended more credibility to the Lusaka Agreement.

The absence of an international monitoring system was due to the lack of resources and delay in the deployment of the United Nations personnel, he continued. A large number of foreign troops remained in the territory of the Democratic Republic and there were violations of human rights. Unacceptable violations of the ceasefire were deplorable. Failure to respect the calendar of the Agreement implementation was evidence of a lack of confidence on the part of the parties. At this point, France urged them to demonstrate the spirit of compromise.

He said that the international community could only support the peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic if the signatories of the Lusaka Agreement were willing to overcome their differences. That was what the leaders of the area had stated this morning. Another ingredient necessary for success was credible action on the part of the United Nations. The security aspect still needed to be further investigated, but the United Nations involvement should be large-scale. France was ready to support the deployment of the operation, but African contingents also needed to take part.

Turning to the prospects of an international conference on the Great Lakes region, he said that such an initiative would have a lasting impact, for it would go to the root of the problems. France had long suggested such a conference. It was gratifying to see that many now supported the idea. It was clear that the peace process was under way. Progress was a prerequisite for such a conference, which would form the basis for a renewed commitment of the international community to peace in the region. The Great Lakes region awaited a manifestation of international solidarity. The conference -- organized by the OAU with the United Nations support -- would produce a declaration of principles in support of a series of agreements and partnerships in the region.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the Lusaka Agreement remained the most pragmatic and practical basis for resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for peace and security in the Great Lakes region. As the most viable basis for peace and security, its implementation would require unwavering political will, sincere commitment and effective cooperation of all the signatories.

Regarding the operation and mandate for the proposed United Nations peacekeeping mission, as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, the Security Council needed to act quickly on the proposal, so that a United Nations military presence could be established without delay, he said. His Government would consider that an interim mission, in preparation for a larger and more robust peacekeeping mission. As and when necessary, Bangladesh would be ready to contribute to an expanded mission.

A more robust mission, with a Chapter VII mandate, needed to be considered for implementation of the remaining provisions of the Lusaka Agreement, including disarmament and demobilization of armed groups, monitoring and verifying withdrawal of foreign troops and securing the frontiers, he said. National reconciliation would require the re-establishment of State authority over the entire territory of the Democratic Republic and an end to the pillaging of the country’s natural resources. Full implementation of the Lusaka Agreement would provide for normalization of the security situation along common borders between the Democratic Republic and its neighbours.

Finally, as the Democratic Republic had been the theatre of several external conflicts involving the Congolese people and their neighbours, a comprehensive political settlement would be essential, he said. He supported the idea of an international conference to deal with issues relating to peace and security, post-conflict building and democracy and development in the Great Lakes region.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said his country had made its continent one of the priorities of its foreign policy. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued, at the expense of the people and the whole region. He was concerned at the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, especially in light of the refugee problem and the lack of food and health provisions. The results of untiring efforts had, in the interim, resulted in the signing of the Lusaka Agreement, which enjoyed the great support of the international community.

He looked forward to all the parties implementing the Agreement with sincerity and in seriousness. Six months had elapsed, however, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the whole region in general still hesitated. Non-implementation of the Agreement presented a real threat to the future and a return to large-scale war, he warned.

He said the international community must reiterate the importance of respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because of the complexity of the conflict, the United Nations mission to the country would be one of the most complicated for the Organization. Resolute political will was, therefore, needed to implement it.

Tunisia reiterated its willingness to participate in the mission. He called on the Council to take up its responsibilities and speed up the process. Addressing the conflict in that country would constitute a test for the Council.

ARNOLDO MANUEL LISTRE (Argentina) said since the end of colonialism, the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was the one which had the most potential to destabilize Africa. Its prolonged nature affected peace and security in the Great Lakes region, impeded socio-economic development and frustrated the rights of the 50 million people affected by the war. Today, six months after the signing of the Lusaka Agreement, the principal leaders of the region were meeting. It was time to put an end to differences and replace them with frank dialogue and sincere compromise. Now was the time for peace. The Lusaka Agreement lacked political will. The ceasefire had been violated and the redeployment of forces had not taken place. The situation was fragile.

There was no military solution to the conflict, he reiterated. The crisis was, however, essentially political. It also could not be analysed or effectively solved if one did not consider the principles of international law that came into play. Those principles addressed such issues as the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, non-intervention in its internal affairs, its territorial integrity, the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country and the illegality of obtaining territory by force. There would be no lasting peace if the security concerns of neighbouring countries were not taken into account. The conflict also had an internal dimension and the inter-Congolese dialogue to establish a democratic structure for all sectors of society was, therefore, critical.

He believed that the United Nations had a role to play and a historic responsibility to shoulder in the country. The Organization's presence must be progressive in nature. Also, all the parties involved must give guarantees related to the freedom of movement of United Nations personnel. There would be no stable solution without the promotion of democratic institution and good governance. The problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while of a military nature, were also related to development. When the appropriate circumstances permitted, a general conference on the Great Lakes region should be convened.

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