08/12/2004
Press Release
SC/8264


Security Council

5096th Meeting (AM)


Urgent need to solidify peace processes in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo,

 

say speakers in Security Council


France’s Ambassador Presents Report of Mission to Region


In a public meeting of the Security Council today on its recent mission to Central Africa, Council members and speakers from several countries of the region stressed the urgent need to solidify the peace processes in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their crucial transitional phase, particularly in light of disturbing developments in the Democratic Republic.


Introducing the report on the mission to Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Uganda from 20 to 25 November, Jean-Marc de La Sablière (France) said its purpose had been to assess the Congolese and Burundian peace processes, as well as their implications for the region.  Among the key recommendations of the mission, which had coincided with the conclusion of the Great Lakes Conference on 20 November in Dar es Salaam, the Council had stressed the need to ensure that the results of the transition process were irreversible.


Speakers today agreed that, while the holding of elections in 2005 in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would mark a crucial step in ensuring stability in those two countries and the wider region, elections were only the first step in establishing unified national governments.  Drawing attention to unfolding events in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, members expressed concern that a military incursion by the Rwandan army threatened to reignite conflict in the region.  Adoption of a presidential statement on the matter yesterday had reflected the Council’s recognition of the urgent need to stem tensions in the eastern part of the country, speakers said.


The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pleased that the Council had recognized her country’s irreversible trends towards ensuring that it became a truly democratic State, said that, notwithstanding intensive consultations between her country and Rwanda, the latter continued to threaten her country, calling into question all agreements between them.  Those threats were a deliberate attempt to maintain insecurity in the eastern part of her country, and disturb the transition and prevent the organization of elections.


She said that Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagami, had rejected the peace efforts and made a declaration of war, using as a pretext the pursuit of the negative forces in the area.  Since 1999, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been cooperating closely with Rwanda and the international community to wipe out the ex-FAR and Interahamwe elements from its territory.  Incursions by foreign forces, particularly Rwanda, called for a strict application of Article 51 of the Charter, which stipulated that nothing should adversely infringe the right to self-defence by a MemberState suffering from armed aggression.


Asserting that allegations of the presence of Rwandan troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were false, Rwanda’s representative said, however, that Rwanda did have troops deployed along the common border to counter incursions by the ex-FAR and the Interahamwe.  For 10 years, his Government had been concerned that the problem had not been conclusively addressed, and thus, for the past decade, those forces on the territory of the “DRC” had repeatedly violated Rwanda’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the form of cross-border attacks, with relative impunity.


He welcomed the Council mission’s conclusion that, as long as the problem of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe remained, it would be a source of instability in the region.  He also welcomed the mission’s recognition that the group posed a threat to the civilian population and neighbouring countries.  That was the most critical factor for his Government, and the problem must be addressed without delay.  Yesterday, he added, in a presidential statement, the Council had described as unacceptable the presence of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe in mobilized positions, which posed a direct threat to Rwanda.  That gathering threat to his country must be rapidly addressed.  He encouraged the Council to remain focused on the issue.


Burundi’s representative, welcoming the international community’s encouragement of the need to build a Burundi “for all and by all” and to prevent an all-or-nothing situation, said that the question of the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) warranted the Council’s special attention.  That rebel movement had spread hatred and violence and threatened to derail the electoral process.  He asked the Council to support the decision of the heads of State of the subregion in isolating the movement and, beyond that, providing assistance to prevent FNL leaders from sabotaging the peace process in Burundi and disrupting peace at the border, especially at the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Burundi border.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Germany, Romania, Brazil, United Kingdom, Philippines, Pakistan, Benin, Spain and Angola.


The representatives of Uganda, the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union) and Japan also spoke.


The meeting began at 9:40 a.m. and adjourned at 11:40 a.m.


Background


When the Security Council met this morning to take up the situation in Central Africa, it had before it the report of its mission to the region, from 21 to 25 November (document S/2004/934).


This fifth mission of the Council to Central Africa in as many years took place at a time when the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Burundi have decisively entered a new phase, with both countries actively preparing for elections in 2005.  The mission also took place in the context of the Council’s greater role in support of these two transitions, with the reinforcement of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) by an additional 5,900 personnel, making it the largest United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world, and the establishment of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB).


The mission found that the primary challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi were strikingly similar:  the need to accelerate implementation of the outstanding aspects of the transitional agenda to conduct credible elections that would lead to durable peace and stability.  While the contexts and circumstances of the two conflicts are different, both countries find themselves at a crucial turning point in their peace processes.  The mission noted the challenging nature of the last phase of transition, since the most difficult issues are usually deferred until the end of the process.  The leaders of the Transitional Governments of the two countries must persevere in their commitment to making the peace processes irreversible.  It is their responsibility.


At the same time, the more the leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi can do to advance the transitions in their countries the more the international community is likely to be able to assist, the report states.  International support for the election processes is likely to be crucial, including material assistance and the participation of international observers.


Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the mission recalls that the parties signatories to the 16 December 2002 Global and All-Inclusive Agreement set out the following as objectives of the transition:  the reunification, pacification and reconstruction of the country, the restoration of territorial integrity and the re-establishment of State authority throughout the national territory; national reconciliation; the creation of a restructured and integrated national army; the holding of free, transparent elections at all levels, allowing for the establishment of a democratic constitutional regime; and the establishment of structures that will lead to a new political order.  The progress achieved since last June, examined in this context, is impressive.  At the same time, the list of objectives is a reminder that tremendous challenges still lie ahead.


The mission recommends in its report that the “espace présidentiel” hold regular meetings with the International Committee in Support of the Transition (CIAT) to help prioritize priorities from the extensive road map produced by the Transitional Government.  It also now welcomes the fact that actors from the Transitional Government will engage in a dialogue with MONUC and other international partners, through the work of the three joint commissions, on issues that are fundamental to the success of the transition.  With the elections scheduled to take place in seven months, establishing structures that lead to a new political order has acquired an added sense of urgency.


Also, the mission strongly urges the Transitional Government to develop its disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement or reintegration plan, to be supported by MONUC.  As long as the problem of the ex-FAR/Interhamwe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains, it will be a source of instability in the region.  The mission, therefore, recommends that the Security Council urge possible donors of financial and technical assistance needs to help the country in the important task of military integration.  The mission further recommends that, within its current mandate, MONUC should explore with the Transitional Government and the Congolese Armed Forces short-term measures to address the problems posed by non-governmental armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and MONUC do all they can to accelerate the deployment of enhanced capabilities into the area.


Additionally, the operationalization of the Joint Verification Mechanism between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda and the implementation of the diplomatic and security aspects of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Rwanda-Uganda tripartite agreement are absolute imperatives.  The mission recommends that the Council continue to closely monitor the implementation of these agreements and to follow closely the role and activities of the States of the region to this end.  The mission also recommends that the joint commissions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi established in 2002 be reactivated, with a view to consolidating their bilateral relations.  The mission supports Burundi’s interest in joining the mechanisms agreed between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.


Turning to the situation in Burundi, the mission was impressed by the “major strides” that have been made in favour of peace under the leadership of the President of the Transitional Government.  It welcomes the spirit of reconciliation that has guided the process thus far.  From its visit, the mission took note of three main requests from its interlocutors.  First, the mission recommends that the Security Council undertake a deeper reflection on the issue of the Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL), with a view to ascertaining what additional measures could be taken against those in the movement who compromise the peace process.


Second, regarding the impunity issue, the mission recommends that the Council take urgent action on the report of the assessment mission to Burundi on the feasibility of establishing an international judicial commission of inquiry, which should be submitted to it as quickly as possible.  Third, to help alleviate poverty, it recommends that the Council proactively urge donor countries to disburse the much-needed financial aid and extend technical assistance to Burundians, as far as Burundi’s capacity to absorb this assistance permits, and to work with the Burundian authorities to expand this capacity.


The mission was satisfied to see that ONUB was playing a useful, perhaps even indispensable, role in assisting its Burundian partners in implementing the peace process.  The mission, therefore, recommends that the Council extend ONUB’s mandate.  The Council must continue to actively explore means to take action to combat impunity, which, in the absence of such action, creates environments conducive to massive human rights abuses.  All instruments available, such as the national human rights observatories, truth and reconciliation commissions and judicial prosecutions of those responsible, must be vigorously pursued.


Further, the mission notes that, despite the many concurrent challenges that remain, there has been a steady positive trend in the promotion of regional security.  Since the adoption of the Principles on Good-Neighbourly Relations and Cooperation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its eastern neighbours in September 2003, much progress has been made, leading up to the adoption of the Dar es Salaam Declaration.  The mission recommends that the Council welcome this development and encourage the participants in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to focus on the development of priorities and speedy implementation.


Introduction of Report


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) introduced the Council’s report on the Central Africa mission, noting that he would focus on the Council’s recommendations.  The mission had arrived at a time when both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi had entered into a new phase that would lead to the end of the transitions in those countries, namely elections in 2005.  It was crucial for officials in both countries to take the necessary steps so that the results of transitions would be irreversible.  As the end of the transition neared, things would become more difficult and the officials would have to act decisively.


He stressed the crucial need for Burundians and Congolese to receive the international community’s support.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an authority was in place that had brought together the main players, namely the CIAT and the joint commissions.  On the disarmament of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe, the international community had to assist the Congolese authorities in building an integrated army.  With a view to elections, the international community had to help build an integrated police as well.  Regarding Burundi, he drew attention to the need for financial assistance.


He said the mission had dealt with the question of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the presence of ex-Far and Interahamwe, as well as threats of intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Council had dealt with that question in the presidential statement adopted yesterday.


Turning to Burundi, he said the general impression of the mission was that the peace process was on track.  The spirit of reconciliation was present and on many items, the Security Council took positions along the lines suggested by the mission.  It had renewed the ONUB mandate and expressed its intention to review measures that could be taken regarding the FNL.  It had also responded to the Gatumba massacre.  The conclusion of the Great Lakes Conference had also been welcomed.  The commitments made then must be swiftly implemented.


Statements


NDUKU BOOTO (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that the Council’s mission had come at the right time -– after the first summit of heads of State had convened for the Great Lakes conference, which culminated in the solemn adoption of a declaration on peace, security, democracy and development.  For States of the region, the declaration’s adoption represented great hope for stability, peace and democracy in the region.  It stressed the political will of the leaders of those countries to start a new era of good-neighbourliness and cooperation, in order to rebuild those countries emerging from protracted conflict.  Pluralistic governance would guarantee real social and economic development.


In considering the Security Council’s report, she said she noted with satisfaction and encouragement that the Council members had recognized the progress made since it had last visited her country in June 2003, particularly the efforts made by her country, including institution building and elections preparations.  That had represented an irreversible trend aimed at ensuring that the Democratic Republic of the Congo got itself out of the quagmire and became a truly democratic State.  Council members had been reassured at the highest State level that her country was determined to hold free and fair elections according to the agreed timetables.  Unfortunately, however, and notwithstanding the progress made in intensive consultations between the delegations of her country and Rwanda, the latter country continued to use threats against the Democratic Republic of the Congo, calling into question, therefore, all agreements between them.


She said that those threats were a deliberate attempt to maintain insecurity in the Eastern part of her country, in order to disturb the transition and prevent the organization of elections.  Just after the Dar es Salaam conference, and at the time of the Council’s visit, Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagami, had rejected the peace efforts and made a declaration of war, using as a pretext the pursuit of the negative forces in the area.  Mr. Kagami had reaffirmed his determination to assume his responsibility by unleashing hostilities against the Democratic Republic of the Congo in violation of all existing agreements and contrary to the United Nations Charter.  She appealed to the noble sense of responsibility of Council members to castigate the irresponsible attitude of Paul Kagami, whose statements had been delivered barely a week after the signing of that historic declaration.


All governments of the Central African region, including Rwanda, were committed to the non-aggression pact and the restoration of lasting peace, she said.  President Kabila sought to sensitize the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about repeated acts of aggression by Rwandan armed forces.  He had described the very stages of war imposed since 1998 under the fallacious pretext of going after the ex-FAR and Interahamwe.  Since 1999, her country had been cooperating closely with Rwanda and the international community, in order to wipe out those elements from its territory.  Her Government had also based itself on the Pretoria Agreement of 2002 and the tripartite agreement with Rwanda and Uganda, signed in October 2004 in New York.  Hence, the entire legal arsenal had been drafted in keeping with the norms of international law and in favour of a peaceful settlement of the crisis.


She said that all regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, the regions in the East, wanted to live in peace and security within their borders.  Incursions by foreign forces, particularly Rwanda, called for a strict application of Article 51 of the Charter, which stipulated that nothing should adversely infringe the right to self-defence by a MemberState suffering from armed aggression.  Regarding the Council’s presidential statement, adopted yesterday, her Government intended to strengthen its security mechanisms on the Rwandan borders, in order to protect the civilians there.  The Rwandan soldiers were known for their cruelty and scorched-earth policy.  Humanitarian personnel had been alerted that displacements would have serious consequences.  She appealed to all peace- and justice-loving countries to lend unswerving support to the efforts of the international community, through MONUC, to guarantee peace, security and the establishment of democracy in her country.


FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA (Uganda) said “seeing is believing”.  The Council’s delegation to Central Africa had seen and heard what was gong on in terms of regional security.  It had returned home convinced that the region had done much to promote peace and security, and its optimism was not misplaced.  The countries of the region had assumed ownership of the work to stabilize the region, as epitomized by the events in Burundi.  Through bilateral and tripartite mechanisms, the countries of the region were addressing the issues of security, peace and development.  The international community, through the United Nations, should not only monitor closely the implementation of agreements, but should give help where necessary and remain actively involved.


He said his country had a considerable stake in the stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In order to achieve durable peace, that country needed a strong central government with a strong army to assert its authority over the entire territory.  With strong authority, issues like the alleged illegal exploitation of the country’s natural resources could be controlled.  Any threat to neighbouring countries by negative forces on the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be addressed through the existing tripartite mechanisms, as well as through bilateral and regional agreements, with the African Union’s involvement, where necessary.  In that way, the sovereignty of States of the region would be safeguarded.  His country was ready to play any role the international community might deem necessary, in terms of the peace processes under way in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


On the issue of armed groups in Ituri that were outside the transitional process, he said it was important that they were integrated in the transitional government.  His President had already informed the Council of the understanding reached between him and President Kabila on that issue.  His country did not believe in nor condone impunity; however, caution should be exercised in that regard lest the vigorous pursuit of the alleged perpetrators would drive them underground and impede the integration process.  Crime had no statute of limitation, and those involved could, if need be, always be dealt with later, once institutions of government had been strongly established.


Concerning the humanitarian situation in northern Uganda, he said his country had gone an extra mile by offering to talk to the rebels and by declaring a unilateral ceasefire in certain areas to allow them to assemble there.  The rebel leaders had not yet responded.  It was in their interest to do so.  More than 700 rebels had been trained and absorbed in Uganda’s armed forces, which was a sign of reconciliation.  Soon, rebel activity in northern Uganda would be history.


MARC NTETURUYE (Burundi) said he was pleased with the Central Africa mission, which had been the fourth consecutive visit to the subregion since 2001.  The report signalled out the challenges facing the peace process.  Dialogue between Burundians had to continue so that the widest consensus could emerge on issues governing the post-transition period.  Burundi needed peace both before and after the transition.  Council members were correct in asking Burundian partners if the political provisions under way were signs of true stability and lasting peace.  He welcomed the international community’s encouragement of the need to build a Burundi for all and by all, and to build a climate of trust and prevent an “all or nothing” situation.


The question of the FNL warranted the Council’s special attention, he said.  He was pleased that the mission had noted Burundian concern with the rebel movement, which spread hatred and violence, trying to derail the electoral process.  He asked the Council to support the decision of the heads of State of the sub region in isolating the movement and beyond that, providing assistance to prevent FNL leaders from sabotaging the peace process in Burundi and disrupting peace at the border, especially at the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Burundi border.


On the fight against impunity, he said Burundians were awaiting the United Nations contribution in that regard.  The report of the Secretariat’s assessment mission last May must be made public.  That report should be submitted to the Government of Burundi and the Council before the end of the year.  Everything should be done to set up consultations that would follow the presentation of the report.  The fight against impunity and the establishment of the rule of law were important elements for a post-transitional Burundi.


International assistance was crucial for financing elections and for implementing the reforms called for by the Arusha Agreement, he said.  He invited the Economic and Social Council special advisory group to visit the region and visit the link between “bread and peace” at a crucial time in peace process.  Without humanitarian and economic assistance, poverty, disease and employment could destabilize the situation and return the country to a state of social tension.  Elections were not an end in itself.  “The train was stubbornly moving towards the station”, with actions such as the start of demobilization at three sites, he added.


He noted that the laws of the new national defence force and national police had been adopted by the national assembly.  He welcomed ONUB’s role in the transition process, especially regarding the disarmament of the population and election supervision.  Reforms had to move forward at the same pace in order to create a dynamic that would overcome the crisis and create a ripple effect in the subregion, which was possible as long as all the countries of the subregion were part of the same dynamic.  The subregion needed to develop rapidly.


DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), on behalf of the European Union, expressed the Union’s strong concern about reports concerning the military incursion by Rwandan armed forces into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which took place only days after the Dar es Salaam Summit was concluded and the Security Council mission left for New York.  The threatening declarations made by Rwanda had had a destabilizing effect on the transition process in the Democratic Republic.  The Union condemned any violation of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic, and it called on the Rwandan Government to abide by the Declaration of Principles, to respect the sovereignty of the territory of the Democratic Republic and to withdraw its forces.  The Union called on the Transitional Government in the latter country to react with restraint to avoid a military escalation.  It called on both countries to resolve the crisis within existing mechanisms, such as the Tripartite Commission and the Joint Verification Mechanism, in close cooperation with MONUC.


At the same time, he said the European Union shared the view that the problem of the disarmament and reintegration of armed rebel groups should be urgently addressed.  The continued presence of ex-FAR/Interahamwe elements on the territory of the Democratic Republic posed a threat, first and foremost, to the local population.  The ensuing tensions risked undermining the Congolese peace process.  The Union, therefore, called on the Government of the Democratic Republic to intensify its efforts to disarm and demobilize such elements, with a view to their repatriation or resettlement.  It also encouraged MONUC to support the Government in whatever way it could.  The imminent deployment of an additional brigade to North Kivu would give additional security to the region and would increase MONUC’s capacity to prevent spoilers, both from within and outside, from derailing the “DRC” peace process.


Every chain was only as strong as its weakest link; peace and stability in the Great Lakes region would remain elusive as long as one or more of the countries of the region had not been stabilized or reached a stage where the peace process was irreversible, he stressed.  The Union, like the Council mission, had been heartened, therefore, by the progress made in the transition processes in both Burundi and the Democratic Republic.  In both countries, the focus was now on elections, to be held next year.  The situation in Burundi was particularly encouraging.  At the same time, the Union supported the mission’s recommendation to reflect deeper on possible ways to effectively prevent spoilers like Agathon Rwasa’s FNL from undermining the peace process.  Finally, the Union also agreed that, in order to prevent conflict from recurring, Burundi needed international assistance in the area of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, among others, and for reconstruction and development.


He said the Union was less optimistic about the progress in the Democratic Republic.  Despite international assistance and mechanisms, the primary responsibility for implementing the core tasks of the transition rested with the Transitional Government.  Elections should be held in 2005.  Failure to do so could destabilize the country.  The Union was very concerned about the lack of progress in recent months in key areas, such as legislation and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  On impunity, there was no peace without justice and there was no justice without the rule of law.  The recent history of both Burundi and the Democratic Republic was also a history of widespread human rights violations, as well as one of impunity.  That cycle should be broken, as peace, democracy, good governance and sustainable development were unthinkable without respect for the rule of law.  In conflict and post-conflict societies, at the very moment when the need for justice was greatest, the legal structures necessary to deliver such justice might well be absent.  National efforts, thus, should be complemented, where necessary, at the international level, including notably by the International Criminal Court.


STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda) said the mission had begun its visit one day after the historic signing of the Dar es Salaam Declaration.  His Government hoped that the process that had begun in Dar es Salaam on 20 November would culminate in genuine and durable peace, security and democracy in the Great Lakes region and the wider African continent.  He welcomed the determination of the heads of State present at the conference to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States in the region.  Allegations of the presence of Rwandan troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were false.  Rwanda did, however, have troops deployed along the common border to counter incursions by the ex-FAR and the Interahamwe.


For 10 years, his Government had been concerned that the problem of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe based on the territory of the Democratic Republic had not been conclusively addressed.  For the past 10 years, Rwanda’s sovereignty and territorial integrity had been repeatedly violated with relative impunity by those forces.  Cross-border attacks were very frequent, resulting in the loss of life and property.  Despite numerous Council resolutions, those forces continued to conduct criminal activities within their mobilized units in the Democratic Republic.  They also continued to receive military and other supplies and to recruit and brainwash an important number of the younger generation involved in their military activities.


His Government looked forward to the operation of the Joint Verification Mechanism.  Rwanda had demonstrated its commitment to that by taking the necessary steps to fulfil its obligations, including the appointment of representatives.    Concerning the situation in Bukavu and the wider Kivus, he expressed concern about the plight of the Banyamulenge people and other groups that were being persecuted and appealed to the Council to ensure that their rights and freedoms were upheld and those forced to flee were allowed to return home.


Turning to the situation in Burundi, he welcomed progress in the transition process.  Rwanda supported all measures to ensure long-term peace, stability, democracy, power-sharing, and justice, and would continue to support the transitional process.  The Rwanda Government believed that strong measures were needed against the FNL following its actions in Gatumba, which had resulted in the death of some 160 refugees.  He welcomed the mission’s conclusion that, as long as the problem of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe remained, it would be a source of instability in the region.  He also welcomed the mission’s recognition that the group posed a threat to the civilian population and neighbouring countries.  That was the most critical factor for his Government, and the problem must be addressed without delay.


He noted that, in the presidential statement adopted yesterday, the Council had described the activities of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe as unacceptable.  The presence of those forces in mobilized positions posed a direct threat to Rwanda and was unacceptable.  Those forces presented a gathering threat to Rwanda and must be rapidly addressed.  Elaborate plans had been drawn up.  While Rwanda fulfilled its commitments, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had yet to fulfil its commitment to disarm the ex-FAR and Interahamwe.  He thanked the Council and encouraged it to remain focused on the issue for the quick establishment of peace and stability.


SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said the mission had encouraged African ownership of peace and security at a critical moment for the region.  The disturbance in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had seriously damaged prospects for achieving peace and stability in the region.  Japan was deeply concerned about the reported incursion of Rwandan troops across the border of the Democratic Republic.  The facts must be urgently established in that regard, as the event, if it had actually occurred, jeopardized the Council’s efforts.  Rwanda’s Government should first have recourse to such political means as the Joint Verification Mechanism or the Tripartite Commission to address its security concerns.  At the same time, the disarmament of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe in the Democratic Republic must be accelerated.


In that regard, he urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to make every possible effort to disarm and repatriate those soldiers as expeditiously as possible, in cooperation with MONUC, and with newly deployed brigades, in particular.  On Burundi, it was important for all parties to make further efforts to advance the process in accordance with the newly established schedule, so as to enable the indirect election for the new President to be held and, thus, complete the process next April.  He condemned the FNL for continuing to reject the peace process and strongly condemned the Gatumba massacre.  Such a tragedy must never be repeated in the region.  In that regard, he welcomed Burundi’s intention to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.


Based on the experience gained through the mission, the Council should seek to conduct more in-depth discussion on how peacekeeping operations could contribute to making the elections successful and then to draw down in accordance with a clearly defined exit strategy.  Regarding allegations of sexual abuse, he said that all information should be disclosed and strict disciplinary measures taken at once.  He could not overstate the importance of a regional approach for peace and stability of the Central Africa region.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) wished it had been possible to call the mission a complete success, but reports of the military operation of Rwandan troops in the eastern Congo and the ensuing controversy between the two Governments had demonstrated a lack of confidence, or simply distrust.  Yesterday’s reaction by the Security Council, in the form of a presidential statement, should be a very clear warning to Rwanda.  The intention stated by Rwanda to conduct a calibrated action within 14 days against the ex-FAR/Interahamwe might read as a widening conflict and seriously threatened the fragile transition process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  That Government also had a role to play, particularly to do more to disarm those troops.  Only a sustained and serious military effort of the Congolese Army would yield success in that regard.  The Democratic Republic must also offer a climate conducive to returning refugees.


He said that, although the Council mission had dealt primarily with the Great Lakes conflict, its members had spoken with Uganda’s President about the conflict in northern Uganda and about the humanitarian crisis there.  The Council should keep that conflict on its agenda and encourage a peaceful solution.  Although the Council was sometimes frustrated by developments in the Great Lakes region, it should always bear in mind that efforts to achieve a lasting peace were aimed at populations longing desperately for a normal life in a stable environment.  The mission had met many courageous and dedicated personalities from all walks of life who devoted their lives to ending impunity, building bridges between ethnic groups and forging reconciliation and participation.


GHEORGHE DUMITRU (Romania) welcomed the mission’s specific outcomes, which had proved the value added of such Council instruments.  The Council had stressed the ongoing commitment to peace and security in a key region of Africa.  Direct contact with stakeholders had improved understanding of the facts on the ground.  The mission had also been able to assess first-hand the excellent job done by the two United Nations operations, namely MONUC and ONUB.


Taking into account the challenges to be met before the 2005 elections, he noted that the mission had stressed the need for the parties to speed up the adoption of decisions and steps in that regard.  Romania stressed the primary responsibility of the political leaders, not only to their peoples, but also to neighbouring States.  The mission had also adopted a regional approach, which was necessary for promoting common issues of peace and security.  Progress in the transitional process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi was fragile, and was characterized by a lack of trust in the domestic political atmosphere and in relations among the various stakeholders.


Welcoming the recent Dar es Salaam Declaration, he noted that confidence-building was one of the priority principles of the first section of the Declaration.  Clearly, in light of discussion conducted by the Council mission and subsequent events, that priority must be put into practice.  He shared the broader vision of the mission to look beyond the organization of the 2005 elections.  While in the short term, primary energy should be focused on that goal, elections were not an end in themselves.  Stability, peace and security would be subject to what happened during the post-transition phase.  He supported the mission’s recommendations.


HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) reiterated his delegation’s support for the nature of such Council missions.  They offered an invaluable opportunity for obtaining better and deeper knowledge on specific issues and situations, and directly conveyed the Council’s commitment to advancing peace in war-torn regions.  He had been encouraged by the progress, particularly in Burundi, but also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially with respect to the conduct of elections according to agreed calendars in 2005.  At the same time, he had also noted the logistical concerns highlighted by local authorities, which might delay those electoral processes.  If necessary, all parties must agree on new dates, but any delay should be considered only as a last resort.  The mission had also recognized that progress achieved in the political and security sectors could not be sustained without progress in the social and economic spheres.  The Council should devote further attention to promoting and coordinating international efforts aimed at fostering development in Burundi.


He said that the decision taken by Rwanda to launch a series of operations could easily undermine the Congolese peace process.  The mission had had an opportunity to witness the concerns prompted by the presence of foreign armed troops in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Council was aware of remaining problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo peace process and should continue to back efforts being made by the Congolese authorities, with MONUC’s support, to disarm and demobilize foreign armed troops.  Yesterday’s presidential statement by the Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda had been a further step in reflecting that body’s interest in establishing regional peace and stability.  He supported the recommendations in the mission’s report.  Underlining a few, he drew attention to, among others, the request for the international community to assist in advancing the transition processes in Burundi and the Democratic Republic, and the call for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic to implement expeditiously the joint verification mechanism already agreed upon by both parties.


ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the mission’s efforts had been about peace for ordinary people.  The mission had met impressive representatives of civil society.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, civil society clearly wanted elections and peace through elections in 2005, making essential the rigorous pursuit by the Democratic Republic’s Government of the road map.  It required the “espace présidentiel” -– the President and his four Vice-Presidents -- to work together and with parliament.  It also required cooperation with the international community, especially CIAT.  All three joint commissions of the Democratic Republic’s Government with CIAT should get under way.  In that regard, he welcomed President Kabila’s assurance that all three would be up and running before the end of the year.


Regarding MONUC, he said the issue of sexual exploitation should be gripped hard and immediately.  Rapid action by the United Nations and troop-contributing countries was essential.  It was also essential that MONUC use its enhanced resources effectively, focusing on security sector reform and elections.  It would be extremely demanding for MONUC in 2005.  The international community’s work in the area of security sector reform should be catalysed and early attention given to the election process.  He welcomed early recommendations for MONUC and the Secretary-General on election support.


On the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said instability in that part of the country impacted the entire Great Lakes region.  To address that problem, leaders in the region must collaborate and not use threats and inflammatory language.  Threats from Rwanda even during the mission were unacceptable.  As long as the problem of ex-FAR and Interahamwe existed, it would be a source of instability in the region.  The Government of the Democratic Republic and MONUC had a plan for ensuring the disarmament of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe, which needed to be accelerated.  Progress in the Kivus and Ituri depended on the construction of a Congolese national army and disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation and resettlement.


Turning to Burundi, he noted that, while the country faced a demanding election schedule, the mission was confident that it could be achieved.  But, elections were not an end in themselves.  Attention to the post-election environment was essential.   He welcomed the fact that the Council had been able to discuss with President Museveni ways to find a solution to the conflict in northern Uganda.  There had been encouraging step in that regard, and the Council must continue to focus on the situation.


BAYANI MERCADO (Philippines) said the recent mission had been a manifestation of the Council’s continued concern over the situation in the region.  Its timing had taken on greater significance in the wake of the conference in Dar es Salaam; the two events had complemented each other.  Just as 11 heads of State had committed to the peace processes in the region, the Security Council and the international community should also express the same solid support, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Burundi.  He had been pleased that the transition processes were proceeding in both countries.  He was also encouraged that their leaders were accelerating efforts towards the convening of elections and rendering the peace processes irreversible.  The leadership should also underscore respect for the fundamental principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-interference and non-aggression.  The Council and the international community should continue to strongly impress on the leaders that cross-border issues must be solved through available mechanisms at all levels, in the spirit of dialogue and cooperation.


Mindful of the importance of economic development and social issues, he said that the Council should press the international community, particularly donors, to extend the necessary financial and technical assistance to those countries to offset poverty.  In Burundi, the leadership had repeatedly stressed the direct link between peace and development.  He reiterated the view that elections were not the “be all and end all” of the peace process; a post-election scenario, as well as election preparations, was just as important.  The region also needed assistance for its 127 million people struggling to cope with conflict, repeated displacements and other scourges, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  The Council should be ready to contribute its share to major peacekeeping operations in the region.  He commended MONUC and ONUB for their constructive roles in cementing the peace processes.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the mission had reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to peace and security in that important region.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the main challenge was to continue to support the peace process.  Efforts should continue to ensure that the Transitional Government functioned as a unified national government.  Effective efforts had to be made to disarm local and foreign armed groups, including ex-FAR/Interahamwe, which remained outside the political process.   Measures to support a smooth transition needed to be accompanied by measures to support the Democratic Republic’s national institutions.  Regional stability was crucial for promoting the transition process in that country.  He attached great importance to respect for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of all States.  International borders were inviolable.  Rwanda should withdraw any forces in the Democratic Republic and exercise restraint in its actions and pronouncements.  The threat of the ex-FAR also needed to be addressed.  In that regard, he suggested the development of a more effective strategy to disarm such groups.


In Burundi, he noted that the transitional process, despite challenges to it, was moving in the right direction.  The threat posed by the FNL and its cross-border links with other extremist forces, would have to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.  The ongoing build-up of MONUC should, among other things, enhance security and stability in the region.  The deployment of Pakistan units on both sides of the border would enhance coordinated peacekeeping activities.


The illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic was a root cause of instability in the region, he added.  The Democratic Republic was too big, too rich and too weak.  The illegal exploitation of the resources was funding the campaign of violence and the profits of such exploitation ended up in coffers far away from the region.  Until the rape of the country’s resources stopped, it would be difficult to promote peace and prosperity.  Peace and development were indivisible.  Without sustained international commitment, conflict could be a recurring feature in the Great Lakes region.  Effective regional mechanisms for dispute resolution were needed in accordance with the United Nations Charter.


JOEL ADECHI (Benin) said he fully shared the analysis of the French Ambassador with respect to recent events in the subregion and the peace processes under way there.  The Council’s message had been clear and had expressed the international community’s willingness to accompany the peace processes.  He hoped the message had been well-heeded and understood.  The most important challenge to be addressed in both Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been the importance of honouring the election timetable and the establishment of the necessary institutions.  The question of ex-FAR/Interahamwe should also be followed carefully by the Council.  The international community should find a practical and urgent solution to that problem, with a view to holding peaceful elections throughout the entire territories of the Democratic Republic and Burundi.  Also, Rwanda should finally receive a security guarantee, necessary at its shared border with the Democratic Republic.


In that regard, he said, the Joint Verification Mechanism should become operationalized immediately, along with the tripartite mechanism with Uganda.  The presence of ex-FAR and other armed groups must also be addressed from the point of view of the subregional involvement.  The Council should discuss further the question of the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of ex-FAR and Interahamwe.  The principle of their disarmament and demobilization was now accepted.  On the question of genocide, he believed that it was critical to look at the human rights dimension of that problem.  The several international forums considering that question should adopt the approach of individual responsibility, rather than the wholesale condemnation or demonization of a political movement, or armed or ethnic group.


He stressed that finding a solution to the threat of the presence of ex-FAR should be considered within the framework of the bilateral and trilateral joint mechanisms that had already been set up.  Parties must, meanwhile, refrain from any unilateral action, as only such constraint would show a true commitment to the objective of stabilizing the region.  The international community could help find ways to combat impunity and deal more carefully with curbing the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially since that phenomenon had implications, not only for security, but for corruption and governance.  The Council should closely follow implementation of the conclusion of its Central African mission, for which a quarterly review might be a good idea, including for brining pressure to bear on the parties.


JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said the mission had taken place at a complex time, when key States in the region found themselves in a crucial phase of the transitional processes.  Regarding the process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he stressed the need for Congolese political forces to reach agreement on a constitutional text, as well as pending legislative texts for the holding of elections in June 2005.  Security sector reform, namely the establishment of unified armed forces and political sector reform, was also of particular importance.  The holding of elections required certain safety conditions.  The deployment of contingents made up of Congolese integrated forces was crucial for establishing stability in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Regarding Burundi, he said the Burundian authorities, with the support of the international community, must tackle such issues as the approval of pending legislative texts and progress in the demobilization process.  Elections, while necessary, should not be considered an end in and of itself.  Once the transitional process ended, an important new phase would begin, in which the governments emerging from the elections would have to work to promote peace and development.  The period following the first elections following a conflict raised important challenges.  Victors must place national interests before personal interests.  It was crucial that the States involved should use mechanisms to promote trust and cooperation within the entire region.  Central African countries were facing challenges at both the national and international level.  He trusted the Council would continue to support the processes under way.


ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that the mission had spoken with one voice and acted as a team.  Likewise, the regional leaders had been very attentive to the messages of the Council.  The mission took place at a crucial moment, as the sustainable peace and stability in both Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would depend mostly on achievements reached by the main national actors and the international community during the transitional period.  He was deeply concerned about developments in the Democratic Republic.  Countries of the region must avoid any action that was contrary to the spirit of the Dar es Salaam declaration, which stated their full support for the national peace processes in the region.  The declaration had also committed those countries to refrain from any acts, statements or attitudes likely to have a negative impact on those processes.


He said that, while visiting Rwanda and the Democratic Republic, the issue of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe was fully discussed at the appropriate level.  In both countries, those forces were recognized as a source of regional instability.  There was a common understanding on the need to find a solution.  A long-lasting solution could be found through dialogue and the operationalization of existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, as the Joint Verification Mechanism and the Tripartite Agreement, as well as full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of countries of the region.  The ongoing enhancement of MONUC’s presence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the development of a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan by the Congolese authorities, and their joint exercise with MONUC to repatriate Rwandan armed elements, all had the same objective of resolving that issue.  The use of legal instruments, such as arms embargoes, and the international community’s more proactive attention to the exploitation of natural resources, would also contribute.


The countries of the region should refrain from any action that might exacerbate the already volatile situation and fuel tension among local communities, he stressed.  On Burundi, it was important that the international community adopt a concerted position on the FNL Rwasa question, in conformity with the position of the countries of the region, which had classified FNL as a terrorist group.  Everything possible should be done to ensure that elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi constituted a source of new hope, and not the beginning of a new cycle of violence.  It was important, therefore, that the elections not be considered an end in themselves.  Power sharing in the post-electoral period should be central to the political strategies of those two countries.


Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were countries that had more to share than to divide them, taking into account their histories and the traditional ties of their peoples, he said.  The Government of Burundi should be requested to join the bilateral and trilateral mechanisms, which deserved the full attention of the countries concerned and of the Security Council.  He fully supported the report’s analysis, which contained elements that would help the Council work jointly with the authorities of the countries, as well as of the region and subregion.  That would render the mission’s usefulness more relevant and timelier than ever.


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