|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5603rd Meeting (PM)
IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL CONGRATULATES GREAT LAKES REGION
LEADERS ON SIGNING OF SECURITY PACT
Also Welcomes Decision to Establish Follow-Up Mechanism
For Region, Conference Secretariat in Bujumbura, Burundi
In the wake of the successful 11-nation African summit in Kenya’s capital last week aimed at stabilizing a region long plagued by violent armed conflict, persistent insecurity, massive human rights violations and underdevelopment, the Security Council today congratulated the regional leaders on signing the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, heralding it as an important cornerstone in the architecture for peace and prosperity in the region.
In a statement read out by the Council President for the month, Jamal Nasser al-Bader (Qatar), the Council commended the countries of the region for the successful conclusion of the second summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Nairobi on 15 December, and welcomed the decision to establish a regional follow-up mechanism to include a Conference Secretariat and to establish its offices in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The Council supported the request of the regional inter-ministerial committee to extend the mandate of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for a final period of three months, until 31 March 2007, with a view to ensuring “regional ownership” of the follow-up mechanism and successfully completing the transition to the Conference Secretariat. It appealed for international assistance for the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development in the region and for implementation of the Pact by the parties.
Prior to issuing the statement, the Council heard two briefings on the situation in the region, by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Ibrahima Fall, and the First Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Liberata Mulamula, and held an open debate.
Heralding the 15 December Nairobi Pact as historical and political, diplomatic and substantive, and forward-looking, Mr. Fall said the summit had been a convergence of efforts to turn the page on what, for decades, had seemed like an inevitable spiral of violence, conflict, war and humanitarian and social tragedy. Turning that page of desperation in order to open a new one of regional and national stability had been the result of a new and proactive vision of both Governments and non-governmental stakeholders from the entire region.
It should be remembered, however, that 6 of the 11 countries in the region had emerged from violent conflicts; a seventh was still confronted by a regional rebellion; and an eighth was trying to implement three peace agreements simultaneously, he stressed. The Security Council itself knew that the nature of interrelations between peoples and countries of a region meant that an internal conflict could easily become regional. It must be ensured, therefore, that the United Nations continued to play a role of peacemaking and peacebuilding in the Great Lakes region, and there must be continued close cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations at this crucial time in the region’s history.
Ms. Mulamula, noting that the Security Council had been instrumental in convening the International Conference, appealed to the 15-member body to extend the Office of the Special Representative until March 2007 to assist the new Conference Secretariat by providing technical support and allowing a smooth handover of the residual responsibilities. The new Secretariat had unique challenges to meet, particularly in reconstruction, and a wide range of actors to engage. It had been formed by the very ravaged and impoverished countries newly emerged from war. The region’s future lay in implementing the Pact, and the Secretariat would hold high the values of ownership, partnership and complementarity that had guided the Great Lakes region peace process thus far.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, noting that the Council had been seized with issues of the Great Lakes region for more than 10 years, acknowledged the its role in shepherding the peace processes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and Central African Republic. Rwanda was no longer on the agenda; Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had had democratic elections; and a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was being implemented in Southern Sudan. Once implemented, the Nairobi Pact would be an indispensable partner of the Security Council in maintaining peace and security in East and Central Africa. It bore all the hallmarks of what the United Nations stood for in pursuit of peace, security, development and respect for human rights to attain larger freedom in a comprehensive manner.
The 11 core countries should congratulate themselves for successfully brining the preparatory process of the International Conference to its logical conclusion, Rwanda’s speaker asserted. Some powers had formerly seen the summit process as a vehicle to bestow a new political acceptability to the forces that had committed genocide in Rwanda, but, by working together, the region had said “no”. The region now had before it agreements to deal collectively with those who wanted to destabilize their neighbours. The region had also agreed to cooperate in combating impunity by bringing the “genocidaires” to justice. In short, the Great Lakes’ leaders had committed themselves to advance the agenda for peace, by laying an important cornerstone in the architecture for peace in the region.
Also speaking were the representatives of Japan, France, Denmark, Slovakia, United States, Ghana, United Kingdom, Congo, Argentina, Russian Federation, China, Peru, Greece, Qatar, Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Democratic Republic of the Congo and Canada.
The meeting was called to order at 3:23 p.m. and adjourned at 6:10 p.m.
The complete text of the presidential statement (document S/PRST/2006/57) reads as follows:
“The Security Council commends the countries of the Great Lakes region for the successful conclusion of the second summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Nairobi, Kenya on 15 December 2006.
“The Security Council congratulates regional leaders on the signing of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, and welcomes their commitment to its implementation.
“The Security Council further welcomes the decision to establish a regional follow-up mechanism, to include a Conference Secretariat headed by the first Executive Secretary, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula of the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the decision to establish the Offices of the Conference Secretariat in Bujumbura, Burundi.
“The Security Council pays tribute to the joint AU/UN secretariat, the Friends of the Great Lakes Region co-chaired by Canada and the Netherlands, the United Nations lead agencies, the African Union, the European Union, the African Development Bank and the international community for their support and assistance to the International Conference process.
“The Security Council also pays tribute to the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, Ibrahima Fall, for their support, commitment and effective facilitation of the process leading to the convening of the second summit and the signing of the peace Pact.
“The Security Council supports the request of the regional inter-ministerial committee to extend the mandate of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for a final period of three months, until 31 March 2007, with a view to ensuring regional ownership of the follow-up mechanism and completing successfully the transition to the Conference Secretariat
“The Security Council appeals to the countries of the region, Group of Friends, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, and the international community to consider providing assistance to the Conference Secretariat and the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development in the Great Lakes Region to support implementation by the parties of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.”
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Opening the debate, IBRAHIMA FALL, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, hailed the 15 December Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, adopted at the Nairobi summit on the Great Lakes region, as historical and political, diplomatic and substantive, and forward-looking. As for its historical and political aspect, the summit in Nairobi had been the result of a convergence of efforts to turn the page on what, for decades, had seemed to be an inevitable spiral of violence, conflict, war and humanitarian and social tragedy. Turning that page of desperation in order to open a new one of regional and national stability planned by Governments and non-governmental stakeholders from the entire region had been the result of a new and proactive vision.
He said that the countries of the region had been, without a doubt, the prime actors and would be the first to gain rewards from that great event. The “Group of Friends” of the region, with their technical and diplomatic support, had also been outstanding. With them, the Security Council, since the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and through an active ongoing policy, had backed the various attempts to settle the conflicts diplomatically, provided instructions for the deployment of several peace operations in the region and critically and actively supported the implementation of peace agreements, as well as the Governments, institutions and transitional mechanisms that had been established in their wake. Indeed, the Council had consistently exercised its influence on the course of national and regional events.
In fact, he said, the United Nations had led the preparations for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Now, there was a common desire to ratify the Conference’s summit outcome –- the Pact -- speedily and respecting its spirit and letter, particularly the decision to immediately establish the political mechanisms to follow-up the Pact within the coming three months, along with the Conference Secretariat with a headquarters in Burundi. The collective political will had been evident both in the outcome and throughout the preparatory process, through the inclusion of governmental authorities with non-governmental actors, including young people, women, civil society, the private sector, religious organizations and others. Those actors had contributed at every level and many had already drafted strategies to implement the Pact or set up autonomous follow-up committees. The principle of inclusion had also been manifest through the involvement of regional organizations throughout the preparations.
Implementation of projects had already begun, and the plan now was to conclude a memorandum of understanding between the future Secretariat of the Conference and the secretariats of the various regional institutions, he said. In addition to the guidelines provided by the Security Council and the political will of Governments and the people of the region, the support of development partners had been the other major instrument making it possible to implement the goals of the preparatory process. During the Nairobi summit, the development partners had welcomed the signing of the Pact, which they hailed as a forum with the potential to promote regional peace, security and development. There had been widespread agreement on the need to maintain the regional momentum created during the preparations, he added.
He explained that the Pact had 5 key bases and 10 protocols. Those protocols concerned, among other things, non-aggression and mutual defence, human rights and the prevention and suppression of genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of war. The Pact further emphasized the collective humanitarian responsibility to protect civilian victims of violent conflicts and address systematic human rights violations that had characterized the region, and their attendant consequences -- human internal displacements and massive exoduses of refugees across national boundaries. The Pact also sought to curb the illegal exploitation of natural resources. The programmes of action concerning peace and security had identified several priority projects, including the joint management of common border security, disarmament, the promotion of development, the creation of common border zones, de-mining, action against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and combating transnational organized crime.
Despite the recent historic gain, it should be remembered that 6 of the 11 countries in the region had emerged from violent conflicts; a seventh was still confronted by a regional rebellion; and an eighth was trying to implement three peace agreements simultaneously, he stressed. Recalling too that, when the Security Council had called for an international conference on the Great Lakes region it had highlighted that the nature of interrelations between peoples and countries of a region meant that an internal conflict could easily become regional, he said it must be ensured, therefore, that the United Nations continued to play a role of peacemaking and peacebuilding in the region. There must be close cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations at the present crucial time in the region’s history.
LIBERATA MULAMULA, First Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, said that the Council had played an instrumental role in the convening of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. That process had eventually led to the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which had set a vision and mission that needed to be translated into concrete action.
She said that the Declaration spelled out what could constitute the “road map” for the Conference Secretariat, whose enormous tasks included putting into place legal, financial and administrative processes for implementing the Pact. Also among its tasks was the recruitment of competent staff and mobilization of resources for start-up of the Secretariat in Bujumbura. She appealed to the Council to extend the Office of the Special Representative until March 2007 to assist the new Conference Secretariat by providing technical support and allowing a smooth handover of the residual responsibilities.
She also reiterated the plea of the Heads of State and Government for the United Nations and African Union to continue their support for the new Conference Secretariat for at least one year. That meant requesting the United Nations to continue to provide the technical expertise, as well as financial support in partnership with the African Union and the Group of Friends, as done in the first phase of the International Conference process.
She said that the new Conference Secretariat was unique in the challenges it was supposed to meet, particularly reconstruction, and the wide range of actors it was supposed to engage. Of importance was the fact that it was formed by the very ravaged and impoverished countries that had come out of the wars. The region’s future lay in implementing the Pact. He pledged his readiness to work with the Council in working towards sustainable peace and stability in the region. The Conference Secretariat would continue to hold high the values of ownership, partnership and complementarity that had guided the Great Lakes region peace process thus far.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the long-awaited and meticulously prepared Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, signed by the 11 countries of East and Central Africa in Nairobi, Kenya on 15 December, had been the culmination of an inclusive two-year process whose vision and foundation had been the 2004 Dar es Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development. The Pact had provided a legal and political framework for the peaceful coexistence, cooperation and sustainable development among the Conference members.
Recalling that the Council had been seized with issues of the Great Lakes region for more than 10 years, he wished to recognize the Council’s role in shepherding the peace processes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, the Sudan and the Central African Republic. Rwanda was no longer on the agenda; Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had had democratic elections; and a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was being implemented in Southern Sudan. Although northern Uganda was not on the Council’s agenda, the Council was concerned about the political and humanitarian situation there and, for that reason, it was following with keen interest the peace talks between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The Great Lakes Conference would be an indispensable partner of the Security Council in maintaining peace and security in East and Central Africa once the Pact was ratified and implementation began, he said. It had a promising future for the peace agenda in Africa, and was an edifice standing on four pillars. The first was peace and security, based on renouncing the use of force, settling disputes peacefully and banning insurgent activities on each other’s territory. Peace and security was also viewed as a basis for sustainable development. The second pillar was political stability, based on democratic principles, the rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance. The third was development in support of peace and security and democratic institutions. The Great Lakes had been designated as a specific reconstruction zone with a special fund from Member States and the international community. The fourth pillar was international cooperation and partnership, in the maintenance of peace and security, economic and social development and environmental sustainability, for which the United Nations and the African Union were foremost partners in that endeavour.
He said that the International Conference had drawn its mandate and strength from the inclusive nature of its stakeholders, which included civil society, women, youth, the business community and various levels of governmental participation. All of those had converged in a special follow-up mechanism to ensure accountability in implementation and delivery of peace dividends. The new institution in Africa bore all the hallmarks of what the United Nations stood for in pursuit of peace, security, development and respect for human rights to attain larger freedom in a comprehensive manner. “We should give this institution unqualified support,” he urged.
JIRO KODERA ( Japan) said that, despite the difficulties of rescheduling, the second summit had been convened and the Pact on Stability signed. Japan, as a member of Group of Friends of the Great Lakes region, welcomed such a successful outcome. The pact included non-aggression and a mutual defence protocol. As a comprehensive security agreement, it was an epic accomplishment. It had also resulted in increased protocols to increase democracy and promote economic development and regional integration. At the February conference in Japan, the importance of ownership on the part of African countries and the need for a comprehensive approach had been reiterated. He welcomed the Pact, particularly because it reflected that.
He welcomed the establishment of the regional follow-up mechanism, into which the mandate of the Special Representative for the Great Lakes region should be incorporated. To help consolidate peace in the region, Japan had extended more than $400 million in assistance to Africa since 2002. To contribute to the process, it had made special efforts in economic development, agriculture, social development and education. Besides economic assistance, it had been engaging in political dialogue with countries concerned. He reaffirmed Japan’s intention to give all possible support to such efforts so lasting peace and stability might be obtained.
OLIVIER LACROIX ( France) said the holding of the second summit had been an important event that would result in lasting returns for peace in the region. The resolution of conflicts in the region involved national peace processes that the United Nations had assisted in recent years in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Regional cooperation was needed, however. The high-level segment at the Nairobi summit had showed that the concern of States to promote that cooperation in the spirit of the United Nations Charter was strong.
He stressed two areas of major cooperation, including the issue of security. The Council had often noted that many security problems in the region had a transborder dimension. All States had an interest in cooperating for economic development and to make the best of their natural resources. Ownership in terms of security was essential. The African Union and the United Nations had provided significant support to the organization and holding of the two summits. It was the continuation of the commitment of States to the region, however, that would make the approach successful. France welcomed the resolve of the countries of the Great Lakes region to meet their common challenges.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ ( Denmark) said that the adoption of the Peace, Stability and Development Pact was encouraging and could be a useful contribution to advancing the peace and security agenda of the region. She hoped to see strong commitment from the core countries regarding implementation and establishment of an efficient follow-up mechanism, with regional actors in the lead. The current situation in the Great Lakes region was promising; however, the situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was still very difficult, and the continuing deterioration of the situation in Darfur and its spillover to neighbouring countries were causes of great concern. They constituted a significant threat to international peace and stability in the larger region.
She said that the positive developments were to a large extent a consequence of the improved neighbourly relations and the close cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. Despite that progress, the need for protection of civilian populations continued to be immense throughout the region. Governments had the primary responsibility to protect their own populations. If they failed to do so, they left that responsibility to the international community.
In order to secure long-term stability and respect for the rule of law, all States concerned must bring to justice perpetrators of violations of human rights and international law. Impunity should not be the order of the day, and all States must cooperate with international courts, including the International Criminal Court, to facilitate investigation, and assure apprehension and surrender of suspects. Where the United Nations was engaged, it should be part and parcel of their mandates to assist States in eliminating impunity.
MICHAL MLYNAR ( Slovakia) said that he wished to add his congratulations to the countries that had signed the Pact. Its signing was a major step towards reconciliation. It was a logical consequence to the achievements of peacebuilding and democratization. Formerly, messages of tragedy had emerged from the Great Lakes region; now, messages of hope were coming from there. Elections held in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would hopefully pave the way for a more secure and prosperous Great Lakes area.
Negotiations between Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army offered a viable chance for achieving sustainable peace, he said. Positive messages from the region should not lead to complacency, however. At least two parties to the Pact, the Sudan and the Central African Republic, were currently affected by the Darfur crisis. The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered from the presence of rebel groups. Other issues included widespread poverty, refugees, internally displaced persons, former combatants, poor resource management, weak and unreformed security sectors, and massive human rights violations.
He said that the countries of the region now had a major tool to consolidate results; the Pact was a cornerstone to be built upon. Its signing was just a beginning. Peace consolidation would require a massive concentration of human and financial resources by countries of the region, as well as by the international community.
MARY CATHERINE PHEE ( United States) congratulated the countries of the region for convening the second summit. The timing of the summit had been opportune, coming at a juncture where there were signs for greater stability. The International Conference had underscored cautious optimism for the region. The United States welcomed the Pact signed by the core countries, which was a positive step for the region. It was necessary to note the obvious, however. Whether the goals made a real difference would be measured by follow-on action and not words. She was heartened to hear the support expressed by the leaders of the region for the Pact.
The principles of the Pact laid a solid foundation for peace and security, she said. They also provided a useful framework for countries as they worked together to realize the development possibility of the region. Peace, stability and development could prevail in the region, which had suffered from violence for far too long. The United States would encourage regional efforts, including the tripartite plus process, which the United States was facilitating.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said that the Great Lakes region had suffered long periods of conflicts with devastating consequences. The area that, over a decade, had become a theatre of internecine conflicts that had led to all sorts of violence now seemed to be gradually returning to normalcy. The Great Lakes region, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular, were endowed with enormous natural resources. Given stability, the area could witness tremendous development. The successful conduct of the elections and the smooth transition in Congo and the other countries in the region provided a conducive atmosphere to continue political and economic reconstruction processes towards the establishment of stable and democratic societies and modern state institutions, based on the rule of law.
He welcomed the fact that the States of the region had agreed to put in place regional rules and mechanisms for combating the illegal exploitation of natural resources. In that connection, he urged Member States to seriously consider putting in place useful mechanisms such as the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which had proved to be quite useful in containing the illegal exploitation and smuggling of diamonds and, hopefully, in effectively limiting the financing of conflicts.
It was important that political systems were democratic and inclusive, and that they engendered a climate of trust and participation by all. Good governance and the rule of law would create an environment conducive for reconstruction. It was essential to take decisive actions against corruption, ensure respect for human rights and fight against the climate of impunity and politically driven justice prevailing in the wider region. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court had a central role to play in bringing to justice those responsible for serious human rights violations and war crimes.
He said that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, repatriation or resettlement of the various armed groups was a cardinal component of the plans for stabilizing the whole region. It was important that the international community not disengage too rapidly, and that adequate United Nations presence was maintained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. Reviving the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries could prove promising for fostering and strengthening regional economic integration. He applauded the Peacebuilding Commission for giving Burundi $25 million for post-conflict reconstruction and hoped that facility would be extended to the other country in the region emerging from the conflict, namely the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He appealed to the leadership in the area to show determination and commitment in implementing the Pact. That would require sustained support by all parties involved. The Security Council should remain supportive of the undertaking.
PAUL JOHNSTON ( United Kingdom) said that he was committed to stability and development in the region. Nowhere had that been demonstrated more clearly than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Transformations there and in Burundi offered real hope, despite the many challenges. His country was providing half a billion pounds in bilateral development programmes, and it would continue that effort. The Great lakes process had played its part by bringing together all the key players and allowing them to talk at the political and operational levels. As the problems were shared ones, the solutions must also be shared.
He said that regional ownership of the process was essential. The Pact should be part of a framework that included interregional trade links, among other things. Ms. Mulamula was a first-rate Executive Secretary, and he welcomed her appointment. He hoped that the Nairobi commitments would have a transformative effect on stability in region. The Sudan situation was worrying. Verbal commitments in the Pact were a necessary step but were far from sufficient to achieve shared goals. Action and implementation would be the hardest part and the real test for the Governments concerned. He endorsed Denmark’s position on the protection of civilians and impunity, and urged countries to work together to achieve stability for all.
BASILE IKOUEBE ( Congo) said the region had far too long been the theatre of armed conflicts so devastating to any real attempts at growth. He paid tribute to all stakeholders who had tirelessly committed themselves to providing support for initiatives for promoting sustainable development in the region. Following Dar es Salaam in 2004, the region had welcomed outstanding progress this year, which had just been crowned with success in Nairobi. In the past, the image of the Great Lakes had been one of destruction and conflict. Democracy and development were now taking root in some of the countries concerned, as witnessed by the successful transition in Burundi and the holding of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The signing of historic agreements would end decades of conflicts, which had led to a high number of victims.
He welcomed the holding of the second summit, in which Congo had played an active part. The conclusions of the summit were very telling, namely peace, security and development. He hoped the region would receive support from the countries of the region and from the international community, which had helped to establish peace. He also hoped that the special fund for reconstruction and development would move into an operational phase to consolidate the positive achievements in the process, of which States must now take ownership. He also welcomed the adoption of the Pact, which was a turning point in the history of the Great Lakes region and provided an essential tool for action. The success of the summit was a positive sign. The international community, including the United Nations, was called on to continue to support the region’s efforts and ensure the Pact’s implementation. He hoped the international community would support the region as it took its first steps in setting up the new structure.
FEDERICO BARTTFELD ( Argentina) said that recent historic events in the region, such as the democratically elected Governments of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were advances that would not have been possible without several elements. Those included closer collaboration among Governments of the subregion, the efforts of the African Union and other multilateral bodies, the Dar es Salaam Conference and the second summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, greater cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations, the tireless efforts of peacekeeping missions, assistance from donor countries, the collaboration of the Group of Friends and the constant monitoring of human rights violations by parties to the conflict.
He especially highlighted the importance of the signature of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development and the Declaration on its implementation. The establishment of the regional Conference Secretariat was a great advance for achievement of peace in the region. The new phase that was getting under way would also demand great efforts and coordinated action of assistance for the creation of stable institutions and reconstruction and development of the countries during the post-conflict phase. It would demand that human rights violators were brought to justice. It would also demand an active participation of the Peacebuilding Commission to generate sufficient incentives to reduce the possibilities of recurrence of conflicts in the region.
He wished to underline, however, that amnesty for grave human rights violations as a way to end conflicts usually did not have a positive effect in the long run, since combatants rarely gave up their arms, and reconciliation became unviable. Only when impartial justice for all human rights abusers and international humanitarian rights perpetrators was served would it be possible to end the culture of impunity and promote a solid starting point for stability. He also wished to highlight the special vulnerability of children affected by different conflicts. Unfortunately, girls and boys of the region continued to be subject to recruitment, abduction, sexual violence and even assassination. Those attacks were committed by different armed groups and, in some areas, even by members of the armed forces. It was necessary to end the climate of impunity that facilitated that kind of abuse.
IGOR SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) said he had come to today’s meeting with certain encouraging factors in mind. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, national elections had been held for the first time in 40 years, with a conclusive victory being won by the incumbent. Despite instability, particularly in the eastern part of the country, life there was returning to normal. Burundi had entered the peacebuilding stage. Following the ceasefire agreements by Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army, there were now prospects for resolving the problem of northern Uganda. The Council was playing an active role in the peacebuilding process. Noting that Council missions visited the region each year, he said it was gratifying to hear that the leaders of the region deemed their work crucial.
He said he was also aware of the risks and difficulties facing the region, including the danger of a resumption of inter-ethnic clashes, illegal flows of small arms and light weapons, uncontrolled borders and a dire humanitarian situation. A critical mass of positive factors had emerged, however, making it possible to move to a significant quality of relations in the region. He welcomed the holding of a second summit and the signing of the Pact, which had opened up new prospects for post-conflict reconstruction. He was sure the Conference would help resolve many interconnected regional problems. The productiveness of the Conference would, however, depend on the consistency of the actions of the main players. The establishment of the follow-up mechanism was encouraging, as it would make it possible the implementation of the decisions taken at the summit.
Noting that the region’s natural resources had been exploited in a barbaric way for many years, he said it was high time to radically change that situation and use the region’s raw materials potential in the interest of its peoples.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that there had been encouraging developments in the region lately, such as elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. Many countries had successfully emerged from the shadows of conflict. There were still problems, such as poverty and disease. Some countries were suffering from armed conflicts or facing the challenges of peacebuilding. Assisting countries in the region was the responsibility of the international community, which should increase its economic assistance efforts. He hoped that the Peacebuilding Commission would also give positive attention to post-conflict reconstruction.
He said that peace and development were inseparable from ownership of the countries concerned. Issues must be solved within a regional framework that consolidated good neighbourly relations among countries. The Pact’s signing showed a willingness to develop economies based on self-reliance, which was essential for post-war reconstruction. He hoped the International Conference on the Great Lakes would continue to provide a platform for constructive dialogue and contribution to sustainable peace and development. China had done its share to end the conflict and achieve progress, through active participation in peacekeeping operations and bilateral assistance. It was ready to continue those efforts.
LUIS ENRIQUE CHAVEZ BASAGOITIA ( Peru) noted that the signing of the Pact had reflected the will of the Governments and peoples of the region to adopt a cooperative approach towards development. The threats facing the region were multidimensional, and a comprehensive approach was needed to ensure stability. The Pact supported the security and independence of each State and ensured that territory was not used to overthrow Governments. The international community must contribute to strengthening democratic Governments, and an all-out effort was needed to eradicate poverty, ensure reconstruction and consolidate peace. Solid infrastructure was needed to build sustainable economies in the region. That change required a serious change in approach to humanitarian law and human rights. In that regard, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was recognized as a strategic country. That country must be in a position to provide the minimum of services to its people. The international community could not run the risk of losing the humanitarian and financial input into the country.
He added that the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) must continue to coordinate with the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and the United Nations Office in Burundi (UNOB) to strengthen the regional impact of the United Nations presence in the region. Since the beginning of the year, the Council had witnessed a process of dialogue, a ceasefire and a political understanding between the Lord’s Resistance Army and Uganda’s Government. There could be no peace if impunity existed. He hoped the United Nations, in cooperation with the African Union and relevant subregional groups, could assist in the follow-up process, as peace in the region would affect the entire continent. He welcomed the Pact on Peace, Security and Development and the implementation process.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS ( Greece) said that the Great Lakes region had been the scene of recurrent ethnic violence and interrelated crises in recent years, presenting a considerable challenge to the international community’s capacity for crisis response and management. Recently, considerable improvement had taken place, including a remarkable national reconciliation in Rwanda, successful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, and the ceasefire between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda.
He said that the countries of the area, as well as the international community, had gradually realized that there should be a strong regional dimension to achieving peace and stability. It was now crucial to implement the protocols and programmes of action included in the Pact on Security, Stability and Development through the regional follow-up mechanism. The countries of the area must demonstrate their political will in implementing the mechanism and making the Special Fund operational. The international community should stand ready to assist African countries in that endeavour. In that respect, the Security Council could better assist disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement of ex-combatants, as well as improve monitoring and strict implementation of arms embargos, especially that of small arms. It should direct peacekeeping operations to pay special attention to strengthening border security, in particular in view of the spillover effect of the Darfur crisis into Chad and the Central African Republic.
He said that the Council, as well as the United Nations system in general, should also concentrate on facilitating solutions on several key issues for the region, like combating illegal exploitation of natural resources. He was ready to support proposals for special mechanisms, taking into account existing initiatives such as the Kimberly Process for diamonds and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade for illegal logging. Ending impunity in the Great Lakes, as well as laying the foundations for sustainable economic development, addressing humanitarian and human rights issues, supporting institution-building and combating corruption, strengthening the rule of law and good governance, would contribute to the promotion of peace and stability in the region. The Security Council should express its support to the ongoing process towards peace, security and development and, for that reason, he fully subscribed to the presidential statement tabled by the United Republic of Tanzania.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER ( Qatar), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, congratulated the States and Governments of the Great Lakes region on the success of the second summit. That success had been achieved only through the genuine political will of the leaders of the region and efforts in preparing the Conference. The Council was convening for the second time this year to deliberate on the situation in the Great Lakes region. The peoples of the region looked forward to further cooperation, as witnessed in the second summit. He looked forward to the ratification of the Pact and its implementation. The hopes expressed in the Pact must be fulfilled, particularly through the political will of the leaders of the region in the Conference.
Positive steps had emerged from the second summit, including the regional mechanism for the Pact’s follow-up, he said. He congratulated Burundi for hosting the Conference Secretariat and the United Republic of Tanzania for the appointment of one of its nationals as Executive Secretary. The issues of women and children and the role of the private sector must how be taken up and priorities established. He appreciated the role of the Group of Friends for the Great Lakes Region for the support of the second summit and the Conference in general, since its inception in 2003. He encouraged them to continue their support, following the decision of the States of the region to create a fund, which would be an appropriate mechanism for providing support.
Stressing the need to implement previous Council resolutions, he said it was of utmost importance to the countries of the region to, among other things, end conflict, flagrant human rights violations and the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons. He attached importance to the Council’s resolutions 1625 (2005) and 1631 (2005), as well as 1649 (2005) and 1653 (2006). Their implementation was a fundamental factor in the success of the mechanism set up by the region and would give scope to the activities of regional and subregional organizations. It would also allow the Peacebuilding Commission to act in a way that benefited the entire continent. Sustainable development could not be obtained without institutions based on good governance. Economic growth would only be generated by stability and security. In that regard, there was a need for permanent projects based on sound economic principles. The States of the region must have local ownership for activities and projects in its territories.
KIRSTI LINTONEN (Finland), on behalf of the European Union, said that the Pact on Security, Stability and Development adopted at the second summit constituted a cornerstone in the cooperation between the States of the region, and she looked forward to the implementation of its protocols and the programmes of action. A strong local commitment, including financial contributions, and a sense of ownership by the States in the region, would be required to make the Pact succeed. The summit and its positive outcome marked a new beginning in Central Africa and built on the important progress achieved over the recent years. She hoped that the powerful lessons of partnership and conflict resolution presented by the Nairobi Pact would inspire efforts to resolve other remaining conflicts n the Great Lakes region, notably that in northern Uganda.
She said that much had been achieved since Dar es Salaam. First, there had been the successful conclusion of the transition process in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That transition clearly showed that security and development were inseparable. Governance was the key element, which provided the basis for progress in both fields. She hoped that joint efforts in that country would increase the momentum for similar developments throughout the entire region. In the environment of a post-conflict situation, security sector reform would always be at the heart of governance initiatives.
As for the successful transition process in Burundi, in order to consolidate the demobilization achieved, a concerted effort needed to be made to ensure that sustainable reintegration of ex-combatants was prioritized in the period ahead in Burundi and throughout the Great Lakes. The ceasefire agreement concluded with the Forces Nationales de Libération earlier in the year had opened a window of opportunity for reaching a sustainable and peaceful solution. In consolidating those promising developments, the European Union would remain a reliable partner.
She underlined the importance of the improved regional dynamics, in particular in the Great Lakes region proper. The successful transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had only been possible thanks to the new dynamic of good neighbourly relations. The remaining tensions and the violence in the east of that country reflected well the need to foster that development. In other regions, enormous challenges were still faced in cutting the supply lines for armed rebel groups and in ending cross-border violence. In the Great Lakes region, it had been demonstrated that the plague of violence and impunity could be reigned in, provided that there was efficient and trustworthy regional cooperation.
NDUKU BOOTO ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the second summit had been a historic event for Africa and the international community. The meeting had stressed the importance of partnership between the countries of the region, as well as the need to build on the momentum created by the summit. The meeting had also marked the end of the preparatory process, which was to identify the sources of armed conflict in the region. After several mishaps, important stages had been crossed and the results were tangible, including a new regional security order, expansion of the economic and commercial space and stabilization. The signing of the Pact had been the crowning success. She welcomed the adoption of the Fund, which would enhance economic progress by facilitating development. As proof of its goodwill, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had announced the release of $1 million by way of an initial contribution to the Fund. Ownership of the Conference by the region gave the Pact an important dimension. That ownership remained key, since it set out the priorities and means for working together. The Pact, she added, was not a vision, but a programme of action.
Her country’s objective was to pool the necessary efforts to implement the Pact, she continued. As the host country for the 2008 summit, the Democratic Republic of the Congo intended to be a driving force, and would do everything to promote respect for the Pact. In that regard, she stressed the responsibility of each country to create a zone of peace and prosperity. The world had seen progress in implementing the commitments to establish a new political order. Hand in hand with solidifying the internal political process, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had done concrete work to meet the need of security for its neighbours.
Turning to the recent elections in her country, she said she was pleased that elections had gone smoothly. Turnout had been enthusiastic. Her country counted on the international community’s support for politics to bring about national reconciliation. She thanked the Council for showing its devotion to the course of peace in the region. Her country was grateful for its attention to ushering in a new era of trust and security for all inhabitants of the Great Lakes region.
JOHN MCNEE (Canada), on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the Group of Friends of the Great Lakes Region, Canada and the Netherlands, said that Member States would drive the implementation of all the integral parts of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development. A key element of their full ownership of that unprecedented endeavour was the creation of the first coordination mechanism for the Great Lakes region.
He said that the set-up of the Conference Secretariat in Burundi would be full of expectation and challenges. For that reason, the Group of Friends would extend its financial support for a six-month transition period, as core countries took over Secretariat functions for the Conference and consolidated their national coordination mechanisms. The Group of Friends supported the request initially made by the United Republic of Tanzania on behalf of the countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region for an extension of three months up to 31 March 2007, of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes. That was to facilitate the transition from the joint African Union-United Nations secretariat to the new Secretariat of the countries of the Conference.
On behalf of Canada, he voiced support for the call made in the Declaration on Implementation of the Pact in paragraph 9. The United Nations and the African Union should extend its support to the newly created Secretariat over the coming year.
JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said the Great Lakes region had registered several positive developments since the signing of the Dar es Salaam Declaration in 2004. The people of Burundi had moved from many years of conflict to a new democratic dispensation. They had now begun the difficult task of post-conflict recovery and development. In the same period, the people of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania had also exercised their democratic right to elect their leaders in free and fair elections. Most recently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had held democratic elections for the first time in four decades. Working together in a spirit of genuine partnership, the Great Lakes Region would find solutions to outstanding issues.
The 11 core countries should congratulate themselves for successfully brining the preparatory process of the International Conference to its logical conclusion, he said. The Conference process had allowed for a broad participation of important sectors of the various societies. Through constant interaction, a sense of partnership had developed across the region. A genuine understanding of the challenges each individual country faced was developing. “This can only be good for the future of our region,” he said.
In the past, some powers had seen the Conference process as a vehicle to bestow a new political acceptability to the forces that had committed genocide in Rwanda, he said. They had claimed that the process would not advance as long as those forces, the genocidaires, had not been at the table, either as participants or observers. By working together, the region had said “no”. The region now had before it agreements on what it needed to do to collectively deal with those who wanted to destabilize its countries. It had also agreed to cooperate in combating impunity by bringing the genocidaires to justice.
The leaders of the Great Lakes region had already committed themselves to advance the agenda for peace, he said. Implementation of the Pact’s programmes of action would be an important cornerstone in the architecture for peace in the region. As peace, stability, good governance and economic development were established, the humanitarian crisis it faced would recede. The Great Lakes core countries had decided to take regional ownership of the process through the establishment of the regional follow-up mechanism to help implement that ambitious agenda. In order for that to succeed, however, strong commitment was needed to implement all the provisions of the Pact; to ratify the Pact as soon as possible; to extend all necessary political, diplomatic and financial support to the follow-up mechanism; and work to make the Special Fund for Reconstruction operational as soon as possible.
The agenda for peace and development in the Great Lakes Region would continue to need strong international partnerships, he concluded. Leaders in the region had considerable experience in leading the search for peace. From the Arusha Peace Process in 1993 for Rwanda, the Lusaka Ceasefire and the Sun City Peace Processes for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Arusha Peace Process for Burundi, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for the Sudan and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development process for Somalia, it was clear that the region had the capacity and will to resolve conflict.
Mr. FALL thanked speakers for their expression of great interest in the Nairobi summit. The congratulations to him went also to all members of the United Nations team over the years, as well as to the African Union, which had been actively involved in the whole process and had played a very important role during the Conference itself. He had been very encouraged by today’s debate, especially the focus on the need for the African Union and the United Nations to jointly continue to support the new Conference Secretariat, on the one hand, and to ensure that they remained proactively involved in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding in the whole Great Lakes region, on the other hand.
He said he hoped that the message delivered by the Council to the core countries had been received and that they would take the opportunity to show that they could face the challenges of setting up and operationalizing the Secretariat in the three months they had allotted for that purpose.
* *** *For information media • not an official record