9 March 2007
Security Council
SC/8968

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5637th Meeting (AM)


GREAT LAKES STATES MUST TAKE ‘OWNERSHIP’ OF IMPLEMENTING HISTORIC


NAIROBI SECURITY PACT, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

 


Special Representative Ibrahima Fall Briefs; Says Council

Support Needed, as Region Still Fragile, with Tenuous Atmosphere of Trust


The Secretary-General’s envoy for the Great Lakes region told the Security Council today that, following agreements reached among 11 countries at a December 2006 summit held in Nairobi, it was critical for these nations to take ownership in the implementation process envisioned by the historic pact, designed to bring peace and prosperity to countries long troubled by civil war and conflicts.


Highlighting the lessons learned during his four-year tenure, culminating with the pact on security, stability and development in the Great Lakes region, Ibrahima Fall, whose mandate as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that region expires on 31 March, stressed the importance of the Council’s role in the preparatory process leading up to the pact, as well as of the role it would play in the implementation phase.  However, establishing the important mandate of the Special Representative should have been followed with sufficient staffing support for his Office.  Without the help of several United Nations agencies, his skeleton staff would never have been able to carry out its tasks.


Another important issue was the quick implementation of the ratification process of the pact, he said.  As the region was still fragile, with a tenuous atmosphere of trust, the Council needed to put its support behind the process.  The countries of the region, exercising ownership of the process, should also pay their assessments to the Executive Secretariat of the International Conference and establish the special fund for reconstruction and development.  Only two countries had paid their assessments so far, and no States had ratified the pact.  He also stressed the necessity of inclusiveness, of women, youth, civil society as a whole as well as of parliamentarians, in the implementation process.  The pact could be an example of a regional approach that could be duplicated elsewhere. 


Echoing other speakers, the representative of South Africa, paid tribute to Mr. Fall’s work, especially the crucial role he had played in driving the process during the run-up to the holding of the International Conference in Nairobi.  Today, he said, the Great Lakes region was on the threshold of establishing peace.  There had been a reduction in conflicts and the tensions, though simmering in some areas of eastern Congo, had also been reduced.  But the region still suffered a lack of resources, and South Africa was pleased that Mr. Fall’s efforts had placed a special focus on ways to address the continued plundering of national and natural resources.


The representative of the Congo, one of the 11 members of the Great Lakes region, said the International Conference had led to some level of stability, fragile though it was.  It was now time for the countries of the region to demonstrate their commitment to the security, stability and development pact, as well as other regional mechanisms, to ensure that the entire effort “moved from dreams to reality”.


He emphasized that the Great Lakes were not only crucial to Africa, but also to the world.  The culture, history and resources located in the Congo Basin alone hinted at the region’s importance.  It was urgent for the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central Africa, as well as the Executive Secretariat of the Conference to work with the wider international community to ensure that the momentum of the Conference and the wider changes under way in the region were maintained.  Even with all that, everyone had to acknowledge the sad reality that the region was fragile -- small arms continued to flow unabated and mistrust between some countries still ran high.  The region, therefore, would still need the help of the international community.


The representative of the United Kingdom, hailing the security, stability and development pact as a significant step towards lasting peace and security in the region, urged Great Lakes leaders to do their utmost to sign on to the agreement and ensure the implementation of its objectives and mechanisms.  She noted that so much of the Council’s work in recent years had revolved around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the people of that country should be proud of the changes that they were ushering in.  At the same time, she was concerned by the ongoing operation of the Lord’s Resistance Army in eastern Congo and the situation in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.  It was sadly ironic and troubling that, just as the people of the Great Lakes region were beginning to witness the emergence of lasting peace, stability and development, their neighbours in Darfur were being denied the most basic means of survival, she said.


The representatives of Ghana, Belgium, France, Indonesia, China, United States, Russian Federation, Italy, Slovakia and Qatar also spoke.


Mr. Fall responded to questions and concerns raised by Council members.


The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:55 a.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Great Lakes region.


Introductory Statement by Secretary-General’s Special Representative


IBRAHIMA FALL, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, at the outset thanked South Africa, the current President of the Council, for its important role in stabilizing and bringing peace to the Great Lakes region.  During his tenure of four and a half years, a tenure that would end soon, he had had the support of the South African Government.  The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region would not have been a success if, at the same time, the peace process had not taken place in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


He said that, on 20 December 2006, the Council had extended his mandate for three months in the wake of the Nairobi Summit on the preparatory process for the International Conference.  During the three months, he had assisted the Executive Secretary of the Conference in numerous ways and transferred competencies to it, a process that would be completed on 31 March.  He had asked that all equipment of his office be transferred to the Executive Secretariat of the International Conference as a donation.


As for lessons learned, he stressed the importance in the preparatory process of the Council’s role, as well as the importance of the role the Council would play in the implementation of the pact on security, stability and development.  The support the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had received from the Council would have been more effective if there had also been support in staff recruitment.  The skeleton staff of the Office could not have done its job without the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies.  The Council could not issue such an important mandate without providing the necessary report.


Another important issue was the quick implementation of the ratification process of the pact, he said.  As the region was still fragile, with a tenuous atmosphere of trust, the Council needed to put its support behind the process.  The member countries also needed to exercise their ownership of the process.  The pact was based on three principles:  ownership, inclusion and partnerships.  The principal of ownership was essential.  The countries of the region needed to exercise their ownership effectively, through ratification, payment of assessments to the Executive Secretariat and establishing the special fund for reconstruction and development.  Only two countries had paid their assessments so far, and no States had ratified the pact.


He said some key projects had been given some financing, such as the revitalization of the Economic Committee of the Great Lakes Region.  The European Union had authorized $5 million for the Secretariat and $45 million to implement projects.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi were the most instable countries in the region and, therefore, needed project implementation as soon as possible.  The Council could draw on the peacekeeping missions of the Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As for the International Conference itself, he stressed the principle of inclusiveness, with civil society and parliamentarians being a part in the implementation process.  The pact could be an example of a regional approach that could be duplicated elsewhere.  A regional comprehensive approach was the only way to appraise all the problems of human security in a comprehensive manner.


Statements


NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said the Council had recently congratulated the Governments and people of the Great Lakes region for signing the pact on security, stability and development in that region, calling on regional leaders to commit themselves to the agreement’s implementation.  The Council had hoped that the signing of the pact would turn the region from a state of desolation, engendered by a long period of violent conflict, to a state of sustainable peace, security and socio-economic development.  In that regard, he was encouraged that a regional parliamentary meeting of the Great Lakes region had supported the pact and that parliamentarians had acknowledged their role in contributing to the pact’s early ratification and implementation.  For those good intentions to succeed, however, the commitment and political will of regional leaders was needed.  Leaders should rise above their national and sectional interest and put the interests of the Great Lakes region first.  Regional ownership of the process was essential. 


Given the current unstable situation in eastern Congo and northern Uganda, he said there was urgent need for leaders of the Great Lakes region to cooperate on cross-border security and trade with the aim of spurring development after decades of conflict.  Dialogue should become the only medium for resolving conflicts.  For its part, the international community should continue to monitor closely the peace talks between the Government and rebel groups in Uganda, and support the implementation of the outcome of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.  In that regard, he commended the rebel group in eastern Congo for agreeing to disarm and urged the Government to intensify its efforts at reintegrating them into national armed forces.  The international community should complement those efforts by, among other things, supporting regional peacebuilding projects that addressed the plight of returnees, stemmed the flow of small arms and light weapons and checked the activities of mercenaries. 


Concluding, he commended the international community for the contribution to the successful completion of the two conferences and supported the recommendation of the regional parliamentary meeting for the Great Lakes region that the international community, notably the United Nations and the African Union, continue their support for peace and reconstruction in the region.


OLIVIER BELLE ( Belgium) said the Great Lakes region had a special place in the hearts of the members of his delegation.  He welcomed the holding of the Nairobi Conference last December, especially since it had given birth to a security, stability and development pact for the region.  That Conference had also been emblematic of a host of positive changes under way in the region -- from successful elections in Burundi to the efforts to restart talks between United Nations envoys and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.  Those changes had been largely due to the will and tenacity of the people of the region.  It was important now to ensure that an effective and inclusive follow-up process to the Nairobi Conference was put in place, and that all constituencies signed and ratified the pact.  The Conference Secretariat needed to be fully staffed and funded, he added.


He also called for countries in the region to boost their donations to the special reconstruction fund for the Great Lakes.   Belgium promoted the consideration of innovative financial schemes in that regard.  He also said it was crucial to ensure that all countries of the region undertook confidence-building measures and did the utmost to ensure that natural resources were not exploited.  He also called for special consideration, particularly efforts by the East African Economic Community for eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.


NICOLAS de RIVIERE ( France) said the signing of the security, stability and development pact had given new impetus to the myriad cooperation efforts under way between the countries of the Great Lakes region.  Those initiatives were an essential element of the overall effort to boost political and economic stability, and to ensure the success of other changes that several countries in the region were undergoing.  He said that security concerns continued to be relevant, although less pressing than in the past.


He said that all of the countries in the region needed to work together in the area of security.  Those countries also needed to work together on economic development, especially in ensuring that economic matters were handled with the utmost transparency.   Great Lakes nations also needed to ensure the effective, responsible and efficient management of the region’s vital natural resources.  The United Nations and the wider international community would remain committed to the region.  The Council would shortly have the opportunity to consider the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and would consider adapting it to the current situation, he added. 


Mr. KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the situation in the Great Lakes region had improved greatly compared to a number of years ago, when the international community described the areas as a tragedy.  Almost all countries in the region had successfully emerged from conflict and there had been a steady progress in the areas of peace, security and democratization, a remarkable accomplishment.  It was now the time to translate the aspirations of the pact into programmes and action. 


He said some outstanding issues still had to be addressed, including combating illegal exploitation of natural resources, illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons, respect for human rights, the establishment of the rule of law and good governance.  The regional ownership concept included developing an approach for good relations and peaceful resolution of disputes.  He appealed to donor countries and international agencies to provide assistance to the Secretariat and the special fund.  With the finish line in sight, everything must be done to have the people of the region complete their remarkable journey.


LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that his delegation was pleased to acknowledge the recent progress in the peace process in the region, as one country after another had emerged from the shadows of conflict and had begun to press ahead with efforts to secure peace and boost development.  The holding of the Nairobi Conference and the subsequent meeting of regional parliamentarians had been among the other positive events.


While the countries of the region were urged to continue to work together, particularly through regional mechanisms, he said it was necessary for the international community to remain engaged, so that the Great Lakes nations could achieve lasting peace, security and development.  Further, the international community should continue its efforts to ensure that future meetings of the International Conference were productive and successful.


PASCAL GAYAMA ( Congo) said that his country was one of the 11 members of the Great Lakes region, and, somewhat on behalf of those countries, and his own country, he wanted to express gratitude for the commitment of Special Representative Fall and his efforts to usher in new institutions aimed at helping the region achieve lasting peace and security.  As Mr. Fall concluded his tenure, one could say that the International Conference had led to some level of stability, fragile though it was.  It was now time for the countries of the region to demonstrate their commitment to the security, stability and development pact, as well as other regional mechanisms, to ensure that the entire effort “moved from dreams to reality”.  It was vital for the countries of the Great Lakes to ratify that pact.


He emphasized that the Great Lakes were not only crucial to Africa, but also to the world.  The culture, history and resources located in the Congo Basin alone only hinted at the region’s importance.  It was urgent for the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central Africa, as well as the Conference Secretariat to work with the wider international community to ensure that the momentum of the Conference and the wider changes under way in the region were maintained.  Civil society should be included in that effort, especially because community-level actors would be critical in raising awareness of the pact and other confidence-building measures and relevant institutions.


Even with all that, everyone had to acknowledge the sad reality that the region was fragile -- small arms continued to flow unabated and mistrust between some countries still ran high.  The region, therefore, would still need the help of the international community.  The continued role of the Group of Friends would be welcomed, in that regard.  The United Nations should continue to support regional institutions financially, as well as in capacity-building and other areas.


THOMAS KIRK MCBRIDE ( United States) said, in the past decade, the region had suffered from destabilizing conflicts.  The situation remained fragile, but prospects for peace and development had improved, in part because of the attention of the international community, but mainly because the peoples of the region themselves.  A spirit of trust and cooperation was growing. 


He said the pact signed by 11 States last December in Nairobi was a promising conclusion of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and offered a road map for democracy, good governance and development.  Regional ownership of the process was vital, and bilateral and multilateral agreements should provide support.  Implementation of the pact could be facilitated by the “Tripartite Plus Joint Commission”, aimed at stability between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. 


VITALIY A. LEPLINSKIY ( Russian Federation) said progress in the peace process in the Great Lakes region would not have been possible without the United Nations and the African Union.  Today’s meeting of the Council attested to the attention it had given to the Great Lakes region.  As of today, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had held its first democratic elections in 40 years, the issue of northern Uganda was gradually being addressed and peacebuilding measures were being implemented.  Clearly, that would not have been possible without the assistance of subregional organizations, donors and international financial institutions.


He said the signing in Nairobi in December of the pact on security, stability and development heralded a new era of post-conflict development.  It was important that that pact be ratified and implemented as soon as possible.  As the mandate of the Special Representative for the Great Lakes region would end on 31 March, he commended Mr. Fall and his staff, saying they deserved the “highest marks”.


ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) welcomed the many positive developments under way in the Great Lakes region, from expedited peacebuilding efforts in Rwanda, to the recent successful holding of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others.  He said that those changes were fundamental starting points towards establishing lasting peace and development in the region.


However, he said that Italy remained concerned about the overall situation of human rights and the ongoing exploitation of natural resources.  The fallout from these two issues affected almost every facet of the region’s economy and put severe pressure on economic stability.  He was also concerned by the ongoing activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which used a nature conservancy in eastern Congo as one of its bases of operations.  Finally, he asked Special Representative Fall to expand on efforts to fight corruption and ensure good governance in the wake of the agreements made at the Nairobi Conference.


KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) said that her country was committed to the implementation of the security, stability and development pact and would continue to support its implementation both bilaterally and through the efforts of the European Union.  That pact was a significant step towards lasting peace and security in the region, she said, urging Great Lakes leaders to do their utmost to sign on to the agreement and ensure the implementation of its objectives and mechanisms.  The challenges in the region were shared, and it was critical for the people of the region to share in the finding of workable and lasting solutions.


She noted that so much of the Council’s work in recent years had revolved around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the people of that country should be proud of the changes that they were ushering in.  At the same time, the Union was concerned by the ongoing operation of the Lord’s Resistance Army in eastern Congo.  She urged the countries of the region to work together to address that important issue, and to add their voices to those of the United Kingdom, the Security Council and the wider international community to bring attention to the situation in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.  It was sadly ironic and troubling that just as the people of the Great Lakes region were beginning to witness the emergence of lasting peace, stability and development, their neighbours in Darfur were being denied the most basic means of survival, she said.


PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) said he shared the observation of others that the momentum and positive atmosphere should be utilized for strengthening regional cooperation, as well as for implementing the pact and the various peace processes in the countries in the region.  The signing of the pact had been an important step for building trust and confidence in the region and should be followed up by speedy implementation.  He hoped that the special fund would become operational as soon as possible.  The international community should continue to provide full support, as without it, the positive atmosphere of trust could evaporate in a moment.


He said it was crucial for the countries of the region to assume full ownership of the process, including through paying assessments to the Executive Secretariat and the special fund.  Despite positive developments, he remained concerned about several pockets of instability, in particular regarding the peace negotiations with the Lord’s Resistance Army.  The stalemate in that process had moved the situation in northern Uganda and the surrounding region back to what it had been a year ago.


TARIQ ALI FARAJ H. AL-ANSARI ( Qatar), welcoming the singing of the pact on security, stability and development, said it should be ratified as soon as possible.  Among the positive steps in the outcome of the International Conference was the establishment of a regional Secretariat in Bujumbura.  Assessments for that Secretariat should, therefore, be paid soon.  Civil society should be involved in dealing with such issues as women, youth, reform of the security sector and exploitation of national resources. 


He said previous Council resolutions should also be implemented, including those pertaining to prevention of conflict, violations of human rights and addressing the issues of refugees and internally displaced persons.  Sustainable development could not be achieved without good governance and adequate sources of income, which were not possible without security and stability.  Cancellation of foreign debts would be helpful in that regard, as would the implementation of projects with sound financing.  He reiterated the importance of regional ownership of all programmes and asked what the impediments were to full implementation of the pact.


Council President DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa), speaking in his national capacity, paid tribute to Mr. Fall’s work, especially the crucial role he had played in driving the process during the run-up to the holding of the International Conference in Nairobi.  Today, the Great Lakes region was on the threshold of establishing peace.  There had been a reduction in conflicts and the tensions, though simmering in some areas of eastern Congo, had also been reduced.  But, the region still suffered a lack of resources, and South Africa was pleased that Mr. Fall’s efforts had placed a special focus on ways to address the continued plundering of national and natural resources.


He went on to say that political stability also appeared to be on the horizon, and the pact was significant because it created a positive environment for sustainable development.  The fact that it allowed for the leaders of the region to meet on a regular basis was, in itself, a major benefit.   South Africa would continue to support efforts to ensure implementation of the pact, and would look forward to an “African renaissance” in the Great Lakes region.


Responding to comments and questions, Mr. FALL thanked the Council members for the work that they had done and assured the Council that he would convey their kind words to his staff.  He was certain that the Council’s debate would add impetus to the efforts to ensure the pact was signed and ratified by all the countries of the region, and that all those States followed through on implementation.


He said that the process had always highlighted the fact that lack of good governance and widespread corruption had been some of the major causes of the conflicts in the region over the past few decades.  To that end, some of the mechanisms and instruments that had been agreed upon at Nairobi included a protocol on good governance, a protocol on judicial governance and a protocol on the illegal exploitation of natural resources, all of which focused on the centrality of good governance, democracy and the fight against corruption as the pillar of peace and stability in the region.  He added that there was also a regional framework for women and youth to address good governance and democracy issues.


As for challenges, he noted that, among others, the bureaucracy of ratification had led to some obstacles to implementation of the pact.  As long as the treaty was not duly ratified, it was not implementable.  But he stressed that Governments at the Nairobi Conference had committed themselves to doing everything in their power to ensure ratification.


Overall, cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, especially between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, was critical.  He said that speakers during the Council’s debate had alluded to the situations in Darfur, Uganda, as well as to the spread of small arms and light weapons.  As far as the Juba talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army were concerned, he said that the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General,  former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, was visiting the region and talking with the interlocutors and would brief the Council next week on the talks.


On Darfur, he said there was a need to combine the elements of the Abuja agreement with efforts to address the humanitarian situation.  And he also announced that Congolese authorities would hold a meeting on 28 to 29 March in Brazzaville to address the spread of small arms and light weapons.


He went on to say that the United Nations must be equipped with the mechanisms and strategies to support implementation of the pact, both at the institutional and operational level.  He noted that UNDP had already finalized its strategy and other agencies were doing the same.  He also underlined the efforts of the Group of Friends, which had recently held a meeting on how to support the Conference Secretariat, as well as the efforts of the European Union, which had also been actively involved in the process.


On the financial needs for the pact’s implementation, he said that implementing the whole range of measures approved within the framework of the Conference would cost about $2 billion.  That was a lot of money.  Of course, the Governments of the region bore the primary responsibility for raising the required funds, but the rest of the international community could not hide behind that responsibility as a way to avoid theirs.  As an African, he said he believed the “fire fighter approach” was insufficient.  It was always better to prevent conflict than to have to pay for reconstruction and rehabilitation afterwards.  So, looking at it that way, maybe $2 billion was not a lot of money.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record