10 August 2009

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

Secretary-General urges full use of ‘unique’ international conference on great


lakes region to quickly consolidate peace, tackle ‘profound’ challenges


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, delivered by Olusegun Obasanjo, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, in Lusaka, Zambia, today, 10 August:

I am heartened that tensions in the Great Lakes region have eased in the past year.  In particular, I welcome last week’s summit between President [Joseph] Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and President [Paul] Kagame of Rwanda. 

I commend both leaders’ commitment to promote peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.  I also welcome the exchange of ambassadors by the two countries.  This is no doubt a result of the collective efforts of the two countries and the region.  It is also an example of how the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region can serve as an effective instrument for change.

There have also been positive developments in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The 23 March Agreements signed between the Government and the armed groups in the Kivusrepresent a significant step forward.  I appeal to all the parties to summon the necessary political will to pursue the full implementation of the Agreements.  I also urge international partners to provide timely support to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during this crucial phase.

I wish to reiterate my profound appreciation for the important work of mySpecial Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas, former President Joaquim Chissano.  He helped facilitate the Juba peace talks between the Government of Uganda and representatives of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), under the mediation of the Government of Southern Sudan.  It is deeply regrettable that the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, has not seized the historic opportunity to sign the Final Peace Agreement.

The Great Lakes region still faces profound security, humanitarian, developmental and environmental challenges.  I urge you as members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to make full use of this unique mechanism to quickly consolidate peace.  This is, of course, an essential ingredient to sustainable development.

With the Stability Pact, you have created one of the most far-reaching agreements that the region has ever seen.  It is now crucial to move from commitment to implementation.  That requires strong leadership.  The United Nations is counting on your engagement, and you can similarly count on the United Nations to support that effort every step of the way.

I wish to express the continued personal commitment of my Special Envoy to work closely with Co-Facilitator [Benjamin] Mkapa and the region.  We will also enhance our collaboration with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Secretariat to ensure more coordinated United Nations assistance towards the implementation of the Pact, particularly its most critical aspects relating to peace and security.

I wish you all a fruitful meeting.

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For information media • not an official record