18 May 2011
Security Council
SC/10257

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

Security Council

6539th Meeting (AM)


Security Council Presidential Statement Stresses Need for ‘Strong Partnership’


with United Nations as Democratic Republic of Congo Emerges from Conflict

 


Future Aid Must End ‘Crisis of Legitimacy’, Says Minister

As Speakers Voice Concern over Sexual Violence, Illicit Resource Extraction


Pointing to progress in consolidating peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council stressed today that a strong partnership between the United Nations and the Congolese Government was needed for the next phase of the country’s emergence from civil war.


“[The Council] reiterates that the challenges the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing as it enters a phase of stabilization and peace consolidation require a strategic partnership with the United Nations, including with MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo],” according to a statement read out by Pierre Sellal, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, which holds the Council presidency in May.  The Council stressed the importance of four key issues for the country’s further stabilization — security, forthcoming elections, governance and institution-building and economic development.


Expressing particular concern about the difficulties of integrating former militia members into the national armed forces, and the limited progress made in security-sector reform, the Council called on the Congolese authorities swiftly to implement their long-term vision, with support from international partners.  It also called for an urgent end to attacks against civilians by all armed groups, reiterating its deep concern about the persistence of high levels of violence, especially sexual violence.


Regarding presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for 28 November 2011, to be followed by provincial and local elections in 2012, the Council urged the Government and other parties to ensure an environment conducive to free, fair, peaceful and credible polls.  It called on MONUSCO and other international actors to support the training and equipping of Congolese police for that purpose.  It also noted the interest of the Congolese authorities in establishing specialized mixed courts to address serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.


The Council called on the international community to support the Government’s efforts to stem the illicit exploitation of natural resources, reiterating that regional cooperation should play a key role in the country’s economic development.


Earlier, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Raymond Tshibanda, Minister for International and Regional Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, opened a debate in which Council Members and officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the European Union participated.


“The Congolese people should be proud of the gains of the last decade,” Mr. Ban said, cautioning, however, that the situation remained fragile.  “The successful conduct of credible elections will be a milestone on the road to stability,” he added in a statement that also prioritized the need to end impunity for perpetrators of the sexual violence plaguing the country, among other challenges cited today.  “I encourage the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] Government, national stakeholders and the international community to jointly identify the priorities of the next phase and the nature of United Nations support,” he continued, pledging that the United Nations remained committed to working closely with all partners to provide all possible support.


Minister Tshibanda, agreeing on the importance of dialogue between the Congolese Government and the United Nations, said all future assistance provided by the Organization and MONUSCO must aim to “put an end to the crisis of legitimacy in the country, re-launch the economy, and consolidate and build upon the results that we have achieved by working together”.  He added:  “We are of the view that the time has come to broach together a transition that would lead to the reconfiguring of MONUSCO and its mandate [towards] a phased withdrawal of its military component, in line with recommendations of experts and joint evaluation team.”


Tegegnework Gettu, Regional Director of UNDP’s Africa Bureau, said the Programme was committed to expanding the Congolese people’s opportunities and capabilities, and to enabling them to improve their lives, which would help consolidate the peace.  Describing the agency’s efforts in that regard, he also stressed the need for decentralization in order to ensure sustained growth that would reach marginalized communities.


Colin Bruce, the World Bank’s Director of Operations for Africa, said the institution was focused on providing basic services, such as electricity and health outcomes, as well as on improving governance in the mining, education and food-security sectors.  “We hope that everyone will stay focused on longer-term issues and longer-term engagement,” he said.


Council Members welcomed the progress made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while underscoring the importance of credible elections and expressing deep concern over the persistence of sexual violence.  Some speakers described their respective countries bilateral support for ending impunity for such crimes and for security-sector reform, while others called on the Government to lay out clearly its plans in those areas in order to help build the dialogue with the international community.


Most speakers stressed the importance of continuing to suppress illegal armed groups and ending the illicit exploitation of natural resources, with one speaker welcoming a pledge by President Joseph Kabila to wage a “merciless fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region”.


Also speaking today were representatives of Gabon, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, South Africa, China, Nigeria, Lebanon, Portugal, United States, Colombia, India, Germany, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina and France.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 1:15 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2011/11 reads as follows:


“The Security Council welcomes its enhanced dialogue with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It reiterates that the challenges the Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing as it enters a phase of stabilisation and peace consolidation require a strategic partnership with the United Nations, including with MONUSCO. The Security Council appreciates and welcomes the constructive approach of the Congolese authorities, and welcomes the efforts made by MONUSCO in this regard.


“The Security Council stresses the importance of four key issues for the stabilisation of the country: peace and security, the forthcoming elections, governance and institution building, and economic development.


“The Security Council considers that the overall peace and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has improved in recent years. It acknowledges the results of the action taken to address the threat of foreign and national armed groups, particularly the progress made against the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), including through the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR) process.  The Security Council underlines that significant security challenges remain, in particular in the Kivus and Orientale Province. The Council is concerned about the difficulties which have been encountered throughout the integration process of the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), and the limited progress made in the reform of the security forces, both army and police. It calls on the Congolese authorities to swiftly adopt the necessary legal framework and implement their long-term vision for the role and structure of the army and police, and strongly encourages MONUSCO and international partners to provide coordinated support for these reforms.


“The Security Council reiterates its deep concern about the persistent high levels of violence, especially sexual violence, and human rights abuses against civilians, mostly affecting women and children, including the use and recruitment of children by parties to the conflict, in particular in the eastern part of the country,. It reiterates its deep concern about continuing activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army. It calls for an urgent end to the attacks against the civilian population by all armed groups. It condemns all violations of human rights, including those committed by some elements of the Congolese security forces. The Council welcomes progress with the recent prosecutions after the incidents in Fizi and other cases. It reiterates the urgent need for the swift prosecution of all perpetrators of human rights abuses, and urges the Congolese authorities, with the support of MONUSCO, to implement the appropriate responses to address this challenge, including in Walikale. It urges the Congolese government to take all necessary steps, including ensuring proper conduct by their armed forces in compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, to facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons.


“The Security Council notes with interest the electoral calendar presented by the Congolese authorities and urges the Congolese Government as well as all relevant parties to ensure an environment conducive to a credible, inclusive, transparent, peaceful, timely, free and fair electoral process. It expresses its thanks to MONUSCO and the international community for their support to the electoral process to date, and encourages continued support. The Security Council recalls that ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of movement for all candidates, as well as for journalists, human rights defenders and actors from the civil society, is of the utmost importance. It calls upon the Government and all Congolese stakeholders to meet their responsibility in this regard, and further calls upon MONUSCO to support these efforts, in particular through the good offices of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, enhanced and regular dialogue with the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) through the Election Partnership Committee, and follow-up on human rights violations. It also calls upon MONUSCO and all relevant international actors to swiftly support the training of the Congolese police, and for donors to provide support for police equipment. It requests the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed on the electoral process, including on MONUSCO’s support to this process.


“The Security Council stresses the need for urgent progress, with regard to governance and institution building, on judicial reform and support to domestic courts, in order to ensure the rule of law and strengthen the fight against impunity. In this regard, the Council notes the interest of the Congolese authorities for establishing specialized mixed courts to address serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, complemented by their existing cooperation with the International Criminal Court. It calls upon MONUSCO and other relevant international actors to support the efforts of the Congolese government in these fields, and to assist in the restoration of basic services, including access to justice, road access, priority health and education infrastructures, and security infrastructures, throughout the country, and especially in conflict-affected areas.


“The Security Council underlines the importance of economic development to ensure long-term stabilization and peace consolidation. It stresses that special attention should be placed on women’s empowerment and participation in the economy, job creation for youth, and reintegration of former combatants. It also underlines the need for further progress in ensuring that the trade in mineral resources is founded on sound economic governance practices, and is therefore transparent, fair and legal. It notes that urgent attention is needed to create an enabling environment to attract the public and private investment necessary to address food security, infrastructure and energy needs. The Security Council reiterates that regional cooperation with neighbouring countries should play a key role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s economic development.


“The Security Council calls upon the international community, the African Union and all relevant sub-regional organizations to further engage in support of the stabilisation efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, notably in the fields of security, the fight against illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources, and socio-economic development.”


Background


The Security Council had before it a letter dated 2 May 2011 from the Permanent Representative of France and addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/2011/282), annexed to which is a concept paper prepared by the French presidency as a guide to the discussion on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It states that, in the context of that country’s gradual stabilization, a debate should allow the Council to take stock of the situation with both the Congolese authorities and the international community, with respect to security, the electoral process, governance and institution-building.


With respect to security, the paper notes that the eastern part of the country remains unstable, accounting for the bulk of security problems.  In the west, however, Equateur Province has also faced security challenges and is an area of concern, with 120,000 persons having fled in 2009 for neighbouring Congo.  It asks what action should be taken to strengthen security, particularly in the east.


On the electoral process, the paper notes that presidential and legislative elections are a necessary precondition for the consolidation of State authority, and asks how the international community and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) can contribute to the Congolese Government’s organization of a free and transparent electoral cycle to begin in November 2011.


Regarding governance and institution-building, the paper asks what are the next steps needed to ensure the consolidation of democratic institutions and State authority throughout the country, particularly in the east.  As for economic development, the paper emphasizes that longer-term stabilization requires real economic expansion, and asks how the foundation can be laid for long-term economic development.


Statements


BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted that the Organization’s effort in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was one of its largest operations.  Security had improved in most of the national territory, with progress in dismantling foreign and Congolese armed groups in the east, although they continued to pose significant threats and 1.7 million people remained displaced as a result.  In addition, human rights violations, including murders, sexual violence and the looting and burning of villages, continued to have large-scale humanitarian consequences.


He said presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for 28 November, followed by provincial and local elections, could help further consolidate peace and stability, although it was critical that they be credible and peaceful.  Urging all stakeholders to work together to ensure the elections met those conditions, he said MONUSCO was expected to continue to provide logistical and technical support, and stood ready to support election observers.  It would also be critical to provide the necessary equipment to Congolese police units undergoing electoral-security training by the Mission, France and the Government.


Turning to the rule of law, governance and institution-building, the Secretary-General welcomed the Government’s increased leadership in addressing sexual violence, but he stressed that he remained deeply troubled by its magnitude across the country.  He once again urged the Congolese authorities to do more to end to such crimes, also urging international partners to provide the necessary support for the national police, army and justice system, and to make identifying and prosecuting perpetrators a priority.  “The cycle of impunity must end,” he emphasized.


Finally, he stressed that there could be no lasting stability without economic recovery, reconstruction and development.  In that light, he welcomed efforts to combat the illegal exploitation of natural resources, which drove conflict and deprived the country of vital revenues.  The Congolese people should be proud of the gains made over the last decade, he said, cautioning, however, that the situation remained fragile and the challenges loomed large.  “The successful conduct of credible elections will be a milestone on the road to stability,” he said.  “I encourage the Government, national stakeholders and the international community to jointly identify the priorities of the next phase and the nature of United Nations support.”


RAYMOND TSHIBANDA, Minister for International and Regional Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said 2011 was an important year in his country’s history, and thanked the Secretary-General, the wider United Nations and others for their long-standing interest in and support for “this young Congolese democracy”.  Regular evaluation of the international community’s actions was essential to ensuring that they reflected current realities in the country, and to reinforcing the partnership between the Government and the United Nations.  He expressed hope that the meetings in New York today and throughout the week would help build a “triple consensus” on:  progress towards normalizing the situation in the country; remaining obstacles to be addressed; and, on the basis of that dual evaluation, future United Nations action, especially regarding MONUSCO’s mandate.


Turning to the situation in his country, he said military operations had ended and efforts were underway to root out remaining armed resistance and permanently remove all threats to peace.  While small, the armed groups were widely dispersed and continued to pose a threat in a number of remote areas which, though fragile, were nevertheless under Government control.  The armed forces were being reorganized into regiments, re-trained and deployed to areas in which they were needed.  As for the police, many officers were being deployed to shore up the country’s borders, he said, adding that a law on reforming the national police was being elaborated.  As for other reforms, he said the Government had approved the deployment of “roving trial chambers” and other judicial mechanisms.  While such initiatives were yielding some success on the whole, progress was hampered somewhat by insufficient infrastructure and a lack of well-trained staff.


He went on to note that despite progress in reducing threats and paving the way for State control of the security forces, significant challenges remained, linked chiefly to peacebuilding, democracy, good governance and building State and institutional capacity.  The Government had, therefore, prioritized several activities, including:  elections to ensure that the Congolese people could take up the reins of their destiny; security-sector reform to guarantee the rights and security of citizens, and bring an end to impunity for those guilty of crimes such as raping women and other human rights violations; combating illegal exploitation of natural resources; strengthening the capacity of public and territorial administration, especially in the fragile eastern provinces; and forging relationships based on good neighbourliness, towards strengthening regional cooperation.


On the upcoming elections, he said the Government was committed to abiding by the deadline and ensuring that they were free and democratic.  To that end, the Government had established the Independent Electoral Commission to prepare for and monitor the exercise.  It featured nearly equal representation of the majority and opposition parties, he stressed.  Also, voter registration and the examination of electoral roles had begun, the electoral timetable had been adopted and the participation of key opposition leaders had been confirmed.  The Government was taking pains to ensure freedom of the press in order to increase awareness about and participation in all electoral processes, he added.


Moreover, he continued, the Government had undertaken, despite meagre resources, to bear 60 per cent of the election costs, which was proof of its commitment to democracy.  He appealed to the international community for assistance in bridging the 40 per gap in funding, for MONUSCO’s technical and logistical support, and for assistance with transportation, which would be crucial during the elections.  There was also a need to ensure that the Electoral Commission was sufficiently resourced to guide all the complex undertakings it would be required to tackle.


Looking ahead, he said all future assistance provided by the United Nations and MONUSCO must aim to “put an end to the crisis of legitimacy in the country, re-launch the economy, and consolidate and build upon the results that we have achieved by working together”.  He added:  “We are of the view that the time has come to broach together a transition that would lead to the reconfiguring of MONUSCO and its mandate [towards] a phased withdrawal of its military component, in line with recommendations of experts and joint evaluation team.”  Such a move would not undermine the security situation, he emphasized.  Rather, an adapted mandate for the Mission would better address new situations on the ground.  He also outlined the priority areas for support, including security-sector reform, judicial reform, and peacebuilding, which should focus specifically on fostering jobs and income potential for women and young people.


Minister Tshibanda expressed hope that the Congolese Government could count on the active assistance of the United Nations and the wider international community with implementation of all the initiatives and programmes under way.  Indeed, “real needs” must be met to ensure the entire population benefited from peace dividends, and to ensure the building of a strong and prosperous State, able to meet the needs of its citizens.  “Therefore we expect a great deal from the United Nations, which has the capacity to help build Congolese institutions,” he said.  Regarding deliberations on the future of cooperation between the United Nations and the Congolese Government, “dialogue and partnership” should be the watchwords, he said.


NELSON MESSONE (Gabon), agreeing that there was a need for further action based on partnership between the United Nations and the Government, said the objective was gradually to transfer to the Government its full prerogatives while continuing to assist stability.  He welcomed the progress made on security, but stressed that increased assistance was needed in that regard, given the length of the eastern border.  Strengthening regional cooperation was also important, as was a genuine disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan.


Welcoming all actions to combat impunity, he said the rule of law, education and socio-economic development were also crucial.  He also welcomed the convening of the Lusaka Summit, which had endorsed guidelines for the tracing of natural resources, welcoming as well the granting of funds to trace their illicit exploitation.  The international community must accompany the Democratic Republic of the Congo in its quest for a lasting peace by addressing the priorities outlined by the Minister, he stressed.


MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said it was important for the upcoming elections to be inclusive and to respect freedom of expression.  It was vital that the Government build confidence and the conditions for displaced persons to rebuild their lives, while driving forward reform of the army and police, particularly their justice mechanisms.  He welcomed the progress made in training police units and urged support for further training in order to provide the foundation for re-establishing the rule of law in the entire national territory.  All links of the criminal justice chain must be reformed, he emphasized.


He also urged greater regional coordination in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, and, in general, a coordinated United Nations approach in supporting Government reforms.  The United Kingdom would provide $1.2 billion in bilateral funding, in addition to its contributions through the United Nations and the European Union, he pledged, underscoring the importance of a stable, peaceful Democratic Republic of the Congo.


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) noted with concern the ongoing human rights violations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and condemned all such actions as well as the armed groups responsible.  The Government and the international community must step up their efforts to end all such activities, he stressed.  It was clear that the situation would not be alleviated without a holistic strategy that addressed nagging socio-economic issues, illegal exploitation of natural resources and bottlenecks concerning the integration of ex-combatants into the national armed forces.  Other priority areas included building State institutions in areas free of armed groups and laying the ground for free, fair and all-inclusive elections.  Warning that the coming months might bring renewed tensions, he said the Government and MONUSCO must work together to ensure the polls were carried out in a safe atmosphere.


DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said that in spite of significant progress over the past 10 years, major issues remained to be addressed, including socio-economic challenges and ongoing violence in the fragile eastern provinces.  MONUSCO’s mandate should continue to focus on security in the east, with support from the Government, he said, welcoming, in relation to that, ongoing efforts to foster cooperation and partnership between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours in the region.  He added that MONUSCO’s future role should complement the Government’s efforts to extend State control over the entire national territory and to meet the needs of its people.


Expressing satisfaction with the relative peace and security in the country, despite problems in the east, he said South Africa was also pleased that the Congolese people would be returning to the polls at the end of the year for the third time since independence.  The international community should not desert them during the run-up to the polls, he stressed, adding that it must support the work of the Independent Electoral Commission.  While they would not redress all the issues, elections would be a watershed moment in the country’s history, paving the way for the consolidation of the gains made thus far.  As for socio-economic development, he said recent growth could boost peace-consolidation efforts.  Strategies for better management of the natural-resource base were essential, as were efforts to provide jobs and decent work, especially for young people.


LI BAODONG (China) welcomed the progress made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saying the international community should continue to support the efforts of its Government.  Regarding elections, he called for financial and logistical support by the international community while stressing that interference in the country’s internal affairs must be avoided.  In the area of security, he called for training and capacity-building for the police and armed forces.  China called for the creation of an environment conducive to investment, for the exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of the Congolese people, and for an end to the illicit exploitation of those resources.


RAFF WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said the challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo were surmountable if the right solutions were found.  In order not to lose momentum, it was important to adhere strictly to the electoral calendar, with the unwavering support of the international community.  The fight against insecurity, impunity and human rights violations required support for the security and justice sectors, he said, adding that support was also critical to rebuilding the economy and ending the illegal exploitation of natural resources.  There were opportunities for greater regional cooperation to improve security as well, he said, stressing the need for national ownership of stabilization and development efforts, and expressing appreciation for MONUSCO’s efforts while urging it to continue to support the Government in the areas of greatest need.


NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) recalled that one year ago the Council had adopted resolution 1925 (2010), which had changed the Organization’s engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and paved the way for increased Government involvement in national affairs.  Welcoming the Government’s efforts to restore peace and build administrative institutions, he said “the needs remain huge” nevertheless, especially in light of ongoing violent activity by armed groups, the resultant human rights violations, and attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries.  Lebanon was very concerned about continuing reports of rape, and particularly alarmed that human rights groups had stressed that the problem was so pervasive that an estimated 48 Congolese women were raped every hour.  The Government must step up its efforts to tackle such crimes and end impunity, he said, emphasizing that women should no longer suffer.  Efforts should also be made to address the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, and to curb the spread of cholera and other diseases.


JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) called for fostering the positive trend in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including through continuing improvement in security and enhanced civilian protection.  The activities of armed groups remained an intolerable source of instability and violence in North and South as well as Orientale Provinces, he said, calling on the Government to implement the recommendations of the Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict.  It was encouraging that the authorities had shown the political will to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence, he said, underlining in that context the need for security-sector reform, while noting the role played by theEuropean Union advisory and assistance mission for security reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo (EUSEC), under the leadership of Portugal’s General Antonio Martins.  In the run-up to the upcoming presidential elections, the national authorities must hold and keep up an enhanced dialogue with the opposition and the international community, in order to ensure an environment conducive to peaceful, free and fair elections.  He went on to stress that the challenges posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army could only be addressed through effective regional cooperation.


DAVID DUNN ( United States) said his delegation was committed to working with the Congolese Government towards the shared objective of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, in which that country played such a crucial role.  The United States was also committed to assisting the country as it prepared for upcoming elections.  For long-term stability to take root, all the people would require comprehensive security, he said, welcoming MONUSCO’s strategy to extend its support to all local communities, which would link peacekeepers with ordinary citizens.


Nevertheless, the continuing violent activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army and other armed groups were a source of serious concern, he said.  They continued illegally to exploit natural resources, thereby generating funds to keep the conflict going and to undermine general security in the eastern part of the country and elsewhere in the region.  To help address that situation, the United States had charged all its corporations doing business in the country to ensure their mineral purchases did not support violent groups.  He urged other States to support resolutions calling for due diligence to ensure that trade in Congolese minerals did not prop up armed groups.  Further, he urged the Government to de-militarize mines, and enact rules and policies that were in line with priorities of good governance.


He went on to say that the upcoming elections could be “historic”, but every effort must be made to bridge gaps that could undermine the exercise.  In that regard, a new electoral law had yet to be passed, there were substantial logistical challenges, intimidation of domestic human rights workers continued, and the electoral timeline was tight, with little room for error.  He therefore called on the Government to demonstrate the highest regard for democratic process while continuing to lay the groundwork for open and fair elections, with freedom of movement for politicians and journalists.


Emphasizing that it was ultimately up to the Government to provide security, he said the United States would continue to support its efforts in that regard.  He also detailed his country’s support for a comprehensive approach to tackling sexual violence, taking better care of survivors, and scaling up programmes to combat HIV/AIDS.  The Government must continue to take concrete steps to address the real challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, pledging his country’s commitment to providing the relevant support and to working with the wider international community to that end.


NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia) called for a full assessment of the reintegration of former combatants, and said that army and police reform should be energized by measures leading to a clear subordination of the armed forces to civilian authority.  Support for the upcoming elections should be realized under the principle of national ownership and responsibility, he stressed, underscoring also the need for free and fair polls.  In order to consolidate democratic institutions and State authority throughout the territory, there was a need to acknowledge the interdependence of security, institutional capacity, human rights and development.  Ending impunity for sexual violence and other rights abuses was fundamental, he said.  Noting also the importance of economic development, he said the fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources was a priority, as was the need for an environment conducive to investment and job creation.


HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said that entrenching democratic values, improving security and the rule of law, and creating an environment conducive to development were among the priorities for further stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Free and fair elections were a critical part of that effort, he noted, stressing also the importance of effective, representative democratic institutions.  MONUSCO should support their creation through support for the upcoming elections, he said, underscoring also the need to end the violence fostered by illicit armed groups, and the sexual violence they engendered along with some elements of the national armed forces.


It was important to build on the success achieved so far in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, he said.  Paying tribute to the peacekeepers of MONUSCO, he said there was an urgent need for the Council to address the resource gaps affecting the Mission as it faced enormous and complex challenges.  Noting that his country had a long history of supporting MONUSCO, currently contributing thousands of troops, he described the accomplishments of Indian contingents as well as his country’s support for building the capacities of that and other sectors.


PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said the key questions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo included how to define MONUSCO’s mandate and structure to support Congolese priorities; and what shape the involvement of the United Nations and the wider international community would take after the upcoming elections.  There would be a continuing need to focus on security, governance, human rights and socio-economic development, he said, noting that the current political and military situation “does not correspond to a stabilization base”, particularly since violence continued in certain parts of the country and armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, remained active.  There was also a need to press ahead with reforming all elements of the security sector, especially the integration of all armed factions.  International support was needed to ensure the chain of payments to the armed forces, and to bolster coordination between the police and justice systems.  Cooperation from the African Union and other regional mechanisms was also needed to end the control of armed groups over natural resources, he added.


On human rights, he noted specifically the challenge of child recruitment, and urged the Government to implement an action plan to end the practice.  As for the upcoming elections, they presented an essential opportunity to make progress in consolidating political processes, he said.  Going forward, endemic poverty and lack of employment for demobilized combatants and youth were potential sources of tension and violence, he warned, adding that it was therefore crucial to lay the foundations for developing the capacity to avert such challenges, and to enhance the support of the African Union and other regional actors in those areas.  Ensuring an effective legal mining industry in accordance with good governance principles was also of key importance, he said.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) expressed “major concern” over the continuing violent activities of armed groups, along with child recruitment and sexual violence against women.  She said her country stood ready to assist in preparations for the upcoming elections, which would be a milestone in the move to consolidate peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Looking ahead, she said that sustainable progress would require the strengthening of State institutions and national processes, in cooperation between MONUSCO and local authorities.  It had also been essential in the elaboration of due diligence strategies in the fight against illegal exploitation of natural resources.  She said she looked forward to Minister Tshibanda’s upcoming visit to Brazil, and hoped it would lead to further development of bilateral ties.


IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said reform of the national armed forces and police was a basic element for long-term stability and the effective protection of civilians.  The upcoming elections would be an opportunity to strengthen democratic institutions, and it was vital that the United Nations, MONUSCO and international partners help the national authorities hold a free, fair and credible vote.  The fragile security situation in the east meant that the Government, with support from MONUSCO, needed to sustain activities to neutralize armed groups, he said.  The international community must exert pressure on those groups, including the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, by strictly implementing the relevant sanctions regime.  Concerned that the national security forces were committing human rights violations, he reiterated his delegation’s firm position that perpetrators of crimes against civilians must be brought to justice.  Welcoming the more robust posture adopted by MONUSCO, and its efforts to carry out new approaches to the protection of civilians, he emphasized that regional cooperation among the countries of the Great Lakes region was key to stabilizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Council President PIERRE SELLAL, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, spoke in his national capacity in underscoring the importance of continuing strategic dialogue between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Nations.  Organizing the elections was a major challenge and they must be free, timely, peaceful and credible, he stressed, adding that they should be supported by the international community.  France was setting up two rapid-response police battalions and continued to train national police personnel to support the elections.  Outlining security priorities, he said the international community required a clear commitment from the Government as to how it intended to address the challenges of the near future as a basis for dialogue and cooperation.


TEGEGNEWORK GETTU, Regional Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa Bureau, said UNDP was committed to continued assistance to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in order to expand the Congolese peoples’ opportunities and capabilities, and enable them to improve their lives.  To do that, UNDP was supporting efforts in security and stabilization, the electoral process, governance and institution-building and economic development.  To advance security and stabilization, UNDP, the World Bank and other key United Nations partners were supporting creation of a peace consolidation programme to complement the existing stabilization programme in the Eastern region.


In addition, UNDP was providing technical and capacity-development support to the Independent National Electoral Commission, she said.  Voter registration was ongoing; approximately 49 per cent of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 31 million voters already were registered, she said.  Meting the June deadline for voter registration would be challenging and would require concerted effort.  The Independent National Electoral Commission, MONUSCO and UNDP would continue to collaborate to help facilitate fair, credible elections in 2012 and 2013.  UNDP would work throughout the election cycle to strengthen institutions needed to make the elections fair and meaningful, and ultimately to ensure human rights and the rule of law.  On economic development, to sustain high growth and ensure it reached poor, marginalized communities, economic and human development initiatives must be expanded nationally and locally.  In that regard, decentralization, including the free and fair election of local leaders and the transfer of resources to legitimate decentralized entities, was crucial.


COLIN BRUCE, Director of Operations for Africa, World Bank, confirmed that evidence indicated that peace, stability and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had yielded economic benefits.  Indeed, the gross domestic product (GDP) had continued to improve following the end of widespread conflict in the country.  Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals was also being made.


At the same time, the World Bank remained concerned about ongoing violence in certain parts of the country and urged the Congolese Government to “stay the course” as it sought to end the activities of armed groups and reintegrate ex-fighters.  Further, while timely and fair elections were essential, he encouraged the Government to avoid the fiscal risks that often attended changes in Government, and also to be cognizant of the impact of rising food and commodity prices as Election Day approached.


He said the World Bank stood squarely with those calling on the Government to address sexual violence against women and to bolster gender equality and women’s participation in national affairs.  The World Bank also embraced interventions that “are going to be in place for the long-haul”.  To that end, it was focused on areas that would build or improve basic services, such as electricity and health outcomes.  The Bank was also focused on better governance in the mining sector, education and food security.  “We hope that everyone will stay focused on longer-term issues and longer-term engagement,” he said.


PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the delegation of the European Union, said the Union’s engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was based on two axioms — namely, the importance of local ownership and the need to ensure a coordinated international effort, with the United Nations at its core.  He said three challenges were at the heart of the strategic relationship the European Union was building.  The first was related to strengthening an open, democratic political system, and the 2011-2013 electoral cycle, starting with the 28 November 2011 presidential and legislative elections, would be critical.  The Union was contributing 47.5 million euros and planned to purchase communications equipment for the Kinshasa police.  It was also considering sending an electoral observation mission, he said. 


The second challenge related to governance, he said.  In that regard, the European Union had prioritized security reform, including strengthening of defence and police forces, as well as the justice system.  Currently two European Union missions —EUSEC and EUPOL — were, in close cooperation with the United Nations and other international actors, assisting and advising the Congolese Government’s efforts to reform and reconstruct its army and police.  The Union was also the main donor to the Congolese justice sector, he said, suggesting, however, that the current allocation of national resources to the country’s ambitious justice sector reform plan was too low.  In terms of the third challenge facing the European Union’s efforts — the economy — he said that, while recent developments in the country’s macroeconomic policies were positive, further efforts were needed to ensure economic stability.  The union had contributed approximately 634 million euros to the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the tenth European Development Fund from 2008 to 2013 to support physical reconstruction, while pursuing stabilization efforts in some regions of the country.  It was also supporting the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries, a regional organization made up of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, which worked as a permanent post-conflict forum for dialogue among the three countries and which was bearing its first fruit in such areas as regional security and development of a regional economic infrastructure.


Minister TSHIBANDA, taking the floor at the end of the debate, thanked the Council and said he was gratified to note that consensus had been reached on the progress achieved in his country and the remaining challenges.  He also noted the speakers’ resolve to bolster the international community’s partnership with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pledging the Government’s commitment to building peace and democracy.  It would maintain the progress towards open, free and fair elections, with as broad a level of participation as possible, free media access, and security for all, he said, stressing the need for timely and targeted assistance from MONUSCO.


Returning to the issue of rape and sexual violence, he assured the Council that while even a single rape was a tragedy, “the fact that there are so many of them keeps us from sleeping at night”.  He admitted that efforts to address the matter were slow, but the Government was committed to concrete progress.  It was working hard to build institutional capacity, raise awareness and generate greater momentum for broad-based action.  “I understand the very positive message behind the figures quoted by some speakers today, but we believe it is necessary to take them with a grain of salt,” he said, pointing out that they dated back to 2006.  “We should strive to avoid the stigmatization of both the country and the women of the Congo.”


He nevertheless welcomed the efforts undertaken by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on that issue, and pledged to work with him to come up with a sustainable solution to sexual violence against women.  On the exploitation of natural resources, he assured the Council that the Government was working assiduously to address challenges and policy gaps.  He added that the Government had received support from all its neighbours towards a more coordinated approach in tackling that matter.  A well-thought out and coordinated strategy was under way to provide assistance to and address the challenges facing refugees and internally displaced persons, he said.


The Minister concluded by saying he had taken note of the suggestions made by the representatives of the European Union delegation, the World Bank and UNDP and believed that such suggestions, particularly those concerning the importance of bolstering small and medium-sized enterprises, would be vital going forward.  “Our hope is that in the upcoming weeks and months, we will all make progress in our dialogue towards updating the content of our cooperation.”


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For information media • not an official record