23 September 2013

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

Secretary-General to Leaders of Great Lakes Region at Oversight Mechanism Meeting:

‘Rise to This Moment, by Adopting, Swiftly Meeting Proposed Benchmarks’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the second meeting of the regional oversight mechanisms (11+4) of the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, in New York, 23 September:

Thank you for attending this important second meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism.  I am especially grateful to my co-chair, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  The presence of all here demonstrates your commitment to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.

The extent of violence and human suffering in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is overwhelming.  I deplore the recent military activities of the M23 and other armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I am appalled by the attacks against civilians, including vulnerable women and children.  Our United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) staff are working hard to fulfil their mandate and protect these innocent people.

I am also concerned about conditions facing some 2 million displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and refugees in neighbouring countries.  Resources are not keeping up with needs.  We are facing a severe strain on our efforts to save lives and alleviate suffering.  Hundreds of thousands of people lack much-needed assistance.

We need more resources to help those in need.  But more than that, we end the recurring violence by dealing with the root causes of the conflict.  The first priority must to address tensions in the region so we can implement the Framework Agreement.

I am encouraged by recent developments, including the recent extraordinary summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Kampala.  My Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and my Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, continue to focus attention on promoting peace, security and cooperation.

Their efforts have been assisted by recent visits to the region by the African Union Special Representative, Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the European Union Senior Coordinator, Koen Vervaeke, and the United States Special Envoy, Russ Feingold.

We must move forward with the commitments made in Addis Ababa in February.  I welcome your joint efforts, especially through the work of the Technical Support Committee, to produce benchmarks and indicators of progress.  I hope you adopt those today. 

I reiterate my appeal to the international community to support the Governments of the region in meeting their commitments in a timely manner with the participation of civil society.  I especially call on donors such as the African Development Bank, the European Union, the World Bank, and bilateral partners to consider how they can do more.  My Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, will continue coordinating with countries in the region, donors, regional organizations and civil society so people in the Great Lakes can reap the dividends of peace.

I remain convinced that you can achieve peace, security and cooperation in the region despite the many security and humanitarian challenges.  I urge you to rise to this moment, by adopting and swiftly meeting the proposed regional benchmarks.

When I went to the region in May with the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, we personally underscored our support for the Framework Agreement.  We wanted to show our strong solidarity to the people.  We emphasised that peace and development should go hand in hand.

People lined the streets to express their hopes — and fears.  One woman held a sign that said:  “Peace, Peace, Peace, Please”.  Her words represent the plea of millions of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond who want stability and prosperity.  I count on all of you to help us answer their urgent call.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record