Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Address to the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Kinshasa on 27 January

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kinshasa (DRC), 27 January 2007

I would like first of all to express, on my personal behalf and on behalf of the United Nations, my sincerest congratulations on your historic election to the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I would also like to tell you how pleased and honoured I am to speak before you at this crucial time in the history of your country.

For my first official visit to the African continent, I chose the Democratic Republic of the Congo because I wanted to directly and personally pay homage to the exceptional courage and determination of the Congolese people. Thanks to the bravery and maturity of its people, and with the help of the United Nations and the international community, in particular the African States, the country has made spectacular progress in the past seven years. Yesterday a war-torn nation, it stands ready today to become a new democracy. The smooth conduct of the recent elections was a major step. Those elections clearly demonstrated the people’s will to regain peace and stability. Security has even been considerably strengthened in the country’s most unstable areas.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a real source of hope for all of Africa today. And yet, as you know, the challenges to come are enormous. There is a need to improve health care, guarantee access to education, provide basic services, repair infrastructure and provide the entire country with clean drinking water. The economy must also be restored, so that everyone will have a job. Moreover, public revenue, mostly from natural resources, must be used to improve the people’s living conditions. Finally, the Government must consolidate its authority while making progress towards decentralization. In this way, all citizens and all communities will be able to participate fully in the gargantuan task of rebuilding the country.

I know the tremendous amount of work this represents because I myself grew up in a country that had been laid to waste by war; a country that gradually rebuilt itself thanks to the discipline of its leaders, the hard work of its people and the support of the international community, led by the United Nations. You can count on us. We will remain at the side of the Government and civil society in order that the country may attain the Millennium Development Goals and those of the 2005 World Summit. Together, we will reduce poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination. Together, we will achieve development.

But as strong as the international community’s support is, the key to a better future in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in your hands. For this reason I would like to invite you to conclude a contract with yourselves and with the people you represent, as well as all your international partners. It would be a kind of “good governance contract”, for the restoration of Government authority and the entrenchment of the primacy of law throughout the country are indispensable to the consolidation of peace and democracy.

In order to thrive, democracy needs a real political opposition where all can express themselves freely and without fear of intimidation. That is also good governance. I therefore ask all parties represented in this important body and the country’s entire leadership to work together and give primary consideration to the interests of the Congolese people. I also hope that the institutions still to be established, following the elections to the Senate, will reflect the wide range of views held in the country. I also hope to see broad participation by women. Once this process is completed, I urge the Parliament immediately to consider the decentralization laws, in order that local and municipal elections may take place as soon as possible.

There is no democracy without justice. In this regard, much remains to be done in order to guarantee an effective system of justice that is capable of protecting human rights and ending impunity. Institutional reforms are necessary to prevent new crimes, and in particular to identify those responsible for human rights violations within the security forces. The sexual and sexist violence that plagues Congolese society must also be urgently addressed. All citizens must have free access to the justice system if the country is to make progress towards national reconciliation.

Restoring security throughout the territory is an indispensable requirement for lasting stability. To this end, priority must be given to establishing a well-paid, well-equipped and professional army and police force. The army and the police must be capable of providing security throughout the country while respecting democratic principles and human rights. Progress in this crucial area would enable MONUC (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to transfer responsibility for security to the national and local authorities. The transfer would take place gradually and in accordance with a time frame to be discussed with the Government.

But in order for progress to be made towards the establishment of a genuine national army, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of Congolese combatants must be completed. A parallel effort must be made to address decisively the problem of foreign armed groups, which continue to operate in the country and to commit crimes against the people. MONUC is prepared to help the Government find a solution to this urgent issue.

I am not unaware of the complex problems that exist between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and some of its neighbours in the Great Lakes region. But I find the progress made towards the initiation of a constructive dialogue among the States of the region to be very encouraging. I am thinking in particular of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development, signed recently in Nairobi. I therefore encourage Parliament to consider seriously ratifying this important agreement and ensuring that it is implemented immediately.

In conclusion, I would like to assure you that the United Nations will continue its close consultations with the national authorities to identify and resolve the priority issues confronting the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Organization, together with MONUC and the country team, remains determined to support your efforts and those of the Government and civil society to respond to the millions of Congolese men, women and children who aspire to peace, security and prosperity.