SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS 31 SPEAKERS IN OPEN MEETING ON CONFLICT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO19990319 Human Rights Minister of Democratic Republic Says Presence of Rwandan, Ugandan Troops Sole Obstacle to Peace
The Minister of Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo told the Security Council today that the stubborn presence of Rwanda and Uganda in his country had been the sole obstacle to peace, as the Council held an open meeting on the conflict in that country.
The Minister, one of 31 speakers to address the Council today, said those two countries were citing border insecurity as a pretext for their aggression, while the international community had made only "timid declarations" against violations of his country's territorial integrity. He said the Council should consider the deployment of peacekeepers to secure the shared 2,000-kilometre borders with its eastern neighbours -- Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
The representative of Burkina Faso, speaking on behalf of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), said non-respect of borders in Africa would open a pandora's box and lead to limitless disputes, which was even more pertinent in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, because of its very size and dissimilar populations. The border question could not be opened up without some tacit agreement among States to do so.
The OAU had taken some praiseworthy steps, including the convening of a summit in December, at which it had enjoined the parties to the conflict to respect the sacrosanct principle of borders, he added. Unfortunately, the OAU's tireless search for peace had not borne fruit, and had left the impression that Africa remained complacent in dealing with the tragedy. The situation was highly complex, and one could easily understand why neither high-level OAU meetings nor subregional efforts had resulted in a conclusive settlement.
The Rwandan representative told the Council that his Government respected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations. The
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Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, should dismantle the dozen non- State armies that were being used to conduct aggression against the territorial integrity of its neighbours. His country was resolved to join others in a coalition against the recurrence of genocide and terrorism in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere. Unfortunately, like the prior leadership of then Zaire, the Democratic Republic leadership embraced the evil forces of genocide, which had inevitably led to the current crisis.
Uganda's representative said that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had an internal and external dimension. The external dimension -- in the cases of Uganda and Rwanda -- had been prompted by activities hostile to those two countries emanating from the Congo. Originally, Uganda had a small number of forces in the Democratic Republic, invited by President Laurent Kabila, to flush out opposition forces. Then, when hostilities erupted in August, as a result of internal political problems, military assistance was provided by the Governments of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, which intervened under the pretext that the Democratic Republic had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda. Uganda had subsequently acted in self-defence and deployed additional forces. His country had neither territorial ambition nor economic interests in the Democratic Republic, beyond the normal course of trade between countries.
The representative of Zimbabwe then told the Council that the "security thesis" was an excuse for Uganda and Rwanda to dismember the polity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an endeavour to establish a "greater Rwanda". Uganda and Rwanda wanted to tear away by force the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In blatant violation of its national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, the invaders had been appointing government officials, creating artificial borders within the country's territory by issuing and demanding visas and smuggling commodities, such as timber, gold and diamonds.
The invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Uganda and Rwanda -- which had plunged the country into a devastating war -- was indeed the result of expansionist ambitions, the Namibian representative added. The sacred principles of the non-violability of borders and State sovereignty had compelled his country, together with Angola and Zimbabwe, to intervene, at the expressed invitation of President Kabila and his legitimate Government. The sole purpose of their intervention was to prevent the collapse of the State machinery and the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a fellow member State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the involvement of several countries in the conflict had not led to the intended stabilization, but rather to a dangerous escalation which now threatened regional stability as a whole. What was most important was that
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all warring parties showed their unconditional willingness, through concrete steps, to speed up that peace process. He reiterated the Union's support for the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and security.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Canada, Gambia, Argentina, Brazil, France, United States, Gabon, Slovenia, Netherlands, Bahrain, Malaysia, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, China, Sudan, Japan, Zambia, Egypt, Libya, Kenya, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi, and Jamaica.
The meeting was called to order at 10:26 a.m. and suspended at 1:11 p.m. It resumed at 3:20 p.m. and adjourned at 5:45 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning in an open meeting to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council had before it a letter dated 4 March from the Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United Nations, André Mwamba Kapanga, to the Council President requesting him to arrange, on an urgent basis, an open debate on the question, "Peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo".
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Minister of Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he appreciated the Council's favourable response to his country's fitting request for a meeting. His delegation had decided to request the discussion in order to draw the Council's attention to the danger of permitting internalization of the conflict in his country. Despite the efforts of his Government, negotiations had not been concluded and a ceasefire had not materialized. Those would have already succeeded if all of the parties involved had demonstrated good faith and honesty in negotiations. The stubborn presence of Rwanda and Uganda in his country had been the sole obstacle to peace.
He said that the involvement of the international community would in no way thwart regional efforts. It was timely to call upon the international community to become more involved in the search for a lasting peaceful solution to the conflict. The United Nations should become aware of the determination and, indeed, the tremendous need of the Congolese nation for peace and both internal and external security. The international community should become involved in leading aggressors to engage to sincere negotiations. The solution to the current crisis required the convening of a regional conference of countries of the Great Lakes region, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.
Indeed, his country had demonstrated flexibility in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis, he continued. Yet, the aggressors had not made similar concessions, as the Council was well aware. The international community would recall that it had to exert strong pressure on Uganda and Rwanda to obtain their admission of military involvement in Congolese territory. "Are we to stop at that level of pressure?" he asked. "Are we still to hear about the atrocities committed daily by those countries on the most vulnerable segments of the population?".
President Laurent Kabila had concentrated on pacifying and stabilizing the Great Lakes region, he said. He had endeavoured to export peace, security and development. The regional conference had not taken into account the bad
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faith and ambitions of the current aggressors, who had hoped for the failure the of that conference.
Unfortunately, in the case of Uganda and its ally, Rwanda, no effort had been made to reach out to the exiled opponents, he said. Further, no efforts had been made to integrate them into the structure of their respective societies. Rather, the language of weapons had been more expressive than dialogue, and insecurity had grown, both for nationals and foreigners. As a result, his country's eastern territories had suffered the deplorable consequences of war and occupation.
He said that, despite the complexity of the question and the horrors that had been committed by the regular armed forces of neighbouring countries, the international community, through the OAU and the United Nations, had only made some "timid declaration" concerning violations of territorial integrity. Meanwhile, the war atrocities in the field were countless and continued to exact a heavy price from the innocent population, thousands of whom had been assassinated. Many had even been beheaded, a practice that staggered the imagination.
He said his country would ask the Security Council to take steps to halt the commission of those atrocities by peaceful means. The question of deploying forces to guarantee peace and security along borders involved the question of the duration of those peacekeepers. The Democratic Republic of the Congo shared more than 2,000 kilometres of borders with its neighbours in the east. How then could peace and security truly be guaranteed with the deployment of a peacekeeping force of a limited duration? he asked. His delegation had heard enough statements of good intentions. It sought a concrete affirmation of support following the withdrawal of aggressive forces.
The Great Lakes region suffered from continual instability and a breakdown of peace, for which no definitive solution had been found, he continued. Today it was Rwanda, tomorrow it might be any place else in Africa, and the day before it was the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His Government called for greater involvement by the Security Council in seeking a peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis. His Government had agreed to sign a ceasefire accord, followed by the deployment along its border of a peacekeeping force mandated to monitor and secure the borders between his country, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
For its part, his country had resolutely promised to restore the rule of law and fundamental freedoms throughout its national territory, he said. It was willing to increase access to political space, and it had shown its willingness to work with all socio-political segments of the country, including the so-called rebels, in order to involve them in the future Congolese nation. His country supported the proposal made by France to convene an international conference on peace and security. In order to ensure peace throughout the Great Lakes region,
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it was important for peace to reign along the national borders of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
He said the international community, for its part, was duty-bound to help those three countries. His Government was available to participate actively in that regard. The Council President should issue a statement in order to put an end to the holocaust that Uganda and Rwanda were engaged in. If there were hidden reasons for the aggression, beyond border insecurity, then those were concealed to the Congolese delegation, as well. Could such hidden reasons really override the lives of thousands of Congolese indigenous people being brought down unjustly by aggressors? he asked. Until the international community took additional steps to pacify the entire Great Lakes region of Africa, the very least he expected from today's meeting was the realization that his country was the victim of armed aggression. That aggression should be condemned, he said.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) hoped that today's debate could define a solution to the conflict which, unfortunately, had extended throughout the central African region and now affected several countries.
A military solution could not resolve a dispute that was essentially political, he continued. Only negotiations could lead to a lasting solution and restore peace and stability to a region that had already undergone too much suffering. He attached the highest importance to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours.
He said that agreement to an immediate ceasefire, coupled with serious and sincere discussions involving all parties, offered the only solution to the military stand-off, which had resulted from eight months of conflict involving the armed forces of eight countries and a dozen militias, he said. His country supported, without reservation, the efforts of regional leaders to achieve a negotiated solution.
Concerning a ceasefire, he said that all forces involved must participate, while respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ceasefire, in turn, must be accompanied by a schedule for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, as well as monitoring arrangements, in accordance with the Lusaka agreements. That was the essential condition for the restoration of peace and stability in central Africa.
He said his country was prepared to examine the active involvement of the United Nations, in coordination with the OAU, in implementing a ceasefire agreement and an agreed process for the political settlement of the conflict. It would support concrete, sustainable and effective measures to that end. In addition, is Government supported the convening of an international conference, under United Nations and OAU auspices, on peace, stability and socio-economic development in the Great Lakes region.
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BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said that apart from the real threat that a combination of factors posed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, the entire Great Lakes region itself had since been transformed into a powder keg. There had been serious allegations of massacres and other forms of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Consequently, the security situation remained precarious and, as it continued to deteriorate, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons had also increased. Parties must be reminded of their obligations to respect and protect human rights and to respect international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols of 1977.
It appeared that history was about to repeat itself, but that had to be prevented, he said. The process of the decolonization of the Congo had been like a painful childbirth, followed by callous cold war calculations. What had ensued was an open secret. Barely emerging from that unfortunate state of affairs, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been suddenly plunged into a series of internal and external problems. The net result had been massive displacements of civilian populations, an untold amount of suffering and loss of life, food shortages, the spread of diseases and economic misfortunes.
Since the problem had regional implications, the Gambia had always supported regional diplomatic initiatives, geared towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict, he said. In that connection, he commended the efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It was his belief that, through the Lusaka process, the collective security of all the countries in the region could be adequately addressed. It was the Gambia's fervent wish that the parties would hear the voice of reason and cease hostilities immediately, accept a ceasefire framework and enter into negotiations on implementation and monitoring arrangements. The proximity talks with the rebels were a step in the right direction and should be pursued. A military solution was certainly not the best option.
The parties to the conflict had to take the Lusaka process seriously, he continued. He hoped that today's meeting would be a catalyst to reactivate that process. The belligerents should not miss the golden opportunity to transform the present standstill into a formal ceasefire. That, in turn, would pave the way for the United Nations to step in and play a more active role by deploying a peacekeeping force. The parties to the conflict had to understand that the security of their countries were inextricably linked. It was in their best interest to work together for their collective security.
FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said that situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was legally complex and politically sensitive. The first step to solving the problem was recognizing that it existed. That was what had been done in Latin America, with a view to finding a real, definitive and lasting peace. His country understood the complexity
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of the situation in some parts of Africa. It approached the problem in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with respect and a desire for peace and hoped that parties involved in the conflict would opt for negotiation.
The problem was not exclusively internal or exclusively international, he said. Simultaneously, it was a politically sensitive issue, which involved important countries in the subregion and had the potential for spreading. The main responsibility fell on those directly involved. No third party could impose a solution if the parties involved lacked the political will to do so. He supported the regional efforts under way and the Lusaka process. However, that did not exclude the role of the Security Council, which would give support to regional initiatives. The first and highest priority was to reach a ceasefire agreement and then sustain it. The support of the United Nations was necessary at both stages.
In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the following legal principles were essential, he continued. The first principle was the obligation to peacefully solve the dispute. In that regard, the necessary flexibility should be shown, and the machinery found to ensure an all encompassing dialogue. The use of force did not give rise to territorial rights. The respect of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was essential, and was not incompatible with the principle of protecting minorities. There could be a system of safeguards for protecting minorities. The principle of non-interference in the internal matters of sovereign States was also important.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo must resolve all security issues with its neighbours, with the assistance of the United Nations, if necessary, he said. The serious human rights violations that had occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were the nexus of the problem. They deserved the concern and strong condemnation of the international community. Such events must be investigated and punished. A long-term solution could not be found in an isolated fashion, but within a politically stable, regional context. Convening an international conference on the Great Lakes, as proposed by France, might provide the right forum for a comprehensive review of the situation.
In closing, he also thanked the Council for its condolences regarding the helicopter crash in Haiti.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that the invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Uganda and Rwanda had plunged the country into a devastating war, which had resulted in inter-African fighting on the battlefield. A war from which the region and Africa at large would not benefit and whose premises were against the purposes and objectives enshrined in the Charter of the OAU. What was taking place, as a result of expansionist ambitions, should be condemned.
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The SADC had a stated obligation of ensuring that a legitimate government of a member State should not be removed by invasion, he said. Namibia adhered to that principle and believed in the non-violability of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States. Those were the sacred principles that compelled it, together with Angola and Zimbabwe, to intervene in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the expressed invitation of President Kabila and his legitimate Government. The sole purpose of its requested intervention was to prevent the collapse of the State machinery and the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a fellow SADC member State. The Namibian involvement was prompted by a desire for democracy, peace, human rights and regional cooperation.
Furthermore, he continued, the SADC Summit held in Mauritius in September 1998, among others, had expressed deep regret at the outbreak of war in the Democratic Republic aimed at removing the Government of President Kabila from power. It had welcomed the initiatives by the SADC and its member States intended to assist in the restoration of peace, security and stability. It also emphasized the need for all political actors in the Democratic Republic to commit themselves to an orderly and peaceful transition to multi-party democracy. Therefore, all United Nations Member States must subscribe in earnest to the principles enshrined in the Charter and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. There must be a clear distinction between invited and uninvited foreign troops in that country.
While the security concerns of any State were legitimate, he said, the unprovoked invasion and the violation of the Democratic Republic's sovereignty and territorial integrity constituted an act of interference in its internal affairs. He hoped that the disruption of the democratization process would cease and that reconstruction would soon resume. Namibia had hosted the summit of countries involved in the fighting in January, at the request of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. That meeting had resolved that a ceasefire agreement be signed without further delay. Unfortunately, what followed was continued attacks on government and allied forces. That could not be tolerated.
The time had come for the Security Council to become actively involved, in accordance with its Charter obligations of maintaining international peace and security, he said. Unless all parties involved negotiated in good faith and honoured their commitments, the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would continue. Therefore, it was imperative that a ceasefire agreement, which would bring an end to the suffering of the Congolese people, be signed.
HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil) said that the task of nation-building remained a daunting challenge for the present and coming generations of Africans. In dealing with the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council should increasingly resort to the options that had been developed throughout the past year. Throughout their history, African nations had long been subjected
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to undue and disruptive foreign interference. Uninvited involvement in the Democratic Republic should cease and a political formula to promote national reconciliation should be negotiated.
He said the Security Council had reaffirmed, on 31 August 1998, the obligation to respect the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic, and had called for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces and the initiation of political dialogue. While upholding the principle of non-interference, Brazil recognized the right of a State threatened by foreign invasion to call for external assistance. Those forces within the Democratic Republic that were invited by the Government had to be differentiated from those whose presence in the country reflected different motivations.
The OAU and SADC had played a leading role in the attempts to solve the impasse in the Democratic Republic, he said. There was, however, a need for increased political will on the part of the many players, as had been expressed by the Ministerial Meeting of the Council on Africa last September. The security of any State had a direct link with the security of its neighbours. Therefore, any attempt to solve the situation in the Democratic Republic would have to take into account the safety of other countries of the region, some of which felt the impact of episodes of lawlessness from across the borders. The restoration of law and order was a requisite for the full enjoyment of human and political rights.
The States of central Africa had already pondered such questions, he said. The Democratic Republic belonged to the group of countries, that within the framework of the United Nations Standing Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, had organized a Subregional Conference on Democratic Institutions and Peace in Central Africa, held at Bata, Equatorial Guinea, in May last year.
The Bata Declaration had recognized that the process of democratization in the region had to lead to a political system capable of allowing the full expression of the people's will, he continued. It had stated that such a system should be based, among other things, on the principles of: respect for the rule of law; political pluralism; organization of free, transparent and fair elections; freedom of the press; independence of the judiciary; respect for human rights and human dignity; and the practice of dialogue and tolerance. The Governments of the region should be supported in fully applying those principles. That was the only route to prevent internal discontent from leading to armed conflict.
The international aspects of the conflict had to be addressed by improving the mechanisms of cooperation between the United Nations, the OAU, SADC and other relevant subregional organizations, he said. The convening of a conference on the Great Lakes should be pursued. The OAU's Secretary General, Salim A. Salim,
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last October, had expressed the view that there was consensus on the need to maintain the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic, the legitimacy of President Kabila's Government, the need to create political space, in the Democratic Republic, for the opposition forces, and the recognition that some of the Democratic Republic's neighbours had real security concerns that needed to be addressed.
Those four points were essential in the quest for a solution, he added. A fifth element relied on the political will of both the Government and the opposition parties to engage in true negotiations that could allow for the fair and meaningful participation of all parties in the political process. The international community as a whole was expected to provide the financial, technical and political cooperation needed for that dialogue to prosper.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been ongoing for some eight months, and had involved approximately six African countries. Military operations were taking place over a widening area of territory of that country. Regional organizations, the OAU and the United Nations had not remained inactive since outbreak of the crisis, but he could not fail to conclude that appeals to end the hostilities had not been heeded. The debate today, at the request of the Permanent Representative of the Congo, had meant that it was necessary to explore the ways and means of carrying out a peaceful settlement of that conflict.
He said there was disagreement over the causes of the conflict, but its effects -- namely, regional destabilization, as well as the humanitarian aftermath -- were evident. The territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the country were threatened. The principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of States, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, had not been respected. France deplored those violations and called for their immediate cessation. In order to settle the conflict, a ceasefire must first be concluded, followed by the implementation of a national reconciliation process, and the conclusion of necessary arrangements to guarantee regional security and stability.
The conclusion of a ceasefire was a matter of priority, he said. In addition to regional efforts, the Security Council, in December, had declared itself ready to contemplate active involvement, in accord with the OAU, to assist implementation of such an agreement. United Nations support for implementation of a ceasefire would require considerable effort on the part of the Organization, which should fully play its part. Member States must also call upon all parties to cease the hostilities. That message should be clearly recalled. Donors would find it much more difficult to maintain assistance from their budgets for countries that continued to opt for a military solution.
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A peaceful solution depended on an authentic process of national reconciliation, he went on. Dialogue must be instituted among all Congolese. President Kabila had committed himself in France last November to a process of democratization. He was urged now to act in accordance with that commitment in specific terms. His recent proposal to organize a national debate would hopefully be conceived in a genuine spirit of reconciliation. Clearly, that dialogue among Congolese must be embarked upon forthwith. It would only be facilitated if a ceasefire was concluded and respected. Also, the parties would have to negotiate and conclude the necessary arrangements to guarantee security, stability and future development for the region.
Continuing, he said the orderly withdrawal of all foreign forces and the taking of the necessary steps to ensure security along the international frontiers of the country were also essential. Moreover, the Government's authority over the entire national territory must be restored, and respect for human rights and the tackling of the refugee question must be addressed. The United Nations would have to provide the necessary assistance to the countries of the region in order to implement those necessary goals. It might be useful to convene, in due course, an international conference on peace and security in the Great Lakes region.
A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo represented one of the gravest threats to peace in sub- Saharan Africa in decades. It was critical that a ceasefire be agreed upon as soon as possible. Any agreement must be accompanied by an inclusive national political process and the creation of a mechanism to address both the internal and external security concerns of the Democratic Republic and its neighbours.
He said the United States condemned the reported massacres, summary executions, torture, rape and ethnically motivated harassment and detention of civilians taking place in the country. In particular, his country was deeply concerned by the ethnicization of the conflict and by the apparent willingness of some regional States to collaborate militarily with members of the former Rwandese Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and Interahamwe, known genocidaires.
He added that the United States was also concerned by any developments that encouraged insurgent movements, including the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), to threaten and destabilize neighbouring States. Any agreement reached by the Congolese Government, the rebels and external State actors would be unsustainable if an effective means to contain those groups was not found. The United Nations investigative reports had pointed towards atrocities and violations of humanitarian law in the Democratic Republic since 1996. Until recently, the Government of President Kabila and other parties had failed to cooperate with United Nations efforts to investigate abuses. In that regard, he welcomed the Congolose Government's recent invitation to a United Nations human rights investigator, and he looked forward to that report.
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His country called on members of the international community to redouble efforts to limit arms flows to the region, he said. It also called for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies to all those in need, and the safety of humanitarian personnel must be guaranteed. The United States would consider supporting a peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic if there was a comprehensive peace agreement. Any monitoring force should be limited in size. Its mandate should be to observe and monitor, not to enforce the peace or to maintain the security of the borders of the Democratic Republic.
DENIS DANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) said that the ongoing crisis was substantial and of grave concern, because it had inflicted untold suffering on the Congolese people, thwarted the Government's national reconciliation efforts, and threatened regional peace and stability. The destabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- which shared a common border with nine countries and occupied a large place in Africa in terms of size, population, and potential -- would have wide-ranging repercussions. It was particularly crucial to ensure respect for that country's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Likewise, he said that no violations should be tolerated of the United Nations Charter and that of the OAU with respect to non-interference in the internal affairs of States. In the region where cross-border populations played an important role and could be used as a pretext to interfere inappropriately with the internal affairs of neighbours, strict respect by all sides for that principle would promote friendly relations.
He said that when the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security in Cental Africa met in Libreville last April, it recommended that its members enter into close cooperation to combat the illicit trafficking in weapons. Moreover, its members must not provide sanctuary for armed groups from any States. The use of weapons made it more difficult to achieve peace, and caused untold human suffering and displacement, as well as destruction of a country's infrastructures. The use of weapons over dialogue also resulted in massive flows of refugees into nearby countries, as well as the sudden spread of disease.
It was for those reasons that he condemned the massacres of civilians south of Kivu, and why he asked for the Council to call for an international inquiry to track down and bring to trial the perpetrators. He said the time had come for the United Nations, and more specifically for the Security Council, to give active and concrete support to Africa. Regional initiatives had so far failed to negotiate a lasting solution to the crisis, which had beset the country since 2 August 1998. The Council, therefore, should ask the parties to the conflict to sign, without delay, the ceasefire to which they had already agreed in principle.
In order to enforce that ceasefire, the United Nations, in accordance with the OAU, should start thinking about deploying a neutral international
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peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In addition to monitoring frontiers, it would also be mandated, among other things, to demobilize armed groups, collect and destroy weapons and control the movement of illicit weapons. In view of the ramifications of problems facing the Great Lakes region, a meticulously prepared international conference, as suggested by France, would make it possible to "quench the hotbeds of tension", rebuild confidence, and strengthen regional peace and security.
DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had deteriorated seriously in 1998. Especially disturbing had been the developments since August last year. The subsequent military assistance of some other countries from the region to the Government had not brought a solution. A protracted military conflict in a vast area in the heart of Africa had the potential of becoming a long-term crisis and the breeding ground of widespread instability. The military action of the two neighbouring States against the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo represented a serious challenge to the basic principles of international law concerning sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States. The entire international community had to express its concern and reject such practice, which undermined the fundamentals of the international order and stability in Africa.
It was imperative that a ceasefire was agreed to immediately and that provision was made for an orderly withdrawal of all foreign troops, and for the re-establishment of authority of the Government throughout its territory. He encouraged African leaders, with the assistance of the OAU and the Secretary-General, to redouble their efforts for an early agreement on the ceasefire and thus open the way to addressing all the other problems. When the ceasefire was reached, the United Nations should be ready to assist to maintain it and help in stabilizing the security situation in the region.
Turning to humanitarian issues and human rights, he said that Slovenia strongly condemned violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict. He also condemned the massacres of the civilian population that had taken place mostly in the South Kivu province since the outbreak of the conflict in August 1998. The spread of the practice of genocide in the region must not be tolerated. Such violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against the civilian population required specific action to bring those responsible to justice. It was encouraging that the Government of the Democratic Republic had demonstrated its readiness to act.
Notwithstanding the military conflict, steps for creating a normal democratic environment should be taken very soon, he said. The Government should create conditions which would allow a democratization process that was genuine, inclusive and fully reflected the aspirations of all its citizens. The internal political situation was an internal affair of each sovereign
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State, but certain principles were general and could be implemented as such. One of the basic issues was the question of power-sharing. Slovenia believed there was a new generation of political leaders in the Democratic Republic, who were willing to help in creating conditions for better governance and management of a society's affairs, and they needed support. Furthermore, the international community should strongly encourage the dialogue among the leaders of the countries in the Great Lakes region.
Action was needed to end the war and to create an environment for development in all fields of public life, he said. Today's debate was the first concrete step, but the final solution to the problem lay within the Congolese people themselves and other countries in the region, particularly the parties to the conflict. Support to the regional efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflict had to be rendered by the international community as a whole. An active role by the Security Council, now and at a later stage, when the ceasefire was reached, continued to be needed.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said his country was deeply concerned about the further deterioration of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It, therefore, welcomed the opportunity to address that question as a member of the Security Council. It associated itself entirely with the position of the European Union.
He said it was particularly worrisome that, after a promising start, the peace process had reached an impasse. A collective way must be found out of that impasse before the conflict developed into a full-scale war of unforeseeable proportions. It was not only the fighting itself that demanded immediate attention -- widespread human rights violations on both sides and the collapse of the economy were plunging ever more inhabitants of the Democratic Republic into misery.
A structural political solution could be found only through negotiations, he said. In that regard, he called on President Kabila to enter forthwith into a dialogue with all parties involved in the conflict. The success of those negotiations would depend on the political will of all sides, in a common endeavour, to confront the key issue. Respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity was one of the key issues at stake. Respect for the legitimate security concerns of the neighbouring countries to the east was another.
Concerning the internal situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said that a political dialogue participated in by all the parties in Congolese society must be launched without delay. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should take responsibility in that regard. Its announcement of a national debate on a new constitution would pave the way for further democratization of the country.
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He said the scope of the crisis and the inherent risk of further escalation required the involvement of the international community, aimed at facilitating in every way possible the peace process. Some of the groundwork for such a process had already been laid in regional efforts. A more active involvement of the United Nations and the OAU would further the cause of peace. The Netherlands was prepared to support the negotiations between the parties to the conflict and the national dialogue. Ultimately, an international conference on peace and security in the Great Lakes region should bring about a durable peace.
The illegal flow of arms was one of the root causes of regional conflicts, he said, adding that peacemaking made no sense if the international community could not address that problem more effectively.
RASHID AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) said that a peaceful settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was an important subject for the Council. His country was concerned about the continuing conflict threatening peace and security in the Great Lakes region and all of Africa. It was also concerned about the serious humanitarian repercussions of the conflict on the civilian population. Thousands had been displaced and were now living in appalling conditions, due to the deteriorating security conditions. A permanent settlement would not be achieved by military means. A lasting solution would only become a reality through negotiations involving all parties concerned.
He supported all diplomatic initiatives, particularly those of the Secretary-General, proposed during the twentieth Conference of the Heads of African States in November 1998, with the aim of settling the conflict. He believed that the States of the region could play an important role in reaching a ceasefire agreement. A solution to the problems in the Democratic Republic must stem from a process of national reconciliation, leading to free and fair elections. He appreciated the important role of the OAU and hoped that its efforts would be crowned with success.
He affirmed the importance of respect for the territorial integrity and political stability of the Democratic Republic, as well as non-interference in its internal affairs by other countries. He also supported the idea of holding an international conference, at the appropriate time, under the aegis of the United Nations and the OAU, to put an end to such conflicts. He supported the efforts of the Secretary-General, and his consultations with the parties concerned, towards finding a peaceful, permanent solution.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that the involvement of a wide range of protagonists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo conflict had raised the prospect of a major war on the African continent, with serious risks to the stability and integrity, not only of the country itself, but also all of its neighbours. The situation was particularly alarming, given the fact that the war there interlocked with other conflicts in the region, thereby rendering
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any effort at mediation an extremely difficult one. Malaysia noted with concern the cross-border character of the conflict in the Democratic Republic, which further complicated what was already a very complex situation. Clearly, there could be no lasting solution unless both the internal and external factors of the conflict were addressed and resolved.
The worsening humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a stark reminder of the destabilizing effects of war, with badly needed resources which could have been channelled to education, health and other sectors being drained to finance a devastating war, he said. Throughout the Great Lakes region, inter-ethnic violence had resulted both in great human tragedy and in new obstacles to political and social progress. There could not be a real future for the Great Lakes region unless the cycle of violence was broken once and for all. That would only happen if the people of the region could chart a new course of inter-ethnic relations based in genuine reconciliation, rather than revenge and the settling of old scores, which, however, must be predicated on the need to mete out justice to the perpetrators of the massacres and other crimes against humanity.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that his country had consistently supported the efforts of the OAU and regional leaders in finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was crucial for all States to abide by the principle of non-intervention and restrain from the use of force. One of the key provisions of a permanent settlement was to ensure the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. The modalities of involving the rebel groups in the negotiation process must be determined by the regional negotiators and by the Government. By principle, durable peace could not be achieved without dialogue among all sectors of society. At the current stage, efforts should be focused on speedily achieving a ceasefire agreement. Opting for a military solution would only make the situation worse.
He was concerned over recent reports about mass atrocities committed against civilians and violations of human rights based on ethnic grounds. Those reports must be carefully and speedily investigated. Cooperation had to be strengthened between regional leaders, the OAU, SADC and the United Nations. The initiative of the Secretary-General to send his Special Envoy was a welcome step. The deployment of United Nations troops could only be worked out after a peace agreement was reached. An international conference on the region must be held under aegis of the United Nations and the OAU. The Russian Federation would continue to help promote the peace process in the Democratic Republic, along with the OAU, SADC and other interested parties.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his country was prepared to make a special effort to establish how non-Africans could best help Africans, specifically the OAU, to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Late last month, British Minister of State Tony Lloyd had gone to the
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region, as the Special Envoy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to explore what scope there was for ending the war and to identify the major obstacles to and requirements for agreement among the parties concerned. He was also to consider what Britain and the international community could do to move the process forward.
He said the Minister had encountered an overwhelming sense of frustration. He had found fatigue on all sides and common ground among the parties on what needed to be done to stop the fighting. No one had questioned the need for dialogue among all parties in the Democratic Republic, including the rebels, to pave the way for a more inclusive government. It was widely acknowledged that the security concerns of the Democratic Republic's neighbours were genuine and that an end to the war could only come about through some arrangement or mechanism that addressed those concerns.
The Minister, however, had also found a startling lack of political will and creative thinking amongst the parties to get the building-blocks of a settlement into place, he continued. Having met the key leaders involved in the war, the Minister of State's judgement was that, if they really wanted to, they could stop the war. The role of the international community, and the Security Council, must be to make them want to stop it. The United Nations system, the European Union and individual countries could all play a part.
The first step that needed to be taken was a ceasefire agreement, he said. A military solution was a chimera. International experience must be used to help President Kabila and the Congolese people shape a framework in which a constructive political dialogue could take place. The innocent civilian population of the Democratic Republic deserved no less, he said.
The second step should be the withdrawal of foreign troops, he continued. The United Kingdom was fully committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic, and would not countenance and suggestion of partition. But the Democratic Republic's neighbours would have no incentive for withdrawal unless some credible mechanism could be developed which would bring about the disarmament of rebel groups, particularly the ex-FAR and Interahamwe, on their borders. Mapping the potential arrangements for that should begin, he said.
The third step for a settlement was a coherent international involvement to motivate, monitor and sustain the processes he had outlined, he said. He commended the efforts undertaken by the SADC, the OAU and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba. The Security Council had already indicated its readiness to consider how it could assist in the implementation of a ceasefire and settlement. The United Kingdom with several partners had already done work on possibilities for a peacekeeping presence. Those ideas must be refined and developed and fed into the negotiating process.
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The fourth step was establishing a framework for tackling the wider and deeper problems in the Great Lakes region, he said. The United Kingdom supported the holding of an international conference on peace and security in that region. The fifth step was the economic angle. With political understanding advanced and security arrangements in place, development and investment resources would be attracted. An economic development conference for the Great Lakes must be planned.
The challenges and the burden for the international community in each of those steps would be significant, he said. None of those ideas would "get even to square one" without a dramatic change in political will on the part of the parties to the conflict. The leaders of the sovereign nations of the region had its future in their hands.
QIN HUASUN (China) said he was deeply disturbed by the loss of life and property caused by the ongoing conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its impact on peace and stability in the Great Lakes region and the African continent. Since the start of the conflicts, China had maintained that the parties concerned should reach a ceasefire as soon as possible. They should also find an effective way to solve their differences, disputes and other problems through dialogue and negotiation. Only by doing so could peace in the Democratic Republic, as well as good neighbourly relations between the countries in the region, be restored.
He supported the active efforts of the African countries and regional organizations in securing a political settlement of the Congo question. At the same time, his delegation believed that the international community, especially the Security Council, should respond to the legitimate requests and appeals from African countries, show genuine concern over that continent's questions and take effective steps in that connection. In particular, the international community should give political and financial assistance to African countries and regional organizations in their efforts to solve their own problems. Further, it should play a positive and meaningful role in helping African countries settle the conflict in the Democratic Republic at an early date.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso), speaking on behalf of the OAU, said that the confrontation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- owing to its multifarious nature and the involvement of several countries in region, and the stakes motivating the warring parties -- gave the conflict serious inherent dangers with ramifications affecting the entire African continent. Thus, the situation was highly complex; it was really a "Chinese puzzle", and one could easily understand why neither high-level OAU meetings nor subregional efforts had resulted in a conclusive settlement.
Unfortunately, the fruitlessness of those efforts had left the impression that Africa remained complacent in dealing with the tragedy, he said. That thinking did not fairly recognize the good will or the apostles of peace. The
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tireless search for peace had led the OAU to organize a regional summit at end of the month to find the deep-seated causes of that African conflict. Unfortunately, that special summit seemed to be a stillborn project. The OAU had taken some praiseworthy steps, including the convening of a summit in December, at which it had enjoined the parties to the conflict to respect the sacrosanct principle of borders. Non-respect of borders in Africa would open a pandora's box and lead to limitless disputes. That was even more pertinent in the case of the Democratic Republic because of its size and dissimilar populations. The border question could not be opened up without some tacit agreement among States to do so.
He noted that the African heads of State had reaffirmed their support for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the only legitimate Government of the entire Congolese people. Accordingly, the rebels should be called upon to lay down their weapons and commence talks with the Government. All African disputes must be settled by peaceful means, with an expression of political will on the various sides. The Congolese Administration seemed to have realized that only by discussions with the armed opposition could true national reconciliation be achieved.
He said the OAU appealed to the wisdom, patriotism and political will of all combatants to lay down their arms and promote national accord. Democratic values should be used to define a "platform of understanding" to defuse the situation. The African countries would endorse any peaceful solution to extricate themselves from the stalemate. The OAU was awaiting cooperation from the United Nations, and wished to see concrete proposals emerge from today's debate.
DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the Union was very concerned about the crisis which had escalated into a large-scale regional war. Due to a complex set of strategic alliances, a series of previously unconnected conflicts in the Great Lakes region had blended into "one huge crisis", which had turned the Democratic Republic of the Congo and parts of the territories of neighbouring countries into a battleground. Moreover, the crisis had created immense human suffering and had dramatically increased the already high number of refugees and displaced people in the region. It was also gradually destroying the social and economic base of the countries of the Congo basin and of the Great Lakes region.
He said the Union recognized that the root causes of the conflict were very complex. Hopefully, today's debate would not dwell on mutual accusations between interested parties, but would contribute instead to generating a forward-looking approach focused on results. The Union reiterated its support for the principles of territorial integrity and respect for sovereignty and security. In that context, it agreed with the statement made by the Council President on 11 December. It also reaffirmed the need for all States to refrain from any interference in each other's internal affairs, and strongly called on all States to comply with those principles.
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The Union continued to be concerned about the involvement of several countries of the region in the situation, he went on. That involvement had not led to the intended stabilization, but rather to a dangerous escalation which now threatened regional stability as a whole. The Union reiterated that the current conflict could only be solved through a negotiated settlement between all the parties concerned, with a view to an urgent political solution leading to the withdrawal of foreign troops. What was most important was that all warring parties showed their unconditional willingness, through concrete steps, to speed up that peace process.
In that context, he said the Union welcomed President Kabila's preparedness to enter into negotiations with all parties to the conflict, including the rebel movement. It encouraged him to conclude a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible, and urged all other parties involved to participate in ongoing peace efforts. A political process rested on addressing: regional security problems by finding a mechanism to meet the legitimate security concerns of neighbouring countries; and the internal situation in the Democratic Republic by initiating an all-inclusive political dialogue aimed at establishing a democratic society.
He emphasized the need for a continuous and inclusive negotiating process with a format that allowed the active participation of all major stakeholders. He reiterated its support for an international conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region, which would help consolidate a peace agreement in the country and ensure regional stability. The Union also emphasized the need to address the question of the proliferation of arms and the illicit trafficking of commodities in the region, which fuelled the conflict. The issue of reintegration of disaffected combatants into civil society must also be addressed.
The Union was willing to consider a rehabilitation programme for the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the case of an effective cessation of hostilities with progress on establishing internal peace, democracy and respect for human rights. It might be increasingly difficult, however, to continue its present level of budgetary assistance to countries involved in the conflict, if they persisted with the military option. Considerations in that regard would not affect humanitarian assistance. The Union stood ready to support efforts which might be undertaken by the United Nations to assist implementation of a ceasefire agreement. It strongly condemned acts of violence against civilians, and called for an independent investigation of allegations of major human rights violations reportedly committed by all parties in the conflict.
The meeting was suspended at 1:11 p.m.
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The meeting resumed at 3:20 p.m.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) recalled the events that had taken place when the Democratic Republic of the Congo had informed the Council of the aggression committed against it by a neighbouring State. The Council had condemned that aggression and requested those forces to withdraw and respect the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic. Unfortunately, the Council had remained idle since then. The Council's position regarding the dispute there was yet more testimony to its double-standard policy. Sometimes, the Council deplored and condemned, while, at other times, it closed its eyes completely to similar cases.
Facts remained facts, he said. Aggression was aggression, and that was the fact. That aggression was a breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter. Thus, the Council was expected to fulfil its obligations and responsibilities to maintain international peace and security. The Democratic Republic's Government had made enormous efforts to restore peace and security in the Great Lakes region, which merited commendation. For example, in May 1998 it had organized a conference, which was boycotted by the invaders. In light of those endeavours, he called on the Council to make sincere efforts to reach a peaceful resolution, which would restore the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic and curtail the territorial ambitions of the invaders.
He supported all regional initiatives aimed at achieving a peaceful resolution, as well as the efforts undertaken by Zambia's President in the context of the SADC, he said. In addition, he welcomed the participation of the allies of the Democratic Republic in those endeavours. The Council must fulfil its responsibilities and not turn its back on the events that had unfolded in the Democratic Republic.
YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said his country remained concerned about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The people were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, but the ongoing conflict was preventing the international community from effectively extending it. He called upon all the parties involved to stop fighting immediately and to vigorously seek ways to reach a ceasefire agreement. It was also imperative that Congolese civilians were protected and their basic human rights respected.
He said the conflict must be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. Durable peace could only be achieved by agreement through negotiations. For regional stability, it was also imperative for all States concerned to respect the principles of political independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of others. He hoped the Security Council would continue to help improve the situation in the Democratic Republic. He commended the initiatives of the Council's three African members on the issue and expressed Japan's determination to work with others to provide continued support for the efforts of African nations to restore peace to the region.
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The international community must not focus solely on bringing the conflict to an end, but also ensure that post-conflict rehabilitation was successful, he said. Both goals must be pursued simultaneously to establish a solid foundation for peace and development. As African countries themselves recognized, efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts were essential for the stability and development of Africa. The OAU Peace Fund needed much support to that end, and his Government had recently decided to contribute an additional $254,000. Noting that the parties involved in the conflict did not have the ability to produce weapons, he said all States should ask themselves whether their own actions were not leading to the intensification of conflicts in Africa.
PATRICK MAZIMHAKA (Rwanda) said the regional and international processes of "shuttle diplomacy" had been helpful. In addition, palpable progress had been made towards the following aspects envisaged in the Pretoria Declaration: a cessation of hostilities; a comprehensive round-table negotiation on political issues by the parties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including a broad-based transitional government; and resolution of the security concerns of neighbouring countries, particularly Angola, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Moreover, the OAU had produced technical documents on a ceasefire agreement and its implementation mechanism, both of which were under discussion.
He noted President Kabila's announcement that he was ready to initiate talks with Congolese parties. A comprehensive debate was the only way to discuss issues that touched on the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and guaranteed adherence to international law for its neighbours. That would test the commitment of all involved to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo had been in crisis for a long time, but Rwanda had become adversely and directly affected beginning in 1994, he said. The presence in the Democratic Republic of large numbers of armed elements of Rwandan nationality and former government forces and militia, who had been responsible for the 1994 genocide, was to become a powder keg in relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic.
He said that the factors that caused insecurity to Rwanda had included: the presence of those forces -- organized and armed with the support of the Democratic Republic's Government; the launching of genocidal attacks on Rwanda from Democratic Republic territory; recent terrorist killings of innocent tourists by the forces of evil, which found solace support in the Democratic Republic; the embracing of a genocidal ideology by the Democratic Republic leadership; repeated attempts to disown Rwandan nations; and the use of the territory of the Democratic Republic to channel arms and fascist ideologies to armed non-State actors.
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Referring to a report of the Secretary-General, he said that the Secretary-General had put his finger on the core problem of the crisis in the Democratic Republic when he said that the background to the events in the Democratic Republic was the terrible 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which had cast an enormous shadow over the entire Great Lakes region. That genocide had led directly to the violence of the 1994-1996 period in then eastern Zaire. It had also resulted in the creation of the Alliance of Democratic Forces, which had successfully conducted a military campaign against the regime of President Mobutu Sese Seko, which ended in Kinshasa in May 1997.
Like the prior leadership of Zaire, the Democratic Republic leadership embraced the evil forces of genocide, which had inevitably led to the current crisis, he continued. His country was persuaded that a comprehensible resolution of the Democratic Republic crisis, therefore, required: resolution of the crisis of governance in that country; the neutralization, dismantling and containing of the non-State armies operating in the Democratic Republic territory; and the condemning and isolation of all those who embraced genocide in that African region.
He said that those concerns had constituted acts of aggression on Rwanda by the Democratic Republic, but Rwanda preferred to join in the regional and international search for a lasting solution to the problems. That was the only guarantee against the recurrence of the prevailing state of war, gross human rights violations and genocide, and total disruption of historical ties among peoples.
His Government respected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations, he said. He called on the Democratic Republic to use its sovereign rights and "put its act together" in order to dismantle the dozen non-State armies that were being used to conduct aggression against the territorial integrity of its neighbours. His country was resolved to join others in a coalition against the recurrence of genocide and terrorism in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere. The Entebbe principles, which were agreed to during United States President William Clinton's visit to Africa, would constitute the basis for that coalition.
PETER KASANDA (Zambia) said the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had profound ramifications for peace and security, not only in the Great Lakes region, but for Africa as a whole. It was a conflict that had pitted not only the Government against the rebel elements within the country, but also some African countries against each other. If not resolved quickly, the conflict would mushroom and pose a grave danger to international peace and security. Also, the Democratic Republic shared a long border with Zambia. It was, therefore, to be expected that any developments in either country would have an immediate impact on the social, economic and security interest of the other, borne out by the influx of 5,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic to Zambia.
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The mediation efforts so far expended had revealed that the matter at hand was as delicate as it was complex, he continued. Hence, the international community must proceed with caution and patience. The mediation effort was also expensive in terms of the investment in time, energy and resources. Thus, the international community must enrich the regional efforts. The involvement of the Security Council was necessary because international peace and security were threatened by the conflict. For now, it was essential that, given the limitations of the regional efforts, the Council should be able to augment peace efforts in a tangible way. In that regard, he urged the Council to put in place the machinery needed for the policing of the ceasefire once it had been realized.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said that while the Council was considering the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the debate was not intended to be a platform for delegations to place blame on certain parties. Rather, the meeting should serve to encourage the parties involved to achieve security and peace for all. His Government had followed very closely, and with great concern, the situation as it unfolded in the Democratic Republic. Those events had a negative impact on the region and the continent. The Council, the OAU and the parties concerned must increase efforts to reach a solution to strengthen and preserve the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. It must also increase efforts to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign troops, as well as a national dialogue in which all citizens were involved, with a view to achieving national reconciliation and restoring national stability.
His Government had done its utmost to help achieve a ceasefire and had participated in all peace initiatives so far, he said. It was also involved in the initiative of Zambia's President to arrive at a peaceful settlement, and supported the Windhoek Summit. His country was also interested in a pan- African summit to strengthen security in the Great Lakes region. Egyptian leaders would do all that they could to support talks to achieve a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Talks had taken place between Egyptian leaders and their Congolese counterparts, including between President Kabila and President Mubarak.
The Egyptian delegation had read the letter sent by the representative of the Democratic Republic to the Council on human rights violations, he added. His country condemned acts of violence against civilians and reiterated the need for respect for human rights, as well as the need to bring those responsible to justice. Also, weapons must not be allowed to circulate. The weakest and most vulnerable groups had to be protected.
The basic issue essential to the settlement of the crisis was the role of the Council in conflict resolution in Africa, he said. While he welcomed the decisions taken by the Council in considering the causes of conflict in Africa, the Council had to examine its role in conflict resolution. He was
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sorry to see an emerging trend in the Council not to take steps to halt crises in Africa. Decisions were taken to simply study crises in the overall context of Africa or they were looked at in the context of the Great Lakes region, for example.
Sometimes the Council seemed to feel that since regional initiatives were under way, it did not need to act, he continued. The role of the Council must not become a minor role, simply endorsing resolutions adopted by regional bodies. The various complex crises in Africa had shown that steps taken by the Council had proven inadequate. It was now up to the Council to examine the effectiveness of the actions it had taken.
AMAMA MBABAZI, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of Uganda, said that his country was committed to the peaceful and negotiated resolution to the current conflict. Indeed, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, had been a leader behind initiatives to find a diplomatic solution to those problems. However, by the time the meeting of heads of State of friends of the Congo was convened, the political contradictions had exploded into violence. When it became obvious that the Victoria Falls summit would not provide an immediate solution, Uganda's President had appealed for a wider regional meeting to generate a way of managing the crisis. Those examples illustrated Uganda's commitment to solving the problem.
He said his country had neither territorial ambition nor economic interests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beyond the normal course of trade between countries. He had come to New York to seek the support of the Security Council, the United Nations and the international community towards finding a way to manage the crisis. As he listened to the statements made today, however, it became apparent that he needed to explain events in greater detail in order to achieve some balance.
He then proceeded to describe the two dimensions to the crisis: internal; and external or regional. He said that the external aspect began with the war in Rwanda that resulted in the genocide of 1994. Later, those responsible for the killings crossed into the former Zaire with hundreds of thousands of refugees, who were held hostage inside that country. The Mobutu Government of Zaire then helped them to recapture power in Rwanda. The Government of Uganda totally opposed that move and made its position very clear. In preparation for the intended recapture of power by those responsible for the genocide, President Mobutu forged an alliance with a regime in Khartoum, in order to destabilize Uganda in hope that it would then not be in a position to support Rwanda against the aggression.
Continuing, he said that attacks were launched on Uganda on two fronts. While those attacks were under way, the reorganization and rearming of the genocidiers had reached an advanced stage. The Ugandan Government had acted in self-defence by first attacking territory those criminals had captured. It
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was that act of self-defence against the then Government of Zaire, with regional and international support, that resulted in the fall of President Mobutu and the rise to power of President Kabila.
He said it had been hoped that since President Kabila had understood Uganda's security concerns and was himself a by-product of its self-defence action, he would address those concerns once he assumed power. Unfortunately, that had not happened. Early on, Uganda appreciated the weak structures that President Kabila had inherited. Indeed, it was precisely his own stated incapacity to handle the situation in the Congo that led President Kabila to invite the Ugandan Government to deploy its defence forces inside the Congo to flush out Allied Democratic Forces that had infiltrated the country.
In response to that request and upon written agreement, Uganda deployed two battalions of troops in April 1998, he continued. Meanwhile, owing to internal political contradictions, hostilities erupted in August. President Kabila sought military assistance, which was provided by the Governments of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, which intervened under the pretext that the Democratic Republic had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda. At that time, Uganda had only two battalions inside the Congo. At the same time, rebel groups inside the Congo and the involvement of others had introduced a new dimension into the conflict. Uganda then deployed additional forces to counter that threat. The external dimension of the Congolese conflict -- in the cases of Uganda and Rwanda -- had been prompted by activities hostile to those two countries emanating from the Congo. They had acted in self-defence.
Turning to the internal dimension, he cited a few examples of discord and pointed out that when President Kabila assumed power, he failed or neglected to broaden his political base. Furthermore, President Kabila suppressed the established and active political life in the country, as the world knew. Thus, the political forces inside the Congo decided to rise in rebellion in August 1998.
He said he had originally intended to seek the Council's support for regional efforts to find a solution. A lot of progress had been registered in that regard, including an agreement by all the parties that there should be a ceasefire and a cessation of hostilities. At a recent ministerial meeting held in Lusaka, a committee was established to work out a mechanism to resolve the question of de-stabilization of neighbours of the territory of the Democratic Republic. That Committee had met and was awaiting a formal report. It had been agreed that the rebels must be involved in the peace process and must be signatory to the ceasefire agreement. It was also agreed that a neutral international peacekeeping force should be deployed in the Democratic Republic, and that the United Nations should manage that process.
He highlighted other agreements, which included the withdrawal of all foreign forces in the Congo, in accordance with a timetable to be worked out
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by the United Nations and the OAU, under the supervision of the peacekeeping force. Regional consensus had also emerged that there should be a national conference in the Democratic Republic involving all Congolese stakeholders, to be convened as soon as possible, in order to determine its political future. His Government had noted with appreciation the recent position taken by President Kabila to commit his Government to that principle.
There were some sticking points, he continued. Although the involvement of rebels at a meeting had been agreed, their manner of representation was undecided. Another issue concerned disarmament. In that regard, Uganda's position was that neither of the two sides should disarm. Rather, they should register their personnel and their arms for the purpose of training an army.
He appealed to the international community to stand firmly against the culture of impunity in the region. Safe havens should not be provided to genocidiers. The global community's support for regional efforts was encouraging and would go a long way. He asked the Council and the United Nations for unqualified support of the region in its efforts to resolve the crisis.
ISA AYAD BABAA (Libya) said that he wanted to thank the Council for holding an open meeting on the issue of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The debate on the situation in that country was important, in the context of achieving a solution to the painful conflict and national reconciliation involving all parties. He commended the efforts of the SADC and the OAU, especially those of President Chiluba of Zambia, in seeking a peaceful settlement to the conflict. His Government was convinced that the social, political and cultural problems that Africans suffered were the normal outcome of history. The most recent history of Africa had been one of domination, and its geography had been a result of that domination. Africa's regional and internal conflicts were natural outcomes of its history.
The President of Libya had convened numerous meetings with African leaders in Libya, he said. That had been done in full cooperation with the leadership of the OAU. He had managed to convene a direct meeting of the Congolese parties in Libya, and its most important achievement had been the breaking of the deadlock. He was confident that the coming African summit scheduled for July in Algeria would redouble efforts towards a lasting solution. While several meetings had been held with all parties involved to put an end to the bloodshed in the Great Lakes region, the required ceasefire agreement had not been achieved.
Libya's involvement in the quest for a durable solution stemmed from various factors, he said. Those factors included the need to: respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; solve all conflicts among African States by dialogue and negotiation and not by the use of force; find an African solution in the context of the OAU, so as
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not give opportunities for foreign intervention; form an African peacekeeping force to prevent massacres of inhabitants and security for neighbouring States; and convene a peace conference for the States concerned.
The United Nations had to play a major role in coordination with the OAU to find humanitarian solutions, he said. In addition, the United Nations had to support the solution arrived at by the OAU, which included the provision of all forms of material support. Further African encounters had to be supported to supplement the previous efforts. He welcomed President Kabila's declaration of his readiness to hold a national dialogue with all parties in the country.
NJUGUNA MAHUGU (Kenya) called on all the countries involved in the painful conflict to recommit themselves to a peaceful solution and to work unreservedly towards that goal. In that regard, his Government was greatly encouraged by African regional efforts dedicated to resolving the conflict, chaired by President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia and including President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania. That regional initiative had achieved some progress, including agreement in principle on a ceasefire, withdrawal of forces, the establishment of a neutral force to monitor the agreement and on discussions among all Congolese parties. Substantive progress in negotiations for the modalities of implementation was now awaited.
Complementary to that regional effort, his Government would also like to see more active involvement by the international community and, in particular, the United Nations, he said. The Security Council could not afford to abdicate its Charter-based, primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, including in Africa. He encouraged a holistic approach in addressing the conflict, which would simultaneously address the immediate political/security problems inherent in the conflict, and incorporate a carefully calibrated incentive package that would anticipate a post-conflict peace-building period in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
PIETER VERMEULEN (South Africa) said that, should the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo not end soon, it might expand even further. The region, and the continent, was faced with an extremely complicated conflict in an inhospitable environment. South Africa remained convinced that the outcome of the SADC Summit of August 1998, held in Pretoria, provided the framework for a negotiated solution to the conflict. The Summit had called for: a ceasefire; a cessation of hostilities; the withdrawal of all foreign troops involved in the conflict; and negotiations among all inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of the Congo aimed at re-establishing a democratic government in that country. In that context, South Africa had been fully supportive of the efforts of President Chiluba of Zambia.
There was clearly both an external and internal dimension to the conflict, he said. All belligerents to the conflict should participate in the
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search for a ceasefire, if a permanent end to the hostilities and lasting stability in the Democratic Republic and the region were to be achieved. Of immediate concern was the cessation of hostilities and the signing of a ceasefire document by all belligerents. That should be followed by establishment of an appropriate international monitoring mechanism under the auspices of the OAU and the United Nations. That ceasefire agreement should be followed by the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Democratic Republic in a pre-determined procedure, which took into consideration the removal of military threats to the present Government, as well as guaranteeing the security of neighbouring countries.
A further aspect of critical concern was that all belligerents should commit themselves to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic, as well as in the central African region, he continued. Regarding stability in the Democratic Republic, all political grouping in the country should be able to participate in negotiations aimed at establishing a national representative government. On the issue of regional security and the convening of an international conference, he believed that gaining international support for the reconstruction and developments of the Democratic Republic should be an important aspect of such a conference.
South Africa was extremely concerned at the general deterioration in the respect for human rights in the Democratic Republic since the start of the conflict. In that regard, his Government condemned all human rights violations in the Democratic Republic and requested all belligerents to the conflict to adhere to international agreements and conventions, and ensure general respect for human rights, especially those of the civilian population.
MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said that a doctrine akin to fascism, but more pernicious, had reared its ugly head in the Great Lakes region of Africa when two neighbours had decided to invade the Democratic Republic of the Congo purportedly in search of security. The "security thesis" was an excuse for Uganda and Rwanda to dismember the polity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an endeavour to establish a "greater Rwanda".
He said that Uganda and Rwanda wanted to tear away by force the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and create a State called "Ruwenzon". In blatant violation of the national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic, the invaders had been appointing governors and other officials, creating artificial borders within the territory of the Democratic Republic by issuing and demanding visas and smuggling commodities, such as timber, gold and diamonds.
The United Nations was established to ensure that expansionism, which sought to violate territorial integrity, would not be tolerated, he said. For that reason, territorial integrity was an inviolable principle enshrined in the Charter, and similarly embodied in the charter of the OAU. Uganda and
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Rwanda had decided to violate international law. The United Nations, therefore, was duty-bound to condemn that wayward behaviour.
Zimbabwe, together with Angola, Namibia and Chad, were responding to the distress call of the legitimate Government of the Democratic Republic, assisting that country in upholding its territorial integrity and national sovereignty. Just last year, the Council deliberated on a report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. Indeed, one of the causes of conflict in Africa was the lack of respect of States' boundaries, as the current case demonstrated. The Council must unequivocally oppose expansion. To act otherwise would send the wrong signal to Member States.
Reports from the eastern part of the country, which were occupied by the invading States, indicated that many Congolese had become internally displaced persons, he said. Others were being massacred, and natural resources were being pillaged by Uganda and Rwanda. It was not surprising that Uganda had become a gold-exporting country, although nature had not endowed that country with that precious metal. Was the international community's muted silence encouraging the invading States into believing that their aggression was supported? he asked. Continuing, he said that the allied forces in the Democratic Republic had no ulterior motives. They were ready to pull out under the following conditions: an effective ceasefire; the withdrawal of forces of the invading States; and the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping force along the border between the Democratic Republic and the invading States.
He said his country believed that all States, big or small, weak or strong, had a right to respect for their boundaries. Any problems between States should be dealt with through mechanisms that were at the disposal of all nations, including those offered by the United Nations. In that regard, the OAU and the SADC had produced a basis for a ceasefire, for which it sought the support of the international community.
He called for the unconditional withdrawal of the invading forces and appealed to the Security Council and the international community to assist in preserving the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. The Congolese people needed to be left to themselves to establish their own peace and democracy, and start the process of development in their country in a state of tranquillity.
One of the major causes of armed conflict in the Great Lakes region was the refugee-generating politics of exclusion pursued by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, he said. At the appropriate time, an international conference on peace, security and stability in that region should be convened under the auspices of the United Nations and the OAU. Such a conference would involve all the governments of the region and their respective opposition parties.
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DAUDI MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the outbreak of hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had resulted in a sustained flow of refugees into his country. That was a constant reminder of the human tragedy facing not only the Democratic Republic, but the region, as well as the international community. Once again, the conflict had, as always, proven that it was innocent civilians, especially the most vulnerable among them -- women and children -- who bore the brunt of the attendant hostilities. The people of the Democratic Republic had suffered so much in recent years that they were owed a contribution, which would consist of a cessation of hostilities and a solution to the conflict through dialogue, in full respect of their country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He said that the Security Council was fully aware of the regional mediation process begun by the OAU and the SADC, which had established a contact group under President Chiluba of Zambia, and including President Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania. Several meetings had been held in Lusaka, Zambia, and elsewhere in search of a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic. While the Lusaka process faced some difficulties, it was seeking to implement a draft ceasefire agreement, while also taking into account the security concerns of the Democratic Republic and those of all its neighbours.
All those involved in the conflict had been called upon to realize the futility of seeking durable peace thought the barrel of a gun, he said. Lasting peace could only be attained through political settlement. The African ceasefire initiative was meant to provide a basis for a political solution to the conflict. It set a framework to end the crisis diplomatically. A ceasefire was, therefore, critical to the process. However, achieving a cessation of hostilities often involved negotiations and compromise. To avoid reigniting a conflict and to build lasting peace would require a considerable degree of reconciliation among parties to the conflict. It was that process that Council members must encourage and support.
GAMALIEL NDARUZANIYE (Burundi) said that he wanted to thank the Council for opening the meeting to other delegations, besides the members of the Council, who were interested in finding a solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only a peaceful path and dialogue would lead to a lasting peace. He was encouraged to hear that all parties were willing to adopt that path. Burundi would make its full contribution, so that the path would triumph and lead to the consolidation of peace in the region.
For decades now, the Great Lakes region had been subject to conflict and instability, he said. Unfortunately, genocide was still spreading throughout the region. Violence in words had given rise to a war-like mentality. It was necessary to initiate a culture of peace throughout the region. As the President of Burundi had stated during the General Assembly, his country was concerned about the continuous talk that set people against each other along ethnic lines. Armies and militia were moving about in the region, including
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alliances that perpetuated genocide. Today, the Congolese Minister for Human Rights had referred to the report that contained information about human rights violations in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic. It would have been more constructive for him to have produced a full report of those human rights violations.
Unfortunately, other forces were developing language that praised crime, he continued. The necessary machinery for peace had to be re-established in the country. He reaffirmed Burundi's support for regional initiatives for a peaceful settlement, especially those by the OAU. He urged the international community to take the necessary steps. If the protagonists were responsible for the conflict, then they were also responsible for finding the solution to the conflict. The forced displacement, unlawful movement of arms and proliferation of militias were among the many problems in the region.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo brought into sharper focus the wider issue of the need to promote durable and sustainable peace in Africa. The pervasiveness of ethnic strife, the continuing refugee crisis, the proliferation of small arms into areas of conflict had seriously undermined Africa's efforts to ensure long-term stability, prosperity and peace for its people. She remained concerned about those developments and remained committed to international initiatives to ensure the peaceful settlement of conflicts within the region.
She said the current situation in the Democratic Republic was alarming. The conflicts which had erupted in recent months posed a serious threat to security and peace in the Democratic Republic, as well as the Great Lakes region as a whole. That war must be ended. To that end, she supported the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities. She reaffirmed support for the unity, stability and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic.
She also supported the proposal for an international conference on peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region, under the auspices of the United Nations and the OAU. She encouraged the international community to fully demonstrate its commitment to the region by giving more tangible support to peacekeeping and peace-building initiatives on the continent. She emphasized that peaceful solutions must be found to resolve the current crisis. An effective regional approach would promote the resolution of fundamental issues, which might lead to lasting peace. In that respect, she welcomed the regional diplomatic initiatives of the SADC.
Mr. OKITUNDU, the Minister of Human Rights of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a further statement, said his delegation had requested today's debate in a constructive spirit, not out of a desire for polemics. It, therefore, would not respond to the completely unfounded statements made earlier by those committing aggression against his country.
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Indeed, he said, since 2 August 1998, his country had been the victim of aggression in a serious threat to international peace. His duty was to call on the Security Council, whose paramount role was to preserve peace and international security. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a peaceful country, where more than 450 ethnic groups lived at peace. It had a great deal of culture, but absolutely no kind of tribal approach to it, and no kind of genocidal tendencies at all.
He said his Government was committed to democratization, a process that was rudely interrupted by the aggression. The Democratic Republic was, nevertheless, resolved to continue that process. The actions by the aggressors had preceded his country's efforts to rebuff them. The Democratic Republic was simply acting in self-defence, as recognized by the Charters of both the United Nations and the OAU.
Since the aggressors were citing border insecurity as a pretext for their aggression, he would urge the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility fully, by taking the necessary measures in order to re-establish the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic. He called on the Council to act on the basis of Articles 39 to 42 of the Charter. The Democratic Republic was a victim of aggression. He appealed to the Council to be sensitive to his country's suffering.
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