Secretary-General’s press encounter after the meeting with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Members of the Ugandan Cabinet; Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, also participated
Entebbe, Uganda, 24 May 2013
Thank you, Mr. President. It is a great pleasure to visit Uganda again. Thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality, which all our delegation members are enjoying, even though it is a brief one.
Let me briefly explain to you what we have discussed and what the United Nations is going to do regarding some very critical security and development issues happening in this region.
I am also very happy to be joined by Dr. [Jim] Kim, the President of the World Bank and also you see Mrs. Mary Robinson, my Special Envoy for DRC and the Great Lakes region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have just had a very productive meeting this morning with President Museveni and members of his Cabinet.
As Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, President Museveni has been instrumental in striving to resolve the crisis in the Eastern DRC - and in reaching agreement on the landmark Framework.
That is why we are here.
Now the focus is on implementation of this Framework Agreement. We count on the continued leadership of President Museveni and all regional leaders. I welcome President Museveni’s strong commitments and leadership shown here today.
Before I move more into detail on DRC issues, I should take this opportunity to express on behalf of the United Nations and the whole international community our deepest thanks and admiration for such a valuable contribution of Ugandan Government soldiers for the peace and stability in Somalia.
[inaudible] such a noble sacrifice of so many Ugandan soldiers, people in Somalia are now able to enjoy the stability, the political stability, and opportunity, chances for development. I count on your continuing support and contribution on this matter.
Now let me briefly explain to you about what we have been doing during the last several days. I am coming from Mozambique, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, and I am heading to Ethiopia this afternoon.
This visit together with Dr. Kim of the World Bank is quite unprecedented and solely focused on how we can bring peace and stability, together with development to the people of DRC and also to this region.
As you know there was a very important landmark agreement, Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in DRC and in the region.
We call it a Framework for Hope as Mary Robinson rightly termed it
This landmark agreement commits regional actors to act on their commitments.
And it emphasizes the need to address the underlying causes of instability.
It is essential that we invest in the people who have suffered too much for too long.
Dr. Kim and I met some of these people yesterday in Goma at the Heal Africa Hospital - women and girls who had been brutally raped by armed groups.
They, and the people lining the streets of Goma, had a clear message - they are tired of war, tired of abuse, tired of impunity, tired of poverty.
I have been travelling in many conflict zones, but our experience, my experience yesterday, where thousands of people – men and women, boys and girls – all came out with small paper placards [that said] “No war. Peace”. We were very much humbled. What the United Nations [can do] and how we can work to bring peace to those people. This was a genuine aspiration for so many people, lining in the streets on our way.
We want to give them hope. And we think we can.
The Security Council has authorized an Intervention Brigade to be deployed within the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO.
This force of 3,000 troops has a robust mandate to enforce peace and protect civilians. It will be fully operational in a matter of weeks.
But that is only one element of a broader political process.
A peace deal must deliver a peace dividend -- health, education, jobs, and opportunity.
Dr. Kim and I both know that the people of the region are impatient for tangible progress.
That is why we are acting in close partnership.
The World Bank’s new investment will be a major boost to the work both our organizations are doing to support sustainable economic growth.
Economic growth can help prepare the ground for peace and stability.
And peace provides a foundation for prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Earlier this week, as I said, I was in Mozambique to meet with President Guebuza.
As Chair of the Southern African Development Community, President Guebuza is a witness and guarantor to the Framework of Hope, along with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, chaired by President Museveni. The African Union and the United Nations Secretary-General will be acting as guarantors.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
All across Africa, countries are on the rise, reaching towards their potential.
The challenges are many, but the trajectory is clear.
There is no reason that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region cannot follow suit.
Tomorrow I will carry this message to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union.
Dr. Kim and I both believe in Africa.
We both believe in hope, and we are determined to help provide it.
Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, The UN Panel of Experts, you have visited the region and personally talked to the two leaders – you talked to President Museveni and you talked to President Kagame. I want to know, before you go back to New York, has this changed your perception, and are you seeing it as part of the solution and not part of the problem? Thank you.
SG: Both President Museveni and President Kagame have signed this Framework Agreement. It is very important that all the signatories to this Framework Agreement [inaudible]. This Framework Agreement should be implemented by their active engagement and implementation. I have conveyed this message to both Presidents, and I am very grateful and encouraged that both Presidents have confirmed and reiterated their full implementation on this matter and particularly as for President Museveni he is one of the guarantors of this, so he is responsible to make this, to see this Agreement a success, by full participation and implementation by the eleven leaders who signed it. Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the M23 rebels have repeatedly accused the UN of ignoring peaceful measures and opting to a militaristic approach. How do you take such criticism, you as the head of international diplomacy?
SG: Whenever and wherever there is a difference of positions between governments and a rebel group or an opposition group, it is obviously clear that this should be addressed and resolved peacefully through dialogue. In that regard, the M23 have provoked, they have raised all these military attacks against civilians, against the government. That is why the United Nations is mandated to address this issue through the deployment of an Intervention Brigade. The UN will work very closely with the FARDC of the DRC Government to bring peace and stability so that people can enjoy freedom, and so that their human dignity and their human rights can be protected. I urge again to all armed groups including the M23 to lay down their weapons and respect human rights and respect international humanitarian laws and resolve all these issues through peaceful talks. The venue and forum is open now. The Kampala talks are ready. I have asked President Kabila to continue this dialogue, and I have been assured by President Museveni as convenor of these Kampala talks to continue to resolve through peaceful means. Thank you.
Q: Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, on one side you say you support the peace talks in Kampala and want to result in a peace resolution in DRC. At the same time, you have changed the mandate of the UN Force to go in DRC and fight the negative forces. It seems a contradiction. In the first place, why did you change the mandate of the UN Force in DRC? Is it because the force that was there did not do its work properly with the mandate they had just like many people have seen?
SG: It is important to correctly understand the mandate, and the operating parameters of UN peacekeeping operations. All the UN peacekeeping operations are deployed by a resolution of the Security Council, and they are there to keep peace.
What happened last November in Goma was that, while MONUSCO peacekeepers are supposed to work together with the Congolese armed forces and their main mission is to assist them, then you should understand that the primary responsibility of preserving and maintaining territorial integrity rests with the DRC Government, the FARDC.
The United Nations forces cannot substitute [for] such a sovereign right. Now then, what happens to the Intervention Brigade? This Intervention Brigade is a very unique one and unprecedented in terms of UN peacekeeping operations. So it is going beyond normal traditional peacekeeping operations mandate. It has a special mandate, robust enough to enforce peace. This is very important. But again, I make it clear, that this Intervention Brigade cannot and does not and will not substitute the primary responsibility of the DRC Government in maintaining and preserving territorial integrity. Therefore the primary responsibility is with the DRC Government, and within those parameters, we will do our best. I have already appointed a Tanzanian General as Force Commander and we have already received firm commitments from Governments of South Africa, Tanzania, and Malian forces will be deployed soon, in July. As I said, the full operational timing will be within few weeks time.
So, let us hope that this Intervention Brigade deployment will significantly contribute to the peace and stability of DRC, particularly eastern DRC, where human rights have been abused and violated. So many people have been killed, and so many refugees and displaced people have to suffer. That is our strong commitment, and that is why I am travelling to all these areas.
Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 24 May 2013