Secretary-General’s press conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo [with Q&A]
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo [with Q&A] , 24 February 2016
Mesdames et Messieurs,
J’arrive au terme de ma cinquième visite en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) en tant que Secrétaire général de l’ONU.
Une fois encore, je tiens à remercier les autorités et la population congolaises de leur accueil chaleureux.
La situation en RDC et dans l’ensemble de la région des Grands Lacs reste au premier rang des priorités des Nations Unies.
Nous nous sommes employés à nous acquitter du mieux possible de notre mandat de protection des civils et à promouvoir un dialogue politique ouvert.
La population de la RDC mérite de vivre en paix et en toute sécurité. Je me félicite de l’annonce faite récemment du renouvellement de la coopération entre les Forces armées de la RDC et la MONUSCO dans le cadre de la lutte contre les ADF, les FDLR et d’autres groupes armés.
Hier, je me suis rendu dans un camp pour 15.000 personnes déplacées dans la province du Nord Kivu.
Je suis très ému par tout ce que j’ai entendu et ce que j’ai vu. C’est une leçon d’humilité pour moi.
En tant que Secrétaire général, je vais à la rencontre des plus vulnérables, des plus fragiles. Je veux être leur avocat, la voix de ceux qui n’en ont pas.
Je pense que nous devons améliorer l’assistance humanitaire. C’est pourquoi je vais organiser le premier Sommet humanitaire mondial à Istanbul, en Turquie, au mois de mai.
Je pense aussi que l’assistance humanitaire et le développement doivent mieux travailler ensemble pour changer la vie des gens que j’ai rencontrés.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today in Kinshasa, I had the opportunity to meet with President Kabila, Parliament leaders, representatives of political opposition parties, and civil society.
I appealed to them to engage constructively in a political dialogue. I reminded them to put the people’s interests at the centre. I urged them to work for a credible and inclusive electoral process, in accordance with the Constitution.
Respect for human rights of all is critical to peace and stability. I am concerned about growing restrictions of democratic space, particularly the targeting of members of the opposition, media and civil society.
Freedom of speech and the right of association and peaceful assembly are essential to a vibrant political life and the democratic process.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This morning I took part in The Private Sector Investment Conference held under the auspices of the Office of my Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region have seen impressive economic growth rates. But more must be done to improve living conditions, expand youth employment, promote inclusive growth and leave no one behind.
Harnessing the potential of the private sector through investments in the Great Lakes region would send a powerful message of hope and opportunity.
For that to happen, the private sector needs to be reassured that investments will not be jeopardized by major political and security crises.
Avant de quitter ce pays, je souhaite rendre hommage à tous mes collègues de l’ONU, qui font preuve de dévouement et de détermination.
L’ONU et les organisations qui lui sont apparentées prennent l’engagement de continuer à œuvrer pour appuyer les aspirations du peuple congolais à un avenir meilleur et pacifique.
Je vous remercie.
Question about private sector investment in the Great Lakes and about the electoral process in the DRC?
Secretary-General: I understand that your question is about the electoral process in DRC. I am concerned about the continued delays in the electoral calendar process and increased political tensions on the issue of President Kabila's third term.
I continue to encourage the national stakeholders to agree on a consensual electoral calendar.
The national dialogue proposed by the President, if inclusive, credible and conducted in accordance with the Constitution, could help manage the tensions and create an environment conducive to peaceful, transparent and credible elections.
In that regard, human rights must be respected at all times. It is important that the fundamental rights of freedom of the press, expression and peaceful assembly be upheld during the electoral period.
On the first part of your question about investment conference here, I participated in this. This is a good initiative. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has made good socio-economic development [progress], we can see it easily.
At the same time, there have been concerns about security and peace issues, in the Eastern part of DRC. At this, it is quite a timely [initiative], when leaders of this Great Lakes region adopted the Framework Agreement on Peace and Security and Cooperation.
As I said this morning, DRC is known to have abundant natural resources but it is also important that [it] should be known that this is a country where they have very educated and capable human resources. Therefore in that regard, inviting foreign direct investment to this country will be very important for the sustainable development of the region. That is why I came to participate in this.
Question on whether the Secretary-General is optimistic for peaceful elections and on the collaboration of the Congolese Army (FARDC) and MONUSCO.
Secretary-General: During my meetings with the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, I have discussed overall issues, how the United Nations and the DRC Government can work together to promote peace and security, human rights and development issues.
I met, as you said, the civil society leadership, opposition party leaders and also presidential majority leaders. I have listened to all the views and I have conveyed my observations and what I heard to the leadership.
And I sincerely hope that there is a consensual dialogue process among the parties concerned and I have advised the leadership of this country to engage in an inclusive dialogue.
I heard from all the parties I met, they say they will be engaged in inclusive dialogue. I think there is no alternative to this inclusive dialogue.
On the second question, as I said in my remarks, we are satisfied with the resumption of the cooperation between FARDC and MONUSCO. We discussed this matter extensively, how we can make a better contribution, better cooperation, working together to address all the security concerns.
We are committed to continue our work with the DRC Government.
Question on the repatriation of the DRC contingent serving in the CAR.
Secretary-General: We conduct regular assessments of the contingents in our peacekeeping missions.
Following that assessment, we found that the DRC troops serving in the DRC were not meeting our standards in terms of equipment, preparation and other issues.
The United Nations is grateful for the DRC contribution to peace in the Central African Republic, both through MISCA and through the UN Mission, MINUSCA.
And we look forward to continuing working in close collaboration with the Congolese Army to improve its performance, including regarding respect for human rights in the course of its operations.
We have made progress and although much remains to be done, I am confident that we can continue to cooperate in the future.
Regarding Sexual Exploitation and Abuse cases involving UN peacekeepers, I am committed to a Zero Tolerance policy and I count on the troop contributing countries to fully meet the accountability standards that we have put in place.
It is crucial that peacekeepers maintain the highest standards of conduct. Thank you, merci.
Question on how to mobilize resources for the assistance to displace and refugees.
Secretary-General: As Secretary-General, I have been visiting many refugee camps and IDP camps all around the world, including Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East.
My visit and my experience yesterday in the Goma area were really humbling. I met so many thousands of displaced persons, particularly young children and women who are leaving in the camps area.
As you may know, the number of displaced persons and refugees around the world is about 60 million people. This is unprecedented, the highest number since the end of Second World War.
It has reached almost untenable, unbearable, unsustainable situation where the United Nations has been trying to provide life-saving and daily humanitarian assistance: food, sanitation, water, housing and education. It costs a huge amount money and while the needs have gone up [in an unprecedented manner], the response to humanitarian needs has been much much lower.
We cannot go on like this, we have to provide daily humanitarian assistance. That is why we have decided to convene for the first time in the history of the United Nations, for the first time in 70, a World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul from May 23 to May 24.
It is not going to be a pledging conference to mobilize funding. Our main purpose is for world leaders to know what the situation is, how much, how many people are in need of dire humanitarian assistance. We have to have some predictable, sustainable, and a systematic and structured way in delivering and supporting these people.
I would like to have some political, strong political commitment by world leaders, whether they are coming from the developing or the developed world.
I have urged yesterday the world leaders, first of all, by 2030, to reduce at least by 50% of these displaced people by 2030. 2030 coincides with the final year for the Sustainable Development Goals. So by that time, we have to reduce at least half of these displaced persons.
It will be quite challenging but if there is political will, I believe that we can do it, and I count on the continuing engagement and political leadership of world leaders. It is the main purpose of convening the World Humanitarian Summit meeting. Merci.
Question on the future of Africa and the Secretary-General’s personal reflection on his work on Africa.
Secretary-General: This is not my last visit to Africa, I have still 10 months to go. Even if it is my last year as Secretary-General, I still have many programmes and schedules to visit African countries for the next 10 months.
It may be my last visit to DRC. But who knows? I may be coming back again, whenever there is a necessity. So I make myself available, at any time, whenever there is something for me to do, I never spare my efforts. That is one thing.
You asked me a very broad question so [this is what] I’d like to emphasize to you, many journalists, for your understanding, for your reporting purposes.
On Africa, often people say it is a continent of hope, the continent of future. That is why African leaders have adopted their African Union vision, Vision 2063, a long term vision.
I am sure that by that time, you will see a very different Africa.
We, everybody knows that there are many crises. If you look at the root causes carefully, there are more man-made crises than natural crises. Of course, there are many cases of natural impact, lot of damages and destruction of infrastructures. But at the same time, if you look at it carefully, [you realize] there should be a clear and very transparent good governance.
The most important thing would be good governance, by the leader. The leadership should come from the top.
You may remember during the African Summit meeting, last month of January, I raised this issue to the leaders of Africa. It may not apply [only] to African leaders, it is just that I was attending the African Union meeting.
I said: please do not cling to power, and listen to the voices of your people, and listen carefully what their challenges, their aspirations are. When your Constitutional term comes, then please do not cling to power, have good governance. There should be no corruption, no corruptive practices, no impunity, there should be rule of law, accountability and transparency.
Africa is full, rich in natural resources, rich in human resources. How to use these human resources and natural resources, that depends upon the leadership. The leadership should show the example. Leading by example, I am sure this will accelerate socio-economic process.
That is one of the messages I have been repeatedly saying as Secretary-General. I said the same message last year at the African Union Summit meeting, you may check the records of my statement last year, January last year, and this year in January. There was a lot of spontaneous applause from the floor, from the delegations.
While we have some concerns and challenges in the African continent, there are also some good promises and hope. World leaders have adopted a very ambitious, far-reaching development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 Goals, covering all the spectrum of our lives, including our planet Earth.
December last year, world leaders adopted again a very ambitious Paris climate change agreement.
These two visions and commitments can provide all of us, including people of Africa, strong possibilities for making a much much better, prosperous, harmonious world, where nobody will be left behind.
There are at this time more than 125 million people who need UN assistance, humanitarian assistance. This is beyond our capacity. Not a single country in the world, however powerful and resourceful they may be, not a single organization like the United Nations, the most legitimate, biggest organization in the world, we cannot do it alone. We need everybody’s cooperation and support, and unity or purpose.
Solidarity, global solidarity, is required at this time. Then, I am sure that Africa will have a much brighter future, in the near future.
Question on the meaning of the Secretary-General crossing his arms while meeting Dr. Mukwege yesterday in Goma.
Secretary-General: I have great admiration and respect for Dr Denis Mukwege. I have known him and I have seen him [for a long time], his compassion and humanitarian commitment and leadership.
We need to have many people – you don’t have to be a medical doctor – but we need that kind of humanitarian compassionate leadership. He has treated and taken care of more than 30,000 women who have been sexually abused and whose human dignity has been totally abused.
In that regard, he should be respected, he should be admired and he is a symbol of our compassion, working for vulnerable people.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I myself want to practice as I preach but there are not many people who practice as they preach. We need to show our leadership. Whether we are political leaders, business leaders, civil society leaders, wherever your profession may bring you, we should make contributions for vulnerable people.
The United Nations are very much committed, first of all, to protect human dignity and human rights of many vulnerable groups of people, women and girls, particularly in conflict areas. They are always under threat.
That is why we showed our solidarity by showing our strong solidarity to many women and many vulnerable whose human rights must be protected. I sincerely hope that there will be many many more of such people who can show compassion and humanity, like Dr Denis Mukwege.