Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council debate on the Great Lakes Region
New York, 25 July 2013
I thank the United States for convening this debate, and Secretary of State John Kerry for presiding. His presence is testament to the importance the United States places on this important issue.
Allow me also to welcome the appointment of Senator Russ Feingold as the new United States Special Representative for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I wish him success in the critical months ahead, and hope that he will continue to very closely coordinate with my Special Envoy, Mary Robinson.
It is now five months since the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region was signed, and four months since this Council adopted resolution 2098.
Hopes were high that we could see an end to the large-scale cyclical violence that has ravaged eastern DRC over the past two decades and derailed previous peace initiatives.
Peace would mean a new chance for development and lasting security for some of the world’s most sorely tested people.
I am therefore deeply concerned about the current hostilities between the M23 movement and the Congolese armed forces.
All Parties need to return as soon as possible to the Kampala talks. I have called for maximum restraint and urge all Framework signatories to jointly and individually respect their commitments.
The lack of mutual trust in the region has thwarted past attempts to find political solutions to the entrenched problems that continue to drive the conflict.
It is vital that the Government of the DRC and its eastern neighbours pursue constructive dialogue.
At the national level, structural reforms within the DRC will help address the root causes of the violence. The Government has taken initial steps towards army reform, decentralization and national dialogue. It is essential to translate these commitments into tangible results.
At the regional level, leaders must look beyond the issues that divide them and work together to define a common agenda for lasting peace and prosperity based on trade, economic cooperation and mutual respect for each others’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Mr. President, Excellencies,
The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework provides a clear roadmap.
My Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mrs. Mary Robinson, will continue to support the parties to uphold the commitments that they have adhered to under the Framework.
My Special Representative for the DRC and Head of MONUSCO, Mr. Martin Kobler, will support the political process in the DRC and support it in implementing its national commitments.
The prospects for durable peace in eastern DRC remain better than they have for many years.
But spoilers are active, including armed groups and militias that have shown little inclination to engage in a genuine peace process.
To address this threat, we are reinforcing MONUSCO.
The Force Intervention Brigade is an important tool but is only one part of a comprehensive approach that embraces security and development.
However, while the United Nations and the international community can do much, we depend on the Framework signatories to provide the essential foundation.
All parties must avoid renewed hostilities and achieve progress on the political track.
Conflict and lawlessness in eastern DRC have crippled development and entrenched extreme poverty and suffering.
There are appalling levels of brutal sexual violence.
The region needs security. But for lasting peace we must also provide opportunity.
The UN system is committed to promoting economic development in DRC and the Great Lakes region.
Last May, during our joint visit of myself and the World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank has committed an additional $1 billion dollars for better health and education services, cross-border trade and hydroelectricity projects, giving new impetus to regional economic integration. I thank the leadership and continuing engagement and commitment of World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and I am going to work very closely with him in other areas to set the model of partnership between the United Nations and the World Bank.
This is central to building the trust and interdependence that are critical to the success of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
The current fighting in eastern DRC casts a grave shadow.
But we should not allow it to deter us from our objective.
It should make us even more determined to lift people from the oppression of insecurity, human rights abuses and poverty.
I count on the Framework signatories to work constructively with each other and with my Special Envoy to develop benchmarks for their commitments.
These will inform the strategic roadmap for implementation to be presented for endorsement in the margins of the General Assembly General Debate in September.
And I call on the international community to use all the tools at its disposal – from international criminal prosecution and sanctions regimes to development assistance.
My Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, has described the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework as a “Framework of Hope”.
I urge all signatories and the international community to keep the hope alive.
Statements on 25 July 2013