The United Nations has long been engaged in efforts to bring peace and stability to Africa’s Great Lakes sub-region which has been plagued by decades of political instability and armed conflicts, porous borders and humanitarian crisis, along with tensions over natural resources and other potentially destabilizing factors.
A key step in recent efforts has been the adoption, in February 2013, of a UN-brokered accord aimed at stabilizing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. ThePeace, Security and Cooperation Framework– signed by Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania – encompasses commitments at the national, regional and international levels to bring peace and stability to the eastern DRC and the region.
The signing is only the beginning of a “comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement,” in the words of the Secretary-General. The implementation of the framework is supported by the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was appointed Special Envoy in March 2013.
The envoy’s key tasks include undertaking good offices to strengthen the relations between the signatories of the framework, revitalizing existing accords and coordinating the international engagement. In so doing, Ms. Robinson closely coordinates with UN entities including the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) as well as regional organizations such as the African Union and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
The Special Envoy works with support from the Department of Political Affairs and a team to be based in Nairobi.
In a paper released on the eve of her first visit to the region, the Special Envoy called the 11-nation agreement a "Framework of Hope" and pledged to work with governments as well as to engage civil society to encourage its implementation in the interest of peace.
Following her first visit to the region as the UN’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson proposed a set of principles to guide immediate efforts to tackle the crisis in the region while maintaining a focus on long-term solutions.