Critics of Authority Do Not Need to Be Enemies of Authority for Their Voices to Be Heard, Secretary-General Tells Civil Society in Kinshasa

30 June 2010

Critics of Authority Do Not Need to Be Enemies of Authority for Their Voices to Be Heard, Secretary-General Tells Civil Society in Kinshasa

30 June 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Critics of Authority Do Not Need to Be Enemies of Authority for Their


Voices to Be Heard, Secretary-General Tells Civil Society in Kinshasa


Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a meeting with civil society, today, 30 June, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo:

I am very pleased to be here.  Thank you for coming to meet me.  I regret we will not have more time together.  I will be brief to leave maximum time for discussion.  I want to hear from you.

This is my third visit to the DRC.  Indeed, your country was the first on the African continent that I visited as Secretary-General in 2007.  I came then, and I come now, in recognition of the importance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to peace, stability and development in Africa.

A stable Congo can provide a foundation for a stable Africa.  A vibrant civil society is critical to stability, to reconciliation in the wake of conflict, to a healthy democracy, and to human rights.

Please accept my condolences on the loss of Floribert Chebeya.  His courage was an inspiration for all who are dedicated to upholding human rights and defending public freedoms.  I hope his death will be investigated thoroughly, transparently and independently, with full respect for due process and the rule of law.

The health of a country can be measured by its willingness and ability to carry out its human rights commitments.  It is important that the State provides the conditions under which human rights defenders and journalists can carry out their work unhindered and in safety.  I would like to assure you of the continued commitment of the United Nations to accountability, to human rights, to peaceful development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to helping to strengthen civil society.

My colleagues in MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the United Nations Country Team are acutely aware of your critical role as guardians of your country’s new institutions.  Your values are our values:  empowering women; education and opportunities for the young; good governance; fighting corruption; reinforcing the rule of law and democratic processes; reconciliation between communities; protecting the environment.

I encourage you to lead by example.  Implement sound governance and democratic practices among your own organizations.  Ensure inclusiveness with respect to ethnicity and gender.  Your role requires you to act responsibly.  Common interest must take precedence over individual agendas.

I urge you to continue working with the institutions of the country, and with the United Nations, to improve human rights.  Critics of authority do not need to be enemies of authority for their voices to be heard.

Your engagement can help raise awareness, combat impunity and bring to justice perpetrators of the most serious crimes, including sexual violence.

The United Nations will stand by your side.  Our priority — is to see Africa achieve its potential.  This is why I have visited Africa three times this month.  I wanted to see for myself how Africa is making progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and to hear of the challenges that remain.

Your country’s challenges are profound.  They have made a deep impression on me.  I have witnessed them myself.  I have seen great suffering — but also great resilience.  I have seen the horrific impact of violence — but also the power of individuals to steer a better course.

It is not going to be an easy road.  It will take the combined effort of all your citizens.  The United Nations has stood alongside the people of this country for all the years of your independence.  Let me assure you that we will continue to do so.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.