Proposal for International Neutral Force in Democratic Republic of the Congo Should be Further Refined, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Meeting

27 September 2012

Proposal for International Neutral Force in Democratic Republic of the Congo Should be Further Refined, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Meeting

27 September 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Proposal for International Neutral Force in Democratic Republic of the Congo


Should be Further Refined, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Meeting

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the high-level meeting on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in New York, 27 September:

Merci beaucoup de participer à cette importante réunion de haut niveau.

Votre présence le montre : vous soutenez les efforts que déploie la Conférence internationale sur la région des Grands Lacs afin de briser une fois pour toutes l’engrenage de la violence dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo.

Je suis particulièrement heureux d’accueillir le Président Kabila, le Président Kagame et le Président Sata. Je salue également la présence parmi nous des distingués représentants d’autres États de la région, d’importants partenaires internationaux, de la Conférence internationale sur la région des Grands Lacs, de la Communauté de développement de l’Afrique australe, de l’Union africaine et de l’Union européenne.

I have invited you to this meeting so that we can advance our shared goal of ending the suffering caused by the current crisis.

The regional and subregional actors most affected are in the best position to help respond to it.  But efforts by the ICGLR [International Conference on the Great Lakes Region], SADC [South African Development Community] and the AU [African Union] are critical.  They also reflect a deepening of the regional integration that, in the long-run, will be the basis on which to prevent new crises from emerging.

We have all been following closely events since April, when the group that calls itself the M23 Movement mutinied against the Congolese Army and set up on its own.  While there has been a lull in M23 military activity in the past several weeks, the group is consolidating control in large parts of Rutshuru territory in North Kivu.

Its members are raping, murdering and pillaging local populations as part of a campaign of terror.  The numbers are alarming.  Over 260,000 people have fled the violence since the mutiny began, and an additional 60,000 have fled over the borders into Rwanda and Uganda.

I am deeply disturbed by reports we have confirmed of serious human rights violations by the M23, including the forcible recruitment of hundreds of children who are being used as combatants and sex slaves and, in some instances, killed.  These atrocities must be stopped.  All perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice.

Insecurity has also increased elsewhere in the Kivus as other armed groups take advantage of the instability.  Many are pursuing economic interests by profiting from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s vast natural resources — resources that could otherwise be used to advance prosperity and growth throughout the Great Lakes region.

Mass rape and other forms of sexual violence continue to be used as weapons of war.   Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has been called “the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman”.

I am very concerned about continuing reports of external support for the M23.  I call on all those responsible to end this destabilizing assistance.  The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC is inviolable and must be fully respected by all of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's neighbours. 

There is no military solution to this crisis.  We must consider concrete options to bring about a peaceful resolution that is based on enhanced dialogue, deepening integration, and regional confidence-building.  I encourage the ICGLR to continue taking forward its Pact on Security, Stability, and Development, which addresses key regional issues such as the exploitation of natural resources, the return of refugees and economic integration.

In the immediate term, the expanded Joint Verification Mechanism proposed by the ICGLR, which was launched two weeks ago in Goma, has the potential to re-build much-needed confidence.  I encourage partners to lend their full support to that Mechanism alongside the support that is already being provided by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO).  The proposal for an international neutral force should also be further refined, in coordination with key stakeholders.   

Additional key reforms are also needed to strengthen the presence and build the capacity of the Congolese State, including the Army.  The United Nations stands ready to continue assisting these efforts.  I call on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s key partners to provide increased and sustained support.    

What we are witnessing today in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has strong echoes of similar events in the recent past. A decade ago, the parties laid down their arms following a conflict that engulfed the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours.  That conflict caused untold human suffering, and the consequences are still being felt today.

The agreement that was concluded at that time reflected a realization by all actors that a political solution was the only path to peace in the region.  Today, again, we need a political solution.

Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,

L’Organisation des Nations Unies fournira tout l’appui possible.  Au besoin, je suis prêt à user de mes bons offices.

Je vous remercie de prendre part à cette réunion, et je compte sur vous pour qu’elle constitue un réel pas en avant dans le règlement de la crise.

* *** *

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