New Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region, Briefing Security Council on Visit, Sees ‘Fresh Chance to Do More than Just Attend to the Consequences of Conflict’

6 May 2013

New Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region, Briefing Security Council on Visit, Sees ‘Fresh Chance to Do More than Just Attend to the Consequences of Conflict’

6 May 2013
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6960th Meeting (AM)

New Special Envoy to Great Lakes Region, Briefing Security Council on Visit, Sees

‘Fresh Chance to Do More than Just Attend to the Consequences of Conflict’

New Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for Eastern Democratic Republic

Of the Congo and the Region ‘an Opportunity to Get It Right’, Says Mary Robinson

The Security Council’s role in new efforts to forge peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was crucial to stopping one of the longest, most appalling human rights crises, said the Secretary-General’s newly appointed Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, pressing delegates to seize a “moment of renewed opportunity” to resolve the underlying causes and infuse hope into a new United Nations-mediated peace accord for the country and region.

“There is a fresh chance to do more than just attend to the consequences of conflict,” said Mary Robinson, briefing Council members via video conference from Dublin and upon return yesterday from her first visit to the region.  She recalled the tragic history that still scarred the Great Lakes and the United Nations — one that also had fuelled her own commitment to her assignment.  Next year would mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  As President of Ireland, she had been the first Head of State to have visited the country in 1994.  She had stayed at the Hotel Mille Collines, whose walls had been stained with blood.

Two decades later, the echoes of the past remained in the cyclical violence that continued to deprive so many of the peace they deserved, she said.  But, in the new Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, signed in Addis Ababa on 24 February, there was an opportunity to get it right — to bring peace, security and development to the region.  It was time to translate that commitment into tangible actions for peace, for which an all-out series of concerted actions that were serious and sustained at the national, regional and international levels was needed.

“It will require doing things differently, doing them better, and not stopping until the job is finished,” she said.

Done differently and with sustained political will, the new Framework could work, she insisted.  It required action at all levels — nationally, regionally and internationally — and included the creation of oversight mechanisms, in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, to ensure benchmarks were set and reached.  It had the support of 11 nations and the involvement of four organizations to serve as witnesses.  More broadly, it stemmed from a strong need for a new approach.  “There must be optimism and courage in place of cynicism,”and the international community must again believe that peace was possible, she said.

Her approach was to focus on engaging leaders to build trust and translate their commitments into actions for peace, she said, adding that she would work from the bottom up, enlisting civil society to create the widest possible constituency, as new efforts would have a chance only if the many partners were coordinated and pushing in the same direction.  She had summarized that vision in a document entitled “A Framework of Hope”, which reflected her sense of the agreement and how she could most effectively contribute to its implementation.

During her trip, from 28 April to 5 May, she said she had visited Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa.  Time constraints had limited the tour, but she had met with Presidents Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, and had held a long phone conversation with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, with whom she had discussed their Framework commitments.

Her visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said, had taken place amid tensions over statements made by the 23 March Movement in reaction to the upcoming deployment of the Force Intervention Brigade.  That deployment, she said, should be seen as part of a larger political process to find a solution to the crisis.  It should act as a deterrent with limited strategic military operations and be “put in context” to minimize potential adverse impacts.  It was vital that the Brigade operated in full compliance with human rights and humanitarian law.  President Kabila had said his Government was working on an action plan for its Framework commitments, including the composition and work modalities of the national oversight mechanism.

At the regional level, she recalled “frank” discussions with Presidents Museveni, Kagame and Nkurunziza, who had stated their readiness to implement their commitments.  In Kampala, President Museveni and the facilitator of the Kampala talks had underlined that the dialogue remained a viable avenue for ending the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  But, they also had spoken of a stalemate, especially on the issues of amnesty, integration and disarmament.  In Pretoria, she had learned of “encouraging measures” to boost South Africa’s economic partnership with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and assist in areas such as governance, agriculture, infrastructure and revenue collection.

She also had met the Governor of Goma and the Ugandan Minister for Defence, in his capacity as facilitator of the Kampala talks, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

In addition, she had visited with United Nations entities in each country — including the Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) — as well as country teams, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and donors.  She had enlarged the consultations to include civil society, and more so, women’s groups, with whom she intended to work closely.  She had urged civil society groups to encourage leaders to respect their pledges, stressing that implementation of the Framework was a shared responsibility.

Her overarching goal had been to seek views on the implementation of the Framework, to encourage participation in the first meeting of the “11+4” oversight mechanism on 26 May in Addis Ababa, and to share her approach for the Framework.  She planned to present a concept paper at that meeting on how that instrument and its supporting Technical Committee might operate, before heading to Paris for a 28 May meeting of the International Contact Group on the Great Lakes.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and adjourned at 10:27 a.m.

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