31 January 2015

Secretary-General Tells Regional Oversight Mechanism ‘We Must Continue to Speak with One Voice’ to End Conflict, Improve Lives of People in Great Lakes Region

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the fifth meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, in Addis Ababa today:

Thank you for attending today’s fifth meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism.  I thank Dr. Zuma, as well as the Commissioner for organizing this meeting today.

During your last meeting, you discussed the First Progress Report on the implementation of the regional Plan of Action, noting progress made and outstanding challenges.  You called for intensified efforts in several areas, including the eradication of illegal armed groups; the implementation of the Nairobi Declarations; the restoration of State authority in eastern DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo]; and better collaboration among Member States.

But, these efforts have had limited success in two areas in particular.  First, despite the advances made by the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, the FARDC, supported by the United Nations [Organization Stabilization] Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, in stamping out the activities of armed groups and protecting civilians, scores of civilians have been killed in recent months in the Beni area.  This tragedy underlines the importance of eradicating all illegal armed groups from the region.

I welcome your resolve to use military force against the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda].  I was pleased to hear the announcement by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that it is beginning operations against this illegal armed group, with MONUSCO support.

It is important that this now translates into concrete results on the ground. MONUSCO stands ready to participate operationally and logistically in these operations.  The United Nations as a whole stands ready to assist the DRC authorities and armed forces.  Military action alone will not resolve this issue, but it is vital to eliminate the threat posed by the FDLR once and for all.

Second, I am concerned by slow progress in implementing the Nairobi Declarations.  More than a year after these Declarations were signed, the amnesty and repatriation of eligible former fighters from the M23 [23 March Movement] and other armed groups have not been completed.  I urge the Governments of the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda to intensify efforts to complete this process as soon as possible.

Our focus on military issues should not prevent us from addressing some of the root causes of instability in the region.  Economic development and integration are crucial.  I welcome the steps taken by my Special Envoy, in collaboration with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, your Excellencies and others, to organize a Private Investment Conference.

Governance is also of paramount importance.  Several countries in the region will hold elections over the next few months and years.  I urge everyone involved to ensure that they are credible and transparent.  People in this region, as everywhere around the world, have a right to express their views through the ballot box.  In this context, I welcome the defusing of the crisis over the electoral law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As we pursue our common goal of ending the conflict and improving the lives of the people of the Great Lakes region, we must continue to speak with one voice.  My Special Envoy will continue to work closely with all leaders and partners.

I appeal to donors to continue to extend their full support for peace, security, cooperation and development in the region.  The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework cannot succeed without the strong support and commitment of all signatories.  I look forward to your deliberations today.  Thank you very much.

For information media. Not an official record.