I welcome the holding of this important meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the fourth such meeting to look into the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since July. This is a further demonstration of the sustained political commitment of your respective Governments to find a peaceful and durable solution.
I deeply appreciate the participation by leaders from the region -- including President Kabila of the DRC and President Kagame of Rwanda -- in the High-Level meeting on the situation that I chaired on 27 September in New York. The participants unanimously called for an urgent end to the violence and stressed the importance of alleviating the suffering of the civilian population.
I remain deeply concerned at the security and humanitarian conditions, which continue to deteriorate and pose a threat to stability in the wider Great Lakes region. The M23 has recently made advances northwards from its positions in North Kivu, is continuing destabilizing activities in areas that it occupies, and is perpetrating serious human rights violations, including child recruitment and sexual violence. Furthermore, other armed groups have stepped up their activities. Over 260,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu alone in the past several months, while over 60,000 additional Congolese have crossed into Rwanda and Uganda.
I once again condemn the violence and serious human rights violations committed by the M23 and other armed groups against civilians. These need to be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. All support to the M23 and other armed groups in eastern DRC must cease immediately and permanently. It is vitally important for regional and international peace and security to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of United Nations Member States -- an inviolable principle and cornerstone of international law.
Concerted efforts by all concerned national, regional and international actors are needed. I strongly encourage continued and sustained high-level dialogue at the bilateral and regional level aimed at restoring mutual trust and political will to address underlying causes of the conflict. I welcome the recent progress in strengthening confidence-building measures, notably the launching on 14 September in Goma of the expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM). The United Nations, through MONUSCO, is supporting the work of the JVM and of the Joint Intelligence Fusion Centre in Goma, and strongly encourages close cooperation between the partners for their full and effective implementation.
I look forward to the outcomes of your discussions on the “International Neutral Force”, which will be informed by the report of the ICGLR’s Military Assessment Team. Clarity on the concept and operational modalities of such a force, as well as its coordination with MONUSCO, will be important.
I stand ready to offer my good offices, when and if appropriate, to help find a peaceful solution to the situation in eastern DRC. The United Nations remains committed to working with you to build on the outcomes of this Summit. Please accept my best wishes for success.