Expressing support for the peace accord signed in February by 11 African nations to end years of fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council this afternoon called on that strife-torn nation and neighbouring countries for full and prompt implementation of their commitments.
In a statement presented by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, whose delegation holds the Council's presidency for July, the 15-member body welcomed action taken thus far by the signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. It called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to consolidate State authority and on all countries in the Great Lakes region to respect the territorial integrity of their neighbours and neither tolerate nor give aid to armed groups.
The presidential statement, issued ahead of a debate in which some 30 speakers assessed progress in implementation of the 24 February peace accord, demanded that the 23 March Movement, known as the M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Allied Democratic Forces, the Mayi Mayi Kata-Katanga and all other armed groups immediately cease all forms of violence, stressing that the perpetrators should be held to account.
It condemned the attacks by the M23 from 20 to 22 May and on 14 July in the Mutaho area, near Goma, and renewed its strong condemnation for the Movement's continued presence in the area. The Council also condemned the Allied Democratic Forces's 11 July attacks on the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and its 14 July attacks on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which turned 66,000 Congolese into refugees and caused casualties among the FARDC and MONUSCO.
The wide-ranging statement expressed grave concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million people in need of emergency food aid, and condemned the mass rapes and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by the FARDC.
Further to the text, the Council welcomed the World Bank's plan to fund $1 billion in development projects in the region, intended to reduce people's vulnerability and expand cross-border economic activity.
Mr. Kerry said the crisis was a stark reminder of what filled the vacuum in the absence of good governance, basic dignity and firm leadership that held perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses to account. Ending the suffering was a high priority for the United States and it was doable in the current climate. He pledged his Government's firm backing of the Framework accord and called on all parties to do the same, as well as to end support for rebel groups.
Similarly, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the prospects for durable peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were better than they had been in years. "Peace would mean a new chance for development and lasting security for some of the world's most sorely tested people," he said.
Mr. Ban encouraged all parties, including recalcitrant armed groups and militias, to engage in constructive dialogue. To address the challenges posed by renewed fighting between the M23 and the Congolese armed forces, the United Nations was reinforcing MONUSCO with a Force Intervention Brigade.
Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, said she was struck by the "lack of outrage and horror" at the daily reports of killings, rapes and displacement, many of which still went unreported. But, she was encouraged by the strong will of signatory countries to implement the Framework, as evidenced by the Democratic Republic of the Congo's establishment of a national oversight mechanism for that purpose.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warned that the continuing conflict risked reversing several years of development gains. The Framework accord created a chance to end the violence and entrenched poverty. To spur socioeconomic development, the Bank planned to spend $1 billion in the next two years on hydropower projects to increase energy access in several Great Lake countries, transport links and border management, and agriculture and rural livelihoods targeted at refugees and internally displaced persons.
Weighing in on the subject, some of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's neighbours expressed concern over the renewed fighting and its repercussions. Sam Kutesa, Uganda's Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed concern over the threat of an imminent attack on his country by the Allied Democratic Forces, but said he was confident that the new regional oversight mechanism, together with security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would deter armed groups from using Congolese territory to destabilize neighbours.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said her country was sheltering 70,000 Congolese refugees. "In order to secure long-term peace and prosperity for Rwanda into the future, we need a peaceful and prosperous [ Democratic Republic of the Congo]," she said, pointing to her country's efforts to boost economic cooperation with its neighbour.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo's commitment to defeat armed groups in its territory was unwavering, said its Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophonie, Raymond Tshibanda N'Tungamulongo. Reconciliation and national cohesion were top priorities, he said, noting that national consultations towards that end would begin in August.
Other speakers expressed support for the Framework agreement's rapid implementation and for the World Bank's planned funding of development projects. While most hailed the creation of a Force Intervention Brigade to bolster MONUSCO's ability to protect civilians from attacks by the M23 and other armed groups, some said it violated the principle of impartiality governing United Nations peacekeeping, and thus, was only acceptable as a stop-gap measure.
Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union's Commissioner for Peace and Security, also spoke today.
In addition, the Council heard from ministers and senior Government officials from Luxembourg, Guatemala, France, Togo, Mozambique, Burundi, South Africa and Belgium.
The Executive Secretary-General of the European External Action Service spoke for the European Union.
Also making statements were representatives of Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Morocco, Argentina, Australia, United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Congo.
The meeting began at 10:33 a.m. and suspended at 1:30 p.m. It resumed at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:55 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2013/11 reads as follows:
"The Security Council reiterates its support for the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region (PSC Framework), which is essential to achieving lasting peace and security in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region.
"The Security Council welcomes in this regard the actions taken thus far by the signatories and guarantors of the PSC Framework, including the convening of the first '11+4' meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the PSC Framework in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2013 and the two first meetings of the Technical Support Committee in Nairobi on 24 June and 22 July 2013, which aimed to make progress on the establishment of benchmarks to assess the implementation of the PSC Framework by all signatories. In this context, the Security Council looks forward to the ICGLR summit, scheduled to take place on 31 July in Nairobi, to further review developments in the region, including progress on the implementation of the PSC Framework. The Security Council encourages the UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC and other relevant international and regional organizations to continue to work together, with the sustained engagement and support of the international community, towards the implementation of the PSC Framework.
"The Security Council calls on the DRC and the countries of the region to implement promptly, fully and in good faith, their respective commitments under the PSC Framework. The Security Council calls on the DRC to continue and expand security sector reform, consolidate State authority, make progress on decentralization and further the agenda of reconciliation, tolerance and democratization. The Security Council calls on all countries of the region to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring countries, not to interfere in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, not toharbour persons accused of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law or persons listed by UN sanctions regimes, and promote accountability. The Security Council calls on all countries of the region neither to tolerate nor provide assistance or support of any kind to armed groups.
"The Security Council welcomes the establishment of a national oversight mechanism by President Joseph Kabila of the DRC, as requested by the PSC Framework and resolution 2098 (2013), and calls on the President of the DRC to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in this mechanism. The Security Council calls on the Government of the DRC to implement promptly its commitment on security sector reform, including through the further development and implementation of a comprehensive military and police reform plan and the formation of a well-trained, adequately equipped and accountable "Rapid Reaction Force" able to take over the responsibilities of the Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo). The Security Council reaffirms in this context the leading role of the Special Representative of the Secretary General in coordinating support for security sector reform provided by international and bilateral partners and the UN system, and his role in assisting the Government of the DRC to implement its commitments under the PSC Framework. The Security Council also reiterates that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility for security, protection of civilians, promotion and protection of human rights, national reconciliation, peacebuilding and development in the country.
"The Security Council reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC, as well as of all countries of the region and emphasizes the need to respect fully the principles of non-interference, good-neighbourliness and regional cooperation.
"The Security Council commends the joint visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, accompanied by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson, to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda from 22 to 24 May 2013 in support of the PSC Framework, and welcomes the announcement made by the World Bank of $1 billion in planned funding for development projects in the Great Lakes region aiming at the recovery of livelihoods to reduce the vulnerability of the people of the region and the revitalization and expansion of cross-border economic activity. In this regard, the Security Council encourages multilateral institutions and bilateral partners to support the objectives of the PSC Framework and stresses the importance of swiftly delivering concrete peace dividends.
"The Security Council commends the personal diplomatic engagement of the Secretary-General and reaffirms its strong support to his Special Envoy, Mary Robinson. The Security Council encourages Special Envoy Mary Robinson, in coordination with and with appropriate support from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, to continue to lead, coordinate and assess the implementation of national and regional commitments under the PSC Framework, including through the development of benchmarks and appropriate follow-up measures to be presented for adoption at the next meeting of the '11+4' Regional Oversight Mechanism in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013. The Council further commends her efforts to include women and civil society in the implementation of the PSC Framework and to promote the full and effective participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including through the implementation of a Sub-regional Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). It welcomes in this regard the Regional Conference on Women, Peace, Security and Development, held in Bujumbura on 9-11 July 2013.
"The Security Council condemns the renewed attacks launched from 20 to 22 May 2013 and again on 14 July 2013 by the "23 March Movement" (M23) rebel group in the Mutaho area, in the vicinity of Goma in violation of resolutions 2076 (2012) and 2098 (2013), which caused civilian casualties and displacements, and undermined regional and international efforts to peacefully and permanently resolve the crisis in eastern DRC. The Security Council renews its strong condemnation ofthe continued presence of the M23 in the immediate vicinity of Goma and its attempts to establish an illegitimate parallel administration in North Kivu and demands that the M23 fully disband and disarm.
"The Security Council takes note that hundreds of M23 combatants, including individuals listed by the UN sanctions regime concerning the DRC, fled from the DRC into Rwanda on 18 March 2013. The Security Council notes with appreciation the initial steps swiftly taken by the Government of Rwanda to handle this situation and encourages the Government of Rwanda to continue to collaborate with the United Nations and relevant international organizations to ensure that these combatants are permanently demobilized and are dealt with according to relevant international law, with special attention to children and women among them.
"The Security Council expresses concern at the increased activity of the FDLR (Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda) in eastern DRC, including reports of attacks by the FDLR on Rwandan territory, and demands that the FDLR fully disband and disarm.
"The Security Council also condemns the renewed attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF-NALU) on 11 July 2013 against the FARDC in Kamango and on 14 July 2013 against MONUSCO forces along the Muba-Kamango axis, which have resulted in 66,000 Congolese refugees and caused casualties among both the FARDC and MONUSCO.
"The Security Council demands that the M23, the FDLR, the ADF-NALU, the Mayi Mayi Kata-Katanga and all other armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, continuing recruitment and use of children, destabilizing activities, human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, and attempts to undermine or supplant the DRC Government. The Security Council stresses that all perpetrators of such abuses and violations should be held accountable. The Security Council further demands that the members of all armed groups immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms, and calls for the restoration of State authority of the Government of the DRC in eastern DRC. It strongly condemns the large-scale recruitment and use of children by armed groups. The Council emphasizes the renewed commitment of all countries of the region to neither tolerate nor provide assistance or support of any kind to armed groups.
"The Security Council condemns the wide-spread incidents of sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC and emphasizes the importance of effective steps to prevent and respond to such acts. It further recalls that rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes, and calls for the investigation and prosecution of those responsible, in order to end impunity for such crimes.
"The Security Council expresses grave concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the 2.6 million internally displaced people and the 6.4 million people in need of food assistance and emergency agricultural aid, and calls upon all parties to allow safe and unhindered access for the timely and full delivery of humanitarian aid to all civilians in urgent need of assistance, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law and the UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance. The Security Council further expresses concern with the over 500,000 refugees from the DRC in neighboring countries and calls upon the DRC and all States in the region to work towards the peaceful environment that will allow for the eventual and voluntary return of refugees to the DRC, with the support, as appropriate, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Security Council commends in this regard the support provided by neighboring countries to refugees from the DRC.
"The Security Council condemns the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by members of the FARDC, including the mass rapes committed in Minova on 24 November 2012, and calls upon the Government of the DRC to swiftly apprehend, bring to justice, and hold accountable those responsible for such violations, regardless of military rank. The Security Council further calls on the Government of the DRC to implement improved vetting mechanisms and establish more effective judicial mechanisms within its security forces.
"The Security Council expresses grave concern about reports of alleged mistreatment of M23 detainees and the desecration of corpses of M23 combatants by members of the FARDC. The Security Council welcomes steps taken by the Congolese armed forces and MONUSCO to investigate these claims and to hold the perpetrators accountable for these acts, which constitute violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Security Council takes note of steps taken by MONUSCO to review its support to FARDC Units suspected of being involved in these incidents in line with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.
"The Security Council further calls upon the Government of the DRC to continue to implement its action plan to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children, as well as prevent and end all acts of sexual violence against children by the FARDC.
"The Security Council encourages Special Envoy Mary Robinson, building on the PSC Framework, to continue to lead a comprehensive political process that includes all relevant stakeholders to address the underlying root causes of the conflict and ensures that those responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are held accountable and are not eligible for integration into the State security forces.
"The Security Council welcomes the contribution of MONUSCO to a comprehensive approach to addressing the security situation in the DRC and encourages rapid completion of the deployment of the Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO. The Security Council acknowledges the commitment of all troop contributing countries to MONUSCO to implementing the full range of responsibilities under the Mission's civilian protection mandate, including the responsibilities assigned to the Intervention Brigade, in line with resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council recognizesthe significant sacrifices made by MONUSCO and the troop-contributing countries and expressesappreciationfor their efforts to improve peace and stability in the DRC.
"The Security Council condemns all threats or attacks against peacekeepers and emphasizesthat those responsible for such threats or attacks must be held accountable. The Security Council recalls in this regard its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions, in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 2078 (2012), and its decision to extend sanctions measures to individuals and entities who plan, sponsor or participate in attacks against MONUSCO peacekeepers."
As the Security Council met today discuss the situation in the Great Lakes region, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region (S/2013/387) and a letter dated 3 July 2013 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the United States Mission to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2013/394), which contains a concept note on supporting the Great Lakes Framework.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State, United States, said that for far too long, far too many lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the broader Great Lakes region had been ravaged by targeted, grotesque violence, human rights abuses and regional instability. The crisis today was a stark reminder of what filled the vacuum in the absence of good governance, basic dignity and firm leadership that held accountable those who violated basic dignity. There was a global obligation to end the killing, raping, and forcing of children into combat, and to establish a lasting peace conducive to development. That would create a space for partnership and a new generation of stability and hope. "We can actually prove to the world that, with all of us working together [... ] we actually can make a difference," he said, noting that "the seeds of this promise have already been planted; now they must be cultivated".
Mr. Kerry hailed the United Nations-World Bank partnership, which created projects for stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Boosting regional promise in the short-term would lead to stability in the long-term. He hoped that partnership could serve as a model for the Magreb and beyond. In the West Bank and other parts of the Middle East, a similar model was being considered to build sustainable peace. He reiterated support for the work of Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, and the priority she placed on involving women's groups and civil society in efforts to break down barriers to access to humanitarian aid. The people in the region desperately needed a voice. Ms. Robinson was committed to being that voice to translate the Framework's broad principles into benchmarks for implementation.
"The suffering in the Great Lakes is a high-level priority for President [Barack] Obama and is one that must be met by high-level leadership," he said, adding that United States Senator Russ Feingold had agreed to be the United States Special Envoy on the matter. The Framework was an important first step, but progress made since February was extremely fragile. The United States stood ready to support the Secretary-General and the United Nations. "We will work with you with focus, energy and persistence in order to implement the Framework," he said. He expressed deep concern over the recent reports of resumed external support to the 23 March Movement (M23) and of collaboration with the [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. "All parties must immediately end their support for rebel groups. All Governments must hold violators and abuses accountable. We must end the era of impunity," he said.
To that end, the United States welcomed the United Nations Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. It was now time for everyone in the region to exercise restraint and to return to a constructive path, and end the root causes of conflict. "I believe this is doable," he said, stressing that the absence of good governance had fuelled impunity. "I want to urge all of us around this table to take advantage of the unique opportunity that the Framework provides. "We can't emphasize enough how critical it is that everyone fosters cooperation across borders," he said, challenging everyone to adopt its benchmarks. He urged all parties to include women's voices, and he challenged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to continue to implement security sector reform.
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that it had been five months since the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, and four since the Security Council had adopted resolution 2098 (2013). Hopes had been high that there would be an end to the large-scale cyclical violence, which had ravaged the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past two decades and derailed previous peace initiatives.
"Peace would mean a new chance for development and lasting security for some of the world's most sorely tested people," he said, adding that he was, therefore, deeply concerned about the current hostilities between the M23 and the Congolese armed forces. All parties to the conflict should return as soon as possible to the Kampala talks. In the meantime, he had called for maximum restraint and urged all Framework signatories to jointly and individually respect their commitments, he said.
The lack of mutual trust in the region had thwarted past attempts to find political solutions to the entrenched problems that continued to drive the conflict, he went on, adding that it was vital, therefore, for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its eastern neighbours to pursue constructive dialogue.
At the national level, he said, structural reforms within the Democratic Republic of the Congo would help address the root causes of the violence. The Government had taken initial steps towards army reform, decentralization and national dialogue. Those commitments must be translated into tangible results.
At the regional level, he called for leaders to look beyond the issues that divided them and work together to define a common agenda for lasting peace and prosperity, based on trade, economic cooperation and mutual respect for each others' sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Framework was a "clear road map", he said, adding that "the prospects for durable peace in eastern [ Democratic Republic of the Congo] remain better than they have for many years". However, spoilers remained active, including armed groups and militias, which had shown little inclination to engage in a genuine peace process.
To address that challenge, the United Nations was reinforcing the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), he said. The Mission's new Force Intervention Brigade was an important tool in that regard, but it was only one part of a comprehensive approach that embraced security and development, he said.
While the United Nations and the international community could do much, he continued, they depended on the Framework signatories to provide the essential foundation. All parties must avoid renewed hostilities and achieve progress on the political track. The United Nations system was committed to promoting economic development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, as demonstrated by the World Bank's commitment of an additional $1 billion.
"The current fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo casts a grave shadow," he said. However, "we should not allow it to deter us from our objective". Those challenges should make the international community even more determined to lift people from the oppression of insecurity, human rights abuses and poverty, he said.
JIM YONG KIM, World Bank President, said he and the Secretary-General had travelled to the Great Lakes earlier this year, marking the first time the heads of both organizations had partnered on a mission. The Secretary-General's groundbreaking work and the commitment of all countries in the region to the Framework agreement provided an opening to end the violence, secure peace and lay the foundation for development, lifting people out of poverty, job creation and access to health and education. "We cannot have development without peace, and we cannot have peace without development," he said, adding that conflict not only stopped development; it could reverse years of gains.
"The eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are a good example of a tragedy with an immense human cost that has gone on for far, far too long," he said. More than 3.5 million people were estimated to have died since 1988; 4.7 million had lost homes and more than 2 million children had no access to education, owing to the destruction of schools. The poverty rate was at 70 per cent and overall access to economic services, including energy, was very limited. The underlying key economic drivers of conflict and instability -- such as insecure, insufficient access to land; population displacement; and the illicit exploitation and mining of high-value minerals and timber -- must be addressed through regional approaches. Rapid population growth and a lack of economic opportunity only compounded those problems.
He said he was heartened by the commitment of political leaders to implement the Framework and the interest in regional initiatives to promote development, which was essential for the Framework's success. During the trip, he and the Secretary-General had committed to increase cooperation between their respective institutions and with other partners, such as the European Union, African Development Bank, and the regional economic communities, to maximize the impact of efforts. The World Bank would strongly support the efforts of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and increase its collaboration with the United Nations on the ground, as well as use its convening power to encourage greater investment.
Further, he stated, the World Bank would give an additional $1 billion in the next 24 months for cross-border development. Of that amount, about $500 million would be for hydropower projects to increase energy access in several Great Lakes countries, about $350 million for transport links and border management, and about $100 million for agriculture and rural livelihoods targeted at refugees and internally displaced persons. That was extremely important, given region's 1 million refugees and more than 2 million internally displaced persons in protracted displacement.
The World Bank's aid would be informed by a gender perspective, he went on. It would give additional resources for programmes to address sexual and gender-based violence, as well as basic health services for vulnerable women and children through health centre networks. In two weeks, the Bank's Board of Directors would consider the first project under that initiative: the Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Dam. Progress in those areas would create significant economic opportunity, generate jobs and promote greater regional cooperation. It was equally important to move rapidly and efficiently with smaller projects to enable people to feel the tangible benefits of peace. In the coming months, delivering on promises in agriculture, jobs, cross-border trade, education and health care was crucial.
The World Bank's work would be guided by the priorities set by African stakeholders, and their emphasis on both quick wins and medium- to longer-term results, he said. Last week, the Bank, United Nations and the African Union Commission had co-hosted a meeting on regional approaches to development in the Great Lakes countries, at which participants had agreed to collaborate immediately on several steps, including a mapping of country priorities and partner assistance. They had also established an accountability and follow-up mechanism.
At the Heal Hospital in Goma, he and the Secretary-General had heard the many painful stories of women who had suffered from the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. Those stories must "harden our commitment to the Framework agreement because we must not let this continue", he said, adding that "what happened to these women, what has happened to millions of people caught in the web of conflict in the eastern regions of the [Democratic Republic of the Congo], is a stain on all of our conscience". The World Bank was determined to stay the course for those women and all others robbed of economic opportunity by years of conflict.
MARY ROBINSON, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, said that the latest round of fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had devastating consequences on the civilian population. Many cases of death, injuries, sexual violence against women and massive displacement of the population were still being reported. "These cannot be allowed to go on," she stressed, adding that all parties should exert maximum restraint to avoid further escalation.
Having served as Special Envoy for four months, she said, what struck her was the "lack of outrage and horror" at the daily reports of killings, rape and displacement. Those occurrences had become the accepted normal; however, "it is not normal and not acceptable". Zero tolerance must be implemented as a fundamental value of the Framework. Yet, sadly, there were credible reports of support of armed groups by signatory parties to the Framework. MONUSCO's Force Intervention Brigade, once operational, would be a robust tool within a comprehensive approach, which embraced security and development.
As noted by the Secretary-General, hopes had been high when the 11 countries and four important regional and international institutions had signed the Framework in February, said Ms. Robinson. That mechanism clearly gave the ownership and responsibility to the signatories, and, if fully implemented, it, along with resolution 2098 (2013), would help to stabilize the situation and pave the way to address the fundamental causes of the cycle of conflicts.
Encouraged by initial progress in several areas and by the strong will demonstrated by signatory countries to contribute to the implementation of the Framework, she shared some of the positive political steps undertaken, including the establishment of a national oversight mechanism to oversee implementation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's commitments.
In addition, the first meeting of the 11+4 Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region had established a technical support committee, mandated to develop the benchmarks and indicators of progress for the Framework's implementation, she reported, adding that those benchmarks could be improved, but they were specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, and set clear responsibilities. She would present them to the region's leaders at the next Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on 31 July.
She described those and other significant meetings as concrete affirmation of the international community's determination to try new avenues for sustainable peace and stability and development in the region, she said, promising to return to the Council soon with a further report on the Framework's implementation. That, she said, would be built on three critical pillars: political and security, humanitarian and development.
However, she warned, such a strategy and the Council's engagement with the Great Lakes region would bear fruit only if all actors involved, at the local, national, regional and international levels, "push in the same direction" and if there was an immediate cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. "I believe that there is some political momentum at the moment," she said. However, "we need to create and encourage space for dialogue and support for tough decisions", she concluded.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, expressed support for the Framework agreement and its follow-up mechanism, which instructed countries to work in tandem. Today's high-level meeting was a strong demonstration of commitment of the United States and other Security Council members to peace in the region and of their confidence in the ability to achieve a lasting settlement to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He expressed support for Council resolution 2098 (2013), which authorized use of the Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he thanked the Governments of South Africa, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania for their contribution to setting it up.
However, instead of implementation of the agreement, full-scale military clashes had erupted between the Democratic Republic of the Congo armed forces and the M23, dimming prospects for security and the dawning of a new era of prosperity and stability. The dynamism stemming from the Framework Agreement and resolution 2098 (2013) could pave the way for much-needed peace, security and development. The care with which the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Government had implemented a national follow-up mechanism and follow-up meetings boded well. Mobilization continued with the authorities of the Great Lakes countries, as well as with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Those efforts bore witness to the shared desire to halt instability and to promote sustainable development.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes, scheduled for 31 July in Nairobi, would be an opportunity to address expectations and undertake steps to fully draw on the region's potential, he said. The 26 May meeting in Addis Ababa to inaugurate the "11+4" mechanism, co-hosted by the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the African Union Commission, symbolized a new international platform for countries of the region. The African Union would take full part in such welcome efforts for peace, security, democracy and development.
SAM KUTESA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, said that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region provided a framework for resolving instability in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Political processes should be at the forefront, with peace enforcement measures, such as the Intervention Brigade, complementing those efforts. He welcomed the Secretary-General's focus on finding a political solution and hoped that Special Envoy Robinson would become involved in the Kampala talks, which had been vital to calming the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and were the best route to resolving the differences between the Government and the M23. Talks had led to a review of the 2009 peace agreement between the Government and the National Congress for the Defence of the People, and a new draft peace agreement was currently being negotiated.
However, he said, the renewed fighting raised serious concerns over the parties' commitment. Attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces had caused 66,000 refugees to flee to Uganda and were "a grim reminder of the real challenges faced by the [ Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the region". Deploring those crimes, he raised concerns about the threat of an imminent attack on Uganda by the Allied Democratic Forces. He was confident that the new oversight mechanism, together with security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would deter armed groups from using Congolese territory to destabilize neighbours. He supported the Framework, which provided a blueprint to address the challenges, as it recognized the need for a holistic approach, outlined national, regional and international commitments and actions, and emphasized partnership. Development initiatives in infrastructure, energy, trade and agriculture also could contribute to peace.
RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N'TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophonie, Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had long been plagued by a conflict that had, at its roots, the same actors and the same causes. The Framework agreement and resolution 2098 (2013) were major innovations, but it was a sad reality -- and too often unknown -- that more than 6 million people had died in the long-standing conflict.
"We see a tragedy which is unequalled in the history of mankind, and which can leave no one indifferent, unless mankind loses its soul," he said. His country was ready to assume its responsibility, for which many activities had been undertaken for the last 11 years. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had not only accelerated, but systematized security sector reform, many capacity-building projects were also under way, and decentralization was closer to becoming a reality with the adoption recent legislation.
Turning to the political arena, he said that reconciliation and strengthening national cohesion were national priorities. The Independent National Electoral Commission had been completely overhauled, and a new, tougher, and more inclusive team had taken its place. The new Commission was working hard to prepare for upcoming elections. Moreover, at the initiative of the President, national consultations would begin in August, aimed at strengthening national cohesion to better address the challenges facing the country in a participatory manner.
He said the people of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo lived in fear of death and destruction. The M23 militia had launched attacks against the defensive positions of the FARDC. To justify its crimes, it attempted to discredit the FARDC and the Intervention Brigade. Careful examination of the documentation provided by the Democratic Republic of the Congo would show the magnitude and efficiency of measures taken by the country to combat the FDLR, which would have been neutralized had it not been for the activities of the M23.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than any other country, had suffered from violence wrought by armed groups on its territory, he went on. It could, therefore, never entertain any cooperation with those armed militias, nor had it wavered in its commitment to defeat them, as well as to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries in the region. He hoped to see MONUSCO's new Intervention Brigade swiftly and efficiently begin its mission to secure his country's borders and to neutralize all armed militia groups. Given the groups' extremism, force was necessary, but it was not sufficient.
While the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained involved in the Kampala talks, he stressed that "we could not sign an agreement which would enshrine impunity" by reintegrating into an accord the parties responsible for war crimes, grave human rights abuses and other violations.
"Without forgetting the past, we must emphasize reconciliation and cohesion in our State," he said, noting that his country would never abandon even one square inch of its territory or any of its wealth. Nevertheless, it hoped to conclude a covenant for peace and cooperation in the region as soon as possible.
LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Rwanda, said that having endured devastating conflict, the Rwandan people understood that their destiny was inextricably tied to that of its neighbours. She supported the presidential statement, but felt it could have been strengthened by including ongoing regional efforts, particularly in support of the Kampala peace talks. Exclusion of any such reference was particularly regrettable in light of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. She urged the Special Envoy to play an active role in the Kampala talks. "In order to secure long-term peace and prosperity for Rwanda into the future, we need a peaceful and prosperous [ Democratic Republic of the Congo]," she said. The "Framework of hope", along with regional peace efforts, opened the door to that kind of profound, vital change, and Rwanda was eager to do its part.
She said her country had disarmed, interned and relocated away from the Democratic Republic of the Congo border more than 600 M23 combatants, who had crossed into Rwanda during the in-fighting in March. Her country had asked the United Nations to take responsibility for those combatants, as it could not bear the burden alone. Rwanda also had worked with the United Nations to accommodate some 70,000 Congolese nationals seeking refuge. When M23 leader General Bosco Ntaganda had surrendered to the United States Embassy in Kigali on 18 March, Rwandan authorities had facilitated his transfer between the United States and Dutch Embassies following the decision to transfer him to the International Criminal Court.
To implement the Framework's economic components, Rwanda was working to boost regional cooperation through enhanced economic integration, she said. It was also tackling the exploitation of natural resources; last month, mining authorities had seized 8.4 metric tons of smuggled minerals and were in the process of returning them to Congolese authorities. President Paul Kagame discussed several projects in energy, agriculture and other areas with the heads of the United Nations and the World Bank, and the country was exploring other opportunities for economic cooperation, including a strategic bilateral project with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Lake Kivu.
Rwanda supported the deployment of the Intervention Brigade with the hope that it would pacify the region and create the space needed to implement the Peace and Security Framework, she said. She urged the Council to respect the work of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, to which Rwanda was a member. Her country would not tolerate any further threats to its territory and population from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, such as the bombing that had occurred in the Rubavu district. Any alliance between the FDLR and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) was a threat to regional security, she said, adding that Rwanda, however, would not allow those disturbing developments to derail its commitment to peace.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg, associating with the European Union, said the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework was "a defining turning point in the consolidation of peace and stability in the region". Support from the United Nations, as well as the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the SADC was vital. The Framework took into account the conflict's root causes and emphasized regional ownership. Stressing the importance of resolute implementation, he noted initiatives by the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Government, such as plans for security sector reform and establishment of an Independent National Electoral Commission. He called for continued cooperation with the United Nations on investigations into the use of child soldiers and sexual violence against children by national forces.
He said that the addition of the Intervention Brigade to MONUSCO offered a deterrent impact on the ground. The Mission needed to remain focused on reducing the threat posed by armed groups and ensuring the safety of women and children. He supported the proactive approach of Special Envoy Robinson in designing a comprehensive strategy for implementing the Framework, and urged vigilance in maintaining the positive momentum. At the same time, he was particularly concerned about illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources, which fuelled instability. Strengthened regional cooperation could improve that situation, while development and poverty eradication would boost security. The World Bank should swiftly implement projects on the back of its pledge of $1 billion in interest-free loans and stressed the need for tangible peace dividends.
FERNANDO CARRERA CASTRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework could reinvigorate efforts to achieve stability and prosperity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He shared the cautious optimism expressed in the Secretary-General's report, encouraged that the host country was given prime responsibility for achieving the Framework's goals. The accord sought to tackle the conflict's root causes holistically, which was vital to overcoming violence and restoring stability. He praised the "11+4" mechanism for oversight, adding that partnerships also fed optimism, especially the United Nations' work with regional and subregional entities, as well as the joint initiative of the Secretary-General and the World Bank President.
At the same time, he expressed his reservations about the assignment of peace enforcement duties to a Mission that had been correctly conceived under the cardinal principles of peacekeeping missions, notably, the principle of impartiality. He had accepted incorporation of the Intervention Brigade into MONUSCO as "the lesser of two evils", given the imminent threat posed to civilians by the M23 and other militant groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and on the understanding that it was only a stop-gap measure.
PASCAL CANFIN, Minister Delegate for Development of France, said that the debate was taking place against the backdrop of a tragic humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a new spike in hostilities by the M23 and other armed groups against the FARDC. Those attacks were a "test" intended to derail the political process and tempt some parties to renege on their commitments. France's message was clear: neighbouring countries must end support to armed groups, as they had committed to do. "We've made much progress over these past months," in particular by establishing a concrete path based on two pillars: the Framework agreement and resolution 2098 (2013).
There had been many encouraging signs in the Framework's implementation, he said, highlighting the establishment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of a national follow-up mechanism. The regional follow-up mechanism must guarantee that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States be upheld, including that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that their security was not threatened. Importantly, resolution 2098 (2013) did not change the heart of MONUSCO's mandate, but authorized the establishment of a new Intervention Brigade. Touching on development, he stressed that "it is time to plan for peace dividends for the entre region", and added that both France and the European Union would continue to contribute to its development.
KOFFI ESAW, Minister and Senior Adviser to the President of the Republic for Diplomatic Matters and Cooperation, Togo, said the debate was proof of the significance the Council collectively, and Member States individually, attached to resolving conflicts in the Great Lakes region. He expressed Togo's recognition of the Heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the SADC, African Union, Secretary-General and the Council for their determination to end the mass human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, notably, sexual violence. He welcomed the Framework agreement, adding that key role must be played by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to successfully build the architecture for peace. Efforts must continue in security sector reform and civilian protection by arresting and prosecuting offenders.
He welcomed the adoption of Council resolution 2098 (2013) and called for increased support to MONUSCO. He commended the remarkable advances in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but condemned the acts of the M23 and the clashes between it and the Congolese army. If the peace process was to continue unimpeded, the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda must work together to neutralize the FDLR and ensure security on the Rwandan-Congolese border. Hunger and poverty were the root causes of the conflict and led to the recruitment of unemployed youth. He was pleased that the international community had integrated development into its overall regional strategy. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region as a whole could recover from conflict and work towards the Millennium Development Goals.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) condemned attacks by the rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which undermined efforts towards a negotiated solution, and, along with grave human rights abuses and the humanitarian impact of the crisis, represented the most difficult challenges. A redoubling of efforts was needed at the national and international levels. The signing of the Framework agreement had added new impetus to diplomatic efforts, however, that should in no way give impunity to violations. In today's presidential statement, the Council demanded that all armed groups cease immediately all attacks and that States end their support to such groups. It also stressed the need to end impunity for all acts of violence and human rights violations committed.
He said that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could not be resolved by military means alone, and therefore, the impact of the new Intervention Brigade would be effective only if the commitments of the parties were fully implemented. The sustained engagement and support of the international community was also crucial to ensure the stability of the country and region as a whole, he said.
WANG MIN ( China) said that the Great Lakes region held unique development potential, but that it had encountered great difficulties, owing to long-standing conflict. The signing of the Framework agreement was an important step in relations between the parties, and it presented "an important opportunity". He hoped that all would proceed from the common and long-term interest of achieving peace and development, and embark on that path at an early date. It was crucial to sustain the positive momentum of fully implementing the accord. The urgent task now was the cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In that regard, he said the support of the Government in strengthening capacity-building for security should be a major focus. Additionally, its armed forces should assume primary responsibility for protecting civilians, with MONUSCO's support. Cooperation through dialogue and rebuilding was also vital, and the international community should scale up its support. He hoped the United Nations would work with regional mechanisms and push the parties towards honouring their Framework commitments. He also hoped that the World Bank's pledge of $1 billion would be quickly dispersed and put to good use.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said today's debate gave fresh impetus for peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Countries in the region must build a strong nexus for peace and development. Regional integration should replace the toxic reign of terror imposed by armed groups. Some progress had been made, and it was necessary to maintain the momentum generated by the positive developments. Killings must end, and violations of international humanitarian law, such as sexual violence and the forced recruitment of children must cease. Perpetrators should be made accountable. Also important was the success of the Intervention Brigade, which was not meant to be a substitute for the Congolese army or a panacea for the problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said that the Democratic Republic of the Congo's neighbours and regional partners must be fully on board and implement the Framework agreement in good faith. Credible, verifiable measures were needed to disarm armed groups, and realistic and time-bound benchmarks must be developed. He welcomed the initial steps by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement the Framework accord. The responsibility for security should be gradually transferred to the Congolese armed forces, and that country must expand authority over its security and work towards peace and reconciliation. Pakistani peacekeepers had played an vital role in MONUSCO, he said, adding that the region should not be hamstrung by strife.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) said that the Framework for both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region constituted a strong political foundation for lasting peace and stability. In the same vein, he stressed that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo held the primary responsibility for its own reforms; security, governance, decentralization and democratization warranted significant attention. The Framework's success depended on an oversight mechanism with well-defined benchmarks that were both verifiable and action-oriented, and which included a process to address those that feel short of their stated goals.
Expressing full support for a holistic approach to peace and development in the Great Lakes region, he said that the recent and unprecedented joint visit by the Secretary-General and World Bank President demonstrated the value of an integrated effort that addressed both security and development, and he urged a deepening of cooperation between the two bodies. His country's experience in its own development could be helpful to the countries of the Great Lakes region, as his was the only country that had transformed itself from a least developed country to a donor country within just six decades.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said despite the latest outbreak of violence, there was an opportunity to begin a new chapter, end suffering and bring peace. "We must seize this opportunity with determination and vigour," he said. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had made a positive start in implementing its Framework commitments, with the creation of a national implementation mechanism; the wider region must also deliver. All countries must show respect for their neighbours' territorial integrity and cease support for armed groups. He was concerned by the external support given to rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The "11+4" meeting in September must set clear benchmarks for the Framework agreement.
Noting that the Council had authorized a mission with a more robust mandate that would put more pressure on armed groups, he said that must be accompanied by a demobilization plan, with MONUSCO adapting to developments on the ground. The United Kingdom was ready to support all such efforts. It was already helping to train some peacekeepers to be deployed soon to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and it was assisting with forensic evidence of sexual violence crimes. All donor support should be aligned with regional and international benchmarks to establish the basis of mutual accountability. Accusations by countries in the region not backed up by evidence only undermined global efforts.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that from the outset, his Government had supported the good offices of the Secretary-General, which had led to the signing of the Framework agreement. He lauded the recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the heads of the World Bank and United Nations as a positive step towards implementing the road map's aims. He agreed with the Secretary-General, who stated in his latest report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo that political accords must be bolstered by strengthening economic ties among neighbouring countries. He hailed the World Bank's $1 billion planned funding of development projects in the region.
Also necessary, he stressed, was to halt the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Certain violations were inadmissible and must be followed up by careful investigations so that the perpetrators could be brought to justice. Deployment of the Intervention Brigade would help achieve a breakthrough in combating armed groups and establishing trust between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours. Countries in the region had the primary responsibility for progress in achieving peace. Comprehensive security sector reform was also crucial to ensure that the Congolese assumed primary responsibility for national security and the management of natural resources.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said that the peoples of the African continent attached great importance to today's debate. Behind the criminal acts committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armed groups and militias were human tragedies impacting the lives of millions. However, the signing of the innovative Framework agreement -- which was the fruit of regional concerted efforts supported by the United Nations and subregional organizations -- was an opportunity to put an end to the conflict. The accord went hand in hand with efforts by the Security Council to adapt MONUSCO's mandate to the situation on the ground. Those and other initiatives were laudable, and that positive momentum should be sustained. Yet, it was important to realize that the fruits of peace could not be reaped without confidence-building measures between the parties. "The path ahead is still very long," and all partners must support the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The countries of the region had an obligation to implement the commitments undertaken in the Framework agreement.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said that her country trusted that the first steps taken to implement the Framework agreement would provide an opportunity for attacking, in an integrated manner, the deep-seated conflict in the region and for laying the foundation for sustainable economic development and lasting peace. Argentina understood that the Intervention Brigade was an additional component of a broad solution to the region's conflict. However, it also understood that it was the primary responsibility of the Government and its armed forces to protect civilians. It was imperative, therefore, for the Governments of the region to assume responsibility and to never allow further human rights violations to take place with impunity. Argentina encouraged the Governments to "go more deeply into democratic transformations", which were vital for security, defence and justice. It further asked States to not tolerate or support any armed group, or to provide protection for any groups or individuals responsible for crimes against humanity, violations of human rights or other aspects of international law. The situation of refugees and internally displaced persons required immediate attention, she added.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said all parties to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework had committed to integrate political, security and development efforts, which were vital to addressing instability, as reflected in the recent joint visit by the World Bank President and the Secretary-General. He was encouraged by follow-up to the Framework, but also saw "stark reminders of sobering challenges" like ongoing rebel attacks and the flight of more than 65,000 refugees to Uganda. Implementation of commitments was the immediate priority, for which accountability was vital, including through the "11+4" mechanism. Given the commitments made on non-assistance to armed groups, he was deeply concerned to hear about FARDC-FDLR collaboration and external support for the M23.
Addressing impunity was both a huge priority and challenge, he said, calling for decisive action to stop the use of rape as a tool of war. Security reforms must be intensified, for which the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Government bore responsibility. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must be prioritized, as well as halting the unregulated flow of arms. Failure to implement effective reintegration strategies were root causes and drivers of conflict. He also called for increased participation of women across the board in the Framework's implementation. In closing, he said that the Intervention Brigade could act as a "circuit breaker" to allow the Government to implement the necessary reforms and tackle the conflict's root causes.
OLDEMIRO BALOI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique, speaking on behalf of the SADC, welcomed the World Bank's additional pledge of $1 billion for development in the Great Lakes region, saying that it was critical to rebuilding communities impoverished by protracted insecurity and instability. Commending Ms. Robinson for her creative engagement with Government, civil society and other stakeholders, he stressed the importance of embracing a holistic and all-inclusive approach in the region. He was hopeful that the Intervention Brigade would stave off the threat posed by armed groups to State authority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and ensure civilian security, thereby making space for stabilization activities.
However, he noted the resurgence of violence in the eastern part of that country, and declared that the threat posed by the M23 must be countered as prescribed in Council resolution 2098 (2013). Recent clashes in Goma between the FARDC and M23, at the instigation of the latter, demonstrated the utter contempt of that rebel group. SADC was aware that the Intervention Brigade alone could not bring about lasting peace, security, stability and prosperity for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, and he, thus, urged the use of relevant regional and subregional dialogue mechanisms to build much-needed confidence among national stakeholders and between neighbouring countries.
LAURENT KAVAKURE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Burundi, said that the present meeting was intended to assess the best approaches to stability, security and development in the Great Lakes region. Burundi commended all initiatives that had already been entered into in that regard and noted that it was a stakeholder in the commitments made in the context of the Framework agreement. His Government fully endorsed the outcomes of two major recent conferences in the region, namely, on "Women, peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region" and the high-level ministerial meeting "Regional approaches to development in countries of the Great Lakes".
The approaches explored in those two conferences, he said, were complementary, and focused on the fact that, in order to break the cycle of violence, concerted effort was needed on multiple fronts simultaneously. Economic integration and cooperation, as well as financial inclusion and trade, could create opportunities for women and young people, and Burundi had advocated for prompt funding of such projects, including those submitted by the Economic Community of the Great LakesCountries, which focused primarily on the energy sector, agriculture and cross-border trade. The two conferences had also advocated for improvement in roads, ports and other infrastructure, he added.
NOSIVIWE MAPISA-NQAKULA, Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, South Africa, stressed the importance of the Framework agreement and commended the special attention that had been given to it. There had been progress in its implementation, but the prospects for peace were dependent on compliance. The visit by the World Bank President and the Secretary-General was encouraging, as were visits by Ms. Robinson, whose efforts were critical and should be accelerated. She welcomed the innovative approach of the proposed benchmarks, along with the pledge of $1 billion made by the World Bank.
She expressed hope for a quick start-up of the National Oversight Mechanism, but urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government to make more strides on implementation in the meantime, especially in the areas of security sector reform and establishment of a rapid reaction force to take over from the Intervention Brigade. She noted the ongoing problems caused by the armed groups, and pointed also to the plight of refugees, especially the most vulnerable groups. Deployment of South Africa's contribution to the Intervention Brigade was being finalized, but she continued to believe in a political solution for long-run stability.
PIERRE VIMONT, Executive Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, speaking for the European Union, looked to the window of opportunity for peace afforded by the ambitious Framework. The international community must provide consistent support to Special Envoy Robinson, as well as to other entities working in the region, such as the African Union. Although implementation of the Framework would be complicated, it needed "unswerving, coherent and sustained political support" to make a difference and to guarantee success.
He said that the situation in the region remained fragile, and women and children were suffering unacceptably. The premises for sustainable peace had been established, but it was important, nonetheless, not to underestimate the remaining challenges. He supported the deployment of the Intervention Brigade, which could help to deal with tensions and help to ensure the disbandment of groups like the FDLR and M23. Going forward, security sector reform was needed to stabilize eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. European Union Foreign Ministers had recently agreed to help restore cooperation and confidence and to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo in securing its eastern area.
FRANK DE CONINCK, Special Envoy of Belgium for the Great Lakes region, aligning himself with the European Union statement, said that the Framework agreement constituted a unique opportunity to bring a durable solution to the crisis and expressed support, as well for the MONUSCO Intervention Brigade. Although there was some encouraging progress since the signing of the Framework agreement, setbacks that threatened to wipe it out posed a real risk. It was essential that the international community continue to insist unanimously on a cessation of all violence and that the M23 stop threatening the city of Goma.
Also useful, he went on, would be to clarify the role of the Intervention Brigade against armed groups and a credible disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programme for former combatants. The credibility of the actions of the Intervention Brigade depended on such articulation. Also critical was security sector reform, especially in strengthening the Congolese army, and he called for a more structured dialogue between the Congolese authorities and its partners in the field of military cooperation.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) reiterated his country's unflinching support for the Framework agreement, which, he said, "has truly offered an opportunity to break from a spiral of violence and instability that has mired our region for far too long". The solution to the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo would not be military, but political, he stressed, noting that the Framework's implementation was crucial in that regard.
He said that matters requiring urgent attention included the need to reinvigorate the political process envisaged in the Framework. It was only through an all-inclusive reconciliatory process that long-term peace would be attained. His delegation supported the full deployment of the Intervention Brigade, as mandated by Council resolution 2098 (2013). "This force deserves our full support from this Council," he said, adding that "it does not need to be maligned on baseless and unfounded claims".
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ (Republic of the Congo) said that the resurgence in fighting demonstrated the volatility of the situation and the scale of the challenges yet to be met in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Republic of the Congo, which condemned all such violence, felt that no effort should be spared to find a lasting solution. Much progress had been made in implementing the Framework agreement, including through the newly created Technical Committee and other regional cooperation initiatives at the level of Heads of State. However, it was clear that its implementation, as with any agreement, could only prosper in the context of mutual trust.
He underscored his country's interest in the regular consultations organized by Ms. Robinson with signatory countries and other stakeholders, and called on the Council to see to it that all the provisions of resolution 2098 (2013) and to encourage the countries concerned to focus on dialogue. The Framework agreement represented an unprecedented opportunity for peace and stability in the Great Lakes region as a whole, and all its obligations by all stakeholders, signatories and other partners must be met.