Sierra Leone at the UN Security Council – On The Implementation Of The 2013 Peace, Security And Cooperation Framework For The Democratic Republic Of The Congo And The Great Lakes Region

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the members of the A3 Plus namely, Algeria, Guyana, Mozambique, and my country Sierra Leone.  

The A3 Plus wishes to express its appreciation to Mr. Huang Xia, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region for his comprehensive and enlightening briefing, as well as for his active engagements and efforts aimed at attaining and consolidating peace and security in the Great Lakes Region. We also extend our gratitude to Ms. Joyce Msuya, Assistant SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Ms. Pétronille Vaweka, Coordinator of Women 

Engaged for Peace in Africa for their informative briefings.  

The A3 Plus acknowledges the presence of the Permanent Representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Rwanda.  

The A3 Plus remains deeply concerned over the heightening of political tensions in the region exacerbated by recent threats of war as well as the deteriorating security situation on the ground. This volatile environment has resulted in untold suffering of the civilian population. Millions of men, women and children have been displaced from their homes and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Reports indicate high levels of human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence and exploitation against women and children, particularly around camps for internally displaced persons.  

These acts are a gross violation of international law, including International Humanitarian Law, the UN Charter, and other relevant international instruments. They are fundamentally at odds with the principles of humanity which form the core of our existence. The A3 Plus condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all acts of violence, human rights violations and abuses perpetrated against innocent civilians by armed groups, including the M23, ADF, FDLR and CODECO to name but a few.  

We urge the international community to continue providing necessary support for the successful delivery of humanitarian aid to the people and countries within the Great Lakes Region. We further call on all parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate unimpeded, rapid, meaningful, and safe access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations, especially women and children, and to respect and protect civil and humanitarian personnel, assets, and infrastructure. Equally important is the solidarity shown amongst countries in the region with regard to hosting refugees which we highly commend.

The A3 Plus reiterates its call to all countries that acceded to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework to act in good faith to ensure its effective implementation. We re-echo the call of the UN Secretary-General to all Congolese and foreign armed groups to immediately and unconditionally lay down their arms and engage in the disarmament process. We demand the end of any further advances by the M23 and call for its unconditional and immediate withdrawal from all occupied territories as agreed through the Luanda Process.

We look forward to the convening of an inclusive Inter-Congolese dialogue stemming from the Nairobi process on restoration of peace and security in eastern DRC as an opportunity for armed groups to recommit themselves to silencing the guns and adhering to the ongoing peace process and paving the way for a lasting peace, stability, and reconciliation in the DRC.

The A3 Plus further reaffirms the Joint Communiqué of the United 

Nations-African Union Joint Task Force on Peace and Security, its Twenty-Third Consultative Meeting of 16 April that commended the progress achieved in the advancement of the peace process in the region. The A3 Plus however, notes that these gains remain fragile, pointing to the deterioration of the security situation at the border areas and transhumance zones that continue to pose a threat to civilian lives. To this end, we reiterate the importance of concerted regional efforts to address the persistent insecurity in the Great Lakes Region.

The A3 Plus  emphasizes the critical need for coordination and complementarity between political and military initiatives in the DRC as highlighted, among others, in the recently-adopted Presidential Statement on the situation in the DRC, the communiqué of the 11th high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism (ROM) of the Peace, Security and 

Cooperation Framework (PSC-F), as well as the communiqué of the Quadripartite Summit involving the EAC, ECCAS, ICGLR and SADC, under the auspices of the AU.

Madam President,

The A3 Plus firmly believes that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC-F) for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, remains a strategic mechanism for resolving the conflict promoting sustainable peace and fostering development and economic integration in the region.

We commend the relentless efforts and steadfast commitments of regional leaders including President João Lourenço of Angola and former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya to mediate between the DRC and Rwanda and to ensure the full implementation of the existing peace agreements by all parties to the conflict.  

The A3 Plus is particularly encouraged by the laudable efforts of countries in the region to deepen their bilateral and diplomatic engagements through Joint Permanent Commission meetings and high-level visits, as well as the signing of bilateral trade and development cooperation agreements characterised by mutual trust and respect. Concerted efforts must be made to advance implementation of these bilateral and multilateral agreements, which have the potential to improve socio-economic development and subsequently the conditions for peace in the region.

The A3 Plus holds the view that given the signing of the PSC Framework a little over a decade ago, it is now an opportune time for signatory countries to take stock of its implementation. In this regard, we support the recent request by signatory countries to the 

Technical Support Committee (made during the 11th high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism on the PSC-F) to conduct an independent and frank assessment of the Framework’s implementation to date. We believe that this will be a good basis to   revitalize the PSC-F, and strengthen adherence of all signatory countries to their commitments.

An important step towards ensuring accountability in the Great Lakes region is ongoing efforts to increase judicial cooperation between countries, especially regarding requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance. In this regard, the A3 Plus emphasizes the need for the PSC Framework’s signatories to fulfill their commitments to promote judicial cooperation among the countries of the region and to address shared difficulties with support from the Office of the Special Envoy.

Madam President, 

The Great Lakes Region has significant mineral resources which, if properly utilized, could provide the countries in the region with opportunities to structurally transform their economies and build an area of shared prosperity. In this regard, the A3 Plus supports the timely implementation of the UN Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region, which, inter alia, aims to prevent the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources in the DRC and in the region, and ensure effective and transparent management of its natural resources. We commend this and other efforts by the Office of the Special Envoy to advance sustainable economic development as a pathway for peace in the region.

It is crucial that the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who have been impacted by this conflict come to view  their natural resources as a blessing, rather than a curse. This shift in perspective will enable them to harness the potential of their resources for the betterment of their communities and their own future.  

To conclude, Madam President, the A3 Plus wishes to thank the Special Envoy Huang Xia for his unwavering commitment to regional peace efforts and to the implementation of the PSC Framework. We reiterate that a political solution remains the most viable means of restoring peace in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region. For this reason, we remain fully supportive of the planned revitalization of the PSC Framework, and reaffirm our support to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries of the region.

I thank you.

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