Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Great Lakes Region
Statement27 April 2022
Thank you, Mr. President,
Thank you Special Envoy Xia for your briefing. My thanks also to Executive Secretary Caholo and Mr. Dinesh Mahtani.
I would like to focus on two areas today, the importance of regional cooperation, and the challenges, which must be addressed if peace and prosperity is to be delivered to the Great Lakes region.
The PSC Framework remains central to a lasting and sustainable peace in the Great Lakes. The resumption of meetings of the Regional Oversight Mechanism in February is a significant welcome development. The reaffirmation by signatory countries of the goals of the Framework and its ongoing implementation is also very welcome.
Special Envoy Xia, your report outlines encouraging examples of steps being taken to normalise relations through diplomatic outreach and dialogue and my country would like to welcome progress in this regard.
The DRC’s accession to the East African Community is an important step in terms of greater regional economic integration and cooperation. Ireland knows first-hand the benefits of regional partnership and cooperation in building peace and prosperity, and we hope that membership of the East African Community will lead not only to stronger economic ties, but will also support the development of shared prosperity and lasting peace.
Last week’s Conclave on the DRC in Nairobi is further evidence of the commitment of countries in the region to work together to promote regional peace and security. Future engagement by the UN, ICGLR, the EAC, and other stakeholders can further support this initiative.
Stability in the region depends of course on stability in the eastern DRC. Yet the security situation there remains fragile and there has been an increase in the activities of Armed Groups, including attacks on civilians. This is of serious concern.
We note the ongoing joint military operations by the DRC and Uganda. These operations should be conducted in line with obligations under international law, including international humanitarian and international human rights law, and should ensure the protection of civilians. It is also important that there is effective communication and coordination with MONUSCO.
The challenges facing the region cannot be addressed solely by military means. A coherent approach in addressing root causes and drivers of conflict is vital. We believe that the meaningful participation of women across peacebuilding efforts is essential, and it is really positive to see a commitment to the Women Peace and Security Agenda. The adoption of a Regional Plan of Action on resolution 1325 is an important development – now we must ensure that this is resourced and that it is implemented.
We all know that the illegal exploitation of minerals and natural resources remains a significant driver of instability and we commend the ICGLR for its continued work in this area, and the approval by Ministers of ICGLR member states of recommendations from the High Level Regional Workshop on Natural Resources in the Great Lakes Region.
We heard during the Arria-Formula meeting hosted by Ireland last week that tragically 2022 is forecast to be the most food insecure year on record, with conflict a major driver for this. The link between conflict and hunger is in evidence in the DRC. It is projected to see the highest number of people face acute food insecurity globally. We urge all parties to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.
Renewed efforts are needed to put an end to the suffering of vulnerable populations. Ireland welcomes efforts to develop a regional strategy on durable solutions for displaced people. We remain concerned by the significant increase in documented human rights violations and abuses and call on all countries in the Great Lakes region to pursue accountability for the perpetrators of such acts.
Finally, Ireland appreciates the progress being made on the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy and Action Plan. This has an important complementary role to play in supporting implementation of the PSC Framework, and we echo the Secretary General’s call for sustained support to its implementation.
Thank you Mr. President.