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A3 joint Declaration at the Security Council Briefing on MONUSCO

H.E.M Michel Xavier BIANG,

Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Gabon to the UN

Thank you, Madam President,

1. I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the A3 members, namely Kenya, Gabon and Ghana.

2. I commend the remarkable efforts of Ms. Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and thank her for her insightfull briefing.

3. I also welcome the presence of Ms. Lea Babite, Civil Society Representative and the Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Madam President,

4. The address of the A3 will focus on three main points: the political, security and humanitarian situation.

5. On the political front, we welcome the opening of the Parliamentary Session in March and we note with interest President Felix Tshisékédi's commitment to hold elections in 2023, in accordance with the constitutional framework. We welcome the adoption of an electoral roadmap by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). This indicates a welcome clarity of the will by the Congolese authorities to uphold the constitution and promote dialogue among political stakeholders. It will contribute to the advancement of a functioning democratic process required to deliver credible, free, inclusive and transparent elections.

6. By appointing Ms. Marie-Josée KAPINGA as Deputy National Executive Secretary of the CENI, the first woman to hold this position, the Congolese authorities recognise the importance of the inclusion of women and young people, in the electoral process.

Madam President,

7. This Council should remain committed to safeguarding the electoral process by supporting the strengthening of institutions to consolidate the country’s recent democratic gains. International Community should make concrete proposals commensurate with these crucial challenges.

8. magnitude of the stakes requires us to engage even more strongly with the Congolese people, encouraging to encourage all political actors to show a spirit of consensus.

9. We urge partners to provide the financial and material support necessary for the implementation of the government’s 2021 – 2023 programme of action. Its key programmes include the holding of local and national elections in 2023.

Madam President,

10. The complexity of the issues confronting the DRC confers special importance on regional dynamics. In this regard, the A3 welcome the holding of a high-level meeting on the regional monitoring mechanism of the peace, security and cooperation framework. This important mechanism was agreed by the region’s states and prioritises diplomacy and dialogue to resolve border challenges and promote the economic development of each State.

11. The signing by the Congolese authorities of memoranda of understanding with Uganda and Rwanda respectively, and the concerted military actions under way, are strengthening regional security.

12. The A3 urges that this approach extend to all the issues that threaten regional security, including the illegal exploitation of mineral resources.

13. It is this kind of regional cooperation that will enable the authority of the Congolese state, and the rule of law to be restored throughout the country.

Madam President,

14. The A3 are particularly concerned about the deteriorating security situation, particularly in Ituri and Kivu provinces, due to the recurrence of attacks by armed groups. Eastern Congo is facing an upsurge in massacres, violence, and in the recruitment of child soldiers, perpetrated by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), CODECO and other armed groups, whose aim is to create a climate of terror.

15. The terrorism perpetrated by these armed groups must be met with legal accountability. The perpetrators of these crimes must be prosecuted and held accountable for their heinous acts. The conviction of 24 CODECO members by the Congolese military courts is an important step towards ensuring accountability for human rights violations and abuses.

16. To consolidate such progress, the A3 are calls for support in a strengthening of the judicial capacities of the Congolese state.

17. Beyond these measures, this Council must undoubtedly address the issue of the arms embargo which, in our view, contributes to restricting the effectiveness the military actions of States in crisis against rebel movements, which preserve and often consolidate their nuisance capacity by obtaining supplies via illegal channels.

18. We therefore recommend that the Council respond favourably to the Congolese authorities' request to waive the notification requirement for the acquisition of weapons.

19. By strengthening its weapons and ammunition management system, the Government has shown commitment to ensuring the control and protection of weapons in its possession.

Madam President,

20. As we all know, the DRC is a victim of the richness of its mineral resources. Their illicit exploitation is the main source of destabilisation and violence. We welcome the adoption by the Congolese Government of a National Strategic Plan for the Exploitation and Certification of Mineral Resources, which we very much hope will bring clarity to the exploitation of mineral resources in the Congo.

21. We encourage neighbouring countries to implement their commitments under the Regional Initiative Against Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Natural Resources. They should also adopt the ICGLR certification mechanism into national laws and practices in line with internationally agreed minimum standards, as well as, establish internal systems of control, monitoring and verification to eliminate the presence of illicit mineral trade.

22. Echoing the call of the Congolese authorities, the A-3 stress the value of sanctioning all individuals and entities involved in the illicit trafficking of mineral resources. These activities incentivise armed groups to sustain their violence and contribute to inter-communal tensions. Undercutting the economic lifelines for armed groups is one of the keys to restoring sustainable peace in the DRC.

23. This response against armed gangs must also be accompanied by substantial financial and material support for the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Community Reintegration and Stabilization (P-DDRC) Program. The success of this important program will undoubtedly have a positive reflection on the processes of security, stabilization and development.

Madam President,

24. The A-3 note with concern the increasing use of improvised explosive devices by rebels. Their use has a catastrophic impact on the safety and movement of populations. We condemn in the strongest terms these barbaric acts.

25. The A-3 also note with serious concern an upsurge in atrocities and the clear presence of terrorist groups in the region. The international community must commit to doing more to challenge this groups, not only in the DRC but throughout the continent. We must take the necessary measures to stem this scourge before it takes root: Identifying the root causes and proposing viable solutions seem to us to be the beginnings of strong action.

26. In this regard, we commend the invaluable support provided by MONUSCO to the Congolese Defense Forces. We also welcome the coordination and communication efforts between the Congolese authorities and MONUSCO.

27. It is essential that the MONUSCO transitional withdrawal plan be implemented based on an assessment of the benchmarks achieved. This withdrawal must be gradual, coordinated and concerted with the FARDC to avoid any recurrence of violence. We welcome the progress made in the implementation of the 18 benchmarks set out in the joint transition plan by the Congolese authorities.

Madam President,

28. The security environment is an aggravating factor in the humanitarian situation.

29. With 5.5 million displaced and 27 million people facing food insecurity, the humanitarian crisis in the DRC is very alarming.

30. We urge international and regional donors as well as all DRC partners to support the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, launched by the Congolese Government and the United Nations.

31. We commend the remarkable work of humanitarian workers who, at the risk of their lives, provide continued support to the people of the DRC. We pay a well-deserved tribute to all the peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, FARDC, who lost their lives working for peace in that country.

32. We call on the Congolese authorities to continue their efforts to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers so that they can carry out their mandates without hindrance.

Madam President,

33. To finish, the A3 reiterates its unwavering support for the Congolese Government and MONUSCO.

34. We also reaffirm our commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thank you.

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