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Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Thank you, Madam President,

1. I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3, namely, Gabon, Ghana and Kenya.

2. We thank Mr. Huang XIA, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, Amb. Joao Caholo, Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and Mr. Dinesh Mahtani Independent Expert on the Great Lakes Region for their briefings.

Madam President,

3. The A3 remains deeply concerned about the dire security situation in parts of the Great Lakes Region particularly Eastern DRC. We strongly condemn the hostile activities and deadly attacks by armed and militant groups including the Allied Democratic Forces and the resurgent M23.

4. We are glad to note that counter to this negative trend, there is a growing spirit of collaboration and integration underway in the region that promises a breakthrough in the long search for peace and security.

5. In particular, we point the Council’s attention to the Democratic Republic of the Congo formally joining the East African Community. It will have a population of 300 million, and its 7 member-states are continuing to undertake one of the world’s most extensive exercises in the integration of trade, investment, free movement of people, and ultimately, to political federation.

6. As members of the Council know well, economic development is key to minimizing the risks of conflict, and structured regional political cooperation is essential to overcoming common security threats.

7. The armed groups in the region continue to exact a heavy toll on civilian safety and security, while undermining economic development. In the spirit of regional cooperation and camaraderie we recently witnessed the successful outcomes of the Second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the DRC in Nairobi on the 21st April.

8. The conclave was convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his capacity as the Chair of the East African Community. Its far-reaching decisions are articulated in the communique, issued shortly after the meeting.

9. We wish to emphasise for the attention of the Council, and in regard to its own existing mandates in the region, the decisions made by the leaders that will impact the peace and security of eastern DRC. Like other members of the Council, we believe that sustained regional stabilisation is to a considerable degree determined by the success of efforts to stabilise that area.

10. The Conclave agreed on a two-track initiative to help bring security and stability to eastern DRC:

a. Commence a political process under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta, to facilitate consultations to be undertaken between the DRC and local armed groups in the DRC; and,

b. Accelerate the establishment of a regional force to help contain and, where necessary, fight the negative forces under the leadership of the DRC.

11. To facilitate the implementation of the political and military/ security enforcement tracks the leaders also directed the following:

a. That all armed groups in the DRC participate unconditionally in the political process to resolve their grievances;

b. That failure to do so, all Congolese Armed groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region;

c. That all foreign armed groups in the DRC must disarm and return unconditionally and immediately to their respective countries of origin; and,

d. That failure to do so these groups would be considered as negative forces and handled militarily by the region.

12. We call upon the Security Council and the UN system to support this bold regional initiative. Political will has always been and will continue to be the key ingredient in resolving the protracted conflicts and largescale violence in the Great Lakes Region. And there are few situations that have lasted as long, and been as difficult to solve, as the chronic insecurity of eastern DRC.

13. We appreciate the strong support expressed by the Secretary General. Joined to the Security Council’s matching support, and driven by regional will, in line with the leadership and aims of the countries of the Great Lakes Region, much can be achieved.

14. Madam President, beyond this promising progress regarding the DRC, the A3 is calling for further progress in strengthening and implementing regional networks and frameworks that will contribute to a more secure Great Lakes region.

15. We further call for support for context-relevant Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes that include the disengagement and reintegration of former fighters of groups that utilise terrorist ideologies and methods in their operations.

16. The A3 urges closer cooperation between UN Missions, ICGLR organs, and the good offices of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General to the Great Lakes Region in seeking to effectively combat armed group activities.

Moving on to the economic situation,

17. The A3 notes that poverty is a root cause and effect of conflict in the Great Lakes Region.

18. It is unfortunate that the people of the Region have not benefitted from the abundance of natural resources in their country. The illegal exploitation, competition and export of these resources including by international actors and armed groups must be addressed to translate these resources from being a curse to a blessing.

19. In this regard, the regional countries should implement their commitments under the ICGLR Regional Initiative Against Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Natural Resources which include establishing internal systems of control, monitoring and verification to eradicate illicit mineral trade.

20. The A-3 recognises the valuable role of the PBC, alongside its key partners particularly International Financial Institutions and the Peacebuilding Fund, in supporting cross-border cooperation in the region. We therefore welcome the written advisory from the Peacebuilding Commission and urge for Council’s support in the identified areas of work including the implementation of the UN Strategy for Peace, Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region.

21. In conclusion, we commend the efforts of the Special Envoy and his able team in promoting peace and security in the region through good offices, advocacy, preventive diplomacy as well as capacity-building activities which are beneficial to the countries of the region.

I Thank you

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