Statement by Minister Brophy at the UNSC Open Debate on the Great Lakes Region
Statement20 October 2021
Thank you Madam President.
I would like to thank Kenya for hosting this important debate.
Thank you to our briefers Special Envoy Xia, Ambassador Caholo, and Assistant Secretary General Pobee.
I would also like to recognise our colleagues from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I am very pleased that the Council will adopt a Presidential Statement on this important issue today.
It is only by addressing the root causes of conflict and drivers of instability that it is truly possible to build sustainable and lasting peace.
I wish to make three points in our debate today.
First, regional cooperation is essential in addressing the root causes of conflict and drivers of instability in the Great Lakes Region.
Ireland recognises the progress achieved by countries of the region in improving and enhancing regional cooperation across political, security, and economic sectors.
Sustainable peace can only be achieved through close cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations and international partners.
The Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework remains crucial.
This provides the foundation for building a shared vision of regional peace, security and socio-economic development.
Ireland looks forward to the 10th high-level meeting of the PSC Regional Oversight Mechanism taking place by year-end.
We hope this meeting will maintain momentum and help translate recent progress into shared prosperity for the people of the Great Lakes region.
The establishment of the Contact Coordination Group, between key stakeholders in eastern DRC and the region, to focus on the use of non-military measures to address conflict and instability, is an important and very welcome development.
The UN will continue to play an important role in supporting the region, and Ireland welcomes the Action Plan to accompany the UN Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention, and Conflict Resolution.
Implementation will require the continued concerted efforts of national, regional and international partners.
Secondly, the illegal exploitation and trade of minerals and natural resources is a significant driver of conflict in Africa, and the Great Lakes Region in particular, where competition for control of resource-rich areas fuels hostilities and violence.
These activities have a multiplier effect on other drivers of instability.
Climate change, population displacement, extreme poverty, hunger, socioeconomic inequality, and the lack of opportunities for young people exacerbate the challenges right across the region.
Ireland supports national, regional and international efforts to ensure that lawful, transparent and effective controls are available to support the management of natural resources and prevent their illegal exploitation.
Good governance is essential to ensure the region’s abundant natural resources become the basis of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.
The UN Secretary General’s Report notes progress in this regard, and we commend ongoing efforts by countries of the Great Lakes, regional organisations and partners to develop a holistic approach to natural resource management.
We look forward to seeing progress in implementing the recommendations from the recent high-level workshop in Khartoum, aimed at curbing illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources.
Ireland will continue to play its part through ongoing participation in and advocacy for the Kimberley Process Certification scheme, and implementation of the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation.
Through our membership of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, Ireland will continue to engage with partners to share best practice, and work together to limit the negative impacts of mining and ensure that it contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Turning now to my third point.
The development of long-lasting and sustainable solutions requires the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law, coupled with a coherent, coordinated response to the humanitarian crises facing the region.
With 15 million displaced people and rising levels of food-insecurity and acute malnutrition - particularly in the DRC, where the cycle of conflict and hunger, has been compounded by drivers of instability such as climate change - the region is contending with one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world.
Action to address this crisis and protect the most vulnerable requires a collective response, and we urge all parties to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance.
All parties must adhere to international humanitarian law and human rights law.
For too long, women and youth have borne the worst of the hardships resulting from conflict and insecurity.
For Ireland, it is clear that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in national, regional, and international efforts is essential for developing sustainable solutions to the root causes of conflict and the drivers of instability.
These solutions include effective natural resource management and DDR processes across the region.
Advancing gender equality, and ensuring meaningful youth engagement, drives transformation and accelerates progress on peace, security and development.
Madam President, Council members, the root causes of conflict and drivers of instability are shared challenges requiring shared solutions.
These need to be delivered through the active role of the nations of the region. These efforts must be supported at the regional level through strengthened collaboration between neighbours and regional organisations.
Clearly, at the international level, we have a shared interest in the development of a peaceful and prosperous Great Lakes Region that serves the needs of its people.