Statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Great Lakes Region
Statement26 October 2022
Thank you, President,
I would like to begin by expressing our appreciation to Special Envoy Xia for his briefing today but also by welcoming the participation in this discussion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Rwanda and Burundi.
The Great Lakes Region has long faced a range of overlapping challenges, with the security, humanitarian, and human rights situations undermining progress and peace.
There are positive examples of regional cooperation, including the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and the UN Strategy for the Great Lakes region. We commend the regional Member States, UN entities, regional organisations, and the Special Envoy for their efforts to foster peace and prosperity to the region However, there is a danger that progress on these initiatives could be hampered by the type of public rhetoric we have seen in recent days. It is important to refrain from raising tension in the region.
Today, I will focus on four points.
Firstly, conflict and hunger exist in a vicious cycle and several countries in the region face high levels of food insecurity. In the DRC, 27 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Large numbers of people have been forced to flee violence and are displaced across the region.
Urgent efforts are needed to address the suffering people are experiencing, yet there are persistent barriers to the humanitarian response. All parties must ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and ensure unhindered access to humanitarian assistance. Ireland remains concerned by the documented human rights violations and abuses that continue to occur. We call on all countries in the Great Lakes region to pursue accountability for the perpetrators of such acts.
Second, the negative impacts of climate change on security are being felt across the continent, and the region. These are contributing to the humanitarian need, as we heard during the debate on Climate and Security in Africa earlier this month. This Council must integrate climate-related security risks into its work.
Third, the struggle for control of natural resources. The region is home to a significant number of armed groups that benefit from the illegal exploitation and trade of some of the world’s most valuable resources. These illegal activities fund their operations and destabilise communities and regions. Natural resources should be a driver for the sustainable development across the region, yet instead they fuel conflict and instability.
It is important to continue to make progress on transparency issues, including through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)’s Regional Certification Mechanism. The implementation of the recommendations from the 2021 Khartoum High-Level Regional Workshop on Natural Resources can also make an important impact. We call on all States to hold to account all who are complicit in this illicit trade.
Fourthly, we believe that dialogue, partnership and cooperation can build lasting peace in the region. Ireland welcomes the ‘Nairobi process’ initiative of the East African Community to promote political dialogue through an inclusive, coordinated regional approach, as agreed in the June Heads of States’ Conclave. We also welcome the Luanda process convened by President Lourenço of Angola. These processes are evidence of regional commitment to work together to defuse tensions and promote regional peace and security.
There can be no military solution to the region’s challenges. We welcome the commitment of the East African Community to coordinate its Regional Force closely with MONUSCO, and encourage it to ensure that it complies fully with obligations under international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.
Ireland recognises the importance of the inclusion and participation of women and youth in regional co-operation initiatives and electoral processes. The full, equal and meaningful participation of women across peacebuilding and political efforts is essential. In this regard, we welcome the positive role played by the Advisory Board for Women, Peace and Security in the Great Lakes region, and encourage continued efforts in this regard.