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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on the Great Lakes Region

Thank you very much, Mr. President,


And I want to thank the Special Envoy Xia for his briefing. Following last week’s discussion with SRSG Keita, it is very useful Special Envoy to hear from you about your own views on regional developments and about the dynamics in the Great Lakes region. And I am also particularly happy to see amongst us this morning the PBC Chair, dear Ambassador Edrees Ahmed. As you know, we have long advocated that the voice of the PBC be heard at our table, so we are particularly happy to hear from you this morning.


Special Envoy,


This is Ireland’s first intervention under this agenda item during our term on the Council, so I want to take the opportunity to affirm our commitment to the region and the work of your Office. The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region has been our roadmap toward sustainable peace since 2013, with your predecessor and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson working as the first Special Envoy. We, Ireland, takes a serious interest in your work.


The truth is, of course, that many of the challenges that were faced back then by the first Envoy in 2013 remain with us today. The deteriorating security situation in the DRC, particularly in the Eastern provinces as we heard last week, highlights how vital this Council’s engagement remains. Many of the challenges, including human rights violations, complex humanitarian crises, environmental degradation, climate change, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, and the activity of multiple armed groups as we heard from you this morning, Mr. Xia, continue to undermine efforts toward peace and sustainable development. 


As you highlighted in your report, the current COVID-19 pandemic has stretched capacities even further. We know that this COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly adverse impact on women. We find it particularly alarming the increase in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence associated with the pandemic. Its continued use as a weapon of war is simply unacceptable.  We welcome the explicit commitments in the Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes region to address conflict-related sexual violence. We expect to see the promotion of women’s roles in conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding efforts. That, as we never cease saying, should be on a full, equal and meaningful basis.


Clearly, if we are to build sustainable peace in the Great Lakes, then deep and meaningful regional cooperation remains absolutely essential. The progress you have outlined in this report, including the positive roles played by SADC and the ICGLR, is encouraging.


We know that economic development will act as an engine of progress, but it’s not an end in itself and the three-pillar approach of the Strategy is important. With the Strategy now endorsed by the Secretary General, of course, implementation is key. No time can be lost in agreeing a time-bound and effective action plan across the three pillars and the ten priorities that are set out.


So, Special Envoy, I want thank you again for your time and we look forward to working very closely with you on our shared goal of peace and prosperity in the Great Lakes.


Thank you, Mr. President.

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