National Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on the Great Lakes Region

Published

National Statement by Sweden, Ambassador Olof Skoog, at the briefing on the Great Lakes Region. Wednesday, 12 April 2017, New York.

Madam President,

I thank the Secretary-General for his report and the Special Envoy, Said Djinnit, for the briefing today as well as his efforts towards the implementation of the PSC Framework by the region. I commend the Special Envoy for his good offices and advocacy with regional partners, as well as his efforts to include a meaningful participation of women peacemakers in the PSC Framework.

The situation in the Great Lakes Region remains volatile and unstable. Many of the challenges are transnational; transcending national borders. Violations of international humanitarian law and abuse of human rights with ensuing impunity, contribute to cycles of conflict. The scale of displacement - with nine and a half million refugees and IDPs - is a clear indication of the political and security challenges that still plague the region.

It is clear that a regional approach is needed if the interconnected nature of this crisis is to be addressed. The Great Lakes region has, in recent years, witnessed some success in its integration, especially in terms of trade and economic activity. We also commend the generosity and solidarity of the people and countries of the region in hosting their displaced neighbours, often for long periods.

However, more needs to be done to overcome the obstacles to peace and stability facing the region and to come to terms with the armed groups in the area, including increased implementation of the PSC Framework.

Madam President,

We are deeply concerned by the continued and increased levels of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation. There is a risk that political uncertainty and the lack of progress in the implementation of the 31 December Comprehensive Political Agreement will exacerbate instability. This includes the situation in the East and the activity by armed groups. The resurgence of the M23 is one such example.

The Council has repeatedly and clearly signaled to the Congolese parties how important it is that they implement their Agreement. This includes the need for a transitional government, supported by all the parties, in order to prepare for elections. The legitimacy of the government is linked to respect for the agreement. The active participation of women, including in the elections, also adds legitimacy and sustainability to the political process.

Regional actors have an essential role to play in moving the political process forward. We welcome SADC's efforts to support progress in the DRC. A visit by representatives of the Organ for Politics, Defense and Security has the potential to provide momentum to the implementation of the New Year's Agreement.

The Regional Oversight Mechanism (ROM) meeting in Luanda in 2016 and the African Union Peace and Security Council statement in support of the reactivation of PSC Framework and Nairobi Declaration related mechanisms to deal with the security challenges in the region are both examples of positive regional efforts. Influential regional actors should coordinate to ensure coherent messages. It is important that Security Council provides backing for, and aligns itself behind, such efforts.

Madam President,

The constructive regional engagement in Burundi by the East African Community deserves full support, in particular the EAC Inter-Burundi Dialogue, under mediator President Museveni and facilitator President Mkapa. An EAC Summit, including on the situation in Burundi, at the earliest possible is important as it would add further momentum to the search for stability in Burundi.

Meanwhile, the political and human rights situation continues to cause concern. It is thus important that agreements are reached to allow for the full functioning of the OHCHR and African Union Military and Human Rights observers.

Madam President,

Despite some progress, the challenges for the Great Lakes Region remain significant. The international community remains committed; however, ultimately, it will be up to the countries of the region to find peaceful solutions.

We must fully support the constructive actions of regional actors who seek to move the region beyond insecurity, uncertainty and political division.

Thank you.

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis