National Statement by Sweden at the United Nations Briefing on DRC Sanctions
National statement delivered by Ambassador Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions, Thursday, 17 August, New York.
And thank you for briefing us as the Chair of the 1533 Sanctions' Committee, it is highly appreciated. Let me start by acknowledging the presence of the families of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp and on behalf of Sweden, and me personally, extend our deepest condolences to you.
I would also like to acknowledge His Excellency Leonard She Okitundo, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Once again, we strongly condemn the brutal murders of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, members of the Group of Experts. It is intolerable that those tasked by the Council to investigate violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law are brutally killed.
Zaida Catalán was the group's humanitarian expert. She was recognized for conducting her work with skill and integrity and standing up for human rights and IHL. The same commitment and dedication led her to become a strong advocate for the human rights of the Congolese people. We know that Michael Sharp was a deeply appreciated coordinator of the Group and that he brought with him equal dedication.
We recognize the particularly difficult circumstances under which the colleagues of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp worked to finalize the report, and we commend them for their indispensable work. In honour of Zaida Catalán, Michael Sharp and of their colleagues, we would like the focus for today's meeting to be on their report and how we can bring peace and justice to all those who suffer in the DRC.
Sweden welcomes the report, which illustrates the fragile and worrying security situation in the eastern DRC, including its ethnic dimensions.
In this context, information about ex-combatants being re-mobilised is worrisome. The reintegration of former combatants, notably child soldiers, must be significantly improved and attention given to the needs of both female and male combatants. As a partner and donor to the Congolese DDR process, Sweden supports the recommendation by the Group of Experts to revise the implementation of the DDR programme, with a particular focus on job creation and professional training.
Revenues from conflict minerals fuel the ongoing insecurity. Sweden is pleased that our hard work has resulted in an EU regulation that requires importers of conflict minerals to control their supply chains. This is one example of relevant instruments in the fight against the international trade of conflict minerals. It is clear that more needs to be done.
Conflict in the DRC is not confined to the East; it touches both Kasaï and Tanganyika. The OHCHR report of 4th of August recounts a terrible situation in the Kasaï-region with violations and abuses of human rights and violations of IHL. This includes summary executions, extrajudicial killings, recruitment of children into militias and horrifying testimonies of mutilations, sexual violence and rape. The scale of the violence has a direct negative impact on peace and security. There must be no impunity for these crimes.
The Kavumu case in the South Kivu Province, with 42 incidents of aggravated rape of children, is another example of barbaric crimes being committed in the DRC. Sweden welcomes the arrest of a number of suspects for these crimes. Thorough investigation and prosecution is necessary in order to ensure justice for the victims.
In this regard, we would welcome further collaboration between the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, the SRSG for Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Sanctions Committee. This could entail sharing information more regularly, including through meetings, on groups and individuals that meet the criteria for listing.
Most importantly though, the sanctions regime must be upheld and implemented by all parties and the Group of Experts must have the adequate means to carry out its mandate. Sweden supports the group's recommendation to extend the mandate to 18 months, to allow time for information-gathering under a more stringent security regime.
There can be no peace in the DRC without democratic progress. We continue to call for the full implementation of the New Year's Eve agreement, in good faith and by and with all Congolese stakeholders. Free, fair, credible and inclusive elections remain the only viable and peaceful way out of the current political crisis, which otherwise, as the conflict in the Kasaïs illustrates, fuels further conflict and instability.
To promote a peaceful development in the DRC, we would like to underline the importance of joint efforts by the AU and the UN, such as the recent high-level visit to the DRC led by DSG Muhammed.
In the same vein, we welcome the presence of His Excellency Mr Okitundo here today. We look forward to the DRC's close cooperation with the UN and the Council going forward.
One of the recommendations of the Group of Experts is that the United Nations continues its investigations into the murders of the experts.
We share that view. No stone should be left unturned in our efforts to deliver justice for those who lost their lives in the service of the UN.
Now that the Board of Inquiry has delivered its report, we therefore welcome that the Secretary-General is looking into which follow-up mechanism that would best serve our joint efforts in establishing the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as supporting the ongoing national investigations. We support the establishment of such a mechanism by the Secretary-General.
Separately, we must draw lessons from possible failures in the system and we will carefully study the BoI's conclusions and recommendations in this regard. It is this Council's duty to ensure the safety of UN personnel mandated by it.
What happened to Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp should never happen again.
I thank you, Mr. President.