Swedish statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 7, New York.
Thank you, Mr President,
Let me begin by welcoming Leila Zerrougui to our meeting in her new role as Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the DRC. We look forward to working with you and you can count on our strong support.
I also appreciate the presence of deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mr. She Okitundo. Thank you for being here.
Since we last met in this Chamber to discuss MONUSCO, yet another peacekeeper has died in the DRC. I would like to express my condolences to his family and to his country, Pakistan. Deliberate attacks on those working for peace and stability in the DRC are unacceptable as well as elsewhere . A worsening security situation also takes a tragic toll on the Congolese population. It includes new ethnic and intra-communal conflict, continued attacks against civilians, renewed sexual violence and brings with it an acute humanitarian crisis. Human rights abuses and violations are also increasing, especially in the context of the electoral process. In this regard, violence by state security forces against peaceful protesters is of particular concern.
An important step on the path to lasting peace and stability in the DRC will be the holding of credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections on the 23 of December, with the ensuing democratic transfer of power as per the constitution and the 31 December agreement. This is something we all need to support, including regional actors, with whom close coordination continues to be essential. Welcome progress made on technical electoral preparations, involving as mentioned by the SRSG the completion of the voters' roll, budget and electoral law. Credible elections however also depend on the overall electoral environment. It is vital that human rights are respected, promoted and protected. Confidence building measures, as per the 31st December agreement, including to ensure women's full and effective participation are also essential. We encourage steps to increase the number of women candidates in accordance with the constitution as well as the electoral law.
2018 is indeed a crucial year for the DRC and the mission has indeed a crucial role to play. Focus must continue to be on protecting civilians and supporting the implementation of the 31 December agreement, including the elections. In so doing, it needs to be effective. To protect civilians, further strengthening of early warning and, most importantly, early proactive action is needed, including through conflict resolution and good offices. This is in addition to improvements in its military response, which should include enhanced so-called 'enablers' and allow for the Force Intervention Brigade to regain its capability. The mission's support to the DRC to conduct a credible electoral process and the holding of free and fair elections is also critical. Apart from technical electoral assistance, support to the New Year's agreement also includes an opening of political space. Confidence building measures and women's political participation will be important to the holding of free and fair elections. In all of this, the mission needs to be adequately resourced.
Soon a year will have passed since our - the Council's - experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp were brutally killed while investigating violations of Security Council sanctions in the Kasaï region. Sweden appreciates the Secretary-General's commitment to establishing the truth. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. Meanwhile, the ability of the Group of Experts to safely carry out the mandate that have been given to them by this council needs to be supported by MONUSCO.
In the long run, the recurrent violence in the DRC can only be resolved by addressing its root causes – including through further democratization, human rights, good governance and Rule of Law, but also economic development and poverty alleviation. The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework outlines measures in this regard and it needs to be implemented. There also needs to be integrated plan for an overall whole of UN approach in support of sustainable peace. It is the responsibility of the DRC, with the assistance of the whole of the UN, the region, as well as other parts of the international community, including International Financial Institutions, to enhance efforts towards lasting peace and stability in the DRC.
I thank you.