Swedish statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Published

National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19 March 2018, New York.

Thank you Mr President,

including for organizing today's meeting and for the engagement of your country including that of your Minister.

Mr President,

Throughout its turbulent history the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seldom been far from this Council's agenda. Likewise, the DRC has been a constant presence when our colleagues in Geneva discuss humanitarian needs and appeals. For this reason, it is easy to dismiss this latest situation as 'business as usual'. However, as we have heard today, we clearly cannot.

The current crisis in the DRC is of catastrophic levels. Civilians, particularly women and children are bearing the brunt. It is a man-made disaster. Surging levels of violence, fueled by political instability and uncertainty are leading to forced displacements coupled with sexual and gender-based violence, human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, all of which are driving the humanitarian crisis. The trends and pace of growth of humanitarian needs are shocking and unprecedented. The DRC is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in modern times.

We, therefore, welcome the initiative of the Dutch Presidency and the Emergency Relief Coordinator to bring the humanitarian situation in the country to the attention of the Security Council. Let me also thank Ms. Jeanine Bandu Bahati, and Abbé Nsholo, for their sobering briefings to the Council today. Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence of the PR of the DRC and look forward to hearing his remarks later on.

Mr Lowcock,

Sweden fully supports your work, and that of the UN and partners on the ground. As we have heard, the challenge is great and it is urgent. Our response must be swift and in words of Abbe nsholo match the scale of the challenge. I would like to outline four areas that should be the focus of our efforts.

Firstly, responding to the immediate humanitarian needs will require a surge in funding. We welcome the upcoming high level donor conference, and hope that it will generate generous, reliable and flexible funding, as well drawing attention to the situation in the country. Sweden will continue to provide significant and increasing humanitarian support to the DRC to meet the growing needs. Our contribution for 2018 is already 28 million. It is important that we all play our part.

In such a complex context, the need for an integrated approach that addresses the nexus between humanitarian, development, human rights and peace and security is clear. In its support to the DRC, Sweden has aligned its humanitarian and development support. We encourage others to do the same.

Full, safe and immediate humanitarian access for all those who are doing what they can with extremely limited funding, facing serious challenges must be ensured. The government has a particular responsibility in this regard. We welcome the agreement between the UN and the Governor of Tanganyika on an enabling environment for humanitarian action.

The security of humanitarian personnel is an essential element of access. Collaboration with the FARDC and MONUSCO to guarantee safe passage to affected populations is critical.

Last week we commemorated the loss of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, one year after their murder. It is a sad reminder about the outstanding accountability and how the security of UN personnel must be further enhanced.

Secondly, we must simultaneously step up efforts to protect civilians who are increasingly at risk. The roots of the violence are complex. The government must shoulder its primary responsibility towards its population and stem the surging violence and promote peaceful conflict resolution. And of course, MONUSCO must be properly equipped to effectively protect civilians.

Thirdly, in order to foster long-term stability and peace, the holding of credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections on 23 December, with the ensuing democratic transfer of power, as per the constitution and the 31 December Agreement, is imperative. This is something we must all support, including local and regional actors, with whom close coordination continues to be essential. What happens in the Congo has broader consequences. It risks jeopardizing the stability, not only of the DRC, but also that of the Great Lakes Region.

Measures to ensure women's full and effective participation in the elections are critical, so that all sections of Congolese society can play their full part in the democratic process. As Ms Bandu Bahati said, women and girls must be given much more influence in every aspect of decision-making. This requires political space. It is important that freedom of speech and assembly are reasserted. In this regard, we welcome the recommendation from the government commission of inquiry into security forces' actions towards peaceful protests, to lift the ban on demonstrations.

Fourth, and finally, Mr President, in the DRC, as elsewhere, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed if the country is to break free from a vicious cycle of poverty, insecurity and violence.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers a framework to curb the chronic vulnerability of many Congolese.

The government, with the assistance of the whole of the United Nations as well as other parts of the international community, must now work together to make progress on the alleviation of poverty, ending inequality and creating a society where all Congolese look to the future not with despair but with hope.

This will require an investment from the government, including through increased mining revenues channeled for the good of their people. On the side of the international community, there needs to be a comprehensive, integrated and resourced plan for sustained peace in the DRC.

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