27 September 2012Statement by UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds MP, at the UNGA Mini-Summit on the situation in Eastern DRC
Your Excellency, Presidents and distinguished Ministers,
I thank the Secretary General and Under-Secretary-General for bringing the international community together today to address the challenges faced in the Great Lakes region. With six months having passed since the rebel March 23 Movement defected from the Congolese Army, it is vital that we give due attention to delivering sustainable peace to a region blighted by long term conflict and a cycle of violence.
As we have heard already, this conflict has displaced 320,000 people since April this year. With limited humanitarian access and an appeal that is less than half funded, much more is needed from the international community to deliver urgent aid. The United Kingdom continues to be a strong supporter of the humanitarian system: we will spend an average of $49 million per year in DRC until 2015. We urge others to do more.
But the only lasting solution to this humanitarian crisis is a political one. And while we are encouraged by the progress already made, much more is needed. The UN Group of Experts has published credible evidence of external support for the M23. There can be no possible justification for such support, whether in terms of military hardware, or strategic advice. It must stop. And there can be no impunity for those who violate human rights. They must be brought to justice.
The United Kingdom is encouraged, though, by the efforts of the region to address the current crisis, as well as its underlying causes. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region can play an important role in building confidence between the DRC and Rwanda. We urge DRC and Rwanda, with support from regional and international partners to improve the scope and effectiveness of the joint verification mechanism, launched on 14 September, as a long term border monitoring solution. We believe that MONUSCO could have a key role to play in the Joint Verification Mechanism.
We would also like to see MONUSCO explore opportunities, within its existing capabilities, to cooperate with the ICGLR proposed neutral international force. But, before endorsing any such support, we and the UNSC will want to understand the intended role and scope of the force. We will also want to assess the likelihood of the force achieving its stated objectives based on the parties’ commitment to the process and the resolve of regional and international partners in seeing the process through.
I welcome the participation of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community today: they too must play an important role. But while our attention is rightly focused on addressing the immediate crisis that confronts us, we must also maintain our efforts to address the underlying causes of instability in the region. The United Kingdom is conscious that eastern DRC has seen instability for many years. The current unrest is just the latest, sad episode in that story. But with genuine commitment from all involved, in partnership with the government of DRC, long term sustainable solutions can be achieved. The right focus on the underlying causes, including on security sector reform, land reforms, and the extension of state authority can bring a lasting and durable peace to the Kivus.
Finally, let me end by expressing my deep regret that there will be no agreed communiqué issuing from this meeting. The United Kingdom sought a document that not only correctly diagnosed the roots of today’s crisis, but also mapped out how all parties can work to end it. The international community must speak as one in condemning all support to the M23, and calling for greater regional dialogue.