Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,
Kagame says that his country is not responsible for a mutiny in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
A recent United Nations report accused Rwanda of supporting a rebel group called the M23 led by Bosco Ntaganda.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the North Kivu province of the DRC since the mutiny in March and Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court.
The UN report claims that the group of mutineers allegedly received money, political backing, manpower and weapons from Rwanda.
It is a charge that Kagame described as "fictitious".
In an interview with the BBC's Komla Dumor, he said those who blamed Rwanda did so out of their lack of a better explanation as to why eastern DR Congo had been plagued by violence for so long.
UN experts have cited evidence that Rwanda and Uganda are backing the M23 rebel group, which has been active in eastern DR Congo since last year. Both Rwanda and Uganda strongly deny the charges.
After the genocide, Kagame brought economic and social progress to Rwanda by effectively using the foreign aid flowing in from the international community. These funds make up nearly half of the country's budget.
But now, the country's economic lifeline is in jeopardy since the United Nations accused Rwanda of backing rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. says the country has helped to create and militarily support the "M23" rebel group that wants to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Joseph Kabila.
The White House says that President Obama called Kagame to emphasize "the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the DRC." Kagame denies backing the M23 rebels.
"It's a big 'no' on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility," Kagame told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview Friday. "The solution is for us to come together as two countries, as a region and be forward looking and find solutions. Rwanda is very active in this and we want a positive solution out of that."
Despite Kagame's denial, some of its major donors are already withholding money and financing for projects. As a result, the country's finance minister has lowered the projected economic growth for 2013.
"I think we already have a problem," Kagame said -- acknowledging the situation in DRC is costing his country, regardless of whether or not the accusations are true.
"It has led to a problem where there is this discomfort we found ourselves in, that affects the progress of my country and also, of course, creates other problems within the region," he said.
In addition to these accusations, Kagame finds himself increasingly criticized for a growing authoritarian streak at home.
However, Kagame does not appear worried about his legacy being tarnished -- pointing to many of his achievements: "We have registered economic growth 8% year in, year out for almost last ten years. We have seen women empowered like nowhere else," he said. "I don't know what is being talked about."
Will Kagame step down in 2017?
Africa has been plagued by leaders who refuse to hand over the reins of power.
The Rwandan constitution says Kagame must step down in 2017. By that time he will have served as president for 17 years.
"Don't worry about that," Kagame told Amanpour when asked if he would hand over power by that time. "We have the constitution in place. We have always tried to do our best to satisfy the needs of our people and expectations of our people."
Amanpour asked if that meant "yes," he would step down.
He replied, "No. It is a broad answer to say you don't need to worry about anything."
Voice of America (Washington, DC)
Congo-Kinshasa: Fighting Resumes Outside Goma in DRCBy NIck Long, 22 August 2013
These are the first major hostilities between the government army and M23 since the army bombed the rebels' headquarters last month. Between July 15 and 19, the army succeeded in driving the rebels back four or five kilometers from Goma - a key city on the border with Rwanda. Many civilians in Goma reacted angrily when this apparently successful offensive was called off and a fragile truce was reinstated.
An army spokesman, Colonel Olivier Hamuli, said the rebels started the fighting Wednesday evening and attacked again early Thursday morning, but without success.
He said the army had the upper hand and was fighting with artillery and small arms but has not deployed helicopters.
He denied reports from the M23 that bombs are landing in civilian-occupied areas at Kayanja, in the rebel-held zone.
Hamuli said that there were no civilians in the zone, just soldiers, so there wouldn't be any collateral damage.
An M23 spokesman, Kabasha Amani, accused the government of provoking the hostilities before Wednesday evening.
He said rebels saw the government was massing troops near M23 positions and making small incursions even before fighting intensified Wednesday.
A civilian living near the combat zone, Dr. Isaac Warwanamiza, said the army appeared to be making some progress.
He said the army has advanced toward the M23 positions and the front line has moved as far as the Kibati mosque, nearly a kilometer north of where it was earlier on Wednesday.
Rebel spokesman Kabasha conceded government forces have been moving forward.
He said he thought the army would continue to bombard the rebels and then advance through Thursday, but he vowed M23's fighters would hold their ground.
Kabasha called on DRC President Joseph Kabila to return to peace talks at Kampala, which have proceeded in fits and starts since last December.
Congolese media report that the new head of the UN mission in Congo has said he wants the mission to be closer to local people in areas plagued by armed groups.
That could mean the mission will give more direct backing to the government against the M23, who appear to have little popular support.
Kenya ports Authority opens in Kigali
Officials of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on, July 19, 2013 opened their new liaison offices in Kigali, that will bringing the Mombasa port services at the door steps of business men in Kigali.
KPA officials said that the office will also soon start its operations once the remaining work, such as entering data bases and bank accounts clearance procedures are sorted out among many others. The offices will also be expanded to the Democratic republic of Congo-which also has more cargo clearance in tones than Rwanda.
The Managing Director of KPA, Gichiri Ndua said that the liaison office in Kigali as a way of bringing the port closer to its users, to help clarify issues as they arise among the business community in rwanda, a move which comes after many years of discussing and making promises to open an office in Kigali.
“We decided to open this office because we recognized that Rwanda is our important trading partner. It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that this market is served well and to the satisfaction of the business community. We believe the Liaison Office will not only enhance awareness of the port performance among Rwandese public, but it will also respond to queries by port users” Ndua said.
The Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Hon. Eng. Michael Kamau, who officially opened the offices, also said that, the move would make the new Kenyan political will to move to work improving business in the region and removing non-tariff barriers.
He said that: “we did delay to this and we are only doing it 50 years after Rwanda’s independence. Our government is more than willing to be at the front of cooperating with Rwanda in doing business since most of our investors are here”
Rwanda, as a landlocked country, will fully benefit from this new initiative as the liaison office will bring the Mombasa sea port service next door in Kigali. The business community has in past had to travel to the Kenya to clear their good and sort out any grievances. Now the Kigali office will handle all the complaints and needs of the Rwanda importer and exports.
Uhuru Kenyatta secures Mombasa port trade after deal
Posted Wednesday, June 26 2013 at 21:38
- Under the deal Kenya has undertaken to create space for its partners to set up customs clearing units.
- However, this will be done after ongoing reforms at the port which include amending Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Act to recognise East African Community (EAC) as a single customs territory, space rationalisation and expansion of berths.
- President Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame said they would monitor progress of the reforms which have strict timelines through a meeting every two months.
- Firms have argued that putting the revenue officials in one location will end trade diversion and reduce the disputes that have arisen out of products bilateral deals that member states sign with non-EAC states.
Kagame slams US actress Mia Farrow over M23 rebels report
Congo-Kinshasa: UN Peacekeepers Ready to Protect Civilians As Clashes Continue in North Kivu22 August 2013
The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has ordered peacekeepers to take necessary action to protect civilians and prevent armed groups from advancing in the North Kivu province in response to renewed fighting in the region.
In a briefing to reporters, a UN spokesperson in New York said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, had given the order following clashes between the national forces (FARDC) and the M23 armed group.
The fighting reportedly occurred in the Kibati area, 15 kilometres north of Goma. MONUSCO said populated areas and UN positions were directly targeted by mortars and hit by indiscriminate fire.
Yesterday, MONUSCO stepped up its patrols and said it would send in helicopters to protect civilians. The Mission has also activated a contingency plan in the area.
Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, have clashed repeatedly with the national forces (FARDC) in the eastern DRC. The group briefly occupied Goma in November 2012.
Congo-Kinshasa: UN Mission in Eastern DR Congo Steps Up Patrols, Sends in Choppers, to Protect Civilians21 August 2013
The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has also activated its contingency plan in the area, a UN spokesperson told journalists in New York.
"Its peacekeepers are providing security to 1,000 civilians in and around its base," the spokesperson said.
Combatants from four armed groups exchanged fire near its base in Pinga, North Kivu province, on Monday, according to MONUSCO. Three mortar bombs landed near the base.
This latest bout of violence came as Martin Kobler visited North Kivu for the first time as the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country during which he pledged to do everything in my power to address the armed groups' issue in the Kivus and in the rest of the eastern DRC.
Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, have clashed repeatedly with the national forces (FARDC) in the eastern DRC.
The rebels briefly occupied Goma in November 2012.
The fighting resumed in recent weeks, this time dragging in a group of Ugandan-based rebels, and displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating the region's ongoing humanitarian crisis, which includes 2.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.
Rwanda: The Hard Truths We Must Swallow - Rwanda Is Wreaking Havoc in CongoBy Alice Gatebuke, 14 August 2013
The government of Paul Kagame continues to relentlessly support, arm and command rebel groups such as the M23, which commit war crimes and human rights violations in Congo
The Rwandan Genocide was 19 years ago. Though the genocide ended in 1994, its consequences are still deeply felt today. For myself and other survivors, those memories are ever present.
We have never forgotten the horrors we lived through as unimaginable violence overtook our country. We grapple with mixed emotions, trying to process and come to terms with today's reality. Our struggle has evolved from physical survival to that of the emotional turmoil caused by our trauma.
Some days, we are grateful to be alive, to breathe, and to feel. Other days are fraught with anger, guilt, and sadness. We wrestle with endless, unanswerable questions. Many days we feel unworthy to be alive. We cannot comprehend why we are still alive and why many others perished. Why me, we wonder? Why not my family or friends?
We wonder why we had to witness their demise and are angry because we felt so helpless. Try as we might, we can never reverse the darkest moments of our lives. We cannot undo the damage, no matter how hard we wish we could. The genocide was real, it happened, and we live with its consequences to this very day. I was a powerless child, but still, what if there was something I could have done? And what if it happened again?
It is precisely this fear of another genocide carried out by the perpetrators of the genocide of 1994 that motivated the current Rwandan government's first invasion of Congo in 1996. It is this fear that has sustained the Rwandan government's justification for repeated intervention in the Congo over the last 16 years. And it is precisely why the world continues to live with the consequences of the Rwandan Genocide.
Even though as survivors of the Rwandan Genocide we understood the security the Rwandan government sought when they first invaded Congo, we did not sanction the human catastrophe they triggered. We did not sanction the torture, rape, and possible genocide of women, children, and the elderly that were targeted in Congo when the Rwandan Government sent troops inside of Congo for 'our protection'.
And we certainly did not sanction the government of Rwanda's 'Six-Day War' against Uganda over a diamond mine inside Congo, leaving significant numbers of Congolese people dead, injured, and displaced.
And even now, we do not sanction the violation of the United Nations arms embargo, undermining of peace deals and processes, and commanding proxy rebel groups who kill, torture, rape, and displace people, while illegally capturing cities in Congo. And most of all, we do not sanction any attempt to annex any part of Congo in our name.
Since the first invasion, more than five million people have died in Congo, making it the deadliest conflict since the Second World War. And many of those deaths lie at the hands of the Rwandan government. These are hard truths we must swallow. Not only must we come to terms with crimes that were committed against us, we must now deal with crimes committed in our names.
These crimes are not simply committed in our names, the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide, but in the name of the entire global community that stands still, providing tacit approval.
They are also committed for the same international community that justifies, excuses, and protects the Rwandan government, as it continues to wreak havoc in the Congo. Though we could not stop or stand up against the violent acts that were committed against us during the Rwandan genocide, we can and we must stop and stand up against crimes committed against others, crimes committed in our name in Congo.
After sixteen years of invasion and intervention through proxy groups, it is still difficult for people in the international community to accept that the Rwandan government is guilty of anything but justified intervention in Congo.
But members of the international community must look past the glowing economic reviews, look past the constant denials and well-oiled public relations machine, and deal with the hard truths.
The Rwandan government is committing unspeakable crimes against humanity in the Congo under false pretenses, and we must stop it. U.S. President Barack Obama understood this when as senator, he authored and passed into law the Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act, PL 109-456 in 2006 that called for accountability for those of Congo's neighbors that destabilize the country.
And he understood it last summer when he cut $200,000 in military aid to Rwanda. And he understood it last December when he personally made a call to Rwandan President Paul Kagame and asked him to cease support of the M23 rebel group, currently wreaking havoc in Congo.
Despite all these steps from the Obama administration to address the conflict, the Rwandan government continues to relentlessly support, arm, and command rebel groups such as the M23, while these groups continue to commit war crimes and human rights violations in Congo.
It is precisely because we refuse to swallow these hard truths that the Rwandan government continues to commit such atrocities unchallenged and with impunity. If we can muster the courage to face these truths, we can impose accountability measures consistent with the degree of suffering and instability wrought by the Rwandan government against the Congolese people.
We can and we should sanction and impose travel bans on and freeze the assets of identified Rwandan military personnel responsible for committing atrocities in Congo. And we should cut or withhold military aid to a dangerous regime that wages and sponsors war and conflict in the territory of another nation.
Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide mourned and commemorate the 19th anniversary of the genocide this past spring. As we commemorate our loved ones, we continue to grapple with traumas of our past, and issues of our present.
Our responsibility lies in what we do with our future, and how we stand up to evil perpetrated against our neighbors. We, along with the rest of the world, must no longer refuse to swallow difficult and painful truths, and dedicate consistent focus and action towards resolving the deadliest conflict since the Second World War in Congo.
- Alice Gatebuke is a Rwandan genocide and war survivor, Cornell University graduate, and a human rights activist. She is a co-founder of African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN).
Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
Tanzania: Storm in a Tea Cup!22 August 2013
THE recent controversy, which has all the ingredients of a soap opera or a third class comedy and which in latest scene has unfairly put the First Lady Salma Kikwete at the 'thick of things' in the series of acts of provocation by the powers-that-be in Rwanda cannot pass without comment.
It would seem that the authorities in Kigali are afraid of their own shadow and that all these statements or false allegations against Tanzania, totally misplaced, out of tune and unfortunate as they are, aim at lending credence to utopia.
We wouldn't like to be deeply drawn into such an abstract matter that is of no political value to us much as our north-western neighbours, fellow East African Community (EAC) partner and fellow signatory to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Rwanda, have chosen to make it an issue.
The statement posted in the social media, which by implication means that President Jakaya Kikwete is a brother-in-law to the former Rwandan Head of State, the late Juvenal Habyarimana, as Mama Salma is a cousin of Mama Salma, does not make good sense and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.
True records show that the First Lady hails from Lindi Region. That is the truth and the only truth as Tanzanians know it. There are no clues, whatsoever, that link Mama Salma with the Hutu, which is the majority tribe in Rwanda and Burundi. President Habyarimana, who was killed when his official plane was shot at near Kigali as he was returning from a reconciliatory meeting in Dar es Salaam in 1993, was a Hutu.
The government, through the Tanzania Information Services, has responded quite well and wisely to the unfounded claims, trashing them as a total lie aimed at tarnishing the image of President Jakaya Kikwete.
It is very unfortunate that the administration in Kigali has decided to misinterpret and blow out of proportion the plea given in very good faith by President Kikwete to Rwanda and the FLDR rebels in hiding in the DRC to sit together and amicably settle their conflict.
What is wrong with that for asking out loud? Tanzania has always been a firm believer in good neighbourliness, regional cooperation, positive and constructive dialogue and non-alignment as tools to maintain peace among nations. We are resolute in such belief to this day.
Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
Tanzania: Rwanda Press Views TrashedBy Abdulwakil Saiboko, 22 August 2013
A CROSS-SECTION of Dar es Salaam residents has condemned the ongoing mudslinging of Tanzania by the press in Rwanda that has now started attacking the family of President Jakaya Kikwete.
Interviewees commenting on the latest news published by 'News of Rwanda' suggesting that Mama Salma Kikwete is the cousin of the former leader of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, was simply irrational. "The Rwandan press has demonstrated a high level of recklessness by attacking the family of President Kikwete and his private life.
This is another sign that there is a hidden agenda in these unfolding events," said a businessman, Mr Erasto Kanyika. Kanyika wondered as to why the Rwandan press has focused on mudslinging Tanzania and moreover on 'trivial and silly' things which are baseless.
"Rwandans want to tell us that Southern Tanzania where Mama Salma comes from is bordering Rwanda? Does the First Lady look like a Rwandan? This is outrageous," he said. Another city resident, Mr Juma Mwasha, said Rwandans should respect the government of Tanzania when it exercises its powers as an independent state.
"The fact that President Kikwete in his recent tour of Kagera Region ordered all illegal immigrants to return to their countries seems to have annoyed Rwandans, but the truth must be spoken out no matter how bitter it maybe," he said. Mr Mwasha, who is a public servant, noted that no country in the world can entertain illegal immigrants who do not want to follow legal procedures.
"If the Rwandan press thinks that such ill comments will soften our leaders including the president himself, they are wrong because our government will stand by its words and we the people of this country will also be there to support our leaders," he said. Ms Leyla Kassim, who is a retired nurse hailed the government for remaining composed despite all the provocation from the Rwandan side.
However, she said that 'unreasonable and provocative' comments should be downplayed. "There is a famous Kiswahili saying which suggests that if you urgue with a fool you will also be regarded as a fool. President Kikwete has received many commendations for his recent statements on Rwanda and this shows that our president has done a wonderful job," she said.
Adding a voice on the matter, the University of Dar es Salaam Political Scientist, Dr Benson Bana said the ongoing attacks by the Rwandan press seems to be a deliberate move by various groups to mudsling Tanzania by any means possible.
"It seems various groups and networks in Rwanda have their interests in the recent developments, including President Kikwete's order on illegal immigrants and therefore we should not be bothered by whatever appears in such media," he said.
Dr Bana refused to agree that what appears in the Rwandan press reflects the country's stand, but he rather looks at it as efforts by individuals or groups which want their interests to prevail. "In the recent past Kagera and other regions along the border have been in a crisis with so many bandits entering from abroad turning our citizens into slaves, so what does one expect President Kikwete to do in such a situation?
"I believe the president was very right when he ordered the illegal immigrants to leave immediately," he said. Dr Bana urged the Rwandan press to focus on giving civic education to their people and tell them on the importance of following rules and regulations, so they can be legally recognised in Tanzania instead of defending criminality.
Former U.S. President Clinton Visits RwandaFormer U.S. president Bill Clinton is in Rwanda for a two-day visit during which he will tour several projects under the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Rwanda: Clinton Visits Rwanda
The New Times, 5 August 2013
Former US President Bill Clinton arrived in Rwanda last evening for a two-day visit during which he will tour several projects under the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and ... read more »
- Rwanda: Clintons Tours Foundation Projects
Rwanda Focus, 5 August 2013
The former American President Bill Clinton together with his daughter Chelsea are on a two-day visit to Rwanda visiting projects supported by the Clinton Foundation. The trip aims ... read more »
- Rwanda: The Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Government of Rwanda Announce Nutrition Program (press release)
Clinton Health Access Initiative, 5 August 2013
The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) announces a program with the Government of Rwanda to work with food producers to combat malnutrition. read more »
- Rwanda: Clinton Unveils New Anti-Malnutrition Drive
The New Times, 6 August 2013
The new drive, backed by the former US leader whose two-day visit to Rwanda is part of his ongoing tour of his foundation's projects on the African continent, will see local ... read more »
- Rwanda: Clintons See How Clean Water Saves Lives
AlertNet, 5 August 2013
Through the eyes of children, parents and teachers, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton got a personal look at the toll of unsafe water, as part of his visit to ... read more »
- Rwanda: Kagame, Clinton Launch Nutrition Initiative
News of Rwanda, 6 August 2013
Presidents Paul Kagame and former US president, Bill Clinton on Monday announced a nutrition initiative that will result in the establishment of the first factory for fortified ... read more »
Africa: Should the UN Be Doing More to Fight Organized Crime?12 August 2013
A recently-released report entitled The Elephant in the Room, part of the New York-based International Peace Institute's Peace Without Crime series, argues that "crime has become a serious threat in almost every theater where the UN has peace operations."
The authors of the report (Walter Kemp, Mark Shaw and Arthur Boutellis) argue that organized crime is eroding the UN's attempts to bring about peace and stability in the many countries in which it has missions and yet these missions contain very few references to crime.
Criminal groups are one of the biggest beneficiaries of globalization, says Kemp, director for Europe and Central Asia at the IPI. "Over the last 20 years organized crime has gone global. It has reached macro-economic proportions." Globalization has seen the growth in traffic around the world of just about everything - including contraband, says Kemp.
Whereas organized crime was once regarded as a problem pertaining to the developed world, and confined mostly to cities, it has in the last few years rapidly spread its tentacles across the globe, finding new routes and penetrating vulnerable West African states like Guinea Bissau and Mali. "Much of the instability in West Africa is due to the impact of drug-trafficking from Latin America to Europe," argue the authors.
As contraband is trafficked from one corner of the globe to the other, often moving through several transit countries, national - and even regional - crackdowns may simply shift the problem onto adjacent, potentially more vulnerable countries. Yet should the UN's peacekeeping forces be tasked with fighting organized crime?
The authors concede that other parts of the UN may be better suited to dealing with the challenge but argue that given that "organized crime is threatening the stability, development and justice that peacekeepers are trying to establish," peacekeeping forces cannot turn a blind eye.
While organized crime and peace operations "had almost nothing to do with each other" 50 years ago, "at the beginning of the 21st century the trajectories have converged," they say.
As peacekeeping has seen a greater integration between civilian and military aspects, and is as much about building up institutions and states as restoring the rule of law, organized crime has evolved too, "from a localized problem into a pervasive, strategic threat to governments, societies and economies".
The authors show an overlap of UN peace operations and major crime-affected regions - Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Iraq, Kosovo and Timor-Leste to name a few - and conclude this is because "conflict affected and fragile regions - precisely the places where the UN is most needed - are especially vulnerable to transnational organized crime and provide favorable conditions for its development."
In the first report in the series, Identifying the Spoilers, they spell out how peacekeepers and other players can identify signs of organized crime in the countries in which they operate.
Elephant in the Room, the second report, shows how organized crime has had a destabilizing impact on the political economy of three nations - Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and Kosovo - and finds a "mismatch between the seriousness of the threat posed by organized crime and the UN's ability to tackle it".
They argue the limitations of a purely militarist approach - as when the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) countered the gang violence in Haiti.
Despite their successes, they have not been able to halt the organized crime networks that still operate in and beyond Haiti's borders. The third report, due out soon, looks at what the UN and international players can do at a systemic level to address the problem. Up to now, say the authors, "there is not much enthusiasm for the UN to tackle organized crime."
Crucial to their argument is the notion that there is a "nexus between crime and instability" and that when transnational organized crime funds the activities and thus furthers the political aims of insurgents or rebels or corrupts governments at the highest level, the fall-out can be huge.
This occurred in Guinea Bissau, for example, when the president, João Bernardo Vieira, was assassinated in 2009 in alleged drug-related rivalry between political and military officials.
While the quantities of cocaine being trafficked through Guinea-Bissau are relatively small (an estimated 25 tons per year), at around 25 percent of the country's GNP this is still high enough to corrupt high-level officials and undermine the tiny economy.
Other contraband passing through other West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, DRC, and Cote d'Ivoire - and possibility posing a bigger problem in future - include fuel, timber, people, minerals, diamonds and ivory.
Terrorism versus crime
Shaw, director of Communities, Crime and Conflicts at STATT Consulting, says the focus on the threat posed by terrorism over the past decade has overshadowed the growth of crime networks.
"The attention has been on the war in Iran and Afghanistan," he says. Even the problem of opium-trafficking in the latter country has been viewed through the prism of the war. But the alarming nexus of organized crime, insurgency and terrorism in Mali has alerted the world to the fact that organized crime can step into the political vacuum in societies in upheaval.
Libya, warns Shaw, may become a haven for organized crime. "There are lots of unemployed young men, established militia and weapons, and the country is at the crossroads of a number of trafficking routes," he says.
Crime-instability link overstated?
Ted Leggett, a research officer with the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, acknowledges a frequent overlap between organized crime and political instability but believes the connection can be overstated at times. It is important, he says, to make the distinction between the problem of local strongmen and the problem of transnational trafficking.
Insurgents or rebels may profit from transnational trafficking - for example the Taliban's taxing of opium production and trafficking in Afghanistan (earning them US$125 million annually), or militias' involvement in trafficking minerals in DRC, to advance their wars - but they rarely take charge of the trafficking themselves.
"Rather, they provide protection to transnational traffickers, specialists who pay them to operate in the areas that they control. It's like the relationship between a state and the corporations headquartered within it. The US government does not export Ford autos, but it does tax Ford," he says.
On the Elephant in the Room's broader argument, Leggett says: "The idea that peacekeeping missions should help the host states build their capacity to deal with transnational organized crime is a good one but any such intervention would face serious challenges." It is difficult, he says, for UN Police to recruit the kind of specialized staff required.
"Most police peacekeepers are patrol officers from other developing countries" with limited skills and resources. Often, they can't speak the local language. Given that "dealing with transnational organized crime requires a sophisticated understanding of the local context", this is highly problematic. Another problem, says Leggett, and as the authors of the report note, is that the security forces are themselves often implicated in trafficking.
He adds: "Good police work is of little use when the courts do not convict or where prisoners are released, and building capacity among corrupt officials can have unintended consequences."
Embedding crime experts into UN field operations?
The IPI report authors conclude with recommendations on how peace operations can tackle organized crime more effectively. As Shaw notes, "the complexities of illicit trafficking require much more than a law enforcement response."
Pooling information and utilizing regional offices, for example the UN Office for West Africa in Dakar, is key, as is embedding crime experts into UN field operations.
Peacekeepers are well-placed to collect information, which must be managed and analysed at a higher level. They may baulk at the notion of intelligence gathering, "(but) as the UN increasingly becomes a target for terrorist attacks, and as UN operations become more exposed to complex situations involving armed groups and criminal networks, there is a growing realization and acceptance that peace operations need to have access to intelligence," they say.
The development approach
Meanwhile, some argue that the best way vulnerable states - particularly those in conflict and post-conflict situations - can be protected from transnational organized crime is by taking a development approach: in other words, strengthening their economic, civic and government structures.
Graeme Simpson, director of Interpeace USA, which seeks to build social and political cohesion in post-conflict societies, argues that neither law enforcement approaches, nor the peacekeepers, can effectively combat transnational organized crime.
"These approaches are addressing the symptoms but not the underlying deficiencies that make countries vulnerable to organized crime," he says. "Drug cartels and drug-based economies are vibrant and they hold and employ huge numbers of people. Unless we create alternative sustainable economies and legitimate polities in these communities we won't be able to offer alternative and viable ways for people to survive," he adds.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]
Central Africa: Urging 'Full and Prompt' Implementation of Blueprint for Peace in Great Lakes Region, Security Council Insists No Aid, No Tolerance for Armed Groups25 July 2013
In a statement presented by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, whose delegation holds the Council's presidency for July, the 15-member body welcomed action taken thus far by the signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. It called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to consolidate State authority and on all countries in the Great Lakes region to respect the territorial integrity of their neighbours and neither tolerate nor give aid to armed groups.
The presidential statement, issued ahead of a debate in which some 30 speakers assessed progress in implementation of the 24 February peace accord, demanded that the 23 March Movement, known as the M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Allied Democratic Forces, the Mayi Mayi Kata-Katanga and all other armed groups immediately cease all forms of violence, stressing that the perpetrators should be held to account.
It condemned the attacks by the M23 from 20 to 22 May and on 14 July in the Mutaho area, near Goma, and renewed its strong condemnation for the Movement's continued presence in the area. The Council also condemned the Allied Democratic Forces's 11 July attacks on the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and its 14 July attacks on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which turned 66,000 Congolese into refugees and caused casualties among the FARDC and MONUSCO.
The wide-ranging statement expressed grave concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million people in need of emergency food aid, and condemned the mass rapes and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by the FARDC.
Further to the text, the Council welcomed the World Bank's plan to fund $1 billion in development projects in the region, intended to reduce people's vulnerability and expand cross-border economic activity.
Mr. Kerry said the crisis was a stark reminder of what filled the vacuum in the absence of good governance, basic dignity and firm leadership that held perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses to account. Ending the suffering was a high priority for the United States and it was doable in the current climate. He pledged his Government's firm backing of the Framework accord and called on all parties to do the same, as well as to end support for rebel groups.
Similarly, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the prospects for durable peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were better than they had been in years. "Peace would mean a new chance for development and lasting security for some of the world's most sorely tested people," he said.
Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, said she was struck by the "lack of outrage and horror" at the daily reports of killings, rapes and displacement, many of which still went unreported. But, she was encouraged by the strong will of signatory countries to implement the Framework, as evidenced by the Democratic Republic of the Congo's establishment of a national oversight mechanism for that purpose.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warned that the continuing conflict risked reversing several years of development gains. The Framework accord created a chance to end the violence and entrenched poverty. To spur socioeconomic development, the Bank planned to spend $1 billion in the next two years on hydropower projects to increase energy access in several Great Lake countries, transport links and border management, and agriculture and rural livelihoods targeted at refugees and internally displaced persons.
Weighing in on the subject, some of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's neighbours expressed concern over the renewed fighting and its repercussions. Sam Kutesa, Uganda's Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed concern over the threat of an imminent attack on his country by the Allied Democratic Forces, but said he was confident that the new regional oversight mechanism, together with security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would deter armed groups from using Congolese territory to destabilize neighbours.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said her country was sheltering 70,000 Congolese refugees. "In order to secure long-term peace and prosperity for Rwanda into the future, we need a peaceful and prosperous [ Democratic Republic of the Congo]," she said, pointing to her country's efforts to boost economic cooperation with its neighbour.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo's commitment to defeat armed groups in its territory was unwavering, said its Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophonie, Raymond Tshibanda N'Tungamulongo. Reconciliation and national cohesion were top priorities, he said, noting that national consultations towards that end would begin in August.
Other speakers expressed support for the Framework agreement's rapid implementation and for the World Bank's planned funding of development projects. While most hailed the creation of a Force Intervention Brigade to bolster MONUSCO's ability to protect civilians from attacks by the M23 and other armed groups, some said it violated the principle of impartiality governing United Nations peacekeeping, and thus, was only acceptable as a stop-gap measure.
Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union's Commissioner for Peace and Security, also spoke today.
In addition, the Council heard from ministers and senior Government officials from Luxembourg, Guatemala, France, Togo, Mozambique, Burundi, South Africa and Belgium.
The Executive Secretary-General of the European External Action Service spoke for the European Union.
Also making statements were representatives of Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Morocco, Argentina, Australia, United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Congo.
The meeting began at 10:33 a.m. and suspended at 1:30 p.m. It resumed at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:55 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2013/11 reads as follows:
"The Security Council reiterates its support for the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region (PSC Framework), which is essential to achieving lasting peace and security in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region.
"The Security Council welcomes in this regard the actions taken thus far by the signatories and guarantors of the PSC Framework, including the convening of the first '11+4' meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the PSC Framework in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2013 and the two first meetings of the Technical Support Committee in Nairobi on 24 June and 22 July 2013, which aimed to make progress on the establishment of benchmarks to assess the implementation of the PSC Framework by all signatories. In this context, the Security Council looks forward to the ICGLR summit, scheduled to take place on 31 July in Nairobi, to further review developments in the region, including progress on the implementation of the PSC Framework. The Security Council encourages the UN, AU, ICGLR and SADC and other relevant international and regional organizations to continue to work together, with the sustained engagement and support of the international community, towards the implementation of the PSC Framework.
"The Security Council calls on the DRC and the countries of the region to implement promptly, fully and in good faith, their respective commitments under the PSC Framework. The Security Council calls on the DRC to continue and expand security sector reform, consolidate State authority, make progress on decentralization and further the agenda of reconciliation, tolerance and democratization. The Security Council calls on all countries of the region to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring countries, not to interfere in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, not toharbour persons accused of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law or persons listed by UN sanctions regimes, and promote accountability. The Security Council calls on all countries of the region neither to tolerate nor provide assistance or support of any kind to armed groups.
"The Security Council welcomes the establishment of a national oversight mechanism by President Joseph Kabila of the DRC, as requested by the PSC Framework and resolution 2098 (2013), and calls on the President of the DRC to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in this mechanism. The Security Council calls on the Government of the DRC to implement promptly its commitment on security sector reform, including through the further development and implementation of a comprehensive military and police reform plan and the formation of a well-trained, adequately equipped and accountable "Rapid Reaction Force" able to take over the responsibilities of the Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo). The Security Council reaffirms in this context the leading role of the Special Representative of the Secretary General in coordinating support for security sector reform provided by international and bilateral partners and the UN system, and his role in assisting the Government of the DRC to implement its commitments under the PSC Framework. The Security Council also reiterates that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility for security, protection of civilians, promotion and protection of human rights, national reconciliation, peacebuilding and development in the country.
"The Security Council reiterates its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC, as well as of all countries of the region and emphasizes the need to respect fully the principles of non-interference, good-neighbourliness and regional cooperation.
"The Security Council commends the joint visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, accompanied by Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson, to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda from 22 to 24 May 2013 in support of the PSC Framework, and welcomes the announcement made by the World Bank of $1 billion in planned funding for development projects in the Great Lakes region aiming at the recovery of livelihoods to reduce the vulnerability of the people of the region and the revitalization and expansion of cross-border economic activity. In this regard, the Security Council encourages multilateral institutions and bilateral partners to support the objectives of the PSC Framework and stresses the importance of swiftly delivering concrete peace dividends.
"The Security Council commends the personal diplomatic engagement of the Secretary-General and reaffirms its strong support to his Special Envoy, Mary Robinson. The Security Council encourages Special Envoy Mary Robinson, in coordination with and with appropriate support from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, to continue to lead, coordinate and assess the implementation of national and regional commitments under the PSC Framework, including through the development of benchmarks and appropriate follow-up measures to be presented for adoption at the next meeting of the '11+4' Regional Oversight Mechanism in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013. The Council further commends her efforts to include women and civil society in the implementation of the PSC Framework and to promote the full and effective participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, including through the implementation of a Sub-regional Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). It welcomes in this regard the Regional Conference on Women, Peace, Security and Development, held in Bujumbura on 9-11 July 2013.
"The Security Council condemns the renewed attacks launched from 20 to 22 May 2013 and again on 14 July 2013 by the "23 March Movement" (M23) rebel group in the Mutaho area, in the vicinity of Goma in violation of resolutions 2076 (2012) and 2098 (2013), which caused civilian casualties and displacements, and undermined regional and international efforts to peacefully and permanently resolve the crisis in eastern DRC. The Security Council renews its strong condemnation ofthe continued presence of the M23 in the immediate vicinity of Goma and its attempts to establish an illegitimate parallel administration in North Kivu and demands that the M23 fully disband and disarm.
"The Security Council takes note that hundreds of M23 combatants, including individuals listed by the UN sanctions regime concerning the DRC, fled from the DRC into Rwanda on 18 March 2013. The Security Council notes with appreciation the initial steps swiftly taken by the Government of Rwanda to handle this situation and encourages the Government of Rwanda to continue to collaborate with the United Nations and relevant international organizations to ensure that these combatants are permanently demobilized and are dealt with according to relevant international law, with special attention to children and women among them.
"The Security Council expresses concern at the increased activity of the FDLR (Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda) in eastern DRC, including reports of attacks by the FDLR on Rwandan territory, and demands that the FDLR fully disband and disarm.
"The Security Council also condemns the renewed attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF-NALU) on 11 July 2013 against the FARDC in Kamango and on 14 July 2013 against MONUSCO forces along the Muba-Kamango axis, which have resulted in 66,000 Congolese refugees and caused casualties among both the FARDC and MONUSCO.
"The Security Council demands that the M23, the FDLR, the ADF-NALU, the Mayi Mayi Kata-Katanga and all other armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, continuing recruitment and use of children, destabilizing activities, human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, and attempts to undermine or supplant the DRC Government. The Security Council stresses that all perpetrators of such abuses and violations should be held accountable. The Security Council further demands that the members of all armed groups immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms, and calls for the restoration of State authority of the Government of the DRC in eastern DRC. It strongly condemns the large-scale recruitment and use of children by armed groups. The Council emphasizes the renewed commitment of all countries of the region to neither tolerate nor provide assistance or support of any kind to armed groups.
"The Security Council condemns the wide-spread incidents of sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC and emphasizes the importance of effective steps to prevent and respond to such acts. It further recalls that rape and other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict are war crimes, and calls for the investigation and prosecution of those responsible, in order to end impunity for such crimes.
"The Security Council expresses grave concern about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the 2.6 million internally displaced people and the 6.4 million people in need of food assistance and emergency agricultural aid, and calls upon all parties to allow safe and unhindered access for the timely and full delivery of humanitarian aid to all civilians in urgent need of assistance, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law and the UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance. The Security Council further expresses concern with the over 500,000 refugees from the DRC in neighboring countries and calls upon the DRC and all States in the region to work towards the peaceful environment that will allow for the eventual and voluntary return of refugees to the DRC, with the support, as appropriate, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Security Council commends in this regard the support provided by neighboring countries to refugees from the DRC.
"The Security Council condemns the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by members of the FARDC, including the mass rapes committed in Minova on 24 November 2012, and calls upon the Government of the DRC to swiftly apprehend, bring to justice, and hold accountable those responsible for such violations, regardless of military rank. The Security Council further calls on the Government of the DRC to implement improved vetting mechanisms and establish more effective judicial mechanisms within its security forces.
"The Security Council expresses grave concern about reports of alleged mistreatment of M23 detainees and the desecration of corpses of M23 combatants by members of the FARDC. The Security Council welcomes steps taken by the Congolese armed forces and MONUSCO to investigate these claims and to hold the perpetrators accountable for these acts, which constitute violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Security Council takes note of steps taken by MONUSCO to review its support to FARDC Units suspected of being involved in these incidents in line with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.
"The Security Council further calls upon the Government of the DRC to continue to implement its action plan to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children, as well as prevent and end all acts of sexual violence against children by the FARDC.
"The Security Council encourages Special Envoy Mary Robinson, building on the PSC Framework, to continue to lead a comprehensive political process that includes all relevant stakeholders to address the underlying root causes of the conflict and ensures that those responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are held accountable and are not eligible for integration into the State security forces.
"The Security Council welcomes the contribution of MONUSCO to a comprehensive approach to addressing the security situation in the DRC and encourages rapid completion of the deployment of the Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO. The Security Council acknowledges the commitment of all troop contributing countries to MONUSCO to implementing the full range of responsibilities under the Mission's civilian protection mandate, including the responsibilities assigned to the Intervention Brigade, in line with resolution 2098 (2013).
"The Security Council recognizesthe significant sacrifices made by MONUSCO and the troop-contributing countries and expressesappreciationfor their efforts to improve peace and stability in the DRC.
"The Security Council condemns all threats or attacks against peacekeepers and emphasizesthat those responsible for such threats or attacks must be held accountable. The Security Council recalls in this regard its intention to consider additional targeted sanctions, in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 2078 (2012), and its decision to extend sanctions measures to individuals and entities who plan, sponsor or participate in attacks against MONUSCO peacekeepers."
As the Security Council met today discuss the situation in the Great Lakes region, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region (S/2013/387) and a letter dated 3 July 2013 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the United States Mission to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2013/394), which contains a concept note on supporting the Great Lakes Framework.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State, United States, said that for far too long, far too many lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the broader Great Lakes region had been ravaged by targeted, grotesque violence, human rights abuses and regional instability. The crisis today was a stark reminder of what filled the vacuum in the absence of good governance, basic dignity and firm leadership that held accountable those who violated basic dignity. There was a global obligation to end the killing, raping, and forcing of children into combat, and to establish a lasting peace conducive to development. That would create a space for partnership and a new generation of stability and hope. "We can actually prove to the world that, with all of us working together [... ] we actually can make a difference," he said, noting that "the seeds of this promise have already been planted; now they must be cultivated".
Mr. Kerry hailed the United Nations-World Bank partnership, which created projects for stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Boosting regional promise in the short-term would lead to stability in the long-term. He hoped that partnership could serve as a model for the Magreb and beyond. In the West Bank and other parts of the Middle East, a similar model was being considered to build sustainable peace. He reiterated support for the work of Mary Robinson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, and the priority she placed on involving women's groups and civil society in efforts to break down barriers to access to humanitarian aid. The people in the region desperately needed a voice. Ms. Robinson was committed to being that voice to translate the Framework's broad principles into benchmarks for implementation.
"The suffering in the Great Lakes is a high-level priority for President [Barack] Obama and is one that must be met by high-level leadership," he said, adding that United States Senator Russ Feingold had agreed to be the United States Special Envoy on the matter. The Framework was an important first step, but progress made since February was extremely fragile. The United States stood ready to support the Secretary-General and the United Nations. "We will work with you with focus, energy and persistence in order to implement the Framework," he said. He expressed deep concern over the recent reports of resumed external support to the 23 March Movement (M23) and of collaboration with the [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. "All parties must immediately end their support for rebel groups. All Governments must hold violators and abuses accountable. We must end the era of impunity," he said.
To that end, the United States welcomed the United Nations Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. It was now time for everyone in the region to exercise restraint and to return to a constructive path, and end the root causes of conflict. "I believe this is doable," he said, stressing that the absence of good governance had fuelled impunity. "I want to urge all of us around this table to take advantage of the unique opportunity that the Framework provides. "We can't emphasize enough how critical it is that everyone fosters cooperation across borders," he said, challenging everyone to adopt its benchmarks. He urged all parties to include women's voices, and he challenged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to continue to implement security sector reform.
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that it had been five months since the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, and four since the Security Council had adopted resolution 2098 (2013). Hopes had been high that there would be an end to the large-scale cyclical violence, which had ravaged the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past two decades and derailed previous peace initiatives.
"Peace would mean a new chance for development and lasting security for some of the world's most sorely tested people," he said, adding that he was, therefore, deeply concerned about the current hostilities between the M23 and the Congolese armed forces. All parties to the conflict should return as soon as possible to the Kampala talks. In the meantime, he had called for maximum restraint and urged all Framework signatories to jointly and individually respect their commitments, he said.
The lack of mutual trust in the region had thwarted past attempts to find political solutions to the entrenched problems that continued to drive the conflict, he went on, adding that it was vital, therefore, for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its eastern neighbours to pursue constructive dialogue.
At the national level, he said, structural reforms within the Democratic Republic of the Congo would help address the root causes of the violence. The Government had taken initial steps towards army reform, decentralization and national dialogue. Those commitments must be translated into tangible results.
At the regional level, he called for leaders to look beyond the issues that divided them and work together to define a common agenda for lasting peace and prosperity, based on trade, economic cooperation and mutual respect for each others' sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Framework was a "clear road map", he said, adding that "the prospects for durable peace in eastern [ Democratic Republic of the Congo] remain better than they have for many years". However, spoilers remained active, including armed groups and militias, which had shown little inclination to engage in a genuine peace process.
To address that challenge, the United Nations was reinforcing the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), he said. The Mission's new Force Intervention Brigade was an important tool in that regard, but it was only one part of a comprehensive approach that embraced security and development, he said.
While the United Nations and the international community could do much, he continued, they depended on the Framework signatories to provide the essential foundation. All parties must avoid renewed hostilities and achieve progress on the political track. The United Nations system was committed to promoting economic development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region, as demonstrated by the World Bank's commitment of an additional $1 billion.
"The current fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo casts a grave shadow," he said. However, "we should not allow it to deter us from our objective". Those challenges should make the international community even more determined to lift people from the oppression of insecurity, human rights abuses and poverty, he said.
JIM YONG KIM, World Bank President, said he and the Secretary-General had travelled to the Great Lakes earlier this year, marking the first time the heads of both organizations had partnered on a mission. The Secretary-General's groundbreaking work and the commitment of all countries in the region to the Framework agreement provided an opening to end the violence, secure peace and lay the foundation for development, lifting people out of poverty, job creation and access to health and education. "We cannot have development without peace, and we cannot have peace without development," he said, adding that conflict not only stopped development; it could reverse years of gains.
"The eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are a good example of a tragedy with an immense human cost that has gone on for far, far too long," he said. More than 3.5 million people were estimated to have died since 1988; 4.7 million had lost homes and more than 2 million children had no access to education, owing to the destruction of schools. The poverty rate was at 70 per cent and overall access to economic services, including energy, was very limited. The underlying key economic drivers of conflict and instability -- such as insecure, insufficient access to land; population displacement; and the illicit exploitation and mining of high-value minerals and timber -- must be addressed through regional approaches. Rapid population growth and a lack of economic opportunity only compounded those problems.
MARY ROBINSON, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, said that the latest round of fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had devastating consequences on the civilian population. Many cases of death, injuries, sexual violence against women and massive displacement of the population were still being reported. "These cannot be allowed to go on," she stressed, adding that all parties should exert maximum restraint to avoid further escalation.
Having served as Special Envoy for four months, she said, what struck her was the "lack of outrage and horror" at the daily reports of killings, rape and displacement. Those occurrences had become the accepted normal; however, "it is not normal and not acceptable". Zero tolerance must be implemented as a fundamental value of the Framework. Yet, sadly, there were credible reports of support of armed groups by signatory parties to the Framework. MONUSCO's Force Intervention Brigade, once operational, would be a robust tool within a comprehensive approach, which embraced security and development.
As noted by the Secretary-General, hopes had been high when the 11 countries and four important regional and international institutions had signed the Framework in February, said Ms. Robinson. That mechanism clearly gave the ownership and responsibility to the signatories, and, if fully implemented, it, along with resolution 2098 (2013), would help to stabilize the situation and pave the way to address the fundamental causes of the cycle of conflicts.
Encouraged by initial progress in several areas and by the strong will demonstrated by signatory countries to contribute to the implementation of the Framework, she shared some of the positive political steps undertaken, including the establishment of a national oversight mechanism to oversee implementation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's commitments.
In addition, the first meeting of the 11+4 Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region had established a technical support committee, mandated to develop the benchmarks and indicators of progress for the Framework's implementation, she reported, adding that those benchmarks could be improved, but they were specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, and set clear responsibilities. She would present them to the region's leaders at the next Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on 31 July.
She described those and other significant meetings as concrete affirmation of the international community's determination to try new avenues for sustainable peace and stability and development in the region, she said, promising to return to the Council soon with a further report on the Framework's implementation. That, she said, would be built on three critical pillars: political and security, humanitarian and development.
However, she warned, such a strategy and the Council's engagement with the Great Lakes region would bear fruit only if all actors involved, at the local, national, regional and international levels, "push in the same direction" and if there was an immediate cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. "I believe that there is some political momentum at the moment," she said. However, "we need to create and encourage space for dialogue and support for tough decisions", she concluded.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, expressed support for the Framework agreement and its follow-up mechanism, which instructed countries to work in tandem. Today's high-level meeting was a strong demonstration of commitment of the United States and other Security Council members to peace in the region and of their confidence in the ability to achieve a lasting settlement to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He expressed support for Council resolution 2098 (2013), which authorized use of the Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he thanked the Governments of South Africa, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania for their contribution to setting it up.
However, instead of implementation of the agreement, full-scale military clashes had erupted between the Democratic Republic of the Congo armed forces and the M23, dimming prospects for security and the dawning of a new era of prosperity and stability. The dynamism stemming from the Framework Agreement and resolution 2098 (2013) could pave the way for much-needed peace, security and development. The care with which the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Government had implemented a national follow-up mechanism and follow-up meetings boded well. Mobilization continued with the authorities of the Great Lakes countries, as well as with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Those efforts bore witness to the shared desire to halt instability and to promote sustainable development.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes, scheduled for 31 July in Nairobi, would be an opportunity to address expectations and undertake steps to fully draw on the region's potential, he said. The 26 May meeting in Addis Ababa to inaugurate the "11+4" mechanism, co-hosted by the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the African Union Commission, symbolized a new international platform for countries of the region. The African Union would take full part in such welcome efforts for peace, security, democracy and development.
SAM KUTESA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, said that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region provided a framework for resolving instability in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Political processes should be at the forefront, with peace enforcement measures, such as the Intervention Brigade, complementing those efforts. He welcomed the Secretary-General's focus on finding a political solution and hoped that Special Envoy Robinson would become involved in the Kampala talks, which had been vital to calming the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and were the best route to resolving the differences between the Government and the M23. Talks had led to a review of the 2009 peace agreement between the Government and the National Congress for the Defence of the People, and a new draft peace agreement was currently being negotiated.
However, he said, the renewed fighting raised serious concerns over the parties' commitment. Attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces had caused 66,000 refugees to flee to Uganda and were "a grim reminder of the real challenges faced by the [ Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the region". Deploring those crimes, he raised concerns about the threat of an imminent attack on Uganda by the Allied Democratic Forces. He was confident that the new oversight mechanism, together with security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would deter armed groups from using Congolese territory to destabilize neighbours. He supported the Framework, which provided a blueprint to address the challenges, as it recognized the need for a holistic approach, outlined national, regional and international commitments and actions, and emphasized partnership. Development initiatives in infrastructure, energy, trade and agriculture also could contribute to peace.
RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N'TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophonie, Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country had long been plagued by a conflict that had, at its roots, the same actors and the same causes. The Framework agreement and resolution 2098 (2013) were major innovations, but it was a sad reality -- and too often unknown -- that more than 6 million people had died in the long-standing conflict.
"We see a tragedy which is unequalled in the history of mankind, and which can leave no one indifferent, unless mankind loses its soul," he said. His country was ready to assume its responsibility, for which many activities had been undertaken for the last 11 years. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had not only accelerated, but systematized security sector reform, many capacity-building projects were also under way, and decentralization was closer to becoming a reality with the adoption recent legislation.
Turning to the political arena, he said that reconciliation and strengthening national cohesion were national priorities. The Independent National Electoral Commission had been completely overhauled, and a new, tougher, and more inclusive team had taken its place. The new Commission was working hard to prepare for upcoming elections. Moreover, at the initiative of the President, national consultations would begin in August, aimed at strengthening national cohesion to better address the challenges facing the country in a participatory manner.
He said the people of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo lived in fear of death and destruction. The M23 militia had launched attacks against the defensive positions of the FARDC. To justify its crimes, it attempted to discredit the FARDC and the Intervention Brigade. Careful examination of the documentation provided by the Democratic Republic of the Congo would show the magnitude and efficiency of measures taken by the country to combat the FDLR, which would have been neutralized had it not been for the activities of the M23.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than any other country, had suffered from violence wrought by armed groups on its territory, he went on. It could, therefore, never entertain any cooperation with those armed militias, nor had it wavered in its commitment to defeat them, as well as to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries in the region. He hoped to see MONUSCO's new Intervention Brigade swiftly and efficiently begin its mission to secure his country's borders and to neutralize all armed militia groups. Given the groups' extremism, force was necessary, but it was not sufficient.
While the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained involved in the Kampala talks, he stressed that "we could not sign an agreement which would enshrine impunity" by reintegrating into an accord the parties responsible for war crimes, grave human rights abuses and other violations.
"Without forgetting the past, we must emphasize reconciliation and cohesion in our State," he said, noting that his country would never abandon even one square inch of its territory or any of its wealth. Nevertheless, it hoped to conclude a covenant for peace and cooperation in the region as soon as possible.
LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Rwanda, said that having endured devastating conflict, the Rwandan people understood that their destiny was inextricably tied to that of its neighbours. She supported the presidential statement, but felt it could have been strengthened by including ongoing regional efforts, particularly in support of the Kampala peace talks. Exclusion of any such reference was particularly regrettable in light of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. She urged the Special Envoy to play an active role in the Kampala talks. "In order to secure long-term peace and prosperity for Rwanda into the future, we need a peaceful and prosperous [ Democratic Republic of the Congo]," she said. The "Framework of hope", along with regional peace efforts, opened the door to that kind of profound, vital change, and Rwanda was eager to do its part.
She said her country had disarmed, interned and relocated away from the Democratic Republic of the Congo border more than 600 M23 combatants, who had crossed into Rwanda during the in-fighting in March. Her country had asked the United Nations to take responsibility for those combatants, as it could not bear the burden alone. Rwanda also had worked with the United Nations to accommodate some 70,000 Congolese nationals seeking refuge. When M23 leader General Bosco Ntaganda had surrendered to the United States Embassy in Kigali on 18 March, Rwandan authorities had facilitated his transfer between the United States and Dutch Embassies following the decision to transfer him to the International Criminal Court.
To implement the Framework's economic components, Rwanda was working to boost regional cooperation through enhanced economic integration, she said. It was also tackling the exploitation of natural resources; last month, mining authorities had seized 8.4 metric tons of smuggled minerals and were in the process of returning them to Congolese authorities. President Paul Kagame discussed several projects in energy, agriculture and other areas with the heads of the United Nations and the World Bank, and the country was exploring other opportunities for economic cooperation, including a strategic bilateral project with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Lake Kivu.
Rwanda supported the deployment of the Intervention Brigade with the hope that it would pacify the region and create the space needed to implement the Peace and Security Framework, she said. She urged the Council to respect the work of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism, to which Rwanda was a member. Her country would not tolerate any further threats to its territory and population from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, such as the bombing that had occurred in the Rubavu district. Any alliance between the FDLR and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) was a threat to regional security, she said, adding that Rwanda, however, would not allow those disturbing developments to derail its commitment to peace.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg, associating with the European Union, said the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework was "a defining turning point in the consolidation of peace and stability in the region". Support from the United Nations, as well as the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the SADC was vital. The Framework took into account the conflict's root causes and emphasized regional ownership. Stressing the importance of resolute implementation, he noted initiatives by the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Government, such as plans for security sector reform and establishment of an Independent National Electoral Commission. He called for continued cooperation with the United Nations on investigations into the use of child soldiers and sexual violence against children by national forces.
He said that the addition of the Intervention Brigade to MONUSCO offered a deterrent impact on the ground. The Mission needed to remain focused on reducing the threat posed by armed groups and ensuring the safety of women and children. He supported the proactive approach of Special Envoy Robinson in designing a comprehensive strategy for implementing the Framework, and urged vigilance in maintaining the positive momentum. At the same time, he was particularly concerned about illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources, which fuelled instability. Strengthened regional cooperation could improve that situation, while development and poverty eradication would boost security. The World Bank should swiftly implement projects on the back of its pledge of $1 billion in interest-free loans and stressed the need for tangible peace dividends.
FERNANDO CARRERA CASTRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework could reinvigorate efforts to achieve stability and prosperity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He shared the cautious optimism expressed in the Secretary-General's report, encouraged that the host country was given prime responsibility for achieving the Framework's goals. The accord sought to tackle the conflict's root causes holistically, which was vital to overcoming violence and restoring stability. He praised the "11+4" mechanism for oversight, adding that partnerships also fed optimism, especially the United Nations' work with regional and subregional entities, as well as the joint initiative of the Secretary-General and the World Bank President.
There had been many encouraging signs in the Framework's implementation, he said, highlighting the establishment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of a national follow-up mechanism. The regional follow-up mechanism must guarantee that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States be upheld, including that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that their security was not threatened. Importantly, resolution 2098 (2013) did not change the heart of MONUSCO's mandate, but authorized the establishment of a new Intervention Brigade. Touching on development, he stressed that "it is time to plan for peace dividends for the entre region", and added that both France and the European Union would continue to contribute to its development.
KOFFI ESAW, Minister and Senior Adviser to the President of the Republic for Diplomatic Matters and Cooperation, Togo, said the debate was proof of the significance the Council collectively, and Member States individually, attached to resolving conflicts in the Great Lakes region. He expressed Togo's recognition of the Heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the SADC, African Union, Secretary-General and the Council for their determination to end the mass human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, notably, sexual violence. He welcomed the Framework agreement, adding that key role must be played by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to successfully build the architecture for peace. Efforts must continue in security sector reform and civilian protection by arresting and prosecuting offenders.
WANG MIN ( China) said that the Great Lakes region held unique development potential, but that it had encountered great difficulties, owing to long-standing conflict. The signing of the Framework agreement was an important step in relations between the parties, and it presented "an important opportunity". He hoped that all would proceed from the common and long-term interest of achieving peace and development, and embark on that path at an early date. It was crucial to sustain the positive momentum of fully implementing the accord. The urgent task now was the cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Expressing full support for a holistic approach to peace and development in the Great Lakes region, he said that the recent and unprecedented joint visit by the Secretary-General and World Bank President demonstrated the value of an integrated effort that addressed both security and development, and he urged a deepening of cooperation between the two bodies. His country's experience in its own development could be helpful to the countries of the Great Lakes region, as his was the only country that had transformed itself from a least developed country to a donor country within just six decades.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said despite the latest outbreak of violence, there was an opportunity to begin a new chapter, end suffering and bring peace. "We must seize this opportunity with determination and vigour," he said. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had made a positive start in implementing its Framework commitments, with the creation of a national implementation mechanism; the wider region must also deliver. All countries must show respect for their neighbours' territorial integrity and cease support for armed groups. He was concerned by the external support given to rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The "11+4" meeting in September must set clear benchmarks for the Framework agreement.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said that the peoples of the African continent attached great importance to today's debate. Behind the criminal acts committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armed groups and militias were human tragedies impacting the lives of millions. However, the signing of the innovative Framework agreement -- which was the fruit of regional concerted efforts supported by the United Nations and subregional organizations -- was an opportunity to put an end to the conflict. The accord went hand in hand with efforts by the Security Council to adapt MONUSCO's mandate to the situation on the ground. Those and other initiatives were laudable, and that positive momentum should be sustained. Yet, it was important to realize that the fruits of peace could not be reaped without confidence-building measures between the parties. "The path ahead is still very long," and all partners must support the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The countries of the region had an obligation to implement the commitments undertaken in the Framework agreement.
OLDEMIRO BALOI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique, speaking on behalf of the SADC, welcomed the World Bank's additional pledge of $1 billion for development in the Great Lakes region, saying that it was critical to rebuilding communities impoverished by protracted insecurity and instability. Commending Ms. Robinson for her creative engagement with Government, civil society and other stakeholders, he stressed the importance of embracing a holistic and all-inclusive approach in the region. He was hopeful that the Intervention Brigade would stave off the threat posed by armed groups to State authority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and ensure civilian security, thereby making space for stabilization activities.
NOSIVIWE MAPISA-NQAKULA, Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, South Africa, stressed the importance of the Framework agreement and commended the special attention that had been given to it. There had been progress in its implementation, but the prospects for peace were dependent on compliance. The visit by the World Bank President and the Secretary-General was encouraging, as were visits by Ms. Robinson, whose efforts were critical and should be accelerated. She welcomed the innovative approach of the proposed benchmarks, along with the pledge of $1 billion made by the World Bank.
She expressed hope for a quick start-up of the National Oversight Mechanism, but urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo Government to make more strides on implementation in the meantime, especially in the areas of security sector reform and establishment of a rapid reaction force to take over from the Intervention Brigade. She noted the ongoing problems caused by the armed groups, and pointed also to the plight of refugees, especially the most vulnerable groups. Deployment of South Africa's contribution to the Intervention Brigade was being finalized, but she continued to believe in a political solution for long-run stability.
Also useful, he went on, would be to clarify the role of the Intervention Brigade against armed groups and a credible disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programme for former combatants. The credibility of the actions of the Intervention Brigade depended on such articulation. Also critical was security sector reform, especially in strengthening the Congolese army, and he called for a more structured dialogue between the Congolese authorities and its partners in the field of military cooperation.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) reiterated his country's unflinching support for the Framework agreement, which, he said, "has truly offered an opportunity to break from a spiral of violence and instability that has mired our region for far too long". The solution to the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo would not be military, but political, he stressed, noting that the Framework's implementation was crucial in that regard.
He said that matters requiring urgent attention included the need to reinvigorate the political process envisaged in the Framework. It was only through an all-inclusive reconciliatory process that long-term peace would be attained. His delegation supported the full deployment of the Intervention Brigade, as mandated by Council resolution 2098 (2013). "This force deserves our full support from this Council," he said, adding that "it does not need to be maligned on baseless and unfounded claims".