Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC meeting on the “Maintenance of international peace and security: prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region”

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC meeting on the “Maintenance of international peace and security: prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region”

Statement by H. E. Mr. Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, at the UNSC Meeting on the “Maintenance of international peace and security: prevention and resolution of conflicts in the Great Lakes region”

March 21, 2016

It is a great pleasure to see you, Mr. Minister, presiding over our meeting.

From the outset I would like to state that Ukraine also aligns itself with the statement if the European Union to be delivered later.

It is very regrettable and deeply disturbing that the consideration of the security situation in the Great Lakes region is still a topical issue on the Security Council agenda after many decades of looking into the subject in this body.

The root causes of conflicts in the region are all too familiar: interethnic and intertribal rivalries, inefficient governance, weak political institutions, judicial systems partial to views of those who happen to be in power, high levels of corruption, wide-spread poverty, pervasive and deeply destabilizing activities of uncontrolled armed groups, flows of refugees and displaced persons due to armed conflicts and internal instability, porous and fluid borders.

In this context, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains one of the biggest concern. As Franz Fanon, an influential thinker and an Afro-Caribbean philosopher, once said, I quote, “Africa is shaped like a gun, and Congo is the trigger. If that explosive trigger bursts, it’s the whole Africa that will explode“, end of quote.

That is why I would briefly touch upon the situation in the DRC in the first place.

Mr. President,

As this Council is aware, the DRC has not had a peaceful transfer of power in the last 55 years since its independence. Even today, we all have the same worries that the ongoing internal dispute over the elections in that country can spark violence with a possible spillover of instability to neighboring countries.

The DRC’s Constitution limits a President’s tenure to two popularly elected terms. This provision was established after years of the unchecked Mobutu’s rule, and it constitutes a safeguard against a return to dictatorial practices.

It is an axiom that a democratic change of power through elections is a fundamental principle and a gateway toward progress in other areas of social and economic development of a country or community as opposed to a continued simmering of popular discord, which can eventually erupt in a violent protest casting the country back to reliving earlier distressful experiences.

Bearing this in mind, we call upon all national stakeholders, for the sake of their own people, to pursue a political dialogue and to accept an international mediation of the United Nations, African Union or other authoritative regional organization on this issue.

One cannot but mention another issue that affects the whole region — irregular armed groups present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are still active in the eastern part of the country and continue to terrorize civil population, despite our numerous calls for their neutralization and the deployment in the area of one of the largest UN peacekeeping mission, which we fully support.

In this regard, as Chair of Sanctions Committee established pursuant the Security Council Resolution 2127 on CAR, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Committee recently added to its sanctions list the odious Lord Resistance Army and its leader in response to its destructive violent activities affecting a large area of the region.

We believe that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework remains one of the key multilateral mechanisms that can bring stability in the country. Proceeding from the main principles and provisions of this document, it is of utmost importance for all parties and other relevant stakeholders to continue undertaking necessary efforts aimed at fulfilling their obligations and commitments stemming from the Framework.

Taking into account the joint commitment not to interfere in internal affairs of neighboring countries, we are deeply concerned at the reports, including those coming from the Panel of Experts, about numerous cases of using the territory and capacities of neighbouring countries for training armed groups and infiltrating them into adjacent regions and conflict areas.

The continious smuggling of natural resources from the DRC remains among other serious challenges to the peace and stability in the region. Regrettably, in the regional context, natural resources tend to fuel conflicts rather that contribute to sustainable development and economic prosperity. In view of recorded facts of involvement of military elements in the smuggling and the inability of relevant authorities to prevent illegal use of natural resources, we believe that additional serious efforts are needed to address this phenomenon and reverse the currently prevailing trend.

In our view, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Regional Initiative Against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources is a good example of a search for a common solution that could ensure that these resources are used to generate much needed revenue and to promote regional development.

Mr. President,

Among other most pressing challenges the Great Lakes region faces is the flow of refugees. Internal instability, poor governance, ethnic intolerance, violations of human rights on a massive scale by illegal armed groups cause people to flee. As a result, around 430 000 refugees from the DRC seek shelter in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Here I cannot overlook the situation in Burundi. We cannot afford wasting the chance of preventing the impending conflict situation from descending into chaos. The wounds are still fresh as we all remember very well the terrible repercussions of the Burundian Genocide in 1972 and the 1993–2005 civil war there.

It is the duty of this Council and the whole international community to ensure that such tragic events do not unfold again. All stakeholders must spare no efforts to prevent any development that could increase the risk of a fully-fledged conflict and mounting violence against the Burundian population.

Mr. President,

I am proud of Ukraine’s contribution to the UN efforts in bringing stability to the Great Lakes region — especially as one of the major TCC to MONUSCO and a former member and Vice-Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission. We are resolved to maintain this commitment, including as a member of this Council in 2016–2017.

Peace, stability and prosperity in the Great Lakes Region require strong commitment, joint action and dialogue. All of these are the necessary prerequisites for addressing current conflicts and preventing future crises and calamities. Let us hope that this discussion will serve as a Council contribution to fostering this commitment and a sign of an unwavering dedication to carrying out our responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in this important region.

Thank you.

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