Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 18, 2020
AS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Please allow me to express my thanks to France as the penholder on this important resolution. The United States strongly supports the Council’s efforts to enhance the Force Intervention Brigade and strengthen MONUSCO’s performance, consistent with the request of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a better-equipped, better-trained and more mobile peacekeeping force.
This resolution also highlights key issues such as the DRC government’s efforts to advance disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and security sector reform to achieve lasting peace in the eastern DRC, recognizing MONUSCO’s role in supporting the government.
We further appreciate the Council’s efforts to support MONUSCO’s gradual and responsible transition and note the importance of ensuring that the DRC government, UN country team, and other actors are prepared to take over the mission’s important tasks, such as early warning alert networks.
However, we must clarify the U.S. position on the language in this resolution regarding humanitarian access. The United States strongly supports the need for humanitarian access in conflict areas, having backed language in numerous Security Council resolutions that demands parties to a conflict provide safe, rapid, and unhindered access to humanitarian aid. Our words are supported by our actions, as the United States has provided more funding for humanitarian aid than any other country in the world — more than $10.5 billion last year.
Our concern in this resolution is related to changes made this year regarding how international law is referred to in the humanitarian context. While the United States recognizes that in certain circumstances States may have obligations related to humanitarian aid, there is no universal and unlimited international legal obligation for States to allow and facilitate “safe, rapid, and unhindered” humanitarian access. Therefore, the United States disagrees with the insertion of the phrase “in accordance with international law” in paragraph 35 of this resolution, where its placement suggests that safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access is required by international law without exception. Nonetheless, the United States remains a strong advocate, in this Council and more generally, for States and parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access. We invite other members of this Council to consult with us regarding how we can maintain strong humanitarian access clauses in Security Council resolutions while accurately capturing the law.