Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 30, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. I want to begin by thanking our briefers today. I particularly want to thank SRSG Keita for her briefing today. The United States appreciates your leadership, Madam SRSG, particularly at this challenging time for MONUSCO.
I also want to express in this forum my delegation’s gratitude for the commitment and contributions of the Ukrainian aviation unit that recently departed MONUSCO after 10 years of service to the people of DRC. We acknowledge, however, that the departure of the aviation unit really limits MONUSCO’s air capabilities at a time when the mission needs all the resources it can get. We urge the Secretariat to act quickly to fill this gap.
Without sufficient capabilities, MONUSCO will continue struggling to protect civilians from armed groups in eastern DRC, including, but not limited to, ISIS-DRC, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, and M23.
As noted in the most recent report of the Secretary-General, attacks by these and other groups killed hundreds of civilians and perpetrated more than 500 human rights violations between June and August. This continued violence is unacceptable, and the United States calls on these groups to discontinue their assaults on the DRC’s most vulnerable populations.
The United States also remains deeply concerned by the ongoing M23 campaign, and by the assistance the group receives from external actors, including the Rwanda Defense Force. We note that M23 remains designated under the 1533 DRC sanctions regime. Therefore, UN Member States are required to freeze the assets of this armed group and ensure that no funds or economic resources are made available to it.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken also made clear during his recent visits to the DRC and to Rwanda that state support for illicit armed groups and the disregard for territorial integrity are unacceptable and must end immediately. More specifically, in the case of the DRC, the United States reminds the Council that all countries must notify the Security Council in advance on matters involving defense cooperation, including the deployments of troops and the provision of arms. We encourage regional leaders to continue to bear this obligation in mind, as well as the need to respect human rights, as the planning for the East African Community Regional Force moves ahead.
East African Community leaders and DRC officials alike must also ensure the Regional Force does not disrupt the important and lifesaving work of the DRC Armed Forces, MONUSCO, and UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs.
Similarly, to further safeguard the mission’s personnel and operations, it is important for all relevant parties to work earnestly with the UN mission to enable it to more fully fulfill its mandate. Speaking out against anti-UN rhetoric, which has tragically led directly to the deaths of UN peacekeepers and civilians in recent months, is critical in the DRC and in all contexts where mis- and dis-information are undermining the ability of peacekeepers to carry out the mandates this Council has given them.
The United States is clear-eyed about the challenges MONUSCO is facing in executing its mandate. We share with our UN counterparts a desire for peacekeeper accountability, especially with regard to situations like the shooting in Kasindi in late July. And we urge the DRC government and Tanzanian authorities, in coordination with the UN, to continue and complete a thorough investigation into this senseless act, and to hold perpetrators fully accountable.
Finally, in conclusion Mr. President, a comment on mission transition. No one would argue MONUSCO should remain in the DRC forever. This mission has already jointly established with the DRC government, as we’ve heard, a plan for its phased and benchmark-driven drawdown. And it is making progress, as demonstrated by the discontinuation of operations in Tanganyika province earlier this year and the Kasais last year.
But today, the work of this mission remains critically important, and MONUSCO and the DRC need this Council’s complete and unequivocal support.
Madam SRSG, the United States stands with you and your team of dedicated peacekeepers. We thank you again for your commitment to supporting peace and stability in the DRC.
Thank you, Mr. President.