Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 7, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you SRSG Keita for your briefing. It was very valuable to hear directly from you what your priorities and goals are for the coming months. We extend our continued appreciation to MONUSCO, its leadership, and to the troop- and police-contributing countries. Thank you, Ms. Kibambe, for sharing your sobering perspective on the COVID situation in the DRC. It was very valuable to hear as we look at the progress – the limited progress that has been made – and the actions that are needed ahead.
Let me also, like fellow Council members, extend my deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Lance Corporal Kamanga, the Malawian peacekeeper who was killed on May 10 while serving in MONUSCO. The United States condemns all attacks against peacekeepers in the strongest terms.
We welcome the inauguration of the new DRC government, which has a historic opportunity to deliver on crucial reforms for the Congolese people. To that effect, we also commend the appointment of a record number of women to ministerial posts, which is a key milestone for equitable gender representation. We look forward to continued progress on the ambitious goals for gender equity that the DRC government has set for itself.
As we heard today, insecurity and violence in eastern Congo continues to threaten civilians and to imperil the fragile gains made by MONUSCO and the Government of the DRC. We remain deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation and the upsurge in civilian deaths due to attacks from ISIS-DRC, more commonly known as the Allied Democratic Forces, and from other armed groups.
As the extraordinary state of siege in Ituri and North Kivu provinces continues, it is critical that the security services respect human rights and guarantee humanitarian access throughout all conflict-affected areas. The Congolese government has primary responsibility for the protection of civilians, and it should cooperate with MONUSCO as it implements its mandate to protect civilians. In all stabilization efforts, we urge transparency in coordination with regional partners across the Great Lakes.
The United States also welcomes the DRC government’s new Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Reintegration, and Stabilization Framework, and we encourage continued steps to operationalize it in partnership with MONUSCO. The Congolese government must also work to continue advancing gender-responsive security sector reform.
Confronting all the challenges in eastern Congo requires the full implementation of the commitments made under the AU’s Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework to enhance security, end impunity for human rights violations and abuses, and support stability. We reiterate the importance of addressing the root causes of violence, including by tackling the illegal exploitation of minerals and trafficking in small arms, and providing alternative economic opportunities to ex-combatants and their communities.
MONUSCO continues to play a key role in stabilizing the DRC, reducing intercommunal tensions, and helping minimize the impact of military operations on civilians. We are very encouraged by MONUSCO’s efforts to implement Force Intervention Brigade reforms, including the participation of new troop-contributing countries and the deployment of new Quick Reaction Force units. But the real test will be in the Brigade’s performance, especially in executing its protection of civilian mission. We commend MONUSCO’s critical contributions in the fight against impunity and its support to Congolese authorities in prosecuting crimes that involve human rights violations.
The United States remains concerned over reports of rape and other forms of conflict-related sexual violence. Women and girls remain disproportionately impacted by violence, but they also play pivotal roles in conflict prevention and resolution. We urge the DRC government to promote women’s meaningful participation in the security sector, and we commend MONUSCO’s ongoing efforts to support this important work.
We welcome the extension of the DRC Group of Experts mandate and the renewal of the arms embargo, travel ban, and the asset freeze for another 12 months. These measures will continue to promote peace and stability in the DRC, and the Groups’ reporting continues to be of great value to the DRC Sanctions Committee and to this Council.
Looking ahead, we welcome joint efforts by MONUSCO and the Government of the DRC to set benchmarks to guide future transition planning and the transfer of tasks to the UN country team, and what will be eventual government ownership that will allow the peacekeeping to end. Strengthening the capacity of local authorities, supporting community-level mediation, and building rule of law and judicial systems remain critical to ensure MONUSCO’s contributions underpin long-term stability and peace for the Congolese people.
Thank you, Mr. President.