Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Great Lakes Region

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 26, 2022


Thank you, Special Envoy Xia, for your informative briefing for joining us today. I also want to thank our other briefers for their very helpful and useful briefings.

The United States continues to support the UN Regional Strategy for the Great Lakes. We encourage you, Mr. Special Envoy to act swiftly on the regional strategy by using the UN’s good offices, in partnership with regional leaders, to achieve concrete progress in the objectives of the Strategy’s action plan as well as the Framework Agreement.

We welcome regional cooperation, as evidenced at the 10th Summit of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, and now urge full implementation. We also welcome other efforts to strengthen regional security through new bilateral agreements and the mini summit on peace and security in the Great Lakes region.

We encourage you, Mr. Special Envoy, to make progress on addressing the conflict and corruption risks associated with the region’s minerals trade, including engaging with international investors, the trade unions who represent miners and mine workers, and traders. United States recognizes the steps that this region is taking toward regional economic integration and so we note favorably the admission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the East African Community. We are encouraged by recent sub-regional effort, such as the creation of a Contact and Coordination Group to address armed groups in eastern DRC through non-military measures. There, of course, as we’ve heard, remain great challenges that we, as the international community, the UN system, and the Great Lakes region, must collectively address.

In that light, we are very concerned about the continuing inter-communal violence and the increase in armed group activity, particularly by ISIS-DRC, also known as the ADF, CODECO, M23, and numerous local armed groups.

We remain committed to working with other UN Member States to make robust use of the Security Council’s 1533 Sanctions regime. We reinforce the need for accountability to end impunity for those who fuel conflict in the DRC and the broader Great Lakes region. Cooperation between MONUSCO and the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes remains very important to identify and implement political solutions that will stem the flow of armed elements, arms, and natural resources that are threatening the peace and stability of the DRC.

The United States strongly condemn all attacks upon civilians including the February 1st Plaine Savo IDP Camp where CODECO assailants slaughtered more than 60 people, mostly women and children, before MONUSCO intervened jointly with DRC Armed Forces to repel the assault. We also lament the reported killing of at least 32 DRC Armed Forces soldiers. The United States calls on all actors to end violence, any violations of international humanitarian law, and human rights abuses. We strongly condemn all attacks on humanitarian workers.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the United States welcomes MONUSCO’s continued efforts, in coordination with the Government of the DRC, to protect civilians from armed groups in eastern DRC and disrupt the illicit networks fueling their violent campaigns against civilian populations. The United States underscores the importance of the full implementation of Resolution 2612, noting that the entire MONUSCO force, including the Force Intervention Brigade, must take a dynamic and proactive approach to protecting civilians, especially as armed groups like ISIS-DRC and CODECO ramp up their attacks on vulnerable groups.

Thank you, Mr. President.