Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 7, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Zerrougui for your briefing today.
As the Council takes stock of the last year and prepares to renew MONUSCO’s mandate, the United States is impressed by the progress that the Congolese government has made, including the end of two Ebola outbreaks, the conviction of a former NDC warlord, and judicial reform with the appointment of more women to senior positions in the Congolese judiciary.
Looking forward, the United States is focused on three key areas of the Council’s work in the DRC: First, the need for more progress on disarmament, demobilization, as well as reintegration and security sector reform; second, the full implementation of reforms to improve peacekeeping performance; and third, strategic planning for MONUSCO’s responsible drawdown and transition.
As we just heard from our Vietnamese counterpart, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and security sector reform are essential for lasting peace in the DRC. We support President Tshisekedi’s commitment to community reintegration for former combatants, but we have not yet seen a national DDR framework. Those responsible for abuses and violations of human rights must be held accountable, including at the commander level. The consequences of these delays are felt, for example, in South Kivu when stalled DDR efforts resulted in armed group leaders returning to fighting, and in Ituri where the FRPI poses an increasing risk.
We also hope to see progress in the development of a national security sector reform strategy and a significant decrease in human rights violations committed by Congolese security services. This is especially important as the UN reports a worrying deterioration of the security situation in North and South Kivu.
The United States is deeply concerned by the recent increase in attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces. Thirty ADF attacks killed more than 170 civilians in the last three months alone.
We urge the UN to move forward with the nearly year-long delay in implementing the Force Intervention Brigade enhancements that were mandated in last year’s MONUSCO resolution. Congolese civilians have suffered most from these delays. We expect FIB enhancements to be implemented immediately and we welcome the UN’s commitment to the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System for force generation, including the prioritization of units at the Rapid Deployment Level of readiness.
Progress on these two priorities, we believe, are essential for lasting peace in the DRC, as well as for MONUSCO’s responsible drawdown and transition. With that in mind, the U.S. welcomes the UN-DRC Joint Strategy and its timeline for MONUSCO’s exit from the Kasais and Tanganyika. We are encouraged to see the Integrated Transition Task Force in the Kasais and the joint UN Justice Reform Support Program.
But at the same time, we were disappointed not to see more progress towards the objectives detailed in last year’s MONUSCO resolution or more specific benchmarks in this year’s recommendations. We hope to see the future development of more specific and measurable indicators and timelines for lasting peace and security in the Kivus and Ituri. We also urge MONUSCO to begin transitioning programmatic tasks to the UN country team and the Congolese government which would allow the mission to focus on the difficult tasks of stabilization, DDR, and SSR that will pave the way to sustainable peace.
Finally, given the important role the region has to play in reaching sustainable peace in eastern DRC, we welcome last week’s sharing of the UN’s Great Lakes strategy. Although my delegation is still digesting the content, we welcome the focus on the PSC Framework and high-level shuttle diplomacy by the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes to engage in the search for political solutions to resolve the conflict. We also encourage more attention to responsible and conflict-free mineral supply chains as part of a holistic approach to addressing and preventing violence.
Thank you, Mr. President.