Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
March 18, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. Special Representative Zerrougui, thank you for today’s briefing and for your tireless efforts that contributed to the DRC’s first peaceful transfer of power earlier this year. Thank you, Anny Modi, for joining us and adding your voice to those of other Congolese calling for change.

Mr. President, since taking office, President Tshisekedi has responded to this historic moment by committing to combat corruption, end human rights violations by DRC security forces, improve security, strengthen the DRC’s investment climate, and promote development.

He’s also committed to work closely with MONUSCO to neutralize armed groups and pave the way for MONUSCO’s drawdown and departure.

Just two months since this historic transfer of power, the Congolese people are already beginning to see positive developments. Last month, President Tshisekedi moved to arrest and prosecute police accused of firing on peaceful protesters. He’s released prisoners of conscience, and pledged to reform the DRC’s abusive National Intelligence Agency and close unofficial detention centers.

Partly in response to this change, thousands of combatants are laying down their weapons in hopes of transitioning into a peaceful civilian life.

We urge President Tshisekedi to keep the commitments he’s made to fully implement this hopeful vision for the future of the DRC. We look forward to the naming of the Cabinet ministers that will help him carry it out.

Mr. President, the United States is committed to helping the Congolese people create a more peaceful and prosperous Congo. We hope to work with the new government to forge a more constructive relationship with MONUSCO. We would like to recognize and support the proactive decisions taken by MONUSCO’s leadership, consistent with its mandate, to redirect efforts away from Kinshasa and toward the eastern DRC, streamline the force, and renew efforts to address the root causes of violence.

Turning to the eastern DRC, we’re deeply concerned about rising tensions among Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda, including reports of cross-border attacks. Given the history, these are especially worrisome developments.

No one wins from a proxy war in the Great Lakes. The United States urges all parties to refrain from the use of violence and to respect the territorial integrity of all states in the region.

We urge MONUSCO, the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, and the Office of the Special Envoy for Burundi to work more closely together as we refocus the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in the eastern DRC.

Finally, Mr. President, it’s been two years since the murders of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan.

From the first time he traveled to the eastern DRC to support the demobilization of child soldiers, Michael Sharp was deeply committed to peace and reconciliation. We regret that he did not live to see the changes taking place today in the Kasais, and wish we could still benefit from his thorough reporting and his thoughtful analysis.

The United States continues to call for accountability for those responsible for these murders. We urge this Council to continue to give robust support to the UN’s Follow-on Mechanism in support of Congolese investigations.

I thank you, Mr. President.