Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 24, 2019
Thank you, Mr. President.
Special Representative Zerrougui, thank you for your briefing and for MONUSCO’s continued effort to support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, protect civilians, and secure access for public health organizations responding to the Ebola outbreak. We deeply appreciate the mission’s efforts.
Thank you, Ambassador al-Otaibi for the latest on your work as DRC sanctions committee chair.
Mr. President, the United States is extremely troubled by the recent clashes across eastern DRC, including violence in the provinces of Ituri, South Kivu, and North Kivu that left hundreds dead and displaced hundreds of thousands, which Ms. Zerrougui has just highlighted.
The United States commends President Tshisekedi’s efforts to stem this violence by dispatching senior officials to negotiate peace in South Kivu, launching community dialogue initiatives, and ordering a military offensive in Ituri, all of which have helped to address the violence.
Mr. President, we also welcome several militias’ decisions to lay down their arms since President Tshisekedi took office, and we urge Congolese officials to lead a demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration process, or “DDR,” as informally called. We encourage key officials to consider whether the DDR process should provide willing former fighters, such as those of the FRPI militia, a path to transition into a peaceful and productive civilian life, rather than simply absorbing them into the DRC armed forces and risk perpetuating cycles of human rights violations and abuses. We encourage the government to clarify confusion regarding the DDR’s focal point as well.
At the same time, we recognize DDR is only one part of a larger political solution. The United States remains committed to fighting impunity and supporting the rule of law, and we are encouraged by the ongoing trials of warlords like Sheka, and the warrant issued for Guidon Shimiray Mwissa. We applaud MONUSCO’s assistance with these efforts.
Mr. President, the flow of arms and the illicit trade in gold and other precious minerals enables the violence in the east to persist. We thank Ambassador Al-Otaibi for leading the DRC Sanctions Committee’s recent trip to the region and the UAE, during which we witnessed significant goodwill to help Congolese leaders tackle these challenges. However, we remain concerned that Congolese generals under U.S. sanctions—such as General Gabriel Amisi Kumba—continue to participate in illicit gold trafficking. Removing these bad actors is critical to ending cycles of violence in the east.
Mr. President, ending the Ebola outbreak also remains a top U.S. priority. The United States is the largest single-country donor to the Ebola response, and has contributed more than $98 million to stop the spread of the disease. We urge existing and new donors to consider making contributions as well. We also welcome the WHO’s recent decision to designate the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the release of the public health pillar of Strategic Response Plan 4. We urge the DRC government and the UN to finalize and release the enabling environment pillar as soon as possible so that donors can holistically assess priorities and resource requirements.
The United States also encourages all partners to ensure that response efforts align with and enable clearly defined leadership and coordination; engage and empower Congolese actors; and address the security, humanitarian, and development needs of Ebola-affected communities.
Finally, Mr. President, it is important to raise the key concern: that progress is slow on a number of issues, especially DDR and the Ebola response. The absence of a national government, due primarily to the intransigence of political actors aligned with former President Kabila, compromises all other progress to which the Congolese people aspire. We call upon those blocking government formation to adopt the flexibility required to seat a cabinet and fulfill the hopes of the Congolese people for a better future. We will continue to consider sanctions designations and visa restrictions for those who engage in or provide support for acts that undermine the peace, stability, and security of the DRC.
In light of these challenges, we welcome the strategic review of MONUSCO and look forward to receiving the report. We place great value on these reviews and other UN reports examining peacekeeping activities and performance.
We appreciate that the SG’s report to the Security Council included performance assessments, as well as overall assessments of progress on mandated tasks, and would urge even more details. MONUSCO cannot fulfill its mandates without high-performing troops, police, and civilians committed to a clear set of standards and to the protection of civilians. We urge the UN Secretariat and MONUSCO to continue to implement the reforms outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2436, which will be essential to planning a troop drawdown.
Thank you, Mr. President.