Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 5, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And let me thank SRSG Keita for your briefing today. And thank you to Ambassador Abarry for your leadership of the UN’s sanctions committee for the DRC. Also, I commend Ms. Mbangu for her work, and I thank her for her briefing and welcome the participation of the DRC here today.
Today, I would like to discuss three aspects of the situation in the DRC: first, our serious security concerns; secondly, the role MONUSCO can play; and thirdly, concerns about exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.
First, while we have seen some improvements elsewhere, the United States remains deeply concerned by the security situation in the eastern DRC. Civilians there are being killed by armed groups every day. We remain particularly troubled by the number of lethal attacks by ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces, and the increasing threats of IEDs. The DRC military and UN peacekeepers must coordinate better on joint operations under the “state of siege” to protect civilians using the full authorities of MONUSCO’s robust mandate.
In the Kasais, security conditions have improved, which allowed MONUSCO to exit from these provinces earlier this year while still providing bridging support for key stabilization and peacekeeping efforts. Transitional justice measures also paved the way for a smooth drawdown. Similarly, we hope conditions continue to improve in Tanganyika so that MONUSCO can draw down from that province next year.
Beyond these immediate steps, we need more progress to allow for responsible drawdown in North and South Kivu and Ituri. We welcome the DRC government and MONUSCO’s joint transition plan to guide those conversations moving forward and hope all indicators and benchmarks will be realistic and attainable.
Second, given the terrible violence in the east, the United States is committed to ensuring MONUSCO has every tool it needs for its mission. MONUSCO has a valuable role to play in protecting civilians, and it must take that role seriously. It also has a valuable role in stabilizing state institutions and promoting key governance and security sector reform. Each of these objectives is particularly important as the DRC approaches elections in 2023 and as security conditions in the east grow more dire. The mission must also continue to coordinate with the DRC government on a phased, condition-based drawdown in the coming years.
Mr. President, as the regional diplomatic dynamic improves and more armed groups pursue options for civilian re-integration in the years to come, we will need to discuss how peacekeeping success is contextualized and defined. We also need to consider ways to help the Congolese security forces address armed groups that are no longer a threat to international peace and security but still a limited threat to civilians. The United States looks forward to those conversations.
Third and finally, we must end sexual exploitation and abuse at the hands of UN personnel. MONUSCO alone has seen 17 new allegations so far this year. These allegations are horrifying, and they are unacceptable. Most are leveled at MONUSCO troops and police, but a significant portion concern the actions of civilian staff.
The United States has been, and will continue to be, unequivocal in its call to an end to predatory behavior across the entire UN system, no matter the setting or the nationality of the accused. We demand accountability for parties guilty of criminal acts and assistance for victims and survivors, and I join my British colleague in calling for MONUSCO’s immediate review. We will work through the Office of Victims’ Rights Advocates and the UN Trust Fund in Support of Victims of SEA to achieve justice. The Congolese people deserve an effective, efficient, and accountable UN.
Thank you, Mr. President.