Thank you, Madam President. First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to SRSG Keita for her briefing today. I would like to also thank Ms. Kabuo and Mr. Mathuki for their briefings and I welcome the participation of the DRC Foreign Minister with us today.
We also appreciate the Secretary-General’s recent report on MONUSCO, which outlines the persistent security challenges facing the mission and the Congolese people. The report documented 845 human rights violations and abuses. But let’s be clear: documentation is only the first step – we urge the DRC government to hold all those who violate human rights accountable.
The United States would also like to thank Presidents Lourenco and Ruto, as well as former President Kenyatta, the Facilitator of the EAC-led Nairobi Process, for their leadership in trying to broker a solution to the ongoing crisis in eastern DRC.
We reiterate our call for armed groups to lay down their weapons, stop terrorizing the Congolese people, and join the Nairobi Process as a means of seeking political solutions to their grievances.
We also urge all parties to adhere to the agreement reached in Luanda on November 23rd. The M23 armed group must withdraw its forces in preparation for disarmament.
And make no mistake: M23 presents a serious threat to the DRC and to the broader region. And its forces are dangerously close to Goma – the base of operations for the international community’s humanitarian assistance in eastern DRC. We must protect this population center and the indispensable services it provides; and we call on the DRC and MONUSCO to work together to proactively protect Goma from attack, invasion, or being surrounded by M23.
We also call for the cessation of all state support to armed groups, including – but not limited to – Rwanda’s assistance to M23. We urge Council members to consider how this kind of support runs afoul of existing sanctions regimes.
With regard to DRC-related sanctions, the United States acknowledges requests from the region and from DRC, to relax certain measures, particularly the requirement that arms transfers to the DRC government are pre-notified to the Council. And let me stress that current sanctions measures do not prevent the DRC government from obtaining military equipment for defensive needs – or from undertaking critical security sector reforms. To the contrary, the measures are carefully tailored to ensure the government can provide security for its citizens.
Therefore, we urge Member States conducting military operations in the DRC to formally notify the Council of their actions, in line with existing sanctions resolutions. And we encourage these military forces to coordinate closely with MONUSCO and humanitarian actors.
Finally, Madam President, as negotiations on MONUSCO’s mandate get underway, the United States would like to urge the Council to deliver a strong and unified signal to support MONUSCO. The government, civil society, and the international community all have important roles to play to address challenges in the DRC, but MONUSCO in particular is doing essential work protecting civilians and supporting government institutions – even as it implements a gradual transition.
The United States will work to ensure the mandate clearly supports a conditions-based withdrawal, not an arbitrary end date. And we will do everything in our power to make clear that we stand behind SRSG Keita and MONUSCO. Thank you, Madam President.