Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 28, 2023
Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, SRSG Keita, for your briefing. The United States appreciate the sacrifices that you and your team, and the entire mission make every single day. I also greatly appreciate the briefing from Anny Modi. Thank you for being here with us today. I would like to welcome Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Lutundula of the DRC, and the permanent representative of Rwanda back to the Council.
We have heard the DRC government’s call for MONUSCO to begin planning its transition out of the country, most recently through the Minister’s letter to the Council. We appreciate and we share the DRC’s commitment to a responsible, orderly, progressive, and successful withdrawal, while continuing to prioritize the protection of civilians.
However, 24 years of peacekeeping in the DRC represents an enormous investment in resources and lives, and we must build on these investments. I look forward to hearing more from the UN Secretariat, MONUSCO, and the DRC on how to ensure the protection of civilians before, during, and most importantly – after MONUSCO’s departure.
Colleagues, the United States is frankly concerned that DRC and regional security forces are not prepared to meet the security requirements of the Congolese people. The international community must ensure the mission’s withdrawal does not exacerbate the already perilous humanitarian crisis or put additional lives at risk. And I know this has to be a concern of the DRC government as well.
We are concerned the option outlined in the Secretary-General’s transition plan relies heavily on the East African Community Regional Force to backfill the mission. And we urge the Council to avoid endorsing greater MONUSCO support for the EACRF without appropriate safeguards to address human rights, accountability, and command and control concerns.
I repeat our request for detailed information on the types of support the mission would provide to the EACRF, were it authorized to do so. We would also welcome a conversation with the DRC government on how MONUSCO can be more effective. But let’s be clear, the mission cannot bring peace to eastern DRC on its own.
And that’s why we again call for the FARDC to cut ties with the FDLR, thereby ending a relationship that has been of long concern to Rwanda. And we also call on Rwanda to end its support for M23 and withdraw from DRC territory.
In addition to condemning Rwanda’s actions in the eastern DRC, last month, the United States imposed sanctions on six individuals for contributing to the escalation of conflict in eastern DRC. And on September 15th, the United States listed Rwanda under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act for its support to M23, which has recruited or used child soldiers. As a result, certain elements of U.S. bilateral security assistance will be prohibited.
We are committed to designating additional individuals and entities who threaten the peace and security of the DRC, and we urge other Council Members to join us in this process. The region has also stepped up. I appreciate the important efforts of African regional bodies to work toward peace in eastern DRC, especially the Nairobi and the Luanda Process. The next session of the Nairobi Process must be scheduled to demonstrate progress towards a negotiated solution.
Colleagues, I’m concerned at the continued reports of sexual violence against women and girls as briefed today by the SRSG and Ms. Modi. In fact, I’m appalled and ashamed that these attacks continue to happen as they have. And we all should be appalled by what is happening there. We have an obligation – we have an obligation to do everything possible to provide protection and support to women and girls. We should support their rights to contest elections, and their right to vote in elections without fear.
Finally, free and fair elections are key to the DRC’s future stability. I want to thank MONUSCO for its logistical support, including transporting electoral materials in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu.
We appreciate President Tshisekedi’s condemnation of hate speech but urge the government to take more concrete actions to protect minority communities from violence.
The United States is also concerned by political repression as elections approach – including infringements on civic expression, harassment and violence towards opposition and civilian society members by security forces, and judicial proceedings involving two declared presidential candidates.
All Congolese people should be able to cast votes for the candidates of their choice free of worry about security and safety. That is the least they could expect from their government.
Colleagues, MONUSCO needs this Council’s support, but it also needs the support of the DRC government. Threats and attacks against MONUSCO is unacceptable.
The United States is committed to an orderly and coordinated transition of MONUSCO, and to assisting the DRC government to strengthen key governance, justice, and security institutions. Thank you. Madam President.