Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
March 29, 2023
Thank you SRSG Keita for your briefing today. And thank you for hosting the Security Council during our visit to the DRC earlier this month. It gave us valuable insight into the important work of MONUSCO, but also a deeper—and more sobering—understanding of the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the east.
The United States welcomes the initiative and commitment of regional partners, specifically those participating in the EAC-led Nairobi Process and the Luanda Process, and recognizes modest progress to date towards implementation of the commitments agreed in prior communiques.
The United States calls on all parties to act expeditiously to meet these commitments in full. The United States reiterates its call on Rwanda to end support to the UN-sanctioned M23 and urges Council Members to consider how this kind of support runs afoul of existing sanctions regimes. We remind all States of the importance of the territorial integrity of states as one of the founding principles of the UN Charter, something this Council is working so hard to protect.
This is not to imply Rwanda is solely responsible for the conflict. Rather, M23 and Rwanda’s actions have escalated an already troubling humanitarian and security situation.
The United States has long been concerned by the FARDC’s collaboration with armed groups in the east, especially the FDLR. Just as we have stated numerous times previously, we reiterate our call on the DRC government to fully professionalize its security forces and to immediately end cooperation with armed groups.
It has become very clear that the level of disinformation and hateful rhetoric directed towards Rwanda, minority groups, and MONUSCO is increasingly putting civilians and peacekeepers in harm’s way. While in Kinshasa, I called on DRC government officials to denounce hate speech, hold individuals accountable for inciting violence, and to correct these damaging narratives. I repeat those messages today. We also remain deeply troubled by the increasing number of attacks by ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces, and CODECO against civilians. The Government of the DRC and its regional and international partners cannot neglect this ongoing violence.
In this very difficult environment, MONUSCO has been working to carry out its mandate, including providing limited logistics support to the DRC electoral commission, as officially requested. I was encouraged to learn the CENI has been coordinating closely with MONUSCO. This partnership will help enable a timely and comprehensive voter registration process in preparation for elections later this year. The DRC government should ensure free and fair elections in accordance with constitutional deadlines.
MONUSCO and the DRC also continue to work together on the mission’s benchmark-driven transition plan. I remind DRC authorities of their responsibility to work closely with UN leadership to fulfill these benchmarks so that MONUSCO can safely and responsibly withdraw at an appropriate time. The DRC and UN Country Team must work together to ensure essential functions—including promoting human rights and ensuring accountability—continue before, during, and most importantly after, this transition.
Similarly, we remind the DRC government of the Security Council’s request for a confidential report on weapons and ammunition management efforts following the Council’s easing of sanctions in December of last year.
This report will provide valuable insight into the government’s capacities and enable the international community to assist in the prevention of small arms trafficking and diversion.
SRSG Keita, the United States offers its full support to you and your team as you carry out your mandate amidst increasingly difficult circumstances. MONUSCO will not solve this conflict on its own – no one should expect as much. But supported by, and in coordination with, the Nairobi and Luanda processes, and alongside the DRC, Rwanda, neighboring states, and the United Nations, MONUSCO can play an important role.
Thank you for your commitment to bringing peace to the DRC and the broader Great Lakes Region. Thank you, Mr. President.