Statement on the situation in the DRC

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the UN Security Council Briefing on Democratic Republic Congo / MONUSCO

Thank you, Madam President

I thank and appreciate SRSG Keita for your briefing and dedicated work. We fully support MONUSCO and commend the troop- and police-contributing countries. I welcome the representatives of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda to today’s meeting.

Since our last meeting, the security and humanitarian situation in Eastern DRC has deteriorated considerably. We are deeply troubled by escalating violence including intensified confrontations involving M23, FDLR, and Wazalendo, as well as deadly attacks by CODECO, ADF, Zaire and other armed groups. The unprecedented territorial expansion of M23, the expansion of ADF, and the significant increase in civilian casualties are alarming. We urge M23 and all other armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw from occupied territories.

We welcome the announced two-week humanitarian truce and urge all parties to fully respect and implement it.

I would like to highlight 3 points:

First – We remind all parties of their obligation to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. The conflict has led to appalling levels of sexual violence, including in and around internally displaced persons sites, recruitment and use of children, and other grave violations against them.

We strongly condemn over 170 attacks on aid workers this year alone, as well as continued attacks on peacekeepers. The escalating use of heavy artillery near IDP camps is alarming and we condemn it. Accountability for those endangering civilians with these reckless tactics must be ensured. We furthermore call for accountability for sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual slavery that disproportionately affects displaced women and girls.

All states must end any support to armed groups. We are alarmed by external support to M23 and unauthorized foreign military personnel in DRC. Sovereignty and territorial integrity are basic principles of international law and they must be respected. We urge Rwanda to fully and immediately withdraw its military from DRC. There is concern about reports indicating that despite directives to prohibit cooperation with FDLR, some elements of armed forces of DRC continue to engage with FDLR. We again urge all parties to end support to all armed groups.

Second – we note the completion of MONUSCO’s withdrawal from South Kivu marking the end of the first phase of its disengagement from the country. Given the escalating security situation, the continued withdrawal of MONUSCO requires careful and strategic planning. A safe, responsible, gradual and sustainable withdrawal remains essential, focusing on the ongoing and strong partnership between the DRC government and the UN, including the Security Council, as well as regional partners.

There is ongoing concern about the possible impact of the withdrawal on the protection of civilians, especially in light of massive displacement. We recall that the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lies with the government. In regions where civilians, including IDPs, depend on MONUSCO protection against armed groups, coordinating the deployment of Congolese security forces with the mission’s withdrawal is vital.

Third – We are deeply concerned about the conflict escalating into a wider regional crisis, as highlighted by the Secretary-General in his report. SRSG Keita warned just now that there is a real risk of regional conflict.

We support regional efforts to promote peace and stability. We commend President Lourenco of Angola for revitalizing the Luanda process and facilitating recent diplomatic engagements with DRC and Rwanda. And we urge Presidents Tshisekedi and Kagame to engage in inclusive political dialogue.

We note the near completed deployment of the Southern African Development Community Mission (SAMIDRC) and stress the importance of effective coordination between MONUSCO and regional forces for protecting civilians and peacekeepers.

We also note the Secretary-General’s letter of June 28 outlining options for possible support to regional forces. Any support must strictly comply with the UN Human Rights Due Diligence policy and the African Union Compliance Framework.

Madam President, in conclusion

There is one clear and united message coming from this Chamber repeatedly – there is no military solution to this conflict. We urge all involved parties to heed this message from the Council loud and clear.

Slovenia remains steadfast in supporting efforts to end the conflict. We will continue to support peace initiatives and regional cooperation to ensure sustainable resolution.

Thank you,

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