I wish to express my delegation’s appreciation for your initiative of convening this meeting. I thank also ASG Tuliameni Kalomoh for introducing the Secretary General’s progress report.
The situation in Central Africa has been one of the main concerns of the Security Council throughout the years. More recently, there have been several positive developments in the situations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Burundi. In the DRC the transitional government has been working steadily for over seven months, the transitional Assembly is now operational and the International Committee in Support of the Transition is meeting regularly. The Council authorized a strengthened presence and mandate for MONUC, which has been supporting the rule of law, police reform and organization of elections. It has also authorized the transitional government to deploy its armed forces to Kisangani, which is a further step towards extending national authority over the territory and has agreed to impose an arms embargo in the Kivus and Ituri regions. We certainly welcome these developments.
Last week, we had the opportunity to listen to the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, on the latest events in the DRC. As a result, we were better able to assess recent achievements and weigh the series of measures still required for stabilization.
In this connection, my Delegation is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a MONUC military observer in an ambush in Ituri. We urge the United Nations in cooperation with the government of the DRC to strive to bring to justice all those responsible for this criminal act.
In Burundi we were pleased to note that a delegation of Palipehutu-FNL and President Ndayiezeye met in the Netherlands last month. Though not conclusive, such initiative clearly confirms that dialogue is the only way to solve differences in the country. It sets the path for Agathon Rwasa’s movement to “join the camp of peace”, as stated in the SG’s report. My delegation must nevertheless express serious concern over the human rights situation in Burundi.
Too many violations continue to be reported and the Security Council has not been sufficiently responsive. It has been well over one year since the Council was requested by the Burundian President to consider establishing an international commission of judicial inquiry. And only last January the terms of reference of the assessment mission were agreed upon by the Council.
Despite difficulties on the ground, the mission deployed by the African Union in Burundi is working very effectively with the governmental institutions and UN agencies. We commend their work and call upon the international community to provide further technical and financial support to the mission. This need will be made even clearer when we receive in the near future the report of the multidisciplinary United Nations mission that is expected to arrive today in Burundi to assess the needs of the country in all fields, as mentioned this morning by ASG Kalomoh.
Since the Council has been considering the individual situation of each country in Central Africa, I wish to concentrate my remarks today on two points, namely development and regional dialogue.
We consider that initiatives to create a healthy economic environment are central for a peace-building process to be sustainable in the long run. We cannot commit massive international efforts to the quest for peace only to see those efforts crumble for lack of enough attention to economic stability and sustained development. In this connection, the rule of law in the exploitation of natural resources and the improvement of trade opportunities in the region cannot be overlooked.
As regards the DRC, we concur with assessments by the Panel of Experts that the time has come for institutional reforms to be undertaken in the area of regulation and control of natural resources, now that the country is unified. “Illegal exploitation”, as stated in the Secretary-General’s report, “remains one of the main sources of funding for groups involved in perpetuating the conflict”.
In Burundi, the ECOSOC Advisory Group was impressed by the initiatives of the Burundian Government on sustainable development. My delegation, however, is disappointed that only 10 % of pledges made in 2000 and 2001 by the donor community have been disbursed to the country so far. At this juncture the Security Council should reinforce the Secretary-General’s appeal for donor countries to accelerate disbursement.
The UN has an important role to play in conducting long-term initiatives in the road towards stabilization and development. That includes the Security Council as well as its coordinated efforts with ECOSOC. The cases of Guinea-Bissau and Burundi are good precedents that should be further developed. Moreover, the common efforts of countries of the region towards improving trade are a major step and we welcome initiatives that are being taken bilaterally by Uganda and the DRC transitional government.
That brings my Delegation to the second point: regional dialogue. The Secretary-General had pointed out that prospects for convening the conference of the Great Lakes had significantly improved. And indeed the organizational meeting held last month in Addis Ababa resulted in the decision to hold the first Heads of State summit in Tanzania in November this year and a second one in mid-2005. We commend the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ibrahima Fall, and all the seven core countries for this important development.
We are confident that this dialogue will develop into a pact around the four main thematic areas targeted by the conference: peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development and regional integration and humanitarian and social issues.
We are also pleased by the interest shown by other countries in the initiative. Angola, the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic are now working together with the core countries in the preparatory process for the convening of the international Conference. The participation of neighboring countries can only add to the success of the event. In addition, we welcome the comments made by SRSG’s Office that any other country outside the region that has shown interested in the process could be present as an observer, as Egypt is doing, as long as the core countries agree upon the request made by the country concerned. Broadening participation beyond the sub-regional framework, without affecting the decision body, will certainly enhance the impact of the Conference worldwide.
As we have seen when discussing the individual peace processes in Central Africa, the challenges lying ahead are enormous – but major accomplishments should be discounted. To pave the way for sustainable peace in the region we must pay due attention to its development component and give due support to African ownership and regional dialogue in post-conflict stabilization. This is where our cooperative action is most needed.
Thank you very much.