Thank you Special Envoy Xia, and Executive Secretary Caholo for your briefings.
I’ll pick up on three points today: First, we recognise the positive advances in cooperation in the Great Lakes region. The bilateral diplomatic outreach, and high-level visits within the region are a testament to this. We also see stronger security cooperation and coordination of military and non-military actions against armed groups in Eastern DRC. This is encouraging, especially given the violence [human rights violations and abuses] and dire humanitarian crisis in Eastern DRC.
It is vital that the UN System and international community support efforts to address this situation, including through regional cooperation and coordination.
Second, the adoption of the UN Strategy for the Great Lakes Region, and its accompanying Action Plan, is a good starting point for fostering closer regional cooperation. The Action Plan’s focus on involving key financial partners such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the EU will be helpful in delivering on its promises.
We also welcome the intensified activity of the ICGLR; and planned actions on DDR with the UN Peacebuilding Fund. And we commend the DRC and MONUSCO for applying a gender-sensitive approach to DDR in their recent transition plan. We look forward to working with the Special Envoy, and all relevant actors- including civil society and women- to ensure implementation of these important initiatives.
Thirdly, the illicit trade of natural resources generates hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and is a root cause of conflict that must be addressed. It fuels intercommunal violence in the eastern DRC; contributes to the proliferation of
small-arms and light weapons; and hampers the consolidation of peace and security.
Furthermore, it strengthens armed groups, leading to the additional suffering of the civilian population. The illicit trade of gold, timber, and other natural resources also leads to a loss of public revenue for DRC and the region. This in turn has serious consequences for States’ ability to protect their populations, and to provide essential services.
The cross-border dimension of the illicit trade can also not be overlooked. In this respect, it was encouraging to see the recommendations from the High Level Workshop in Khartoum in August. We must enhance ownership of such regional initiatives. The endorsement of the recommendations by Heads of State at the upcoming ICGLR extraordinary Summit - together with existing mechanisms under the PSC Framework and ICGLR - may further contribute to curbing the revenue of armed groups, and advance transparent and sustainable management of natural resources in the region. Norway encourages all stakeholders to work together to ensure implementation.
To conclude President, we welcome the adoption of the Presidential Statement today. Norway reiterates its support to the work of the Special Envoy and the ICGLR. Your efforts are crucial to ensure peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.