I thank you, ASG Pobee and Special Envoy Xia, for your informative briefings
I also would like to warmly welcome his Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the DRC to our meeting today, as well as representatives from Uganda and Rwanda.
Let me start by condemning the recent attacks by M23 on FARDC and MONUSCO troops in North Kivu. These deliberate attacks on those trying to secure stability are unacceptable, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. We are also deeply concerned about the situation for civilians in Eastern DRC, including in areas where the ADF and CODECO continue to attack the civilian population. Full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is crucial to protect and assist those in need.
Norway urges all parties to respect and comply with their human rights and with international humanitarian law obligations.
We call upon all armed groups, including M23, to participate unconditionally in the consultation process initiated by the Second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also crucial that eligible armed groups lay down their weapons and participate in the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Community Recovery and Stabilisation Programme. This may ultimately reduce the security threat to civilians in eastern DRC and lay the foundation for social and economic development.
To end the violence and protect the civilian population in the eastern DRC, root causes of conflict must be addressed. Lack of protection fuels conflict, displacement, and mistrust. In addition to impleneting the P-DDRC-S-Programme, challenges such as lack of security sector reform, impunity and illicit trade of natural resources must be addressed. Some of these are cross-border in nature.
Norway therefore welcomes efforts to strengthen regional cooperation. The Second Regional Heads of State Conclave, convened in April, was an important step in this regard. Now, the broadest possible participation should be sought.
The follow-up of the decisions made at the Conclave will be important to promote peace in the DRC. We thank Kenya for their leadership and the countries in the region for their commitment to this process.
We are concerned by recent tensions between Rwanda and the DRC. We urge all parties to participate in constructive dialogue to improve relations among countries in the region. Additionally, we welcome the readiness of some of the armed groups to participate in this process.
Finally, DRC’s entry to the East African Community allows for closer cooperation between the countries in the region. This can promote trust and reduce cross-border threats to stability, providing benefits to the Congolese people.
For too long the people of the conflict-affected areas in the DRC have been suffering. Norway reiterates its support to all efforts that can contribute to stabilisation and sustainable peace.