Let me start by congratulating you, SRSG Keita, on your appointment and thank you for your briefing. Norway stands ready to work with you and your team to contribute to peace and security in the DRC. Many thanks to Ms Lusumba for your thought-provoking briefing from the ground. I would also like to welcome the representative from the DRC. We commend President Tshisekedi for his commitments to pursue national unity, strengthen the rule of law, and further political inclusiveness and peacebuilding.
Three months have gone by since this Council endorsed the joint strategy on the phased and progressive draw-down of MONUSCO. Now, looking ahead, let me highlight three issues that Norway considers of vital importance:
First, we are particularly concerned about the challenges to the protection of civilians, and the humanitarian situation in the eastern part of the DRC. The surge in violence, and persistent attacks on civilians is deeply troubling. Norway condemns all such attacks – including those recently causing a high number of civilian casualties, reportedly carried out by the ADF.
All actors must respect, and comply with, their obligations under International humanitarian law and International human rights law. The government of the DRC has the primary responsibility to address such violations and abuses. Fighting impunity is key, and we urge the authorities to redouble their efforts to ensure that perpetrators are held to account.
Furthermore, we strongly condemn the prevalence of rape and sexual violence - including against children. All parties must take immediate, and specific, steps to end and prevent these heinous forms of violence. Survivors must have access to gender-sensitive, and age-appropriate responses and protection. We urge the Government to accelerate its efforts to implement the action plan on sexual violence.
The humanitarian situation also remains grave, with nearly 20 million people in need. Protecting humanitarian workers, and ensuring humanitarian access, is crucial.
Second, to ensure a sustainable and conditions-based drawdown, and recalibration of the mission - women, as well as civil society, must be included at all levels of decision-making. We welcome the efforts to establish a new national disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration framework - and MONUSCO’s engagement in community-based DDR. A gender perspective must also be included in these approaches. We also welcome the establishment of a women mediators’ network in the DRC. And we look forward to following the implementation of the DRC’s action plan for Women, Peace and Security.
Third, Norway encourages the DRC, neighbouring countries, regional actors, and the UN, to work together to address the root causes of conflict. Including recognising that illegal deforestation and degradation of natural resources have led to loss of national wealth, as well as reducing rainfall, food security, and energy production.
The nature of these root causes calls for more bilateral and regional cooperation. We welcome the continued proactive engagement of leaders, and regional organisations working within the ‘Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region’.
Creating the conditions for MONUSCO’s sustainable drawdown will require strengthened coordination between the Mission, and the UN country team, in support of the stabilisation and peacebuilding priorities outlined in the mandate. To not lose any gains, the authorities and the UN Country Team must be ready to take over tasks from MONUSCO upon the mission’s exit - starting in Kasai in June this year, and Tanganyika next year.
We urge all stakeholders to work along the humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus, to draw on synergies and ensure a responsible drawdown of MONUSCO.
We look forward to working with the Congolese authorities, and all other relevant stakeholders to this end.