Thank you Special Representative Keita, for your informative briefing. I also thank Ms. Babite for her enlightening intervention.
Norway is saddened by today's news of the MONUSCO helicopter crash in North Kivu province. Norway salutes the peacekeepers working in MONUSCO.
Norway is deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian developments in eastern DRC. After more than 10 months of the state of siege, we see no decline in the threat from the armed groups. The humanitarian response plan also remains severely underfunded.
The attacks by the ADF this month - as well as the CODECO attack on Savo IDP camp in February - illustrate the constant threat faced by the civilian population. Such attacks must stop. We underscore that all parties must fully respect international law, including international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.
Allow me to focus on two main points: illicit exploitation of natural resources, and the mission’s transition.
First, the illicit exploitation of natural resources remains a conflict-driver in the DRC. It generates significant revenues for armed groups. And represents a lost opportunity for the Congolese State. These activities also inflict additional suffering on the civilian population. We are deeply concerned about the use of children in mines, as well as the exploitation of women in the mining sector. Regional cooperation is key to curb this trade. We urge relevant states to implement the recommendations from the Khartoum workshop last year. Additionally, a well-functioning sanctions regime can have a preventive effect, and promote accountability for perpetrators.
Norway supports the work of all relevant stakeholders- including the Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, ICGLR and the AU- in establishing mechanisms to address this root cause of conflict.
Second, the ultimate success of MONUSCO hinges upon a well-executed transition. This must include a clear focus on the protection of civilians. To this end, we welcome the recent meetings in the Joint Working Group, and Transition sub-working group. These are crucial to ensure a conditions-based drawdown. We welcome the inclusion of civil society actors in this exercise.
The milestones and indicators of the joint transition plan illustrates that stabilisation cannot be achieved by military means alone. It must be accompanied by inclusive political and community dialogue, and efforts to promote economic and social development. We encourage MONUSCO and the DRC authorities to continue to include civil society, local community leaders, women and youth in identifying concrete steps to further stabilisation efforts and dialogue.
The progress report shows that time, concerted efforts, and close cooperation between relevant actors is needed to achieve the milestones in the joint transition plan. This process cannot be rushed. It must be based on the situation on the ground, rather than fixed deadlines. Norway remains committed to a timely, and responsible draw-down and eventual exit of MONUSCO.
Norway stands ready to work with all relevant stakeholders for sustainable peace in the DRC.
I thank you