New York, 21 March 2016
Commissioner of the African Union for Peace and Security,
Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region,
It is with great pleasure that, for the first time, I address the Security Council of the United Nations on behalf of Portugal, in this timely initiative of the Angolan presidency.
Peace and security in the Great Lakes face complex challenges that are recognized and tackled by the African leadership, with a view to finding appropriate solutions. In this endeavor it has counted on the solidarity and support of the international community. Today’s debate is a proof of that.
We welcome the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General and of his Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region to support stability, peace, security and development of countries in the region. In this regard, we praise the 2016-17 UN Strategic Framework for the Great Lakes Region, which will support the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for the countries in the region, signed in 2013.
We acknowledge, with satisfaction, the establishment of a road map of priorities by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, as well as the six pillars of action selected, all corresponding to areas we recognize crucial for adequately tackling the most important challenges in the region.
Portugal, nationally and as member of the European Union, has supported and will stanchly continue to support the efforts of the countries in the Great Lakes Region in their processes of national reconciliation, democratic consolidation, socio-economic sustainable development and promotion of respect for human rights, in accordance with the 2013 Addis Ababa Framework Agreement.
We have been following, with particular attention and concern, the situation in Burundi. We praise the efforts of the East Africa Community, the African Union and the United Nations, for the promotion of an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue. We believe that this is the only valid path to avoid an escalation of the conflict and further deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.
The Arusha Agreements, still in force, are a good example of an African solution for an African problem. We hope that the current conflict will be solved through inclusive political dialogue. The deployment of 200 military experts and observers of the African Union to the field is an important positive step.
There have been security progresses in the Democratic Republic of Congo but progress in the implementation of the Nairobi Declarations has been slow, with the persistence of tension and the presence in the country of armed groups, in particular ADF and FDLR.
It is therefore crucial to ensure a strong support to MONUSCO and to promote its closer collaboration with DRC armed forces. In this context, we praise the recent agreement which allows joint FARDC/MONUSCO operations against FDLR, and we highlight the importance of the Strategic Dialogue between the UN and the Government of the DRC over MONUSCO’s exit strategy, which, in our view, should be a gradual process based on progress.
It is urgent to assure the inclusiveness and the representativeness of the national political dialogue in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Any changes in the constitutional framework which do not gather the necessary political consensus represent a risk factor for DRC’s stability, with potential negative repercussions in the whole continent. We call on the authorities of the DRC and other countries in the region to ratify and effectively implement the principles of the African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance. Portugal fully subscribes the February 16th declaration of the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Francophone Organization, and welcomes the appointment of the African Union Special Envoy.
The repeated violations of the Cease-Fire Agreement and the dramatic human rights situation in South Sudan are very concerning. All parties must urgently commit to the fulfillment of the Peace Agreement and to the establishment of the foreseen Transitional Government.
It is also urgent to guarantee that humanitarian aid reach those in need, throughout the whole region. Therefore, we call for the unreserved collaboration of all States in the establishment of the necessary conditions of access so that we can lessen the suffering of refugees, internally displaced people and populations in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
Africa holds a special place in Portuguese foreign policy. Portugal is also firmly committed to an effective multilateralism, based on the primacy of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the promotion of all pillars of a sustainable development. This is our motivation to constantly be a solid and solidary partner, bilaterally and within the European Union, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) and the United Nations. We shall further proceed this path, in full respect of the principle of ownership of States and recognizing the specific responsibility and vocation of regional organizations.
We will continue to participate in the efforts undertaken by the International Community aimed at promoting dialogue with countries in the region, notably through regional and sub-regional organizations, including the African Union, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, the Eastern Africa Community and the Southern Africa Development Community.
We will promote and support training initiatives in good governance, anti-corruption, equitable distribution of resources, women empowerment and the right to education.
We stand ready to develop cooperation on capacity building, notably on reforms of the security and justice sectors. In this regard, we welcome the European Union Military Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic and the future Military training mission.
We will encourage private sector and civil society participation in the implementation of projects that promote peace and development. In this regard, we welcome the International Conference on Private Investment in the Great Lakes Region, recently held in Kinshasa.
I take this occasion to praise the work of Angola as Presidency of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region, in which it has promoted efforts for peaceful resolution of conflicts and development in the region.
In the Great Lakes region, the great challenges go along with a large development potential. An integrated and sustainable development, which foremostly improves the living conditions of the populations, requires a management of natural resources that is economically viable, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
Only peace and security shall foster the basic conditions for development. Only peace shall avoid the dilapidation of natural resources by warlords and rebellious factions. Only good governance and solid institutions will allow transparency in the extractive industries, the creation of chains of added value in those industries and the implementation of policies ensuring that economic development will translate into human development, tangible to all segments of the population. No one should be left behind.
The consolidation of a democratic culture requires stability. I do not mean stability at any price, but rather stability built on strict fulfillment of the constitutional order, of rule of law, of transparency, free and fair electoral processes, as well as state institutions safeguarding the interests of the whole population.
In concluding, I reaffirm Portugal’s commitment to collaborate with the countries of the Great Lakes region, wishing that Nelson Mandela’s dream of an Africa in peace with itself becomes a reality.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias