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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Great Lakes Region

2021-10-21 03:58

Madam President,

I welcome you, Foreign Minister Omamo, for presiding over today's meeting. And I thank Special Envoy Xia Huang, Executive Secretary Caholo and Assistant Secretary General Pobee for their briefings. I also welcome Mr. António, Foreign Minister of Angola, Mr. Ekolomba, High Representative of the President of the DRC, and representatives of Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to the meeting. 

For a period of time, the overall situation in the Great Lakes region has been improving. Multiple countries have completed general elections, and positive progress made in the peace process in the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan. Burundi has been successfully removed from the agenda of the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council. Cross border security incidents in the region have been on decline. Rapprochement and enhanced cooperation, have been picking up momentum. All those demonstate that peace and development in the region face a window of opportunity. As a good friend and good partner of countries in the Great Lakes region. China is pleased by this development and extends our congratulations to the countries in the region. We hope that all parties will build consensus and deepen cooperation in a continued effort to implement the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes region, with a view to achieving broad-based and lasting peace, development and prosperity at an early date. I would like to emphasize the following.

First, maintaining the momentum of cooperation and continuing to improve relations among regional countries. Enhancing political mutual trust and tightening the bounds of interest are effective ways to improve the situation in the Great Lakes region. Countries in the region have recently conducted intensive high level interactions, signed a number of cooperation agreements, and striven to build good neighborly relations which are welcome. The DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda held Meeting of Chiefs of Intelligence and Security Services, established the Contact and Coordination group, thus making great headway in regional security cooperation. China highly appreciates the efforts of regional countries, and encourages all parties to continue to deepen cooperation to provide high-level guidance, and political assistance for the positive development of the regional situation. We look forward to the upcoming 10th Summit of Regional Oversight Mechanism, which provides an important opportunity to promote the implementation of the framework document.

Second, adhering to the development orientation and striving to eliminate the root causes of conflicts. Poverty and under development lead to resource competition and trigger conflicts and confrontations, which is an important driver for protracted wars in the region. Countries in the region should strictly regulate and enforce the exploitation and utilization of natural resources, strengthen regional cooperation to combat illegal exploitation and trade, and cut off the channels of illicit profit for armed groups. China supports regional countries in turning their resource advantages into development advantages, helping local people gain employment and eradicate poverty, speeding up industrialization and modernization, enhancing the capacity for independent development and innovation through legitimate channel and promoting peace with development. China welcomes the positive results of the Khartoum workshop on natural resources, and looks forward to the successful holding of the 2nd Great Lakes Investment and Trade Conference, coordinated by the Special Envoy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe impacts to the region. The current regional vaccination rate is only 6%. IMF estimates that it will be difficult for countries in the region to return their per capita income to the pre-pandemic levels before 2025. China calls on the international community to increase vaccine assistance to the countries in the region, and take pragmatic measures in debt relief and development assistance to help with pandemic response and speed up post-pandemic recovery. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has provided multiple batches of anti-epidemic supplies and vaccines to the Great Lakes region. 12 regional countries are using Chinese vaccines.

Third, strengthening coordination for action and jointly implementing the new strategy and action plan for the Great Lakes region. China welcomes that the Special Envoy has formulated a new strategy and action plan after fully listening to the opinions of regional countries, which we believe will become an important guidance for the United Nations to comprehensively respond to regional challenges. The international community should provide necessary financial support for the implementation of the new strategy and action plan. UN agencies on the ground, the AU and ICGLR should cooperate closely in this regard, and jointly transform the vision into practical results. China welcomes the establishment of a Senior Policy Group by the United Nations agencies in the region, and believes that it will help enhance synergy. At present, MONUSCO is implementing the drawdown strategy. China encourages the office of the Special Envoy and MONUSCO to strengthen coordination and cooperation on the implementation of the two strategies, eliminate regional instability through comprehensive means, and lay a solid foundation for the realization of lasting peace in the region.

Thank you, Madam President.

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