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

2022-04-27 22:33

Mr. President, 

I would like to begin by thanking Special Envoy Xia Huang, Executive Secretary Caholo, as well as Mr. Mahtani for their respective briefings. I welcome the presence of the permanent representatives of Burundi, Rwanda, and the DRC at today's meeting. I look forward to listening to their statements. I also listened very attentively to the intervention made by the Permanent Representative of Kenya on behalf of the A3. We should value their views on this matter. 

The recent period has seen frequent diplomatic engagements among countries of the region, consolidation of political mutual trust, as well as deepened regional cooperation, giving rise to a new outlook for the region. At the same time, the security situation on the ground remains highly fragile. The surge in violence perpetrated by armed groups in eastern DRC is worrying, and the chronic obstacles to the region’s peace and development need to be further addressed. The implementation of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region remains the key to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region. Today, I would like to highlight the following points. 

First, maintain the political momentum of dialogue and reconciliation. The settlement of regional issues requires enhanced mutual trust, solidarity, and cooperation among countries in the region. China is pleased to see the progress made in the normalization of relations between Rwanda and Uganda, as well as between Burundi and Rwanda. We welcome the commitment of regional leaders at the 10th summit of the regional oversight mechanism of the PSC Framework to increase diplomatic engagement, promote friendly relations, and defuse tensions through political and diplomatic channels. When dealing with complex and sensitive issues, such as cross-border security and natural resources, following the aforementioned principles have special significance, and will contribute to greater political mutual trust. The international community should respect the ownership of regional countries and organizations, and support their efforts to resolve differences independently through dialogue and consultation, and help keep the positive momentum in the region. 

Second, jointly work for regional peace and security. History and reality have shown that countries in the Great Lakes region are interdependent and inseparable in terms of security. Under the current situation, security risks in eastern DRC are spreading to neighboring countries. This development merits our attention. All countries should adopt a common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security concept, and respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Last week, the DRC, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda held a Heads of State Conclave in Nairobi, demonstrating their resolve to jointly tackle common security challenges, and help launch the political process in the DRC. China is encouraged by those developments. We echo the Secretary-General’s call, and urge armed groups in the DRC to participate unconditionally in the political process. We hope that the establishment of a regional force will help achieve regional peace. 

Third, increase attention to and investment in non-military solutions. To eliminate the root causes of conflict in the DRC and the Great Lakes region, Military means alone will not work. A comprehensive approach is needed. The key is to help lift local communities out of poverty, and prevent conflicts driven by destitution. This is also the core purpose of the PSC Framework. When combating illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources, both law enforcement and development measures are needed. While cracking down on illegal activities, regional countries should also promote legal trade, develop a regional industry and supply chains, and make natural resources a highlight in regional cooperation. The relevant sanction measures of the Security Council must not be misused, let alone become a tool to suppress other political and commercial players. China looks forward to the expeditious implementation of the outcomes of the high-level workshop on natural resources in Khartoum, and hopes that the Great Lakes Investment and Trade Conference can provide more opportunities for regional development. The DDR programs of regional countries should focus on providing livelihood for ex-combatants in order to break the vicious circle of profit-driven violence. 

Fourth, form synergy to support regional countries in addressing challenges. At present, increasing challenges in the global food, energy, and financial sectors, as well as sluggish economic recovery, have affected the Great Lakes in complex ways, reducing the regional motivation to address development, humanitarian, refugee, and pandemic issues. China will continue to help the DRC to transform its resource endowment into development advantages. We call on the international community to increase support for countries in the region, and promote pragmatic cooperation in areas of poverty reduction, food security, financing for development, and industrialization, so as to achieve win-win results and common development. We hope that UN agencies in the region will form synergy in the implementation of the new strategy and plan of action for the Great Lakes region, mobilize resources from various avenues, and help regional countries to achieve tangible improvement in people’s well-being. China will provide support to the Special Envoy’s office through the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and other channels, and will continue to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation with regional countries and organizations to support their peace, security, and development efforts. 

Thank you Mr. President.

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