Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 29, 2022
Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, SRSG Keita, for your briefing and for your commitment to your mission. I’d also like to welcome our colleague, the Permanent Representative from DRC, here today. And also let me express concerns about the report of the downed plane. Condolences for any loss of life. And this is just one more bit of evidence of the extraordinary danger that MONUSCO troops face in working in the DRC.
Madam President, I’d like to use my time today to discuss the recent attacks in eastern DRC; our efforts to disrupt illicit resource networks; transition planning and the 2023 election; and peacekeeper conduct.
First and foremost, the United States strongly condemns continued attacks by armed groups – including ISIS-DRC, also known as Allied Democratic Forces, and the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo. We are concerned by the grave threats to civilians posed by armed groups with networks across the region. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, these also include a potentially reconstituted M23 and Burundian armed groups. We were particularly disturbed, as others have mentioned, by the recent attacks in Plaine Savo IDP camp in Ituri province. There, in the late hours of February 1, CODECO assailants slaughtered more than 60 people, mostly women and children, before MONUSCO intervened jointly with DRC Armed Forces to repel the assault.
The United States holds in high regard the work of NGOs and advocates who go to great lengths to shine a light on these kinds of attacks and abuses against civilians, which often target particular ethnic groups. And we are glad to see the SRSG and her team thinking critically about how to bolster MONUSCO forces, including through enhanced use of standing combat deployments, to best protect DRC’s vulnerable populations.
To that end, the United States welcomes the initial steps taken by FARDC, Ugandan People’s Defense Forces, and MONUSCO to achieve effective communication and deconfliction. We urge all parties to fully implement the agreed coordination. We also continue to urge Member States to maintain adherence to UN Security Council sanctions resolutions and all relevant obligations under international law in the conduct of all cross-border operations in the east.
Second, everyone sitting here in this room and tuning in today knows full well that illegal natural resource trafficking in eastern DRC and cross-border regions directly fuels and finances activities that threaten the lives of Congolese people every single day. These resources instead ought to be used to build a future for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are concerned by the finding in the Secretary-General’s report that in areas of South Kivu there is an increased presence of the armed groups that are connected to the regional criminal groups orchestrating illegal mining. We must put this to an end. This is why we remain committed to working with Member States to make robust use of the UN Security Council’s 1533 DRC sanctions regime. The United States’ sanctions on Alain Goetz and his network demonstrate our commitment to unearth and disrupt the networks of those who would profit at the expense of the country’s security and development and of their people.
Third, we welcome the ongoing coordination between MONUSCO, the DRC government, and all partners, including provincial authorities, to operationalize MONUSCO’s transition plan. And as we think about the future, I know many eyes are looking at the elections set for December 2023. To that end, the United States supports strengthened protections for freedom of expression, which is critical to a credible electoral process. And we stand ready with the Council to ensure our DRC government partners have all the tools they need to plan and hold free, fair, transparent, timely, secure, and inclusive elections.
Fourth and finally, we must not lose sight within the MONUSCO context of a fight we continue to wage across UN field operations: and that is ending sexual exploitation and abuse. In 2021 alone, MONUSCO received reports of 23 allegations of SEA perpetrated by UN personnel. I know the Mission’s Conduct and Discipline team is hard at work processing and investigating those allegations. And I hope the countries whose personnel stand accused are working just as hard to hold perpetrators accountable when allegations are substantiated.
Between the recent attacks, the illegal mining, the December 2023 elections, MONUSCO’s role is as important as ever. We look forward to continuing to discuss that role and track all progress in the weeks to come.
Thank you, Madam President.