I would like to thank Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Matha Ama Akyaa Pobee for her presentation. I welcome the participation of representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of Rwanda.
I would like to share the testimony of a resident of the village of Arr', in Ituri: "Our children had a good school, but during the conflict everything was destroyed". These words illustrate the devastating consequences of the security crisis in the eastern DRC, including for future generations. They are an urgent call to all parties to engage in a sincere dialogue and to place the protection of civilians at the heart of all efforts.
With this in mind, I would like to raise three points:
Firstly, international humanitarian, human rights law and the fight against impunity are essential for lasting peace. The appalling attack perpetrated by alleged elements of CODECO in a site for displaced persons in Ituri is a sombre reminder of the lack of protection for civilians. The fight against impunity, including impunity for sexual violence – which we have just heard the shocking figures from the Assistant Secretary-General - is a powerful means of preventing future violations. We therefore call on the government to strengthen investigations and mobile courts to prevent and respond to armed attacks on civilians. Switzerland will continue to collaborate with the Congolese authorities and the African Union in the area of violence prevention.
Secondly, sincere and inclusive dialogue is needed to move forward the political processes. At national level, this dialogue must be established between the Congolese authorities, the political opposition and civil society. This is particularly important in the run-up to the elections, when tensions are already being felt. Corrective measures should be taken in areas where voter registration has been hampered by insecurity. At the regional level, dialogue between the States of the region remains key to the success of the Luanda and Nairobi processes. We welcome the quadripartite summit to be held tomorrow in Luanda, under the aegis of the African Union. These efforts illustrate the importance of mutually reinforcing regional peace initiatives. Finally, an inclusive dialogue must inform the exchanges between Kinshasa, MONUSCO and the United Nations country team to advance the transition plan. After more than two decades in the country, it is crucial to preserve the important gains achieved with the support of the Mission. To this end, a common understanding of the next steps involved in the transition is essential, particularly with regard to the minimum-security conditions required for a responsible and sustainable exit of the mission.
Thirdly, a return to stability and security is key for sustainable development and for prosperity. Violence against the civilian population, attacks on civilian infrastructure and schools, and the illegal exploitation of natural resources are impeding development. We call on the government to step up its efforts to stabilise the country, in particular through the restoration of state authority, good governance and security sector reform. In this respect, we support the Secretary-General's call for the draft law establishing an armed defence reserve not to lead to a de facto integration of armed groups into the Congolese armed forces. Efforts by the authorities to strengthen their security capacities must comply with human rights and international humanitarian law.
Switzerland is attentive to the Congolese authorities' call for an accelerated transition of MONUSCO. However, the testimony of the inhabitant of the village of Arr' illustrates the need for the Congolese government to redouble its efforts to strengthen the protection of the civilian population during this period of transition. Switzerland will continue to work closely with the Congolese authorities, the United Nations and the communities to support a peaceful transition, leading to a peaceful society and sustainable development in the DRC.