Thank you, Madam President,

I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bintou Keita, for her presentation, including the touching slam of the young people, and for all the work accomplished by MONUSCO. I welcome the presence of the representatives of the DRC and Rwanda at this meeting. I also congratulate, like my colleagues, the DRC on the formation of its new government, including the appointment of the country's first female Prime Minister.

Now that MONUSCO's disengagement from South Kivu has been completed, and security conditions in the East remain unstable, the DRC is at a decisive crossroads for the lasting restoration of peace on its territory. In order to ease tensions and ensure the protection of civilians, three aspects seems particularly important to us:

Firstly, only a political solution, based on dialogue and mutual respect, can lead to lasting peace and security in the region. As mentioned today by the Special Representative, the intensification of tensions between the DRC and Rwanda represents a real risk of regional escalation and worsening of the conflict. In this context, we welcome the political initiatives underway and encourage Presidents Tshisekedi and Kagame to meet as soon as possible to engage in a sincere and constructive dialogue. We welcome the efforts of the United States which have led to a humanitarian truce in the East, and hope that this will lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Furthermore, to restore confidence, it is crucial that all states in the region respect their commitments. In this respect, the continued advance of the Rwandan defense forces and the M23 in the east of the DRC, notably the recent occupation of several localities in Lubero territory, is unacceptable. This advance constitutes a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC. We urge Rwanda to cease all support for the M23 and to withdraw from Congolese territory. Likewise, we call on the FARDC (Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo) to honour their commitments and cease all support for the FDLR (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda).

Secondly, no lasting peace dialogue can succeed if the parties continue to violate international law. Switzerland remains concerned by the increase in attacks on civilians, child recruitment and conflict-related sexual violence in all areas affected by the conflict. The parties must take concrete measures to protect the civilian population. In accordance with international humanitarian law, the parties must in particular avoid placing military objects in or near densely populated areas. Civilians and IDP sites must never be targeted. We also unequivocally condemn all attacks on MONUSCO and humanitarian personnel. Indeed, parties to conflicts have an obligation to respect and protect humanitarian and UN personnel, including local staff, as recalled by Resolution 2730 of this Council, adopted in May at the initiative of my country.

Thirdly, while MONUSCO has completed its withdrawal from South Kivu, we are concerned by the security challenges that remain after the disengagement. Switzerland encourages the DRC to take over and ensure that security gaps are filled, notably through the deployment of security forces. Furthermore, it is essential that these protection challenges are taken into account in the next stages of disengagement.

Finally, any MONUSCO support for regional forces should be undertaken with the understanding that peace and security can only be achieved through sustainable political solutions. It must be conditional on robust application of the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, and support to ensure adherence to the African Union's compliance framework, in line with Resolution 2717. From an operational point of view, any support must be accompanied by an approach focused on the protection of civilians, and by effective coordination and information sharing.

Madam President,

Switzerland remains committed to finding a political solution to the crisis in eastern DRC. We reaffirm our readiness to support diplomatic efforts and peace talks. We call on the members of this Council to speak with one voice to ensure that these efforts become a reality and lead to a de-escalation of the conflict.

Thank you.

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