1. On 27 September 2012, I convened a high-level meeting on eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The meeting was an opportunity for key stakeholders to contribute to national, regional and international efforts aimed at finding a peaceful and sustainable resolution to the crisis in eastern DRC. Participants invited to the meeting were: the Republic of Angola, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Republic of Burundi, the Central African Republic, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of France, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of India, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Mozambique, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Republic of Congo, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Uganda, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, the Republic of Zambia, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
2. The participants voiced concern at the serious security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC, due to the military activities of negative forces, mainly the so-called 23 March Movement (M23). They strongly condemned the M23 and other negative forces operating in eastern DRC, and their attacks on the civilian population, United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian actors, and called on the M23 and other negative forces to cease immediately all forms of violence, including acts of sexual violence and the recruitment and use of children. They reiterated that the full establishment of Congolese State authority was of key importance and that all activities undermining that authority, including the establishment of parallel administration by the M23, contribute to instability in the region. They condemned those activities and called on their perpetrators to cease them immediately.
3. Most participants strongly condemned all forms of external support to the M23 and other negative forces in the DRC, and demanded the immediate and permanent cessation of such support. They called for the M23 leadership to be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law, particularly the commanders who are linked to past atrocities and present the gravest risk to civilians. Some participants cautioned that those supporting the M23 could also be held accountable.
4. The deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern DRC was of particular concern. With more than 320,000 people displaced from their homes in North Kivu province since the M23 mutiny started in April 2012, including some 60,000 who have been registered as refugees in Rwanda and Uganda, instability in the subregion seriously affects the lives, health and livelihoods of civilians who face continued threats of attacks, looting and other human rights violations. The participants expressed concern about the shortfall in funding for humanitarian assistance to people in need and the difficulty in achieving humanitarian access in North Kivu due to insecurity and poor road infrastructure. They called on all parties to the conflict to allow safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to the areas under their control. They welcomed the establishment by the ICGLR of a regional Humanitarian Trust Fund and called on the international community to provide funding. They further noted that the humanitarian situation is likely to continue to deteriorate unless the M23 and other negative forces lay down their arms, and the Government of the DRC and States in the region reach a political solution.
5. The participants welcomed the Government of the DRC’s commitment to restoring peace and stability in eastern DRC and urged the Government to accelerate efforts to reform its security sector and establish governance mechanisms in eastern DRC. The also welcomed the efforts of States in the region to find a durable solution to the insecurity and dire humanitarian situation. In this connection, they reiterated the need to respect fully the principle of non-intervention, and stressed the need to sustain efforts to eradicate the presence of negative forces in eastern DRC and effectively extend State authority in order to promote lasting peace, security and stability in the region. They also agreed that respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the DRC was an inviolable principle and a matter of vital importance for regional and international peace and security.
6. The participants welcomed the efforts of the ICGLR and recalled the decisions taken during its Summit meetings on 15 July, 8 August and 8 September 2012, and those taken by the AU Peace and Security Council on 21 June and 19 September 2012. They looked forward to the upcoming ICGLR Summit in Kampala on 8 October to further build on efforts to address the situation in eastern DRC.
7. The participants noted the need to pursue a political track in order to obtain a sustainable solution, including through enhanced dialogue, and welcomed, when and where necessary, further regional and international mediation efforts. They stressed in particular the urgency of constructive engagement and dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda. They further stressed the need to address the underlying causes of the conflict in eastern DRC, and to strengthen confidence-building mechanisms at all levels, including through regular high-level meetings involving senior military and political officials of the DRC and Rwanda. The participants called upon me to offer my good offices to reinforce the diplomatic efforts of the ICGLR leaders, including, as appropriate, through the appointment of a UN-AU Special Envoy, taking into account the previous work done by UN-AU Special Envoys Olusegun Obasanjo and Benjamin Mkapa. They also welcomed the cooperation between States in the region and SADC in searching for a lasting solution.
8. The participants welcomed the establishment of the expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM), which was launched on 14 September, as an important starting point for rebuilding confidence between the DRC and Rwanda. The participants reiterated the importance of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) supporting the JVM. Participants urged international partners to redouble their efforts to support the implementation of the 2006 ICGLR Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which is critical to building confidence and promoting peace and stability in the region.
9. The participants noted with interest the decisions by the ICGLR and the AU regarding the deployment of an “International Neutral Force” in eastern DRC and the ICGLR’s call for a UN-AU mandate for the “International Neutral Force”. They looked forward to receiving the report of the ICGLR Military Assessment Team regarding the military capacity of the negative forces operating in North Kivu, including the M23 and the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda], and a detailed concept of operations. They called for close cooperation between the Executive Secretariat of ICGLR, the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat to clarify the modalities and means of the Force, and its coordination with MONUSCO.
10. The participants expressed full support for the active measures taken by MONUSCO to implement its mandate in eastern DRC, including in particular protecting civilians displaced or threatened as a result of the violent activities of negative forces, and encouraged the continuation of these efforts. They also recognized the pressure the current crisis has put on MONUSCO in achieving its mandate.
11. The participants emphasized the primary responsibility of the Government of the DRC to reinforce State authority in eastern DRC, including through effective security sector reform, in particular army reform, to end impunity for human rights violations, and encouraged the Government of the DRC to pursue its efforts aimed at addressing issues such as the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Participants welcomed the assistance of the United Nations to address these and other issues that would contribute to ensuring peace and stability in eastern DRC.