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The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Barbara Woodward (United Kingdom):

The members of the Security Council met on 27 April 2022 to discuss the situation in the Great Lakes region.  They were briefed by Xia Huang, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes, and João Samuel Caholo, Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and commended their efforts in support of the peace process in the region.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the intensification of regional diplomacy in the Great Lakes region and efforts to improve and strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations and cooperation.  They recognized the progress made in the implementation of national and regional commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and reiterated their call to all signatories to fulfil promptly, fully and in good faith their respective commitments under this Framework.  They called for a swift implementation of the decisions of the tenth Summit of its Regional Oversight Mechanism in order to address the root causes of conflict and put an end to recurring cycles of violence and promote lasting regional development.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their deep concern regarding the humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, exacerbated by widespread insecurity and the destabilizing activities of armed groups, including the 23 March Movement (M23), the Coopérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The members of the Security Council condemned all armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the region and urged them to immediately lay down their arms.  They expressed further concern over reported links between the ADF and terrorist networks in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, which may further exacerbate conflicts and contribute to undermining State authority.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the commitment of the signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework to address the threat posed by all armed groups operating in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.   They stressed that there is no purely military solution to these problems and that the elimination of the threat posed by armed groups will require an integrated and regional approach and strong political engagement, with support of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and other relevant United Nations entities.  They commended the convening of the second Regional Heads of State Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo in Nairobi, Kenya, on 21 April 2022 and took note of its outcomes, including the commitment to implement a two-track approach.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the launch of the Operational Cell of the Contact and Coordination Group on non-military measures to assist in the neutralization of armed groups, and encouraged participating countries to fully implement its two-year action plan.  They stressed the importance of the effective implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement programmes for ex-combatants in the region and of other non-military measures that create opportunities for the population and called upon the Guarantors of the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework to strengthen their support in this regard.  They further called on the international community and international financial institutions to support the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the financing of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement programmes.

The members of the Security Council underlined the importance of sustainable economic development as a driver for regional peace, including through economic cooperation and integration, and support to national initiatives which further improve good governance, anti-corruption, transparency and the economic level playing field.  They stressed that such initiatives will boost social and economic development throughout the region and contribute to lasting peace.

The members of the Security Council underscored the role of illicit exploitation of and trade in natural resources as a driver of conflict in the Great Lakes region.  They encouraged a swift implementation of the recommendations of the Khartoum high‑level workshop held from 31 August to 2 September 2021, to address the financing of armed groups through the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources.

The members of the Security Council underlined the importance of rule of law and regional judicial cooperation and called upon all countries in the Great Lakes region to comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and to ensure accountability for violations, including through regional mechanisms and frameworks, and to effectively support measures of conflict prevention, by ending a culture of impunity.  They encouraged efforts to advance the women, peace and security agenda and the youth, peace and security agenda in the region and encouraged all countries in the Great Lakes region to further build capacities and strengthen the role of women and youth in mediation, peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their full support to the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and encouraged further engagement with the region to address the remaining challenges in the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework and to promote peace and stability in the region.  They called on the international community to continue supporting regional countries and organizations in their efforts to advance towards peace, security and development, including through sustained support to the implementation of the United Nations Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes region, as well as its Action Plan.

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