Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Statement at UN Security Council Briefing about the Great Lakes Region

Statement by Kirk McBride, Deputy Political Counselor for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, at the Open Briefing on the Great Lakes Region, March 9, 2007.

Mr. President,

I want to thank SRSG Fall for his briefing. The United States joins the others in this room in thanking Mr. Fall for his 4 years of leadership in the Great Lakes region.

In the past decade, this resource rich region in heart of Africa, has suffered from wrenching, destabilizing conflicts that have produced almost unimaginable suffering. Today the situation remains fragile and the challenges remain immense, but the prospects for peace and development have improved, in part because of the attention of the international community but, even more so, because of the will and efforts of the people in the region to overcome these setbacks. The transition in Burundi and historic elections in the DRC are among a number of encouraging developments. We have all noted a spirit of trust and cooperation that is growing among the states in the region.

The "Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region," signed in Nairobi last December 15 by eleven African states, was a promising conclusion to the UN-sponsored International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. This agreement has the potential to become a means of preventing future conflicts in central Africa while offering a roadmap for consolidating democracy, good governance and development. We join others in encouraging the states in the region to live up to their commitments to respect national sovereignty, to seek peaceful settlement of disputes, and to cooperate to strengthen the economies of the region.
This is a vision that cannot be imposed. Regional ownership of this process is vital.

Bilateral agreements and other regional efforts can and should complement this process. We would note in this regard one initiative that my country has facilitated, the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission, which is aimed at promoting security and stability in and between the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. We are confident that these countries, which are also signatories to the Nairobi Pact, will fulfill their commitments to enhance cooperation for peace among Commission members.

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