Didier Reynders receives Mary Robinson, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes

date: 11 July 2013

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, received the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, on 11 July.

Together, they discussed the progress already made since the signature in Addis Ababa in February of “the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the region” Indeed, the countries that are signatories to this agreement have initiated work to define a series of indicators for the implementation of their commitments, which should be approved in September in New York. The Congolese government has put in place a national monitoring mechanism, a new electoral commission and the launching of national consultations.

Mary Robinson was returning that very morning from a meeting in Bujumbura with women’s associations from the region. Women are often the main victims of acts of violence and have an important role to play in the pursuit of peace.

Didier Reynders and Mary Robinson expressed concern regarding this violence that still persists today in the Kivus and of which the local populations are the main victims.

In this context, they hope that the soon-to-be finalised deployment of the reinforced brigade of the United Nations peacekeeping force (MONUSCO), accompanied by a coherent demobilisation process, will make it possible to quickly put an end to this instability. This process, one aspect of which also concerns the repatriation of foreign elements, is aimed at those who agree to lay down their arms and permanently give up armed conflict, and who are not subject to sanctions or sought after by the international justice system.

It is only by combining military pressure and incentives that we will be able to see the end of this instability. They both recalled that it was necessary to continue to mobilise international support for this new approach, which seeks not only to address the immediate crisis caused by the rebellion, but also the root causes of the instability in the region through a comprehensive approach which is coordinated by the “Framework of Hope” defined by Ms Robinson.

Didier Reynders reiterated his full support for Ms Robinson’s actions. Belgium is one of the international partners involved in supporting the implementation of the agreement. The Minister will also have the opportunity to meet with his European Union Foreign Affairs colleagues during the Council on 22 July. He also intends to visit the DRC in August.