Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

James Kariuki

Let me begin by thanking SRSG Keita, the Permanent Representative of Gabon as the Chair of the 1533 Committee and Ms Modi for their briefings today. I welcome the participation of Deputy Prime Minister Lutundula and the Permanent Representative of Rwanda in our meeting.

President, the UK fully supports the work carried out by MONUSCO, especially in protecting civilians. We commend the mission and SRSG Keita for their continued efforts in increasingly challenging circumstances.

We remain extremely concerned by the fragile situation in eastern DRC. Regional peace processes should be respected and all support to armed groups must stop.

We acknowledge the DRC’s request to bring forward MONUSCO’s withdrawal and welcome the government’s commitment to ensuring this process is progressive and responsible.

We want to see a handover from MONUSCO to DRC authorities. There has already been significant progress in this regard in recent years, with MONUSCO withdrawing from the Kasais and Tanganyika. Lessons learnt from these processes should inform MONUSCO’s withdrawal from other provinces.

In preparation for the further withdrawal of MONUSCO, we encourage the Mission to continue transitioning tasks to the Congolese state, and, where appropriate, the UN Country Team and other international partners.

The UK is ready to consider further consolidation of MONUSCO’s footprint and a reduction of the troop ceiling during MONUSCO’s mandate renewal in December, in line with the Government’s request to accelerate withdrawal.

However, we must also carefully consider the implications of MONUSCO’s drawdown on the civilian population. The consequences of a rushed departure would be severe. In addition to extensive support to the Congolese security forces in operations against armed groups, MONUSCO currently protects thousands of civilians in eastern DRC. While the UN and international partners can play a supporting role, the Government must be willing and able to assume its responsibilities on civilian protection.

We encourage the Government of DRC to agree responsibilities for a responsible, conditions-based drawdown with MONUSCO. This should include a sustainable plan for providing security in those areas from which MONUSCO withdraws.
President, the UK fully supports the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes, which are key to tackling the underlying drivers of conflict.

In conclusion, we look forward to engaging with all stakeholders on MONUSCO’s future during the mandate renewal, and ensuring that we uphold our responsibility as a Council to support peace and stability in the DRC.

Published 28 September 2023