FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Since April 2012, the M23 rebel movement has wrought havoc on Congolese civilians and established an illegal parallel administration in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Last November, horrified Congolese civilians watched as members of the M23 marched into Goma, the most populated city in the East. Remarkably, today, nearly one year after the fall of Goma, the M23 movement will end its rebellion.
I was in the region last month and witnessed first-hand the seeds of this important reversal: sustained high-level political engagement from leaders in the region and the international community; unanimous Security Council support for the regional Peace, Security, and Cooperation (PSC) Framework signed in Addis Ababa earlier this year; adoption of UNSCR 2098 that authorized an innovative tool in UN peacekeeping—MONUSCO’s “Intervention Brigade,” mandated to neutralize armed groups; and invigorated military efforts by the Congolese armed forces and MONUSCO to take on the M23.
We look forward to the final declaration providing for the timely disarmament and demobilization of the M23, as well as accountability for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In this regard, we continue to call for the establishment of “mixed chambers,” a hybrid domestic-international court that would prosecute the worst perpetrators of atrocities. We reiterate our calls for the DRC government to hold accountable all those who have committed abuses in the Congolese army, as well as militia members.
But the M23 is only one of several armed groups operating in eastern DRC. We call on the DRC government and MONUSCO to ensure that other armed groups, including the FDLR, do not take advantage of the vacuum created by the disbanding of the M23. In keeping with the Security Council’s mandate, they should ensure that all armed groups are neutralized and that the DRC government establishes control over all its territory and provides security to all Congolese. We continue to believe the best way to end the chronic conflict and achieve lasting peace in the Great Lakes region remains full and prompt implementation of the PSC Framework, including establishing a broader dialogue among key signatory states that addresses the deeper drivers of conflict in eastern Congo.
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