We must bring what is happening in Belarus to the world’s attention and hear from those on the ground. Briefers on #BYHumanRights: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Anaïs Marin; Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Vice-Chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, Valiantsin Stefanovic; Legal Expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Volha Siakhovich. The meeting is chaired by Urmas Reinsalu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The meeting was initiated by Estonia and co-sponsored by UN Security Council members the United States and United Kingdom, as well as Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Estonia’s Statement at the Security Council VTC Meeting on MONUSCO

Mr. President, thank you for convening today’s meeting and I’d also like to express my gratitude to Jamal Usseni and Special Representative Zerrougui, for their valuable insights. I would like to extend my condolences to Indonesia for their casualties in the recent attack against MONUSCO peacekeepers, and to others who have paid the greatest price while working to establish peace in DRC.

Despite a stable political situation, peace in DRC remains elusive. The ADF has carried out dozens of attacks, which have left over 100 people dead, mostly civilians. Several other groups have also increased their attacks in Kivu, including NDCR whose leader Guidon Mwissa remains a fugitive at large. In Ituri, attacks against civilians and security forces by the Lendu have claimed hundreds of lives. I would like to commend MONUSCO for their quick reaction to these conflicts, which has undoubtedly saved many lives. I also understand that the cooperation between MONUSCO and FARDC has been steadily improving, which will hopefully help save even more lives in the future. It is also good to hear that despite COVID-19 there has been progress with the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process. I hope that the pandemic will not stop provincial and national initiatives on DDR – initiatives which are necessary to ensure that former combatants remain former combatants.

Mr. President,
In addition to the security situation, I remain most concerned over the human rights situation in DRC. The violence of armed groups during the first three months of 2020 has been accompanied by 2000 human rights violations and abuses, including cases of sexual and gender-based violence. The fact that Congolese security forces perpetrated many of these remains a significant problem. Accountability for such violations and abuses must be established in order to avoid the prevalence of a culture of impunity and build trust in the country’s security forces. Strengthening of rule-of-law and of justice institutions is a critical component of efforts addressing the root causes of conflict. MONUSCO’s assistance in the investigation and prosecution of those accountable is very welcome, as is the assistance towards security sector reform.

Mr. President,
The challenges facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo are numerous and diverse. From armed group violence and illicit export of minerals to floods, the Ebola Virus Disease and now COVID-19. I’d like to end my statement by commending MONUSCO, the Congolese authorities and all partners for their continued commitment to establishing peace in the country.

Thank you.