Thank you Mr. President,
I would like to thank Special Envoy Huang Xia for his valuable briefing. The Covid-19 pandemic has added pressure to the numerous interconnected challenges in the region – conflicts with armed groups, human rights violations and abuses, health epidemics and socioeconomic difficulties.
Addressing such challenges benefits from a regional approach. The shared benefit from working together is always greater than for any country individually. We would like to commend the resolute cross-border steps of Great Lakes countries such as the mini summit hosted last week by president Tshisekedi and the SADC facilitated solutions to border disputes. We would also praise the work of the quadripartite process on Uganda and Rwanda, and the resolve of Rwanda and Burundi in normalizing their bilateral relations. We look forward to receiving an update on the new UN regional strategy on peace and security for the Great Lakes region.
Estonia condemns the violence perpetrated by armed groups in the region, in particular by ADF and CODECO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 3R in Central African Republic. The conflicts here continue to be accompanied by high numbers of grave violations and abuses of human rights. We are most worried about the increase in sexual and gender-based violence, the continued displacement of populations, and the number of grave child rights violations. Perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable in order to fight the presence of a culture of impunity, which, if left unchecked, will only breed more violence. Rapid and robust implementation of the Nairobi Declaration on Justice and Good Governance would greatly assist in these efforts. The protection of human rights and the fight against impunity must remain priorities, in particular during the pandemic, and appreciate the readiness of the Special Envoy to assist in this regard.
With elections upcoming in several countries in the region, we would like to underline the importance of initiatives promoting the meaningful participation of women in political and electoral processes and advancing the women, peace and security agenda in the Great Lakes region. This is particularly important now during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted the implementation of the WPS agenda in the region.
The same applies to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. I would like to finish here by encouraging the signatories and co-guarantors of the Framework to strengthen their cooperation and utilize innovative solutions to continue tackling regional challenges.
Thank you Mr. President.