UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Wednesday 29 May 2013
UN Regional Office for Central Africa and the Lord’s Resistance Army
Statement by HE Philippa King
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations
(Check against delivery)
I wish to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr Abou Moussa for his briefing today on the activities of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).
Allow me to focus first on the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been committing appalling human rights abuses – in both scale and brutality - since its formation in 1987.
Others here today have stated already the well-known figures – of deaths, abductions, and diplacements caused by the LRA. But we also all know that the LRA has continued its horrific crimes over the past months; by some estimates, as high as 275 separate attacks were reported in 2012. International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants issued in July 2005 against Joseph Kony and other senior LRA leaders remain unexecuted eight years on. We fully support the Security Council’s Presidential Statement on the LRA, and its call on all States to cooperate with relevant national authorities and the ICC in order to implement the ICC arrest warrants and bring to justice those responsible.
Enhanced regional and international efforts to combat the LRA have yielded positive results. We know that the LRA has been weakened and defections have risen. We commend the AU Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA, and the progress made in operationalizing the AU Regional Task Force (AU-RTF).
But despite these important efforts, the LRA continues to terrorize and victimize the populations across Central Africa, exerting a disproportionate humanitarian impact on civilians, particularly women and children, because of the extent of its brutality.
More must be done to seize the current opportunity to put an end, once and for all, to this abhorrent group.
First and foremost, the crisis in Central African Republic must be addressed
We know all too well that the LRA thrives in security vacuums and in environments of weak – or, in this case, absent – State authority. It is therefore all the more concerning that the Ugandan contingent of the AU-RTF was forced to temporarily suspend its operations in CAR. As AU Peace and Security Commissioner Lamamra told an AU Support Forum meeting in Addis Ababa, the LRA has been able to go “out on a picnic" since the Seleka coalition seized power by force in CAR.
It is vital that the AU-RTF is able to resume its activities as soon as possible. We welcome the efforts of AU Special Envoy Francisco Madeira and CAR Prime Minister Tiangaye to reach agreement in this regard, and we hope this will lead to an early resumption of operations.
The UN, AU and Economic Community of Central African States should also strengthen their coordination to help resolve the current crisis in CAR. Australia stands ready to consider ways in which the Security Council can support these efforts.
Second, we must enhance the implementation of the “UN Regional Strategy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the LRA"
The release of the UN Regional Strategy almost one year ago helped focus attention on the threat posed by the LRA. We welcome the submission by the Secretary-General of the implementation plan for the strategy, which provides a useful overview of the action undertaken to date, and the way forward. UNOCA has an important coordinating role to play, to help translate the UN Strategy into tangible results on the ground.
The successful implementation of the strategy also requires the full commitment of all stakeholders – the LRA-affected countries, which have the primary responsibility; regional organisations; the entire UN system; and international partners. Additional efforts are clearly still needed.
Coordinated and enhanced action by UN peacekeeping and political missions in the region – MONUSCO in the DRC, UNMISS in South Sudan, UNAMID in Darfur, and BINUCA in Central African Republic – is a further integral element of efforts to address the LRA threat. These include protecting civilians, sharing information on LRA activities, and developing Standard Operating Procedures and implementing effective Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reintegration, Repatriation, and Resettlement (DDRRR) programmes.
As the LRA’s tactics evolve, cross-border coordination and information sharing is all the more important. The Secretary-General’s report notes, for example, the possible use of funds from illegal ivory trade as an important source of financing for LRA activities. More must be done to develop a common operating picture of the LRA’s capabilities, their areas of operation, and the sources of funding and support they use to carry out attacks.
Now more than ever, UNOCA has an important role to play in conflict prevention, early warning, and mediation efforts in Central Africa. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, economic growth, while sustained, is not yet inclusive; youth unemployment is high; women’s participation in key political decision-making is low in all but a few countries; and piracy and cross-border criminal activity, including elephant poaching, has increased.
We welcome regional efforts to address these issues, and the assistance UNOCA is providing to support them. We look forward, for example, to the upcoming regional Summit of Heads of State and Government later this month on maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea, and to the regional forum on “Youth Employment, Political Stability and Peacebuilding in Central Africa” to be held in the last quarter of 2013.
Allow me to conclude by expressing our full support to Special Representative Moussa and UNOCA for their important contribution to conflict prevention in Central Africa.