UN Regional Office for Central Africa and the Lord’s Resistance Army
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
I wish to thank Special Representative [Abou] Moussa for his briefing today on the activities of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and on the Lord’s Resistance Army. This is an important opportunity for the Council to discuss the critical challenges facing the Central African region.
I would like to focus my remarks on three inter-related issues:
(1) addressing the crisis in the CAR;
(2) maintaining momentum on efforts to permanently eradicate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army; and
(3) supporting UNOCA and regional-led efforts to address other challenges to Central Africa’s peace and security.
First and foremost we must address the deteriorating security situation and grave human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic.
We have heard stark warnings of increasing inter-religious violence in the Central African Republic and the risk of the situation spiralling further out of control – with devastating consequences for CAR and the wider region.
The crisis demands an urgent and comprehensive response – and the Council must fulfil its commitment to consider “all potential options” to stabilise the situation. Australia strongly supports the implementation of Resolution 2121, which strengthened the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA). We must now consider the options put forward by the Secretary General on international support for the African-led Stabilisation Mission (MISCA) and the potential transition to a UN peacekeeping operation. In our view, form should follow function – we should take forward the option, or options, that will best address the situation in the CAR now, and for the longer-term. We should maintain momentum in the coming weeks to respond swiftly. We know that the cost of inaction will be unacceptable.
Second we must maintain momentum to permanently eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
We know all too well that the LRA thrives in security vacuums and in environments of weak or absent state authority. The total breakdown in security and law and order in the CAR has given the LRA room to operate. We welcome the resumption of activities of the Ugandan contingent of the AU-Regional Task Force (AU-RTF). Yet the LRA has had an opportunity to regroup by retreating into rural areas beyond the AU-RTF’s area of operations. This only underscores the importance of increasing coordination between the AU-RTF, MISCA, and BINUCA.
The threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army is diminished, but not extinguished. Earlier this week, we heard concerning reports from the UN Mission in South Sudan of suspected LRA attacks and abductions in Western Equatoria – the first in South Sudan in over two years. A resumption of LRA activity was observed in north-east DRC earlier in November, breaking two months of relative calm. ICC arrest warrants issued in July 2005 against Joseph Kony and other senior LRA leaders remain unexecuted eight years on
Enhanced regional and international efforts to combat the LRA have yielded positive results. We commend the AU Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA, and the significant progress made in operationalising the AU Regional Task Force. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, military operations have degraded the LRA and its ability to establish bases, reduced the number of attacks, and increased pressure on LRA combatants to defect.
We must seize the current opportunity to put an end, once and for all, to this abhorrent group and to the atrocities it has committed against civilians.
Additional efforts are clearly still needed to enhance the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy. UNOCA has an important coordinating role to play, to help translate the strategy into tangible results on the ground. This 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.
As the LRA’s tactics continue to evolve, cross-border coordination and information sharing is all the more important to enhance the protection of civilians – particularly women and children that have suffered greatly at the hands of the LRA. UN peacekeeping and political missions in the region – MONUSCO in the DRC, UNMISS in South Sudan, and BINUCA in Central African Republic – have a vital role to play in this regard, and should further enhance their cooperation with the AU-RTF.
Finally, we must support UNOCA and regional-led efforts to address other – often related – challenges to Central Africa’s peace and security
One such challenge is the issue of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in the Central Africa region, which has reached “alarming levels” as noted in the Secretary-General’s report. Aside from the ecological impact and cruelty of this practice, such illicit activity is used to finance transnational criminal networks and armed rebel groups, including the LRA. It is increasingly viewed by countries of the region as a threat to their security. We therefore encourage further regional and international efforts to address poaching.
We welcome the assistance being provided by UNOCA to regional efforts to address this and other challenges facing Central Africa. I would like to underscore Australia’s belief in the important role that UNOCA has to play in conflict prevention, early warning, and mediation.
Let me conclude by reaffirming Australia’s full support to Special Representative Moussa and UNOCA for their efforts.