Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 21, 2017
The resolution we adopted today reaffirms this Council’s commitment to continue the work started by Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, two members of the Group of Experts for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who tragically lost their lives in March of this year while on mission in the DRC.
By renewing the Group of Experts mandate, this resolution sends a clear message that this Council will continue to advance Michael and Zaida’s work to advance peace and address human rights violations and abuses in the DRC.
This resolution also underscores the Council’s commitment to take action against those who seek to harm UN personnel, including the Group of Experts. To the families of Michael and Zaida, the members of the groups of experts, MONUSCO personnel, and Special Representative Sidikou, let me say that our expressions of support and praise are just not enough. We know that you deserve our commitment to finding out the truth and holding those who target UN personnel accountable. Today, we took a small, but important, step to do that.
Just as importantly, this resolution is for the Congolese, who have witnessed far too much violence, corruption, and far too many human rights abuses. The gruesome reports coming out of the DRC, specifically from the Kasais, should propel us into action not only in the Security Council but also in the Human Rights Council. Just yesterday, we read reports that over 3,000 people have been killed in the Kasai region in the last eight months.
The DRC military has not just engaged in violence against civilians, it has actually filmed summary executions. We have heard numerous reports of villages being burned and looted, rape used as a weapon of war, and children being targeted and executed in their homes. Some 20,000 people have fled the Kasais since early April, and yet the DRC has rejected offers for international support to investigate the violence.
Zaida and Michael lost their lives seeking the truth in the Kasais. We cannot let that search end, particularly as the reports coming out of the region grow increasingly disturbing and the refugee flows continue unabated.
Mr. President, there will be no peace or security in the DRC without elections and the democratic transition of power. All parties, both the opposition and the government, must remain committed to the December 31 Agreement and take action to expedite the implementation of the agreement, including much needed confidence building measures.
This Council and the U.S. government stand ready to hold accountable those that foment violence, undermine peace, and increase instability in the DRC.
Thank you, Mr. President.