Mutually Reinforcing Accords Create Pathway to Unlocking Great Lakes Region’s, Potential, Secretary-General Tells Heads of State, Government

Following is UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' message, delivered by Said Djinnit, his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, to the seventh Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, in Brazzaville today:

I thank President Denis Sassou Nguesso for hosting the seventh Ordinary Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). I also congratulate President JoAPound o Manuel Goncalves Lourenco for Angola's able stewardship at the helm of the ICGLR.

Since your last ICGLR Summit, held in Luanda in June 2016, your respective Governments have taken a number of steps to advance peace, security, stability and development in the Great Lakes region. Over the past year, the United Nations has worked closely with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the ICGLR, as guarantor institutions of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have worked together to encourage Congolese stakeholders to remain engaged in the implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016 and in the preparations for timely, credible and peaceful elections. ICGLR member States and the United Nations have also collaborated in support of the inter-Burundian dialogue under the East African Community, and dialogue in the Central African Republic.

On the security front, the Congolese Armed Forces, MONUSCO's [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] Force Intervention Brigade and other partners have pursued their efforts to disrupt the activities of negative forces. I welcome the establishment of the Joint Follow-up Mechanism to address the threat posed by the Allied Democratic Forces, as well as the work of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism. Such coordinated joint actions are essential to effectively neutralize the threats posed by armed groups.

We encourage more progress on the repatriation of former combatants, in particular with regard to the SPLM/A-IO [South Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition] elements still present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And I urge you to press forward and expedite the search for lasting solutions for the disarmed FDLR [Forces democratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda] and M23 [23 March Movement] combatants that remain in Rwanda and Uganda.

Beyond political and security engagements, our two organizations have worked together on issues such as natural resource management, women, youth and judicial cooperation. We made progress on the implementation of the Goma Declaration of the Women's Platform of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and have taken action to expand opportunities for youth employment in the region. Important strides were also made towards promoting legal accountability in the region.

All these achievements demonstrate how the Pact on Security, Stability and Development and the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework are mutually reinforcing instruments that create a pathway towards unlocking the region's potential.

As you look ahead, I extend my best wishes to President Sassou Nguesso and the Government of Congo as they assume the leadership of the ICGLR. The United Nations looks forward to deepening our cooperation in pursuit of our shared objective � a prosperous, peaceful, secure and stable Great Lakes region.

I wish you successful deliberations.

Source: United Nations

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