UN Security Council Open Debate on the Great Lakes Region 2016

Statement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations New York, 21 March 2016


I would like to thank Angola for organizing this important debate. The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the EU statement. I commend today’s briefers for their interventions and their outstanding work and perseverance in bringing peace and stability to the Great Lakes region.

(Situation in the region)

The Netherlands is concerned about the renewed threat of conflict and human suffering in the Great Lakes region. A poignant example is the unraveling of the peace process in Burundi during the past year. We have seen how a crisis has emerged after the parties concerned were unable to peacefully agree on the country’s democratic future.

(NL priorities in the region)

Mr Chair, the Netherlands has been a partner for peace, development and justice in the Great Lakes region for decades. Through our embassies in each country, we contribute to peace and dialogue, accountability and human rights; and to inclusive development.

(Peace and dialogue)

We believe dialogue is a better proposition for the future than repression or armed conflict. As a result, we believe the way forward in the current crises in Burundi and DRC is through inclusive dialogue and political consensus.

The Netherlands has supported dialogue in Burundi for many years, also at times when very few people believed a solution was possible. We accompanied the complex process of integration and reform of Burundi’s security forces. With the UN, we supported Burundi’s road to democracy through inclusive dialogue. Those processes were fraught with difficulties, but through experience we know it can be done.

We call on all parties in Burundi to keep these past achievements in mind, to forswear all violence and to urgently participate in the regionally led inclusive dialogue in a spirit of compromise. As in the past, the Netherlands will stand by Burundi’s side, as a friend, to advise, support and assist. We will not let down the citizens of Burundi.

Like Burundi, the DRC is now at a crossroads to either consolidate past achievements or descend into violence and social unrest. The Kingdom of the Netherlands fully supports the AU’s efforts to bring stakeholders together to seek consensus on the countries’ future.

Electoral unrest is especially dangerous for the fragile situation in the East of the DRC. Aside from addressing the root causes of conflict, it is important that the government of the DRC resumes all cooperation with MONUSCO in neutralizing armed groups and creating conditions for their effective disarmament and reintegration.

(human rights and inclusive development)

Mr. President, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is home and host to the global commitment to peace and justice. We are deeply concerned by the increasing human rights violations throughout the region. Hard won space for media, human rights defenders and political opposition is being deliberately shut down, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and extrajudicial killings are increasing. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and look for common peaceful objectives that will benefit all citizens.

As impunity is at the basis of recurring cycles of violence and human rights violations, it is imperative that those responsible for crimes, war crimes, sexual violence, human rights violations be held accountable, so that the cycle can be broken and victims can see justice done.

Our development efforts are aimed at breaking that cycle, by addressing the root causes of conflict from a regional perspective, including though cross border programs in the area of justice, nature preservation, civil society, energy and responsible sourcing of minerals.

We welcome the UN’s strategic Framework for the Great Lakes region, which addresses these very same issues. We look forward to continue working with the UN and all parties concerned with a view to restoring stability and a basis for a sustainable future for all in the Great Lakes region. 

Thank you, Mr. President.