Thank you Mr President.
I would like to thank Special Representative Moussa for his statement this morning and for UNOCA’s continued work on these issues.
The Lord’s Resistance Army has blighted the heart of Africa for over twenty years. The LRA remains a violent threat to civilians across central Africa. The United Kingdom condemns in the strongest terms the human rights abuses the LRA continues to commit.
But progress against this scourge is being made, as Special Representative Moussa told us this morning. Concerted efforts of the affected countries, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners have substantially weakened the LRA. A permanent eradication of the threat they pose is closer now, we believe, than ever before. But this goal can only be achieved through sustained regional and international focus.
Progress is being made in implementing the UN Regional Strategy to address the threat and reduce the impact of the activities of the LRA. However, the UN Office in Central Africa must continue to use its coordination role to deliver across its entire strategy.
The Regional Strategy and the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA are both essential in ending the LRA threat. It is important that SRSG Moussa and AU Special Envoy Madeira continue to encourage full implementation of both. All regional governments should fulfil their commitments under the Regional Cooperation Initiative and take measures to ensure that the Lord’s Resistance Army is not able to operate with impunity in their territory.
The United Kingdom has provided UNICEF with funding to protect women and children in LRA-affected areas. But we believe more funding is needed and we urge members of the international community to contribute resources to ensure that the protection of civilians is at the forefront of counter-LRA efforts. Countries affected by the LRA would benefit from establishing Standard Operating Procedures for the reception and handover of LRA women and children to civilian women and child protection actors.
Cross-border coordination between the UN Missions in the LRA affected-countries must be enhanced. MONUSCO, BINUCA and UNMISS should develop and adopt common SOPs and swift information sharing so that they can anticipate LRA movements and imminent threats better than they can currently do.
The UN, AU and Economic Community of Central African States must continue to work together to maintain a clear picture of the LRA’s current capabilities and area of operations. More also needs to be done to investigate the LRA’s possible sources of financing, including their alleged involvement in elephant poaching and related illicit smuggling. Cutting off the LRA’s last remaining sources of finance could be the thread that finally unravels this deplorable group.
Mr President, following Special Representative Moussa, I want to discuss UNOCA’s broader role in the region.
UNOCA is playing an important coordinating role between the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union to tackle the crisis in the Central African Republic and further work on maritime security.
The U K wants to ensure clarity on UNOCA’s achievements. UNOCA must continue to add real value to regional and sub-regional efforts at a time when resources are tight and demands on the UN system are so high. In particular, criminality in the Gulf of Guinea threatens economic development, peace and security in the region and has a wider impact on international trade, energy security and stability.
UNOCA ably supported EECAS, and the Economic Community of West African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission on the Heads of State Summit on Maritime Security in Yaoundé in June 2013, as we’ve heard. The Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy and agreement between regional states to work together to tackle maritime crime is an important step forward. UNOCA should continue to work with the regional economic communities and regional states as they work to implement the code.
The main focus of UNOCA’s work should continue to be on reducing the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army. For too long the LRA has stifled the potential for progress and development in Central Africa. The UK therefore stands by and will continue to support the work of Special Representative Moussa and Ambassador Madeira and their offices in bringing an end to the LRA threat once and for all.