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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the United Nations

Report to the UN Security Council on Special UNSC Mission to Africa
New York City, New York, May 17, 2000

As Prepared for Delivery

First, allow me to apologize for my tardiness, as I was arriving here, the Secretary-General contacted me regarding the fast moving developments in Sierra Leone concerning Mr. Foday Sankoh, who as we all know is in the airport area near Freetown wounded. I believe he's receiving medical treatment from British doctors. The circumstances are still very murky. He is seized of the issue. I profusely apologize, Mr. President, for holding you tardy, particularly since, as head of the United Nations Security Council delegation, I recognize my obligation to begin this discussion. I also congratulate you, Mr. President, for the extraordinary way you have handled a month in which nothing has gone according to plan. Every day there has been something new and it is a very difficult period to oversee the Security Council.

It's a great honor that I have been asked by you, and your distinguished predecessor, Ambassador Fowler, to chair the delegation that went to the DRC and, ultimately, the Horn of Africa. I want to stress, Mr. President, that the seven nations took no national positions. There was a consensus throughout and I want to speak in the same capacity today. Following up on the report that Ambassador Van Walsum and Ambassador Greenstock and my other colleagues gave last week while I was still overseas.

Mr. President, the fact that we spoke with one voice gave a very powerful message. Three ambassadors from Africa: Tunisia, Namibia and Mali. Three ambassadors from Europe: Great Britain, France and the Netherlands. And an American. It was an extraordinarily well-planned trip. We made it clear, however, that we were also speaking for the eight countries not present. None of our interlocutors could see any differences between us because there were none. The disagreements that often occur in this chamber were simply not present on this trip. It was a great privilege to be the chair of such a diverse group of talented diplomats. Every single one of the seven ambassadors spoke in every meeting on every issue interchangeably. And it symbolized to our interlocutors the importance of African leadership at the Security Council and at the UN at large. To the other four members of the delegation, it showed that Africans were willing and eager to share the burdens of peacemaking in Africa and beyond. And to the rest of the world, a delegation so carefully balanced, sent a very powerful symbol.

I think that the three missions the Security Council has authorized in the past eight months--East Timor, under Ambassador Anjaba, Kosovo under Ambassador Chowdury and this one are also an important emerging aspect of Security Council activities. This mission fell somewhere between a fact finding mission, a report to the Security Council and, almost inadvertently, a negotiating mission at least twice--one in Kisangani and the unexpected diversion to the Horn. The trip wasn't about tourism. It is critical to get the Security Council out of this magnificent chamber, out of presidential palaces and luxury hotels and into the real world. In Kinshasa, for example, we held simultaneous meetings with an ecumenical religious delegation, leaders of civil society organizations and representatives of political parties. Three of our team, Ambassadors Greenstock, Andjaba and Van Walsum, made an extraordinary trip to Kananga. I hope they will describe it to you in more detail, you may have seen reports of it on television. It was certainly the emotional high point of the trip and the four of us who remained in Kinshasa deeply envied their opportunity which was, in essence, a chance to see the people of the Congo in a massive human demonstration of a desire for peace.

Mr. President, in all our meetings, we heard a loud and unmistakable endorsement of the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement. Based on these remarkable meetings, I think we can safely say the following about the people of the DRC:

--They want peace, and the withdrawal of outside forces. They do not want to live under foreign occupation, nor do they want to see their rights threatened or their resources plundered.

--They want the Congolese rebel movements to lay down their arms and commit to a political process aimed at forging a new dispensation.

--They want armed insurgents from neighboring states--such as the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and UNITA--to leave their country forever.

--They want their present government to engage in the National Dialogue and abide by its results.

--They want to live in a vibrant state built on solid democratic institutions.

--They want economic opportunities and the freedom to travel within their own country, which is their right.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I want to underline to you that we went on this trip, however, not in a effort to undermine the existing government, and we reinforced and stressed to President Kabila at all times that we deal with him as the president of the country and that the National Dialogue is part of the Lusaka peace process. I mention that because it is a matter of great concern to the government as to what the National Dialogue's real purpose is. And I need to underline that everything that we did was designed to further that process. It's the only way forward, and the only way to address the yearnings of the Congolese people. There is no military solution to the present conflict.

Our efforts must focus on two areas. First, we must use all of our collective influence to keep all the signatories firmly within the Lusaka Agreement. It is the only way forward. If one party is allowed to violate it, others will also violate it. Second, we must strengthen the regional and international consensus for peace based on Lusaka.

There is one area of our report that we need to underline: our unanimous view that Council decisions and actions in the Congo should not be affected by the dangerous and terrible events in Sierra Leone. This is difficult. We recognize, and it was clear on every day of the trip, that the shadow of Sierra Leone was hanging over UN peacekeeping, not only in Africa but around the world. But there was no direct affect of the events in Sierra Leone in the Congo or the Lusaka peace process. Sierra Leone is not a metaphor for Africa. It is not a metaphor for UN peacekeeping.

This trip re-enforced my belief that Africa is as diverse as any other collection of 53 independent nations in the world. The three conflicts that immediately preoccupied us--the DRC, Ethiopia-Eritrea and Sierra Leone--dominated our mission, and it was immediately clear that they are as different in scope and kind as East Timor, South Lebanon, and Kosovo. It is a fallacy based on superficial and insufficient knowledge to say that the failure of the Lome Accords in Sierra Leone intrinsically implies an inevitable failure elsewhere simply because maybe elsewhere is on the same continent.

That being said we must get peacekeeping right. The matter extends far beyond the DRC. Sierra Leone illustrates the dangers of getting it wrong. Peacekeeping is this institution's core function--the one that was foremost in the founders' minds 55 years ago. Whether the UN succeeds or fails in the 21st century--and whether this great institution, the Security Council, continues to be the world's preeminent forum for peace and security--depends in large part on the future of peacekeeping. Yesterday, in the Fifth Committee, Mr. President, we had an important discussion on the current challenge in peacekeeping and how, together, we must work to fix peacekeeping in order to save it. This means addressing the shortcomings in how we finance peacekeeping as well as improving how DPKO operates. It will not happen overnight, and will require all of us to make tough choices. But if we fail to act; if we allow the gap between demand and capacity to widen even further; then the United Nations--and all the people who depend on it around the world--will suffer.

I am particularly grateful, Mr. President, for the efforts and support expressed yesterday by many speakers in the Fifth Committee. What they discussed yesterday in Fifth Committee was of immense importance on our deliberations here and I would particularly single out Cyprus who, yesterday, voluntarily said that they were prepared to move from group C to group B in financing. Five have already come forward: Cyprus, Israel, Hungary, Estonia and the Philippines. And others have indicated their intention to do the same. This strengthens our efforts, Mr. President, because it begins to broaden the financial base by which peacekeeping will be funded.

Mr. President, let us also praise the men and women of MONUC and the specialized agencies who work under difficult conditions in the DRC and its neighbors, with special praise reserved for two individuals--SRSG Morjane and Force Commander Diallo. They are doing outstanding jobs under difficult circumstances. We recall General Diallo's courageous defense of Monrovia in 1992 and we saw on this trip that he also possesses equal diplomatic skills.

MONUC's deployment in adequate conditions of security and cooperation should remain a key priority. We took a major step forward on the first day of the trip with the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement in the presence of President Kabila who decided to change his schedule to attend the signing ceremony. This essential step is now behind us. We are now inclined to believe that all of the state signatories to the Lusaka Agreement are in favor of MONUC deployment and will, if necessary, bring pressure to bear on any reluctant parties to follow suit.

Mr. President, let me be frank on another problem that was all too obvious and cannot be disguised: The strains that continue to exist between the JMC and MONUC. We met with the JMC in Lusaka. The meeting raised questions as to how we can move forward and we hope that those can be addressed. We remain convinced that the JMC must be physically co-located with MONUC, and it must be a permanently sitting body that can respond to breaking events on the ground as part of a joint effort. I want to stress to those or you who were not with us, that there was a linguistic misunderstanding between us in this room and the people on the ground, which we only realized during the trip. And that is that the word co-location has a different meaning in Africa than it did here. When we talked about co-location we talked merely about MONUC and the JMC being in the same building. That was not the issue to our friends in Africa. The issue was what city would the JMC go to. So, it was quite different than we expected. No one we talked to objected to sharing a building but several of the Lusaka Peace signatories stated that they will not send their representatives of the JMC to Kinshasa at this time and they gave us little hope to believe that they wanted to send them ever. So, this is an unresolved problem that I believe we were not adequately aware of until we got there and it requires our attention. I want to clarify it because the same word--co-location--had two significantly different meanings.

As a result of the meetings in Lusaka with the JMC and the Political Committee, Ambassador Levitte, in his capacity as president of the Security Council in the month of June, invited the Political Committee to come to New York on or around June 16. I thank our good friend, Ambassador Levitte, for this initiative and I believe this will be a critical meeting. I'm sure Ambassador Levitte will have more to say on it but I would draw all of your attention to the fact that this will be another step forward in the emerging joint OAU/Security Council collaboration in furtherance of Lusaka. It will be a very important meeting, or to be more precise, series of meetings, and I hope that we can all protect the dates of June 15 and 16 on the calendar awaiting instructions from Ambassador Levitte in his capacity as June president. We raised only two issues with the Political Committee: the National Dialogue and the need to disarm non-signatory armed groups operating in the territory of the DRC. The Political Committee stated clearly that they wish to keep the National Dialogue in the hands of the Congolese people, but they did engage us on the question of the armed groups. I think that this is vitally important that this be one of the main topics for discussions in June. A successful disarmament, demobilization, re-integration and resettlement campaign is essential for the success of Lusaka.

Finally, Mr. President, let me address the unexpected outbreak of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Kisangani on the second day of our trip. At first, Mr. President, we feared that the fighting in Kisangani would wreck our trip. In fact, in an unexpected way, it provided us with a challenge and an opportunity which, I'm proud to say, the seven nations of this special mission addressed. In what amounted to a de facto mini-shuttle diplomacy, the seven nations of the Security Council negotiated between President Kagame and President Museveni, face-to-face and by telephone, a Security Council/Government of Rwanda/Government of Uganda statement, issued on May 8 and reaffirmed two days ago. The fighting then stopped. If anyone wants additional proof of the precedent which Ambassador Anjaba set in East Timor, or the capability of Security Council missions, I think this once again illustrates that under certain circumstances the Security Council can, as it did again here, and particularly in East Timor, make significant strides forward. This opportunity will, however, require implementation. Both President Kagame and Museveni made absolutely clear that they were prepared to demilitarize Kisangani but they only wanted to do full demilitarization when MONUC forces got to Kisangani. I also talked with President Mugabe and President Kabila about this arrangement before it was announced. President Mugabe and President Kabila both welcomed the announcement and both of them said that they thought it was potentially a model for the successful implementation for all of Lusaka. However, it needs to be stressed, particularly to our colleagues and to DPKO that time is essential. It is vitally important that the forces from MONUC that will go to Kisangani get there ahead of the initial deployment schedule. Dates like July will not work for Kisangani. I understand that the Secretary-General has already been in touch with several countries about this. I think I can speak safely for the members of the Security Council mission that we believe that getting a UN unit, of whatever nationality is deemed appropriate, to Kisangani immediately in the next few weeks is absolutely critical. Otherwise, the risks of war beginning again are very substantial. I also wish to draw you attention to the very positive announcements and statements coming out of South Africa concerning their readiness to play a more active role in the process.

Finally, we remain convinced that the link between the exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict remains a critical area for the Council's further investigation. The DRC, Angola and Sierra Leone are all adversely affected by the plundering of their national resources even though the actual circumstances vary from country to country .These issues are central to peacekeeping. And they need to be looked at in the DRC context.

Mr. President, as we said on our last day in Asmara, by the end of the trip, including the diversion we took to the Horn at your instructions, it was difficult to tell whether we had been on the road a week or a year. Our colleagues and I felt sleep deprived, either underfed or overfed, depending on where we were, and constantly on the move. But I assure you, Mr. President, that by arriving at this consensus we feel we served the purposes of the Security Council. On a personal basis, I would gladly travel with any and all of them again, under the chairmanship of any of my six colleagues, and hope that when they say similar things about me, that they actually mean them.

I thank you, Mr. President, again for the honor of asking me to lead this delegation. I apologize for being late but I want to state that under the most unusual circumstances, that it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my professional life and despite the enormous difficulties and our inability at the last minute to prevent what turned out to be an inevitable resumption of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea, I believe that we moved forward the cause of peace in our primary mission and if we can address the opportunity that Kisangani has posed before us, Mr. President, we can actually make genuine progress. But, once again, as in all of these issues, implementation is what matters, not simply the paper agreements.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[end of document]

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