Central Africa Team Foreign and Commonwealth Office King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH www.fco.gov.uk
Tatiana Giraud TG Foundation Unit 109, Southbank House Black Prince Road London, SE1 7SJ
30 April 2013
Dear Ms. Giraud, Thank you for your message of 18 April, following on with further queries to my colleague’s latest response to you on 11 April. I am replying in my capacity as an officer in the Central Africa Team of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In your message, you raise concerns about a variety of issues related to the Great Lakes Region, including; on the UN Group of Experts, the Peace, Security & Cooperation Framework agreement, MONUSCO, sexual violence, as well as on the humanitarian crisis affecting the ordinary people in the region. I will endeavour to respond as much as possible to those queries which have not already been covered in our earlier exchanges with you but will not seek to comment on questions unrelated to UK Government policy. We understand that there have been changes to the composition of the UN Group of Experts, the details of which are available from the UN. If you have concerns about the Group you might consider approaching the UN to put your views to them directly. Following the publication of the Group’s report in November 2012, the UN Security Council, through its Resolution 2076, made clear that it was ready to apply targeted sanctions against those found to be providing external support to the M23, including those doing so from outside the DRC. The UK supports these measures which signal the international community’s continued concern over the situation in the region. In answer to your concerns about development assistance reaching the poorest in the region, the UK is proud to be working to reduce poverty in, and supporting the development of both Rwanda and DRC. A stable Great Lakes region needs peace and prosperity in both countries. More recently, on 1 March 2013 the UK took the
decision to reprogramme £16m of general budget support to Rwanda to ensure we continue to protect the poorest. None of these funds will go to the Government of Rwanda as general budget support. Funds were reprogrammed because the evidence that the Government of Rwanda had supported the M23 rebel group in eastern DRC appeared to be credible and compelling You mention the Commonwealth and the Harare Principles. The Commonwealth considers questions around adherence by member states to Commonwealth values through its Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). This body is made up of nine rotating members. The UK is not currently a member. The UK is keen for CMAG to play a more proactive role in tackling potential concerns in partnership with member governments, in order to protect and strengthen Commonwealth values You asked about implementation of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework agreement (PSCF). All signatories to the agreement, including eleven neighbouring countries, the UN Secretary-General, the AU Commission’s chairperson, the ICGLR chairperson and the SADC president are part of the oversight mechanism for this agreement. We believe this will help ensure the sustained regional and international attention and engagement on eastern DRC which is needed to ensure long term gains. The UK Government will play its part in this respect and will seek to work closely with the newly appointed UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, to take forward the implementation of this agreement. We share your concern about the suffering of the ordinary people of the DRC, it is important that all sides should avoid a return to violence and should respect the sovereignty of the DRC and the lives and property of civilians. Accountability of all human rights abuses and war crimes is a fundamental requirement which the UK fully supports. Protection of civilians also remains the number one priority of the peace keeping operations for MONUSCO, and they have been carrying out this role under difficult circumstances. MONUSCO supports Congolese efforts to tackle all illegal armed groups to help maintain stability and protect civilians in the region. The latest renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate under UNSCR 2098, allows it to do so with the creation of an Intervention Brigade. The role of this Brigade is to to neutralise all armed groups in eastern DRC, allowing the creation of a zone of stability in which a viable long term peace may take root. The International Brigade is also specifically constrained to act in strict compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law. It is important that full implementation of the new mandate, including by governments in the region, takes place in order to achieve a successful and lasting peace in the region.
We also share your concerns about acts of sexual violence against women in eastern DRC. The UK was one of the first to develop a National Action plan in support of our commitments on Women, Peace and Security agenda under UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The UK has development programmes in the region which seek to address sexual violence through various humanitarian and health projects as well as a programme for adolescent girls focussing on tackling the underlying causes of sexual violence. The UK remains committed to Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI). Foreign Secretary William Hagueâ€™s recent visit to the regionunderlined his personal commitment to tackling this issue. Mr Hague hopes that the G8 will drive forward together work designed to address sexual violence in conflict. I hope this letter addresses your concerns. Yours sincerely, Hanan Saadeh
Hanan Saadeh Central Africa Team Africa Directorate Foreign and Commonwealth Office