I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the associated countries of Cyprus, Malta and Turkey and Liechtenstein, EFTA country belonging to the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
The document before us, the addendum to the report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provides us with a detailed account of a situation that is grave and rather cheerless. It must nevertheless be read, and, more to the point, studied, and we feel that it is essential to consider it with minute attention.
The report, Mr. President, shows that a conflict that was initially political and security-related in nature is in the process of becoming a struggle for wealth. The parties involved have an interest in perpetuating the conflict whose economic dimension, at the cost of war, is becoming a guiding force. Based as it is on a particularly cynical approach, Mr. President, this situation is above all tragic for the Congolese people, who, in the rationale being followed, see no peace and security on the horizon. The fate of the Congolese people is in part determined by the rush for lucre. They are the victims of their country’s natural resources while instead they should be the beneficiaries.
What is more, this situation is seriously complicating the efforts to restore peace. In concrete terms, the parties, with the aid of the international community are employing political instruments in a conflict which has to some extent become a economic struggle, in which changing alliances and fragmentation of rebel movements seem in part dictated by the profit motive. Herein lies one of the key features to be considered in resolving the conflict.
The European Union condemns this plundering of Congos natural resources, Mr. President. It has to stop, and the primary responsibility lies with the parties themselves. The international community, for its part, must take action, establishing control mechanisms and appropriate measures to counter contraband. There have been praiseworthy initiatives, such as the Kimberley process on the role of diamonds in conflicts, and we consider that this course should continue to be followed. We welcome the encouraging outcome of the meeting held in Gaborone, and impatiently await the follow-up by the General Assembly. But the individual countries also have a contribution to make. Those cited in the report, in particular, must seriously examine the information it contains and take the appropriate measures. It is in that spirit that the Member States of the European Union have taken due note of it.
It is clear, Mr. President, that finding adequate methods of combating such exploitation is no simple matter. Today’s meeting is one step in the process of consideration and analysis that must be pursued, and the recommendations of the Panel of Experts provide fuel for that consideration. The mandate of the panel has to be renewed in order to maintain the very useful control their activities have allowed for up till now. In this context, we feel that, in determining the follow-up it intends to give to this report, the Security Council must be guided by certain fundamental objectives. Firstly, the follow-up must contribute to the dynamic of the Lusaka process, and thus form part of the overall framework for seeking a political solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Secondly, the fate of the Congolese people must be at the center of all concerns.
We note that the Panel is considering a moratorium on certain resources. We believe that we have to make sure that the few resources still effectively in the hands of the Congolese people are not taken away from them, and that any restrictive measures should be carefully targeted against those responsible for the plundering. I would point out in this respect that the aim of the measures should precisely be to allow the Congolese people to benefit from the natural resources of their country.
The report also mentions a reconstruction plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the objective of the European Union, which remains fully prepared to mobilize considerable resources, depending on the concrete progress made in the different parts of the peace process. The inter-Congolese dialogue is an important element in the peace process. We welcome the progress already achieved in this regard and we encourage the parties to make all possible efforts in order to make the next meeting in South Africa a success.
In this connection, the European Union fully shares the concern of the Panel of Experts regarding the role that international aid may play in funding the continuation of the conflict. That contingency demands a responsible approach by donors, both bilateral or multilateral.
Lastly, Mr. President, the European Union considers that the recommendation to revise all concessionary agreements and commercial agreements and contracts so as to correct any irregularities is a measure to be taken further.
The question of the exploitation of natural, and human, resources is a crucial factor in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It must be the subject of very close and urgent attention on the part of the international community, on the basis of a comprehensive and global strategy.
Thank you, Mr. President.