Swedish Statment at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Demoratic Republic of the Congo
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Demoratic Republic of the Congo, 27 August 2018, New York.
Thank you Madame President.
Let me begin by thanking the briefers for their comprehensive update on the situation in the DRC. We commend your tireless efforts, and express our full support for your challenging and important tasks ahead of the 23 December presidential, legislative and provincial elections.
We welcome the progress made in the technical preparations of these elections. The registration of candidates was an important milestone, and we note the list of approved presidential and parliamentary candidates presented by CENI over the weekend. The announcement by President Kabila, that he intends to abide by the constitution and not seek another term, is particularly welcomed.
The remaining technical challenges must now be addressed in a timely manner. In this regard, efforts to ensure women's full and equal participation in political processes must be stepped up. It was disappointing that only a small number of women was registered as candidates for provincial and legislative elections. While lessons should be drawn from this failure, we now need to focus on supporting the candidates that are registered, and on providing conditions that allow for women to actively participate in the process ahead and to cast their votes in a free and secure manner on election day.
These efforts should include to support and encourage women in the voter registration process and guarantee a voting free from pressure; such as ensuring individual access to voting cards, informing about individual voting rights, and ensuring safe access to voting stations. With regards to supporting women candidates, initiatives should be supported to prevent sexist attacks, sexual harassment and gender biased sabotage of women candidates' campaigns. In all this, we encourage the authorities and the UN to coordinate closely with relevant civil society organizations, including to better understand issues as they arise and make sure citizens are well informed.
Technical preparations are not enough to secure free, fair and credible elections. The current security situation, with continued high levels of violence, including sexual and gender based violence, and other human rights violations and abuses, must be addressed. There is also an urgent need to ensure the opening of political space for parties and civil society, and to respect the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. In this regard, implementation of confidence building measures, as per the December 2016 agreement, remains of critical importance. Trust in the electoral process amongst all stakeholders will be key for the credibility of the election.
The joint AUPSC-UNSC communique in July, as well as the joint AU, SADC, ICGLR and UN communiqué on the Peace and Security Cooperation framework, demonstrate firm international consensus on the DRC. And the message is clear. The world expects the holding of credible and inclusive elections in December, leading to a democratic and peaceful transfer of power. It is now important that the Council continue to working closely and actively with the region to ensure that this common objective is achieved.
UN support to the electoral process is critical. Continued active engagement by SRSG Zerrougui, making full use of her good offices, will be essential and we should give the SRSG our full support. We note CENI's ambitious intentions to provide logistics, and encourage MONUSCO to continue to prepare for assisting the authorities in this massive undertaking, if needed. Support from the UN should however always be dependent on national efforts to ensure the credibility of the process.
Lastly Madame President,
The outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu last week is deeply concerning. As we know, the security situation in that region is dire, providing a complex operating environment for needed response. Given that it is also a populous region, hosting over 1 million IDPs, and with international borders, it is a situation that deserves our full attention. We painfully learned from the outbreak in West Africa in 2014 that such epidemics can also risk having implications for peace and security. Sweden has therefore requested an update by WHO on the situation in the Council tomorrow, and will continue following the situation closely.