The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region was established following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2098 (2013) welcoming the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC-F) for the DRC and the region on 24 February 2013, and the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region. The co-guarantor of the PSC-F are Office of the Special Envoy, African Union, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and the Southern African Development Community.
On 22 October 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres approved the United Nations (UN) Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes region. The Strategy, developed by the Office of the Special Envoy and regional stakeholders, serves as a compass to UN interventions on peace and security. Together, the PSC-F and the UN Strategy are the two governing instruments of Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region.
The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region: A Framework of Hope
On 24 February 2013, eleven countries of Africa signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework agreement to end the recurring cycles of conflict and violence that have plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past years. The 11 signatory countries are Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. On 31 January 2014, the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Sudan also signed the agreement, thus becoming respectively the 12th and 13th members of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. If fully implemented, this peace agreement represents an avenue of hope for the DRC and the people of the region to build stability by addressing the root causes of conflict and fostering trust between neighbors.
It is important that not only governments but a wide cross-section of the population in each country – parliamentarians, women’s groups, human rights organizations, young people, business groups, trade unions, faith-based organizations, academics and others – know the details of this Framework agreement. It is they who will benefit if this Framework is implemented fully, so they should be active in encouraging their governments to make special efforts to ensure full implementation.
The Framework outlines national, regional and international actions that aim to end violence:
For the DRC
For the region
For the international community
• To deepen security sector reform.
• To consolidate State Authority, particularly in eastern DRC.
• To make progress in decentralization.
• To further economic development.
• To further structural reform of public institutions.
• To further reconciliation.
• To respect the sovereignty of neighboring countries in terms of international affairs and territorial integrity.
• To neither tolerate nor provide assistance to armed groups.
• To strengthen regional cooperation, including economic integration and judicial cooperation.
• To neither harbor nor provide protection to any person accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity.
• For Security Council to remain engaged in seeking long-term stability for the DRC.
• A renewed commitment of bilateral partners to remain engaged with the region.
• To support economic integration and revi talize the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countri es.
• To review the United Nations Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
• To appoint a UN Special Envoy to foster durable solutions.
The Framework also calls for the establishment of a Regional Oversight Mechanism involving the 13 signatory countries and the leaders of four international organizations known as the Guarantors of the Framework, namely the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The signatories agreed to jointly develop a plan of implementation for the Framework, which includes the establishment of benchmarks and follow-up measures to deliver on commitments made under the Framework. The DRC also agreed to put in place a national mechanism to oversee the implementation of its national commitments.
The Framework and the United Nations Security Council
The Security Council’s concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC has increased in recent years. In November 2012, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2076, which requested the Secretary-General to report on options for high-level dialogue between parties to the conflict, including the possible appointment of a UN Special Envoy for the region.
On 28 March 2013, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2098, which welcomed the adoption of the Framework and the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. In this resolution, the Security Council stressed the importance of urgently implementing the Framework to protect the people of the region and formally put its full weight behind the implementation of the Framework by “demanding that the signatory States of the Framework fully implement their commitments”. The Council called on the Special Envoy to lead, coordinate and assess the implementation of national and regional commitments, including the quick establishment of benchmarks to assist countries in meeting their Framework obligations. The Council also encouraged the Special Envoy to lead a comprehensive political process to address the root causes of conflict.
Mandate of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region
The mandate of the Special Envoy links security with wider development by focusing on two key areas: women’s empowerment and regional economic integration. The Special Envoy aims to build accountability in the region, expanding activities beyond intergovernmental discussions by focusing also on civil society, which is an integral part of a modern, dynamic and democratic state. The Special Envoy consults with and seeks help from organizations such as parliamentarians, women’s groups, human rights organizations, young people, business groups, trade unions, faith-based organizations, academics and others by creating a platform where these groups learn about the Framework, actively participate to encourage its implementation and, ultimately, hold their governments accountable for fulfilling their commitments.
In addition, addressing common economic challenges, reducing economic vulnerability and improving human development indicators, as part of the benchmarks, will help promote regional integration as a way of building trust between neighbors.
Together, the governments and international organizations concerned, donors and peoples of the region can give hope of real change – of a true peace dividend – which provides peace, security and progress for all.