The United Nations has long been engaged in efforts to bring peace and stability to Africa’s Great Lakes region, which has been plagued for decades by political instability, armed conflicts, porous borders, humanitarian crises, tensions over natural resources and other destabilizing factors.
A key step in these efforts has been the adoption, on 24 February 2013, of a United Nations-brokered accord intended to end the recurring cycles of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the region. The Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region (PSC Framework) was signed by 11 countries, namely Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In early 2014, Kenya and Sudan became the 12th and 13th signatories of the Framework, respectively. The United Nations, the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and the Southern African Development Community act as Guarantors of the Framework.
The agreement includes commitments at the national, regional and international levels, geared towards addressing the root causes of violent conflict and ending recurring cycles of violence and suffering in eastern DRC and the Great Lakes region. Its implementation is championed by the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region.
In recent years, a positive momentum has emerged, with the peaceful holding of elections in the DRC in 2018 and the commitment by President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC to restore peace and security in eastern DRC and to promote friendly and mutually beneficial relations with neighbouring countries. Steps taken by other leaders in the region to address tensions and advance political, security, and economic cooperation have also contributed to a reinvigoration of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and an improvement in the region’s overall security situation. These efforts are supported by the United Nations, as a whole, and by the Office of the Special Envoy, in particular.
In this context, Secretary-General António Guterres approved the United Nations Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes region on 22 October 2020. The Strategy, developed by the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region and the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of the signatory countries of the PSC Framework, proposes an integrated framework to leverage the political, operational and programmatic expertise of the United Nations, both at Headquarters and in the region, to help the countries of the region achieve inclusive peace, prosperity and sustainable, people-centred development. The Strategy lays out ten priority areas of intervention, arranged into three pillars, which are to guide its implementation, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An action plan covering the period from 2021 through 2023 was also developed to chart the way forward. On 20 October 2021, the United Nations Security Council issued a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2021/19) welcoming the Strategy and its Action Plan. It further encouraged ownership and political will by the PSC Framework’s signatory countries, and urged the international community and International Financial Institutions to contribute technical and financial support for the Strategy’s implementation.
The Special Envoy is supported by his office, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and by DPPA.