New York – Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, began her week-long visit to the region today by meeting with the senior leadership of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and of the United Nations mission there.
This is the first visit for Mrs. Robinson in her new capacity, and it follows the signing in February of the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region,” which seeks to end the recurring cycle of conflicts and crisis in the eastern DRC and to build peace and development.
In the DRC capital of Kinshasa today, the Special Envoy met with President Joseph Kabila, Prime Minister Augustin Matata, and Foreign Affairs Minister Raymond Tshibanda.
She commended the Government’s role in forging the agreement and its expressed commitment to its implementation, according to a statement issued to the press. She said she was looking forward to working with Mr. Kabila and all signatories of the 11-nation agreement to translate the framework into concrete plans and actions for peace.
Mrs. Robinson said the agreement offered renewed hope and a new opportunity to resolve the conflict and its causes, and to bring a peace dividend to the countries and peoples of the Great Lakes.
“That is why I call it a framework of hope, and I hope it will be implemented in that spirit of progress moving forward for the peoples of the region,” she told reporters.
She also met with the leadership of the UN peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, the UN Country Team and members of the diplomatic corps, as well as with civil society groups, including women’s organizations and religious groups.
Tomorrow she visits the eastern city of Goma, her last stop in the DRC before continuing on to Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Mrs. Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was appointed in March. The current visit is intended to initiate discussions with leaders and officials from the region on how to translate the framework agreement into tangible actions and cooperation to end the recurrent cycles of violence plaguing eastern DRC.
In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Modibo Touré of Mali as Special Adviser to Mrs. Robinson. Since January of this year, Mr. Touré has been serving as the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative ad interim of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in Nairobi, Kenya.