Durban ( South Africa), October 31 to November 01, 2023– How can we breathe new life and energy into the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region? The issue was at the heart of the Regional Retreat on the review of the impact of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, and recommendations for revitalization efforts, held in Durban, South Africa, from October 31 to 01.November 1, 2023.
The main objectives of the Durban retreat were to stimulate debate on the past and future of the Framework Agreement, with the participation of external experts in the open segment of the event, followed by in-depth discussion between signatory countries and guarantor institutions.
The Durban meeting was an opportunity for participants to take stock of progress to date, identify the main remaining challenges, and draw up recommendations for strengthening the effectiveness of the Framework Agreement in the future.
The regional retreat identified the main strategic recommendations made in a draft roadmap for revitalizing the Framework Agreement drawn up by the signatory countries, namely :
- Assessing the key impact of the Framework Agreement ;
- Assessing the obstacles to full implementation of the Framework Agreement and proposing an appropriate level of ambition.
Participants felt that in order to move forward, three key achievements are envisaged up to 2028/2033 and the necessary milestones, including:
- Identification of key measures to meet the challenges of implementing national, regional and international commitments;
- Identification of key measures to strengthen governance mechanisms and the role of guarantor institutions;
- Proposal of initial options for indicating progress on national, regional and international commitments.
The retreat was attended by representatives of the countries that have signed the Framework Agreement, namely the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Poland. Angola, the Republic of Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, the Republic of Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Zambia, as well as representatives of the guarantor institutions, namely the United Nations, the AU, the ICGLR and the SADC, not forgetting senior officials/international partners, former Special Representatives and Special Envoys for the Great Lakes Region, experts in the field from the region and beyond, representatives of civil society and regional organizations, women’s networks and regional youth forums.
The delegation from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) was led by Ambassador Gilberto da Piedade Verissimo, Chairman of the Commission.
As a reminder, the Framework Agreement was signed in 2013 in the presence of the United Nations, the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as guarantor institutions. This agreement had raised hopes that this decisive moment in the region’s commitment to tackling structural factors of conflict and cross-border factors of instability had arrived. Unfortunately, tensions in the region are only intensifying. Hence the decision to organize a regional retreat aimed, among other things, at in-depth strategic exchanges with key stakeholders to reflect on the last ten years of implementation of the Framework Agreement and formulate new recommendations, assess the impact and future trajectory of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the DRC and the region.
The retreat was also an opportunity to follow up on the decisions taken by the region’s leaders who, in their communiqué from the 10th High-Level Meeting of the Regional Follow-Up Mechanism (RFM) of the Framework Agreement held on February 24, 2022 in Kinshasa, DRC, unequivocally reaffirmed their firm commitment to the full implementation of the Framework Agreement, for, they hammered home, it remains the most viable means of tackling the causes and drivers of ongoing conflict and instability.
Participants called for an urgent revitalization of the Framework Agreement, asking the AU to work in collaboration with regional actors and the UN to achieve its objectives.