The visit, which took place from May 22 to 24 and included extensive discussions with leaders of the three countries, follows the February signing of the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region,” an accord to end conflict in a region marred by decades of cross-border fighting. Eleven nations signed the treaty.
“The Framework agreement is the first step in bringing peace and security to this region. Each country’s leader must now take full advantage of the opportunity to cement stability and provide the benefits of economic progress to all of their people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I believe the United Nations-World Bank Group collaboration injects a new spark of hope into a region desperate for good news.”
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim praised the leaders of the three countries as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their commitment in supporting the framework agreement, but he said that more needs to be done.
“We need to take united action now because peace will not happen without development, and development will not happen without peace,” Kim said. “The leaders of the Great Lakes region have an opportunity to build on the United Nations’ and World Bank Group’s commitment to do whatever it takes to end poverty and build prosperity for so many who suffered for years. The world needs to say loud and clear that what has happened for more than a generation in the Great Lakes can no longer continue. It is a stain on our collective moral conscience.”
In the DRC, the first stop on the visit, Kim and Ban met with President Joseph Kabila, who assured them of his nation’s commitment to ending conflict both at home and in neighboring countries, where fighting has spread. Kabila resolved to solidify DRC’s place as a regional economic leader and was committed to building peace.
While in DRC, Kim pledged US$1 billion in additional funds to improve health, education, nutrition, job training and other essential services in DRC and the wider Great Lakes region.
In Rwanda, Kim and Ban met with President Paul Kagame and visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, a tribute to the 800,000 people killed during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and a stark reminder of the human costs of war. They also visited with former combatants and laid the foundation stone for a new center for women and girls victimized by violence.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni welcomed the two leaders and acknowledged UN and World Bank support in his country’s efforts to secure peace. Dating back to the 1980s, civil unrest in Northern Uganda claimed thousands of lives, displaced communities and destroyed infrastructure and institutions. Since 2005, Uganda has enjoyed a slow but steady rebirth with the poverty headcount falling by 14 percent between 2005 and 2010.
The visit by the heads of the United Nations and the World Bank Group heralds an unprecedented level of cooperation between the two global institutions and signals their determination to support African leaders who lead their countries out of conflict and into a new era of peace, stability and prosperity.
“We pledge to do things differently, and to work more closely together with the leaders of the region,” Kim said. “We hope that Africa’s Great Lakes become a global symbol of what is possible when countries work together to lift themselves out of conflict and succeed in boosting economic growth and shared prosperity.”