BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Congo, spoke of the need for reforms within the United Nations, notably reform of the Security Council’s composition and working methods. Strengthening the efficiency of the General Assembly should also be on the minds of Member States. The action agenda produced by the high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals was welcomed by Congo, which was committed to achieving them. Africa as a whole was progressively emerging from a cycle of armed violence, which had upset its evolution towards development and prosperity. Thanks to the efforts of the African Union, with international support, many conflicts had either ended or were concluding. It was in that context that this year had been declared the year of peace and security in Africa.
He said there was no doubt that democracy had been taking root in Africa. In Gabon and Burundi, to cite two States, the will of the people had been expressed, and it was hoped that elections coming up elsewhere, as well as the referendum in Sudan, would unfold in a calm environment. The opening of a United Nations office in Central Africa would give the subregion an additional instrument to promote good governance and development. In the same perspective, Brazzaville would be hosting a conference on peace and stability in the subregion from 15 to 19 November, at which participants were expected to underscore their commitment to fight the proliferation of small arms with the signing of the Kinshasa convention.
Good neighbourliness was a pillar of Congo’s foreign policy, the Minister said. One example was the way in which Congo had dealt with a humanitarian crisis prompted by the arrival of more than 100,000 people from Equateur province in Democratic Republic of Congo. Biodiversity was another issue of great interest for Congo, which was among the countries incorporating the Congo Basin, an important carbon sink; such tropical forests played a vital role in regulating and stabilising the global climate. Congo was determined, with its partners, to meet the challenge of conserving and promoting biodiversity.
Congo’s Parliament would shortly be adopting legislation on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, he said. The scheduled visit of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to Brazzaville in November was an opportunity to focus on issues relating to indigenous peoples. It would also help to speed up the application of recommendations that had followed last year’s Universal Periodic Review of Congo’s human rights situation. Congo was a candidate for membership in the Human Rights Council for 2011-2014 and it hoped other States would support its bid.