62. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will raise the ongoing violations of human rights within the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, at the UN Human Rights Council; if the resolution of the current conflict in the DRC remains a key objective of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36584/13 asked on 18 Jul 2013)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to face one of the most complex and enduring crises in the world, and remains a high priority for Ireland and our partners in the European Union. EU Foreign Ministers will again discuss the situation in the DRC on 22 July and will assess recent progress to secure a durable solution to the crisis. In particular we will consider ways to further support the ‘Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region’, which was concluded in Addis Ababa on 24 February, and also the work of Mary Robinson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy with responsibility for overseeing implementation of the Agreement. The European Union will continue to pursue a strategic and comprehensive approach to the crisis, working through political and diplomatic engagement, development cooperation programmes, and support for the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Ireland will also continue to play a constructive role. So far in 2013, Ireland has provided €3.8 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in the DRC, which brings our emergency and longer-term development funding for the DRC since 2009 to more than €42 million. We have also funded two recent high level events in support of mediation efforts with the involvement of Special Envoy Robinson. Moreover, we are also contributing a number of military observers to the UN peacekeeping mission. Ireland has raised the human rights situation in the DRC at the Human Rights Council on a number of occasions, including at the 18th and 19th sessions in September 2011 and March 2012 respectively. At the 22nd and 23rd sessions, Ireland delivered strong statements on the DRC on behalf of the EU in our Presidency capacity. These statements focused on the continuing human rights violations in the east of the DRC, and stressed the importance of the Framework Agreement in tackling the deep-rooted issues of impunity, governance, and sexual violence.

During the DRC’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review in 2009, Ireland raised its concerns and made recommendations relating to the treatment of human rights defenders and the need for an independent mechanism to identify and take measures against members of the security forces responsible for grave human rights violations. The DRC’s next examination under the Universal Periodic Review is scheduled to take place in May 2014 and Ireland will again actively engage during that review. Ireland will continue to monitor the human rights situation in the DRC closely and will use our membership of the Human Rights Council to raise issues of concern with regards to human rights abuses and violations as appropriate, including at the upcoming 24th session of the Council in September.