The United Nations praised President Yoweri Museveni’s commitment to strengthening security and socio-economic development in the Great Lakes Region.
The message of praise was conveyed by UN’s Special Envoy in the region Huang Xia during a Sept. 8 meeting with Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gen. Abubaker Jeje Odongo.
“Mr. Huang expressed appreciation for the great work undertaken by H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to address the multiple Peace, Security and Development challenges in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.
The meeting followed the one the president had with a group of envoys and representatives from the United Nations Security Council on September 2 at State House Entebbe.
The Council is charged with ensuring international peace and security, recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly, and approving any changes to the UN Charter.
It also has powers to establish peacekeeping operations, enact international sanctions, and authorize military action. Uganda hosts UN’s regional service center, and a peace operations support hub in Entebbe.
These facilities provide logistics and administrative support to UN missions in Africa and also serve as peacekeeping training bases.
During the meeting with Odongo, Xia noted that the UN had “come up with a revitalized Strategy and Plan of Action towards Peace, Security and Development of the region and called on all the member states to give support to the process.
The strategy, which will operate from 2021-2023 – focuses on three pillars, namely: peace, security and justice; sustainable development and shared prosperity; resilience to longstanding and emerging challenges, for instance, prevention of violent extremism and durable solutions to protracted forced displacement.
The special envoy hailed Uganda's progressive refugee policy which is greatly appreciated and acknowledged by the UN and the International community as a whole. Uganda hosts about 1.5 million refugees.
Minister Odongo reassured the envoy that Uganda will play its role and give support to the UN initiative towards achieving regional peace, security and development.
Countries in the Great Lakes region are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Uganda has been instrumental in the development of the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) and African Union-affiliated conflict management initiatives.
Working with the above organizations or at the request of heads of state, Uganda has deployed its police officers and defence forces to a number of African countries, including Somalia, Liberia, South Sudan, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.
Ugandan military deployments and activities, including peacekeeping, are enshrined in the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) Act of 2005. The President, who is the Commander in Chief (CiC), in collaboration with the Military High Command and Defense Forces Council, determines UPDF deployments.
The Defense Council comprises the Minister of Defense, Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), Deputy CDS, Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS), Service Commanders, Divisional Commanders and a few select others. Security advisers, the Chief Political Commissar, Inspector General of Police (for police deployments) and other senior NRM security figures are also involved.
Once deployed, the CDF has strategic oversight of UPDF forces in theatre. Soldiers heading to missions are trained at Singo peacekeeping training camp with support from the US, UK, France and EU. Parliament is supposed to approve deployments, regulate and oversee UPDF activity as stipulated in the constitution and the Defense White Paper of 2004, however, lawmakers have limited oversight. Lawmakers usually rely on the decisions of the UPDF high command on military matters.
Being a former guerilla liberation movement, observers say Uganda’s defence force is reliable in the areas of infantry, intelligence and Special Forces, and has been deemed one of the best by donors in terms of African peacekeeping capability.
The meeting with Xia was also attended by Susan Ngongi Namondo, the UN resident coordinator and senior officials from the ministry.