9 May 2006
Security Council
SC/8713

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5434th Meeting* (PM)


In presidential statement, Security Council urges movements that have not done so


to sign intra-sudanese peace agreement

 


Council, Meeting at Ministerial Level, Also Expresses Deep Concern

Over Deteriorating Humanitarian Situation in Darfur , Shortfall in Funding


While strongly welcoming the 5 May agreement reached at the Intra-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja as a basis for lasting peace in Darfur, the Security Council this afternoon also urged those movements that had not signed the accord to do so without delay, and not to impede its implementation.


In a statement read out by Foreign Minister Rodolphe Adada of the Congo, Council President for May, the Council called on all the parties to respect their commitments and implement the agreement without delay.  It also expressed its appreciation for the efforts of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Congo, which also holds the rotating African Union Presidency; President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, in his capacity as host of the talks; and African Union Special Envoy and Chief Mediator Salim Ahmed Salim.


The Council, however, expressed its deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur and at the shortfall in funding.  It urged Member States to make additional funds available and called on all the Sudanese parties to respect the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian assistance.  The Council welcomed the visit to Darfur of United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.


Commending what the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) had achieved in Darfur despite difficult circumstances, the Council stressed the urgent need to further strengthen the Mission in line with the conclusions of the Joint Assessment Mission report of 10-20 December 2005 so that it would be able to support implementation of the Darfur peace agreement pending the deployment a United Nations operation.  It called in that regard for the Secretary-General and the African Union to convene a pledging conference without delay.


The Council stressed that the Secretary-General should consult with the African Union, in close and continuing consultation with the Security Council, and in cooperation and close consultation on decisions concerning the transition to a United Nations operation.


Stressing that a United Nations operation should have strong African participation and character, the Council called on international and regional organisations and Member States to provide all possible assistance to the United Nations operation.  The Council looked forward to receiving the Secretary-General’s detailed planning proposals for that operation and called for the Government of National Unity to facilitate immediately the visit of a joint United Nations and African Union technical assessment mission to Darfur.


At the outset of today’s meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations was working closely with the African Union and AMIS to meet immediate needs.  The United Nations had already dispatched staff to the region for that purpose, and more would be going in the next few days.


Speakers in the Council this afternoon included Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom; Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States; Li Zhaoxing, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China; Asha Rose Mtengeti-Migiro, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania; Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France; Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development and Cooperation of Denmark; Ursula Plassnik, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria (on behalf of the European Union); and Agnes van Ardenne, Minister for Development of the Netherlands.


Also speaking were Yannis Valinakis, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece; Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; and Roberto García-Moritán, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina.


The Council also heard from the representatives of Peru, Qatar, Slovakia, Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria and Canada.


Also addressing the Council was the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations.


The meeting began at 2 p.m. and ended at 4:10 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2006/21 reads as follows:


“The Security Council strongly welcomes the agreement of 5 May 2006 reached at the Intra-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja as a basis for lasting peace in Darfur; commends the signatories to the agreement; expresses its appreciation of the efforts of President Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, President Obasanjo of Nigeria, in his capacity as host of the Talks, and African Union Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim; calls on all the parties to respect their commitments and implement the agreement without delay; urges those movements that have not signed the agreement to do so without delay, noting the benefits it will bring them and the people of Darfur, and not to act in any way that would impede implementation of the agreement; and welcomes the forthcoming meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on 15 May 2006.


“The Security Council commends the African Union for what the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has achieved in Darfur despite difficult circumstances; stresses the need for AMIS to be urgently further strengthened in line with the conclusions of the Joint Assessment Mission report of 10-20 December 2005 so that it is able to support implementation of the Darfur peace agreement until a United Nations operation is deployed; calls in this regard for the Secretary General and the African Union to convene a pledging conference without delay; and urges Member States and international and regional organizations to provide every possible assistance to AMIS.


“The Security Council stresses that the Secretary-General should consult jointly with the African Union, in close and continuing consultation with the Security Council, and in cooperation and close consultation with the parties to the Abuja Peace Talks, including the Government of National Unity, on decisions concerning the transition to a United Nations operation; looks forward to receiving at the earliest opportunity from the Secretary-General detailed planning proposals for a United Nations operation in Darfur; calls in this regard for the Government of National Unity to facilitate immediately the visit of a joint United Nations and African Union technical assessment mission to Darfur; encourages the Secretary General to consult urgently with potential troop-contributing countries on the assets required for a United Nations operation; stresses that a United Nations operation should have strong African participation and character; and calls on international and regional organizations and Member States to provide the United Nations operation with every possible assistance.


“The Security Council expresses its deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur; welcomes the visit of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland; expresses its deep concern at the shortfall in humanitarian funding; urges Member States to make additional funds available; and calls on all the Sudanese parties to respect the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian assistance.”


Background


The Security Council met today to consider the situation in the Sudan, based on previous reports of the Secretary-General.


Statement by Secretary-General


KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said that today’s ministerial-level meeting of the Council, convened on such short notice, showed that the international community not only recognized the historic opportunity that was at hand, but the urgency with which the international community must act, if that opportunity was not to be lost.  And though he went on to commend the Sudanese Government and the faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement which had last Friday signed the Abuja peace agreement, he stressed that this was not a moment for anyone to “bask in congratulations or rest on their laurels”.


He commended the “tireless efforts of the African Union’s Mediator, Salim Ahmed Salim and Presidents Sassou Nguesso and Olesegun Obasanjo, as well as their international partners Bob Zoellick and Hillary Benn and many others who helped push the agreement through in the final hours of negotiations, but the Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region was far from being at peace, “as the events of yesterday have so tragically reminded us.  There is a vast amount to be done and no time to lose.”


“First, there are significant rebel leaders who have not yet signed the agreement”, he said, adding, “We must all do whatever we can to convince them to choose peace over conflict, for the sake of their people. If this tragedy continues because of what they did, or failed to do, history will judge them severely.”  Next, everything possible must be done to ensure that those who had signed the agreement actually implemented it on the ground, and that the people of Darfur could survive the next few months.  “For that, they need both protection and sustenance -– since driven from their homes and farms, they cannot feed themselves.  And sustenance means protection for those who are bringing them relief.”


Right now, there was only one force on the ground that could even begin to provide protection:  the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).  Therefore, the international community’s immediate priority must be to strengthen that force, so that it could move ahead with implementing essential elements of the agreement and providing real security for displaced people.  “But I believe we all now agree that this can only be a stopgap solution and, as soon as possible, AMIS must be transformed into a larger and more mobile United Nations operation better equipped and with a stronger mandate.  We are now mobilizing all our energies to make that happen”, he said.


The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was closely working with the African Union and AMIS to help meet immediate needs.  The United Nations had already dispatched staff to the region, and more would be going in the next few days.  The United Nations aimed to agree as soon as possible, with its partners in the African Union, on what additional resources AMIS would require to implement key points in the Abuja agreement, and then to hold a pledging conference, possibly in Brussels, in early June.  “But I appeal to donors not to wait for that conference.  They need to be very generous, starting right now.  We cannot afford to lose a single day”, he said.


He also appealed to everyone in Darfur itself to help AMIS do its job.  Attacks like yesterday’s, in which an AMIS interpreter was brutally killed, must not be encouraged, condoned or tolerated by any of the parties.  No less urgent was the need to raise more money for emergency relief.  Right now, the region was facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.  Without massive and immediate support, the humanitarian agencies would be unable to continue their work, which meant that hundreds of thousands more would die from hunger, malnutrition and disease, he said.


“Meanwhile, we must and will speed up our planning for the transition to a UN operation in Darfur -– which was already requested by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union as long ago as 10 March, and authorized by the Security Council on 24 March, in its resolution 1663.  Let’s not underestimate the challenge that this implies”, he said, stressing that helping to protect the people of Darfur and to implement the Abuja agreement would be one of the biggest tests the Organization had ever faced -– perhaps the biggest since those in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia in the early 1990s.  “But it is a challenge we cannot refuse.  And, having accepted it, we cannot delay”, he said.


It was clear, from the work already done, that a follow-on United Nations force would have to be much bigger than the current AMIS force, and would need major logistical support from Member States that were in a position to provide it.  The next step was a technical assessment mission to Darfur itself, during which, the United Nations and the African Union would undertake a firsthand assessment of the situation on the ground, and would consult with the Sudan’s Government of National Unity, and with the other parties, on what was required to implement the peace agreement.


“No peacekeeping mission can succeed without the support and cooperation of the parties, at the highest level”, he said, adding, “accordingly, I have written to President Bashir to seek his support for the assessment, and I hope very soon to be able to discuss it with him directly.  His support for this vital mission is essential.” Meanwhile, he appealed once again to all parties, and to the Government in particular, to show immediate respect for the ceasefire in Darfur and to prove, by their actions, their determination to honour the agreement they had signed.


For its part, the United Nations –- the Secretariat, with the support of the Council -- would do everything in its power “to help the Sudanese people close this tragic chapter in their history”, he said.


Council President RODOLPHE ADADA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and la Francophonie of Congo, speaking in his national capacity, as well as on behalf of the current African Union Presidency, said that the Abuja agreement was an important phase of the peace process in which the African Union had undertaken to build on its assets vis-à-vis other military forces on the ground.  However, the challenges facing AMIS must be faced urgently, and the African Union paid tribute to the memory of the staff member killed yesterday during the visit to Darfur of Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.


He said it was vital to organize a donors’ conference as soon as possible.  It was also essential to work towards a partnership in preparing the transition to a United Nations operation as heralded in the 10 March decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council.  The African Union was due to meet again on 15 May to endorse that decision, and the regional body would then present its conclusions regarding that meeting to the United Nations Security Council.


MARGARET BECKETT, Member of Parliament, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom said that today, after three years of war, and with the signing of the Abuja agreement, the people of Darfur at last had a chance for peace.  She urged all the parties to respect the agreement and to implement it without delay.  She also urged the parties that had not signed the agreement to join it as soon as possible in order to ensure further security, peace and development in Darfur.


And while she stressed that that the African Union and AMIS had done an extraordinary job in its first peacekeeping mission, the international community must, nevertheless, ensure that that operation was strengthened as soon as possible.  She said that efforts should be stepped up to transform the African Union Mission into a United Nations mission.  Further, the Council should press for the immediate dispatch of a military assessment mission to Darfur.  She reminded the Council that the Government of the Sudan had agreed to such a mission once a peace deal had been signed.


Finally, she said the international community must remain focused on averting a humanitarian tragedy in Darfur.  What had been agreed on paper in Abuja, must now be implemented on the ground.  It was time for the international community to rally to the security and humanitarian interests of the people in Darfur.  They now had some hope, and the Council should resolve not to let them down.


SERGEY LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that an important step had been taken towards inter-Sudanese reconciliation.  Progress in the Abuja talks had been possible thanks to the Sudanese Government’s willingness to compromise, and all the other parties must seize the opportunity to restore peace.  Resolving the Darfur question was something to be carried out through constructive dialogue, and the Russian Federation awaited the Secretary-General’s recommendations in that regard.  The Russian Federation supported the consolidated efforts of the international community under the aegis of the United Nations, and it would continue to make every effort to help maintain the territorial integrity of the Sudan.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, said the Darfur peace agreement signed just days ago represented an historic opportunity for the people of the region to achieve hope and justice.  She urged the Council to press all the parties to implement the agreement fully.  She had heard dire accounts of killing committed by the Janjaweed militia.  The United States had characterized that wanton campaign as “genocide”, and just yesterday, President Bush had reaffirmed America’s view of the situation.


She said the situation in Darfur had political implications, just as had other long-running conflicts in wider Sudan.  Historically, Khartoum had not been able to rule all its people justly.  That said, the Darfur agreement was a worthy complement to the recent broader North-South comprehensive peace agreement signed last year, which had ended another years-long conflict.  Most importantly, the new agreement, she said, set out a path for the people of Darfur to return to their homes.  It was vital for the Sudan’s neighbours to help them and support them as they followed that path.  It was also now more important than ever that the United Nations monitor the agreement’s timelines to ensure that they were met.


She applauded the work of the African Union troops and said that the United States-led resolution under consideration in the Council called for the speedy transformation of the African Union mission into a more robust United Nations peacekeeping mission mandated with the capability of protecting civilians.  “We need a UN peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur and ... we would expect the Government of Sudan to be partners in that effort”, she said.  The international community must also do more to alleviate the suffering of the people of Darfur, especially as hunger and disease continued to take a staggering number of lives.  The United States had so far provided almost all the resources needed to support the World Food Programme’s (WFP) humanitarian assistance efforts in the Darfur region.  She called on the wider international community to help the WFP boost its efforts in the wake of the signing of the peace agreement.


This was a “time of testing” for the international community, especially the United Nations, she said.  The plight of the people of Darfur was currently weighing on the conscience of the world.  But conscience alone would not feed starving people, save innocent lives or bring peace to a war-ravaged land.  If the idea of an international community was to mean anything, if the founding principles of the United Nations were to be more than a mere ideal, and if the notion of the responsibility to protect was ever to be more than just an empty promise, then the Security Council must act.  It must pass the resolution under consideration and must do all it could to ensure and bolster the hopes of the people of Darfur.


LI ZHAOXING, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the signing of the Abuja agreement marked significant progress and signified a new historical turning point in the Darfur peace process.  It also demonstrated that with the support of the international community, African problems could be solved through reliance on African leadership and African methods.  China urged those movements that had not yet signed the agreement to do so.


He said the signing of the accord was only the first step in a thousand-mile march.  Its timely implementation required that the international community provide effective help, as the capacity of AMIS had been severely strained and might be totally depleted in a number of months.  The transition to a United Nations operation had been decided by the African Union and it was to be hoped that the Sudanese Government would speed up its consultations with the United Nations regarding implementation of the necessary arrangements.  The consent and cooperation of the Sudan were the prerequisite for the transition.


ASHA ROSE MTENGETI-MIGIRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the United Republic of Tanzania, said the recent signing of the Abuja peace agreement marked a breakthrough in the situation in Darfur, and even though that agreement was not totally inclusive, since all rebel factions had not signed on, it was, nevertheless, a step towards peace for Darfur in particular, and the Sudan in general.


The agreement had all the significant ingredients to secure peace in Darfur, she said, adding that the Council must now do its part help the peace become a reality.  She called upon all parties not to do anything to undermine any element of the agreement.  The humanitarian situation in Darfur continued to deteriorate, and the United Republic of Tanzania was particularly concerned by ongoing attacks against civilians in the region.


She said it was also unfortunate that food assistance was being decreased.  She appealed to the donor community to provide further assistance to refugees and displaced persons while they were awaiting conditions conducive to allow their return home after the signing of the peace agreement.  She also called for the immediate strengthening of AMIS, and expressed her delegation’s support for the United States-led draft resolution now under consideration in the Council.


PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said it was necessary first to ensure that all the parties to the conflict joined with the Sudanese Government and the SLM in rallying to the peace agreement.  It would be of fundamental importance to include in the process those forces that were not represented in Abuja.


He emphasized the absolute necessity of timely measures to strengthen the African forces in Darfur.  The AMIS had played an essential role and would be given new tasks as a result of the Abuja agreement.  It must also be made ready to pass the baton to the United Nations.  Indeed, it was incumbent on Member States --– and particularly the Security Council -– to accelerate preparations for a transition from AMIS to a United Nations peacekeeping operation as the conditions for it were now nearly in place.


There were two other major concerns, he said.  First, it was essential for the international community to remobilize in order to overcome the very troubling deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, as well as in Chad.  Since the summer of 2004, France had committed military aircraft to provide all necessary assistance to Darfurian refugees in Chad, and it was in that same spirit that it called on the international community to support the United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations in their efforts.  Second, it was also now indispensable to approach the question of Darfur from a regional perspective.  Already, Chad’s stability was nearly compromised by developments in Darfur.  Nothing would be worse for Darfur than regional destabilization, and the international community must ensure that peace in Darfur provided an opportunity to foster peace in the region as a whole.


ULLA TØRNÆS, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, said it was her hope that strong international support for the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement would show that those who chose to stay outside the agreement would have denied themselves influence on the future of Darfur.  There was still room -- but not a lot of time -- for the leaders of the two remaining movements -- the Justice and Equality Movement and the other faction of SLM -- to join the agreement that had now been achieved.  Denmark had consistently supported that all measures, including sanctions, be put to use as and when appropriate.  It was crucial to apply pressure, if necessary, on those parties or individuals, who stood in the way of peace.


The Abuja agreement called for a Darfur-Darfur dialogue, as well as post-conflict reconstruction, both of which would need continued support from the international community, she said.  Denmark had from the outset of the crisis provided substantial support for humanitarian activities in Darfur.  She strongly urged the international donor community to provide immediate support for the humanitarian efforts in Darfur.


She expressed deep concern over the continued fighting and violence in Darfur and said that improved security and better access for humanitarian workers were imperatives.  All restrictions on the work of humanitarian organizations must be lifted immediately.  She added that access to people in need was critically dependent on the security situation on the ground.  Recognizing the important work done by AMIS, she believed it was essential to secure a transition from AMIS to a United Nations operation as quickly as possible, and she strongly urged the Sudanese Government to accept the United Nations planning team which would visit Darfur.


YANNIS VALINAKIS, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, fully aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, said the Abuja agreement epitomized Africa’s determination to resolve its problems in a collective and effective manner in cooperation with its international partners.  It was unfortunate that the smaller faction of the SLM, as well as the Justice and Equality Movement had refused to sign.  Greece urged those parties to overcome their remaining difficulties and subscribe to the agreement.


The apparent breakthrough did not allow the international community to be complacent, he cautioned.  The implementation of the agreement was likely to be more challenging than the signing, and the time frames should be fully respected so that the implementation advanced as smoothly as possible.  At the same time, however, Greece was gravely concerned about the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation.  The operation launched in 2003, the largest in the world and which had been extremely effective, was now at risk because of the rising insecurity and lack of funds.


The deteriorating humanitarian situation must be addressed and, in that regard, the restrictions on non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies should be lifted, he said.  In addition, humanitarian assistance for Darfur should be increased.  Greece was examining ways to be more helpful in that regard.  Furthermore, the tension and instability on the border between the Sudan and Chad should be resolved as soon as possible on the basis of the Tripoli Agreement of 8 February.  If not addressed, that problem might potentially have a detrimental effect, with serious ramifications on the humanitarian situation of the entire region.


YASUHISA SHIOZAKI, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, called on the remaining factions of the SLM and the Justice and Equality Movement to promptly join the Abuja peace agreement, and urged all parties to sincerely commit themselves to its implementation.  In April last year, Japan had pledged $100 million to support the North-South peace process in the Sudan and had implemented almost 90 per cent of that assistance.  Despite various challenges, slow but steady progress had been made in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement through well coordinated efforts by the United Nations and other actors.  “If we can do this in the North-South process, why not in Darfur?” he asked.


Fully recognizing the need to strengthen AMIS and to provide additional assistance to improve the security situation in the region, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had announced a commitment of further assistance to AMIS amounting to approximately $8.7 million.  Recognizing that the Sudan’s agreement was needed for a transition from AMIS to a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, he hoped a joint United Nations-African Union assessment mission would be undertaken without further delay and, following the achievement of the peace agreement, that consideration of the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Darfur would be accelerated.  His Government was ready to study the Secretariat’s forthcoming deployment plan, and to support it as appropriate.


Japan was gravely concerned over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, he said.  There were two indispensable elements to improving the humanitarian situation:  the cooperation of the Sudanese Government in facilitating humanitarian activities; and funding for those activities.  To date, Japan had provided approximately $33 million for that purpose.  During his recent visit, Prime Minister Koizumi announced an additional $10 million in humanitarian assistance.


ROBERTO GARCÍA MORITÁN, Deputy Foreign Minister of Argentina, said that, after long and hard negotiations on the conflict, he shared the optimism today for the agreement reached between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army.  True pacification and reconciliation in Darfur, however, demanded that the process be inclusive and adequately representative.  That was why he urged the movements that had not yet signed the agreement to do so without preconditions.


He said that a new phase of the peace process in Darfur had been initiated, in which it would be necessary to strengthen the capabilities of the African Union Mission in the Sudan, so as to ensure that it had the necessary resources to carry out all its tasks adequately.  That included the provision of increased security on the ground, giving effective protection to the civilian population and supporting the implementation of the new agreement.  Regarding the work being done to set up a United Nations operation in Darfur, he called on the Government of National Unity to facilitate the visit of the technical assessment mission.  He was ready to work expeditiously on that matter and would carefully consider the United States text.


The people of Darfur had suffered too much for too long, and it was the international community’s responsibility to help improve their living conditions, he said.  It was imperative to urgently and concretely address the dire humanitarian situation that persisted in Darfur.  Actions must be guided by the need to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians victimized by the violence.  The parties must cease all attacks immediately and refrain from any action that would violate the ceasefire agreement.  The Sudanese Government must ensure that the humanitarian assistance reached the people in need by removing all restrictions on humanitarian operations.  It was the Government’s unconditional duty to protect its citizens.  The international community must continue to provide help and support, not only in the crisis, but also in the future reconstruction and development efforts.


OSWALDO DE RIVERO ( Peru) said estimates showed that nearly 200,000 people had died in the Darfur region since 2003 as a consequence of atrocities, malnutrition and illness, and some 2 million had been displaced to overcrowded and unhealthy refugee camps.  The Council, as well as the wider United Nations system, should consider the lack of humanitarian aid to the region a severe threat to human lives there, and the Organization and its specialized agencies should look for intelligent ways to provide food, water and medicines to needy populations.


Parallel to the humanitarian effort, there was also the need to strengthen AMIS, and the Council should send a clear message to the signatories of the peace agreement so that the ceasefire was respected.  He said there was a need to ensure that all parties signed on to the agreement so that the situation would not revert back to conflict.  There was also an urgent need to dispatch a United Nations technical mission to the Sudan to evaluate the situation in the field and pave the way for a United Nations peacekeeping force.  Finally, it was critically important for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to begin the planning of a United Nations mission in Darfur, with a stronger mandate and with a human rights focus.  Such an operation should also be mobile and better equipped to head off conflict.  The ultimate purpose of such a mission should be to ensure the implementation of the newly signed peace agreement, as well as the protection of the civilian population.


NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said that the signing of the agreement had been achieved as a result of joint efforts, and it was a first step towards establishing security and peace in Darfur and in the Sudan as a whole.  That made it incumbent upon all the parties to take the remaining steps so as to render it a success and a concrete fact on the ground, as well as to realize that their interests were so interconnected that it was in the interest of each and every party to maintain stability.  In order to build on the success achieved so far, it was imperative that all parties evinced a sense of responsibility, especially those that had not yet signed the peace accord.  The Security Council bore the responsibility to send them a clear message to join the peace process and refrain from attempting to derail it.


The Darfur crisis was one that affected human beings, primarily women and children who paid the price of conflict, he said.  While caring for them was a national responsibility, the international community also bore a responsibility to ensure the flow of undiminished humanitarian assistance and to honour promises to provide support and resources already pledged in order to consolidate stability, security and peace, as well as to carry out reconstruction and guarantee the voluntary return home of displaced people.  That might also require assigning a vital role to the Peacebuilding Commission in coordination with the Government of National Unity.  The spirit of responsibility shown by the Government was the strongest evidence of its desire to resolve the Darfur crisis.  It was important for the Council to work with it on expanding the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to include Darfur.


PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) commended the Sudanese government and the Sudan Liberation Movement at the final stages of negotiations in Abuja and called on all parties in Darfur to seize the opportunity to reach lasting and sustainable peace.  He encouraged expeditious implementation on the ground of the Darfur Peace Agreement, stressing that it would be a necessary prerequisite for durable peace.  He stressed the importance of continuing the momentum created in Abuja during the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation and making that dialogue an inclusive process.  Also, AMIS must be strengthened as soon as possible to cope with the highly complex situation on the ground.  The current AMIS deployment was inadequate and its transfer to a United Nations peacekeeping mission was the only viable option.


He called on Sudanese officials to allow the joint assessment team to visit the region without delay to prepare for the transition, adding that he looked forward to receiving detailed planning proposals for a United Nations operation in Darfur.  It was essential that the international community and Sudanese officials cooperated to improve performance in Darfur’s humanitarian situation.  In addition, the Government of the Sudan should allow unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and remove any obstacles to humanitarian aid delivery.


NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) urged the factions that had not signed the agreement to seize the opportunity to become part of the solution to the Darfur crisis.  Those factions that still believed in a military solution instead of a negotiated settlement were merely deluding themselves.  The signing of the Abuja accord signified the possibility for a new beginning, not only for the people of Darfur, but for all Sudanese as well.  Nonetheless, as pointed out repeatedly, the signing of the agreement was merely a launching pad for further progress.  Difficult and protracted as the negotiations had been, the international community should brace for the more challenging task of implementing the accord.


He said it was now the duty of the Sudanese Government and people to give the agreement practical meaning by working with the international community to change their country for the better and make life worth living for all.  Early proof of the agreement’s viability, indeed, its first dividend, should be a quick improvement in the humanitarian situation on the ground.  So far, only about 20 per cent of the $648 million needed had been pledged to the United Nations.  The humanitarian agencies needed funding to be able to reach many more needy people.


The time had also come to take concrete steps towards strengthening AMIS in anticipation of the transition to an expanded United Nations operation with strong African participation and character, he said.  The joint African Union-United Nations technical assessment mission was a key part of that transition, and Ghana urged the Sudanese Government to embrace it as a partner in the search for peace.  Trust and cooperation would serve the cause of peace better than mistrust and confrontation.  So much time, energy and resources had been invested in the crisis because of the common stake in the dignity and security of humanity.


URSULA PLASSNIK ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was crucial that all parties to the conflict subscribe to the Darfur peace agreement.  She strongly urged the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) faction to sign the agreement before the deadline of the expected 15 May meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council.  Those movements’ leaders had a historic responsibility to help secure peace in Darfur.  All parties to the conflict were responsible to fully implement the peace agreement in good faith, she said, reiterating her full support for utilizing the measures set forth in resolution 1591 (2005) against those who impeded the peace process.


The AMIS must urgently be strengthened in order for it to fully carry out its critical role of implementing the agreement until a United Nations force could take over those functions, she continued.  She fully supported the Secretary-General in convening, at an early date, an African Union pledging conference to support the strengthened AMIS.  The Abuja agreement opened the way for creation of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, and vital preparatory steps must be taken without delay, particularly the dispatching of a joint United Nations-African Union assessment mission to Darfur.


She encouraged the Secretary-General to hold early consultations with potential troop-contributing countries for a United Nations operation, and added that the European Union would contribute another €50 million from the African Peace Facility to AMIS, in addition to the €162 million already disbursed.  It would also continue to provide technical and logistical support.  The European Commission had recently pledged €100 million for a humanitarian and initial recovery package.


AGNES VAN ARDENNE-VAN DER HOEVEN, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, said that, while the Darfur peace agreement was undoubtedly a milestone, it was still merely a piece of the puzzle, and she called on all rebel actions that had not signed the agreement to do so as soon as possible.  “The people of Darfur can’t wait”, she warned, adding that thousands had already lost their lives, while nearly 2 million had been displaced and were now “hanging by a thread”.  The Sudanese Government bore the primary responsibility for the well-being of its own citizens, as well as to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to relief workers and organizations trying to help populations desperately in need.


“As soon as possible, we must switch from keeping the people of Darfur alive to letting them rebuild their lives outside refugee camps”, she said, calling on the Sudanese Government to allow the United Nations to start the necessary planning work as soon as possible for the deployment of a robust United Nations peacekeeping operation to help make Darfur safe for development.  But before the “blue helmets” arrived, the people of Darfur would continue to depend on AMIS to support them.  And in turn, the African Union would count on the United Nations and the wider international community to support it.


She said that a United Nations mission on the ground in Darfur would send a strong signal of international commitment.  More than an agreement on paper, such a commitment would convince the people that they had a future in Darfur.  “This is why even a peace deal will mean nothing to Darfuris without concrete improvements in living conditions.  They need a peace dividend.”  To that end, she stressed the vital need of the parties to the Darfur agreement to communicate the results of negotiations in detail to the people of Darfur as soon as possible.


Breaking the cycle of violence and rebuilding the province of Darfur was also about the credibility of the Council and the international community as a whole.  “Can we overcome international indifference and make a difference to those who are most in need?” she asked, adding: “And can we, at the highest political levels, keep our eyes on Darfur, even as, in the long run, other crises take over the headlines?”  The Netherlands would make every possible effort to ensure that the answer to those questions was “a loud and clear ‘yes’”, she said.


OMAR BASHIR MOHAMED MANIS ( Sudan) expressed his country’s gratitude for the faithful and sincere political efforts of the international community.  The Sudan also wished to thank African Union Chief Mediator Salim for his efforts in carrying out a mission made next to impossible due to the divergent positions of all the parties concerned at the time of his assignment.  The Sudan wished also to thank Presidents Obasanjo and Sassou-Nguesso, as well as all their international partners, especially the United States, United Kingdom, League of Arab States, African Union, European Union and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  The Sudan was also grateful to the Dutch Government for its announced intention to host a donor conference in September.


He said that anybody who had followed the Abuja process would realize the Sudan’s eagerness to eliminate the root causes of the Darfur crisis, which remained a priority.  The Government had undertaken efforts, in parallel with those of the international community, to alleviate the humanitarian situation and ameliorate the security situation in order to facilitate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.  The Government had started yesterday to implement the agreement and looked to the Security Council to send a strong, unambiguous message to those who had not signed it to demonstrate a sense of responsibility and do so, bearing in mind the humanitarian situation.


The Government enjoyed a bright record of cooperation with the United Nations and the Security Council, especially as demonstrated by the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said.  The historic Abuja agreement would thrive only through the support of the international community, which would help revive peaceful coexistence among the people of Darfur.  Hopefully, similar resolve and cooperation would be shown during the challenging task of reconstruction.


AMINU B. WALI (Nigeria) said the agreement between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Movement, one of the parties to the peace talks that Nigeria had been hosting for the past two years, was historic for a number of reasons, particularly as it was a triumph of determination to confront the fundamental problems that had separated the sides in the Darfur conflict, as well as a genuine opportunity to open new vistas of cooperation that would help heal the deep wounds that had divided societies in Darfur and in the Sudan as a whole.  The agreement also signalled what could be achieved when the international community united and then joined forces with regional leaders and institutions in the search for peace, security, stability and development.


The role of African leaders in the overall process signalled the willingness of the Continent’s political leadership to pursue solutions to conflict situations in a cooperative and comprehensive manner.   Nigeria believed, nevertheless, that the international community should look beyond the agreement towards ensuring its complete implementation.  Urgent steps must be taken to ensure to reassure the parties –- particularly those that had withheld their signatures –- that the path to peace and reconciliation mapped out for the troubled Darfur region could best be pursued through broad engagement and dialogue.  “There is a need to rescue their leaders and the affected population from the fear of tomorrow and encourage them to demonstrate faith in Sudan’s future as a peaceful, united and prosperous country”, he said.


The international community had an important collaborative role to play in the process, particularly to boost the efforts of the Government of the Sudan to rise to the challenge of nation-building in and among its multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities.  The partnership, which had worked so well in Abuja, should be deepened, so that the Sudanese Government and the international community could address Darfur’s socio-economic challenges, he said, stressing that nothing short of a “Marshall Plan”-like mobilization of international assistance would do.  There was also an urgent need to guarantee the security of the population of Darfur, and Nigeria looked forward to proposed efforts to boost the AMIS force, as well as the speedy deployment of a full United Nations force.


GILBERT LAURIN ( Canada) said the Darfur peace agreement provided a viable basis to achieve a sustainable peace in that troubled region and to address the needs of the people there.  The parties must now work together to ensure that the violence and impunity in Darfur ended.  They must commit to protecting civilians and to providing safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to populations in need, and they must fully implement the agreement and begin the difficult process of reconciliation.  A new hope had emerged for the people of Darfur and all of the Sudan when the peace deal had been signed.


Indeed, the displaced people must now be able to return to their homes in safety and dignity; special measures must be taken to eliminate sexual violence; women must participate fully in the implementation of peace; and attention must be given to rehabilitation, reconciliation and sustainable development.  In the near term, he said that the international community must enhance AMIS to ensure that that hope translated into reality by improving the security situation on the ground.  The pact must be monitored and verified, and violators and would-be “spoilers” must be held accountable and punished.


At the same time, he said the United Nations must urgently press ahead with the transition to a United Nations mission on the ground that had a strong mandate to protect civilians.  The time was ripe for a new level of international engagement.  In that regard, he said the planning process must move forward was quickly as possible, with continued cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union.


YAHYA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States to the United Nations, called upon those factions that had not yet done so to sign the agreement promptly for the sake of comprehensive, lasting peace and stability in Darfur and throughout the country.  It was necessary to ensure concrete implementation on the ground and compliance in good faith by all parties so that the accord could have a quick impact in improving the situation on the ground.  The parties must also cooperate with AMIS.


He stressed that the humanitarian situation was in need of additional international support and urged regional and international organizations, as well as the international community as a whole, to contribute to that goal.  The Arab League, in cooperation with the African Union, had played its role and was confident that the agreement on Darfur was a unique opportunity to end the violence which, in turn, would lead to stability and to the launching of reconstruction and sustainable development processes in Darfur.


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*     The 5433rd Meeting was closed.


For information media • not an official record