|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General, at South Sudan Independence Ceremony, Underscores Need
for Civil War Foes to Reaffirm Common Heritage, Mutual Interdependence
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the ceremony marking the independence of South Sudan, “Partners for Peace and Prosperity”, in Juba on 9 July:
On behalf of the United Nations, on behalf of the entire international community, I greet the 8 million citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, and on this great and momentous occasion, I send all of you our very best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous and happy future as the newest nation in Africa, as the newest nation on earth.
Today, we witness history. The birth of this new nation marks the culmination of a long struggle. A struggle that saw terrible violence, a struggle that destroyed so many lives, for so many years. Today, we open a new chapter — a day when the people of South Sudan claim the freedom and dignity that are their birthright.
President Salva Kiir, President Omer al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan, I commend you both for having come so far. Both of you have made difficult decisions and compromises. Seeing both of you here today testifies to your common commitment to peace and partnership.
We gather in celebration, but we are mindful of the enormous challenges ahead — deep poverty, lack of basic infrastructure and institutions of Government, political insecurity. And yet, at the same time, we must not underestimate South Sudan’s remarkable potential — its resilient and talented people, abundant natural resources, huge areas of arable land and the great Nile running through it. With these assets, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, productive nation capable of meeting the needs of its people.
But it cannot do so alone. Alone, South Sudan cannot meet the challenges it faces nor realize its potential. Doing so will require partnership — a full and ongoing engagement with the international community and, most especially, its own neighbours. That is why we are here today — because we are committed to helping South Sudan shape its future.
As we look towards that future, we must acknowledge the past. As the South separates from the North, we must recognize the ties that continue to bind them — ties of culture, politics and economics. Though the North and South Sudanese people now belong to different countries, they will continue to live side by side. Trade will continue across their common border. Nomadic groups will continue their seasonal migrations. The waters of the Nile will continue to flow from South to North.
A viable South will need a viable North. And vice versa. Today is therefore a day for the North and the South to reaffirm their common heritage and mutual interdependence. It is an opportunity to renew their commitment to building peaceful and productive relations — to face their common future as partners. With this in mind, let us remember that key aspects of the peace process have not been completed.
The referendum in Abyei has yet to take place. The voices of the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile have not yet been heard in popular consultations. And in recent weeks we have seen new violence and human suffering, inflamed by potentially dangerous rhetoric.
So, today, let this be a moment for North and South to declare — unequivocally — that they remain committed to addressing the unfinished business of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Let differences be resolved around the negotiating table. Let us accept that sovereignty is both a right and a great responsibility.
South Sudan’s success will be measured by how well it serves its citizens. The basic rights of a modern, democratic State must be guaranteed — free expression, full political rights for all, including women and young people, inclusive institutions of Government that can provide stability and opportunity. South Sudan is wonderfully diverse. It should find strength in that diversity.
In closing, I would like to say that this is an important day for the United Nations, as well. We have been engaged in the quest for peace in Sudan for many years, through peacekeeping and diplomacy, through humanitarian assistance and development. The African Union, international non-governmental organizations, individual Member States and many others have been strong and close partners. We gratefully acknowledge their role in accompanying the Sudanese, from the North and South, along this bumpy road, recognizing in particular the contribution of the African Union High Level [Implementation] Panel under the chairmanship of President Thabo Mbeki.
Together, we welcome the Republic of South Sudan to the community of nations. Together, we affirm our commitment to helping it meet its many responsibilities as a nation.
Today, a new United Nations mission begins its work. Our mandate: to help South Sudan establish effective institutions of governance and deliver on the high hopes of its people.
The presence of so many world leaders in itself confirms the engagement and goodwill of the international community. Congratulations to all who made this great day possible.
And to the people of South Sudan, we offer a solemn pledge: as you work to build your country, as you strive for peace and prosperity, we will work with you — partners for peace and prosperity.
Thank you. Shukran wa mobruk le intum nas ta Junub Sudan. [Thank you and congratulations to the people of South Sudan.]
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