Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks to the Security Council on Sudan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council, 16 November 2010

Your Excellency, Mr. William Hague, British Foreign Secretary and President of the Security Council,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to address you at a moment of critical importance for the Sudanese people and for the sub-region.

In less than two months, the people of Southern Sudan will exercise their right to vote on the future of the South, as provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 and as supported by this Council and the international community.

The registration process for the referendum has begun throughout Southern Sudan, as well as in 165 locations in the North and eight foreign countries. I commend the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission for this achievement. With the commencement of this process, the referendum is on track.

To ensure that the referendum is conducted in an orderly fashion and that the Sudanese people peacefully accept the outcome, it is imperative that the process be credible and transparent, and that it reflect the aspirations of the population.

I remain concerned by delays in the preparations, partly resulting from considerable national funding shortfalls. All remaining obstacles should be removed so that the Referendum Commission can finance its operations; appoint, train and deploy the necessary personnel; and take key decisions without delay.

The international community, including the UN family, NGOs and donors, stands ready to provide further assistance. The UN Mission in Sudan continues to give technical and logistical support to the SSRC, and is deploying additional staff to assist the process. UNAMID will contribute aviation assets, and the UN Development Programme and International Organization for Migration are assisting in the procurement of materials and out-of-country voting.

I have also established a Panel, chaired by former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa, to monitor the referenda for Southern Sudan and the Abyei Area. The panel is in the country to monitor the first week of the registration process. I call on the Sudanese parties to make the most of its presence.

In addition to this direct support to the process, the humanitarian community has developed a contingency plan to provide timely assistance in the event of referendum-related violence. Approximately $63 million is needed to pre-position humanitarian assistance near potential hot spots. We will also need to ensure access to the contested border areas. The Council's support in these efforts would be welcome.

Notwithstanding the international community's goodwill and support, the referenda are Sudanese processes. The commitment of the international community cannot supplant the willingness of the parties to meet their responsibilities. The Government of Sudan, the Government of Southern Sudan and the Referenda Commissions must rise to this challenge.

The CPA parties have reiterated their responsibility on several occasions, not only for the organization and conduct of the referenda, but also for the preservation of security and the creation of an environment conducive to the exercise of civil and political rights.

In this regard, the protection of southern Sudanese who live in the north, and of northerners who live in the south, is of major concern. So, too, is the possibility of a return to the suffering and loss of life seen during the long war between the North and South.

I welcome the recent statement by Ministers of the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan that a return to war is not an option. Yet, we have also heard hostile public statements and accusations of ceasefire violations, which risk heightening anxiety and provoking isolated security incidents that can escalate into a wider conflict. The potential for an unintentional conflict is especially high in Abyei, where the Misseriya will soon begin their annual Southward migration, emotions are running high and little progress has been made in finding a solution to the political impasse.

Mr. President,

We are working with both parties on options for a possible augmentation of additional UN troops, to increase referendum and post-referendum security as well as our capacity to verify and monitor possible cease-fire violations and to protect civilians throughout the mission area. However, the presence of UN troops will not be enough to prevent a return to war should wide-spread hostilities erupt. Only a demonstrated commitment by the parties to refrain from inflammatory statements, uphold the CPA ceasefire mechanisms and reassure the population of their willingness to work together, will succeed in maintaining peace.

To this end, negotiations on post-referendum arrangements are vital in order to address the apprehensions of the Sudanese population. The need is particularly acute in Abyei, where confusion and fear about post-referendum citizenship, grazing rights, access to water points and oil revenue sharing are contributing to a political and security minefield.

I am encouraged that the CPA parties are discussing these and other issues, through negotiations facilitated by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan. I urge them to break the deadlock on Abyei, move towards holding a credible referendum in Southern Sudan and design a peaceful and prosperous future for Northern and Southern Sudan in which the protection and security of minority populations is assured, irrespective of the outcome of the referendum.

Mr. President,

This brings me to the situation in Darfur, where there remains an urgent need to reach a comprehensive and inclusive settlement.

The Joint Chief Mediator, with the support of the Government of Qatar and other partners, has made progress. He is consulting the parties on possible compromises on outstanding issues, the most important of which is the administrative status of Darfur.

The Doha settlement has been designed so that other movements – particularly the Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] and SLA/Abdul Wahid – can join the process. Mr. Bassolé continues to consult with them with a view to engaging them in the negotiations. I welcome steps taken by JEM to rejoin the process and their recent high-level presence in Doha.

Unfortunately, renewed clashes are taking place on the ground between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the JEM, and hostilities are continuing between the SAF and SLA/AW in Jebel Marra.

I am deeply concerned at the impact of these hostilities on innocent civilians, which is completely unacceptable, and stress again the urgent need for full access to eastern Jebel Marra, where the humanitarian situation is reportedly dire. I urge Members of the Council to join me in demanding that all restrictions placed by the parties on the movement of UNAMID and the humanitarian community be lifted.

The disturbing implication of this fighting is that the parties have not yet decided to give up the military path.

I therefore make four specific requests of the Council.

First, encourage the Government and the movements to show flexibility as the Joint Chief Mediator searches with them for compromises. For any agreement to gain traction inside Darfur, it must address the roots of the conflict and end the marginalization of the region. This will require significant concessions in the areas of power and wealth sharing, and genuine efforts to address questions of national and international justice and of truth and reconciliation.

Second, encourage movements outside of the process to engage and demonstrate, through concrete measures, their commitment to the peace process. It is particularly important to urge the Government and JEM to renew their cessation of hostilities agreement and negotiate cease-fire protocols.

Third, support the outcome of the Doha process and the work that will follow to generate a popular consensus on the terms of peace.

Fourth, encourage the Government of Sudan to undertake concrete actions to address the demands of the people of Darfur for security, particularly in relation to criminality and impunity, respect of their political and civil rights, and economic support to rebuild their lives and return to their homes should they wish to do so. To the same end, I call upon Sudan to act in accordance with this Council's decision as outlined in resolution 1593.

Mr. President,

The coming months are likely to be difficult for the people of Sudan and the international community engaged there.

The referendum has the potential to change the future of the country and send shockwaves throughout the region. The international community and the CPA parties, having emphasized the importance of making unity attractive during the past five years, must now respect the right of the Southern Sudanese population to decide.

As we move forward, we must recall that the referendum, as momentous as it may appear, is one element of an agreement that ended a bitter war. That same agreement also paved the way for deepening democratization and development inside Sudan, as well as improved regional stability.

The Sudanese parties must recognize that the vision of a new Sudan articulated in the CPA remains as valid today as it was half a decade ago, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

By renewing the trust achieved in 2005, the parties can develop productive models of association and cooperation. Doing so will also have a seminal and positive impact for the final resolution of the conflict in Darfur.

The role of this Council remains essential. I urge you to help build bridges between North and South and, in the same spirit, to ensure that the fundamental imbalances fuelling conflict elsewhere in Sudan are addressed, so that Darfur can be brought into a stable, prosperous and equitable future for Sudan.

Mr. President,

I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Security Council as the referenda draws near and as we seek to help Sudan meet these critical tests.

Thank you very much for your attention.