Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at briefing to Security Council consultations on the visit to Sudan, Chad and Libya

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council, 12 September 2007

I welcome this opportunity to brief the Council on my recent trip to Sudan, Chad and Libya.

Before I begin, I would like to welcome the new Permanent Representative of Indonesia, Marty Natalegawa. I look forward to working closely with you.

As the Council is aware, I have made Darfur my top priority since becoming Secretary-General.

In this spirit, I set a number of Darfur-related objectives for myself in advance of my visit:

I wanted to see for myself how the internally displaced persons (IDP) and other victims of this conflict are forced to live; and to get a sense of the conditions that UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] personnel would face when they are deployed.

I wanted to give additional momentum to our preparations for UNAMID.

I wanted to secure agreement on the next critical step in the political process, including agreeing on a venue and a date for the negotiations.

And I wanted to draw attention to the central importance of development, including development of water resources, in ensuring a sustainable end to conflicts.

There was a second theme to my trip to Sudan: the critical importance of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). I sought, through my visit, to emphasize that CPA is the framework for peace throughout the country.

I wanted to send a clear signal on CPA, that unless this milestone achievement, which ended decades of war between the north and the south was implemented, hopes for sustained peace in Sudan would suffer a serious blow.

In addition to these Darfur and wider Sudan-related goals, I also intended to use my visit to Chad to work directly with President Déby to move forward on plans for a multidimensional international presence in eastern Chad.

I also expected that my visit to Tripoli would give me a good opportunity for serious discussions with leader Qadhafi on the situation in Darfur and also the wider region.

In Darfur I visited the Al Salaam IDP camp and was humbled by what the IDPs have to endure. They are living in extreme circumstances.

I also visited the future site of UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher and saw for myself that the initial preparations are well under way.

During my meetings with President Bashir, I asked him for his direct support in facilitating administrative and logistical aspects of our preparations for deployment, including through the provision of additional land for building camps and helipads. He agreed and we will move forward rapidly with every expectation that he will honour that pledge.

In Darfur I had also had good discussions with Joint Special Representative Adada and Force Commander designate Agwai on the challenges they are facing in preparing for UNAMID. At this stage, the number of troops needed for the operation, which will come mainly from Africa, is not the problem. What we still need are specialized units and those requiring some specialized equipment. For these purposes, we will need to broaden the pool to also include non-African contributors.

Council members have heard me say before that strengthened peacekeeping in Darfur must be accompanied by a political process. During my trip, I focused on concrete next steps for the African Union-United Nations mediation efforts. Before and during my trip I consulted intensively with Chairperson Konaré on this issue.

While I was in Sudan, and after additional consultation with the parties and other key players, Chairperson Konaré and I accepted Libya’s kind offer to host the peace talks and chose 27 October for those talks to begin. Special Envoy Eliasson travelled as part of my delegation and was instrumental in finalizing this decision.

In my subsequent discussions with leader Qadhafi, he reiterated Libya’s commitment to supporting the AU-UN led mediation process. President Déby was similarly supportive of AU-UN mediation efforts. The UN and the Government of Chad issued a joint communiqué confirming the EU/UN deployment in eastern Chad which I had proposed in my 10 August report. In my discussion with President Déby, he emphasized the importance of development in the affected areas and linked this to the international deployment.

As the political track accelerates, we will need the support of other key players in the region, Egypt and Eritrea in particular.

In addition to finalizing the venue and date for the talks during my trip, I was also able to secure President Bashir’s agreement to the safe release of Suleiman Jamous. Mr. Jamous, who had been forced to remain in an UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] compound in Kadugli for many months, is a highly respected leader from Darfur and his release should contribute to an improved climate for the negotiations. I also impressed upon President Bashir the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities, but this is yet to occur.

In the meantime, Mr. President, I am deeply concerned about reports of renewed aerial bombardments and military clashes in Darfur. Yesterday, according to reports of the African Union Mission in Sudan, at least 25 civilians lost their lives during a brutal aerial and ground attack on Haskanita. This attack was apparently conducted in retaliation for the JEM attack on the Wad Banda military base on 29 August. We must all renew our strong appeals to the parties to show restraint in the lead-up to political negotiations in October.

We will now move rapidly to establish a trust fund which will be used to support the peace process and other assistance, and I appeal to you and will appeal to a wide range of Member States to contribute to this fund.

Throughout my visit I took pains to draw attention to development issues. I was deeply struck by the hardship of the people living in the area. There is a serious scarcity of water and other resources and this must be addressed if we are to secure a lasting peace.

President Bashir expressed his Government’s concern that, if 26,000 peacekeepers used the already limited water resources in Darfur, Darfurians would have to experience even greater difficulty.

President Bashir advised us to explore our own water resources in the area of Saq Alayam, just 40 kilometres from El Fasher.

Most of what I have described to you relates to Darfur and efforts to restore peace and stability to that region. I would also like to report to you briefly on my visit to Juba and on my discussions relating to CPA.

I should say first that it was an enormously gratifying experience to visit Juba and to be the first Secretary-General to spend a night there. I was humbled by the greeting I received from the people of Juba. The Government of southern Sudan informed me that around tens of thousands of people came out to welcome my delegation and me to their town.

I can tell you that the reception I received gave me a powerful sense of the hopes and expectations of the people of the South -– how badly they want peace and progress and how much they are depending on the United Nations to help deliver it.

This was confirmed further in the subsequent discussions I had with First Vice-President Kiir and his colleagues, as well as with members of civil society in Juba.

My message to these officials from the Government of South Sudan was clear: there has been progress in implementing CPA but there needs to be more and problems need to be solved by consensus between the parties.

In particular, the redeployment of forces must be completed, demarcation of the 1956 border must be carried out, and the status of Abyei resolved. In my meetings with President Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir, I urged them to work more closely on the basis of mutual trust and confidence for the smooth implementation of CPA.

This was an intensive and rewarding trip. I feel we have made credible progress on key issues with regard to resolving the crisis in Darfur. Chairperson Konaré and I will be convening a high-level meeting on Darfur on 21 September to take the issues further still and to address any outstanding matters.

Even though we have made good progress I will not say that we have had any successes yet. Now is not the time to speak of successes. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, to move with even more speed to make good on commitments and the positive momentum we have generated so that we can finally, with the Sudanese people, see an end to the suffering and insecurity in Darfur.