16 May 2006 The Security Council took a major step forward today towards establishing a robust United Nations peacekeeping force in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region by unanimously adopting a resolution calling for the deployment on the ground of a joint UN-Africa Union (AU) team to pave the way for the operation, which would take over from the AU mission (AMIS) now monitoring the vast region.
Immediately welcoming the resolution’s adoption in a statement issued by his spokesman, the Secretary-General said the UN “hopes to dispatch, as quickly as possible, a joint UN/AU Technical Assessment Team to Darfur, and towards that end, is in continuous consultation with the Government of National Unity” of Sudan.
The Secretary-General also hailed the AU Peace and Security Commission’s decision to take “concrete steps” to bring about the transition from AMIS to a UN peacekeeping operation. “The United Nations is continuing to prepare for that operation so that it can begin as early as possible,” the spokesman said.
Mr. Annan pledged continued support for AMIS, including through efforts to mobilize the international community to strengthen the AU Mission in the interim period before a UN operation.
The Council resolution called on all parties to the Darfur Peace Agreement signed earlier this month by the Sudanese Government and the largest rebel force in the region to “work with the African Union, the United Nations, regional and international organizations and Member States to accelerate the transition to a United Nations operation.”
The resolution also called on those rebel groups that have not yet signed the Agreement to do so without delay.
Adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for enforcement measures, the resolution expressed the Council’s intention to consider a travel ban and assets freeze against any individual or group that violates or blocks implementation of the Agreement, which aims to end fighting in a region that has seen the deaths of scores of thousands of people and the displacement of 2 million more.
Under the resolution, the Secretary-General would submit recommendations to the Council within one week of the assessment team’s return on all relevant issues, including force requirements and cost estimates, for a UN operation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, today returned to Khartoum from Addis Ababa, where he took part the AU’s Peace and Security Council meeting on Sudan, telling participants that while the Darfur Peace Agreement was a major achievement, implementing it and improving the situation on the ground for the people of the region may prove to be even harder.
Mr. Pronk will leave tomorrow for Darfur to continue his efforts to widen the circle of support for the pact, according to the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), deployed to monitor a peace agreement that ended over two decades of fighting in the south.
During his three-day visit, Mr. Pronk will meet AMIS commanders, as well as the Wali, or governor, of West Darfur and local representatives of civil society and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).