SUDAN HAS NOT DISARMED MILITIAS OR STOPPED ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS IN DARFUR, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

2 September 2004
SC/8180

SUDAN HAS NOT DISARMED MILITIAS OR STOPPED ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS IN DARFUR, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

02/09/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8180

Security Council

5027th Meeting (AM)

Sudan has not disarmed militias or stopped attacks on civilians in Darfur,

 

Special Representative tells Security Council

 

But, He Says, Government Has Made Some Progress, Including Improved Security

For Some Internally Displaced Persons, Lifting Restrictions on Humanitarian Access

While the Government had made some progress towards meeting the requirements of Security Council resolution 1556 (2004) to restore security in Darfur, it had not been able to stop attacks by militias against civilians or to disarm those militias, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the Sudan Jan Pronk told the Council this morning.

The initial requirement of resolution 1556, he said, was for the Government of the Sudan to show substantial, irreversible and verifiable progress within 30 days and, in the months thereafter, towards full security in Darfur.  The Government had made progress, including improved security in some specific areas where internally displaced persons were concentrated, the lifting of restrictions on humanitarian access and the deployment of extra police.

However, he continued, the Government had not been able to stop attacks by militias against civilians nor to disarm those militias.  Disarming part of the Popular Defence Force was a laudable step, but it was not the same as disarming all militias, including the Janjaweed, which were under the influence of the Government.

Also, no concrete steps had been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or the perpetrators of those attacks, allowing violations of human rights to continue in a climate of impunity.  Though some individual offenders had been arrested, an active and systematic strategy to end impunity and to bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates did not yet seem to be in place.

Emphasizing that there was still much insecurity, he stressed that it was the responsibility of the Government to protect its people against attacks and violations of human rights.  It was incumbent on the Government to ensure that no attacks on civilians occurred, whether the perpetrators were under its influence or not.  He urged the Government, if it was unable to fully protect its citizens by itself, to seek, request and accept assistance from the international community.

Such assistance could take different forms, he said.  A minimum package would be to drastically increase the capacity to monitor security and maximize its effectiveness.  An expanded African Union mission in Darfur offered a way towards that goal.  That expanded mission would need to be independent from the parties, widespread, neutral, efficient, and reliably backed with logistics and resources supplied by the international community.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation in Darfur was still bleak, with major gaps in the provision of food, water and sanitation, with many displaced people still beyond reach.  Humanitarian agencies and the non-governmental organizations had done a tremendous job, but much more assistance, resources and many more people were needed.

The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and ended at 11:00 a.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this morning it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Sudan (S/2004/703).  The Secretary-General believes that a substantially increased international presence in Darfur is required as quickly as possible.  The plan the United Nations has presented to the African Union provides a blueprint for such a presence which could help improve the situation in critical respects:  decrease the level of violence, and enhance the protection of the civilian population, particularly those who have been displaced.

In resolution 1556 (2004), the Council called on the Government of Sudan to fulfil immediately all of the commitments it made in the Joint Communiqué issued by the Government of the Sudan and the United Nations on 3 July 2004.  The Council further demanded that the Government fulfil its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates who have incited and carried out human rights and international humanitarian law violations and other atrocities.

In addition, the Council requested the Secretary-General to report to it in 30 days, and monthly thereafter, on the progress, or lack thereof, by the Sudan on this matter.  The Council also requested him to report on progress regarding humanitarian relief, and assistance to the African Union with planning and assessments for its mission in Darfur.

The present report states that certain of the measures taken by the Government in accordance with the Joint Communiqué and the Darfur Plan of Action, have resulted in some progress.  Amongst these measures are the improvement of security in some specific areas of internally displaced persons concentration, the deployment of additional police and the beginning of disarmament, the lifting of access restrictions for humanitarian relief, the commitment to a “no forced returns” policy and the establishment of human rights monitoring and investigations.

Stopping attacks against civilians and ensuring their protection is the responsibility of the Government, states the report.  The Government has not met this obligation fully, despite the commitments it has made and its obligations under resolution 1556 (2004).  Attacks against civilians are continuing, and the vast majority of armed militias have not been disarmed.

Similarly, no concrete steps have been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or the perpetrators of these attacks, allowing the violations of human rights and the basic laws of war to continue in a climate of impunity.  After 18 months of conflict and 30 days after the adoption of resolution 1556 (2004), the Government has not been able to resolve the crisis in Darfur, and has not met some of the core commitments it has made.

Both in the Joint Communiqué and the Plan of Action, the Government promised to resume the political talks on Darfur to reach a comprehensive solution acceptable to all parties in the conflict.  The search for a political solution is now under way in Abuja, Nigeria.  The parties have been able to agree on an agenda which includes both emergency and long-term concerns:  humanitarian issues, security, political questions and social-economic issues.  They are urged to continue and redouble their efforts, with the assistance of the African Union and the other international mediators.

The United Nations is participating as an observer and supporting the African Union mediation effort by providing experts and advisers to the mediator.  At the same time, as political talks proceed, the parties should exercise maximum restraint on the ground and fully respect the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement.  This applies equally to the Government of the Sudan and to the rebel movements.

A larger international presence could monitor the implementation of the parties’ commitments more effectively, including the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement and key elements of the Joint Communiqué.  This would help build confidence between the parties, a precondition to the success of the political process and compliance with agreements reached.  Training and building the capacity of the national police and monitoring their behaviour could increase the quality of policing and provide a greater degree of protection.  Proactive monitoring and patrolling of all parts of Darfur would enhance security and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian relief.

Lastly, the crisis in Darfur can not be seen in isolation from the search for a comprehensive peace in the Sudan.  While the parties search for a political and peaceful solution to the crisis in Darfur, simultaneous efforts are required by all concerned to restart and conclude the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks as soon as possible.  This completion would prove that peace negotiations can indeed produce results.

Moreover, the outcome of the talks in Naivasha could serve as a model for the talks on Darfur and instil more confidence amongst the rebels in the process.  Any effort to make the conclusion of the IGAD process conditional on an end to the crisis in Darfur would be counterproductive, with consequences that could further destabilize the country and the region, and ultimately prolong the crisis in Darfur itself.

Briefing by Special Representative

JAN PRONK, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the Sudan and head of the peace support operation, said that, after the adoption of resolution 1556, the Government of the Sudan, in a meeting with the United Nations and partners, declared that it would meet the requirements contained in that resolution.  It was made clear that the resolution should not be interpreted as an attack on the Sudan and its leaders but, on the contrary, as a means of protecting the Sudanese citizens who were suffering atrocities.

It was also made clear that the United Nations was willing to assist the Sudan in meeting the requirements of the resolution, he continued.  In the framework of the Joint Implementation Mechanism, the United Nations and its partners had been engaged in intensive discussions with the Government of the Sudan, and in a number of assessment missions.  Through that mechanism, pressure was maintained on the Government and assistance offered in meeting the initial requirement:  to show substantial, irreversible and verifiable progress within 30 days and, in the months thereafter, towards full security in Darfur.

That had resulted in an approach in stages, he said:  first, the formulation of detailed policies by the Government to meet that objective; second, ensuring that those policies would indeed be carried out by all authorities, including those in Darfur itself; and third, guaranteeing the actual impact on the ground –- substantially improved security for the population, particularly the displaced.

The Government of the Sudan had made progress towards meeting the requirements of the resolution, he said.  They had been able to improve security in some specific areas of internally displaced persons concentration.  They had also been able to cease all offensive military operations in those areas, including any offensive actions against rebel groups, to exercise restraint and avoid retaliation, and to redeploy the armed forces in such a way that they were not in direct contact with internally displaced persons and civilians.  Among other things, they had also been able to deploy additional police; lift all access restrictions for humanitarian relief; and engage in negotiations with rebel movements without pre-conditions.

He noted that, in two key areas, the Government had not met its commitments.  First, it had not been able to stop attacks by militias against civilians nor to disarm those militias.  Disarming part of the Popular Defence Force was a laudable step, but it was not the same as disarming all militias, including the Janjaweed, which were under the influence of the Government.  Second, no concrete steps had been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or the perpetrators of those attacks, allowing violations of human rights to continue in a climate of impunity.  Though some individual offenders had been arrested, an active and systematic strategy to end impunity and to bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates did not yet seem to be in place.

That meant that, despite progress, there was still much insecurity, he said.  The number of people fleeing their homes and villages was still increasing.  Having said this, it was also important to note that, in the areas that had been chosen by the Government as areas to be made secure and safe within 30 days, the situation had improved.  Security in those areas was better than one or two months ago.  It was also better than the situation outside those areas.

Those areas to be made safe and secure should be extended drastically, and ultimately cover the whole area of Darfur under the control of the Government.  From the outset that was the understanding shared by both the United Nations and partners and by the Government.  It was also understood that any improvement in the initial areas should not be accompanied by a deterioration of conditions elsewhere.  There could be no trade-off in security conditions.  On the contrary, the measures taken in the initial areas should serve as a model for Darfur as a whole.

A key concern was the critical breakdown of confidence among internally displaced persons towards the authorities, he said.  That distrust among the displaced rested on their perception that the Government was behind the terror and trauma they had experienced.  Whether that was true or not, the breakdown of confidence was a fact.  Rebuilding that shattered confidence self-evidently could not be done by the Government alone.  Also required to defuse potentially explosive situations were more relief; refraining from direct, as well as indirect pressure on internally displaced persons to return; better management of the camps; conflict mediation; reconciliation; and much wisdom.

It was the responsibility of the Government, he said, to protect its people against attacks and violations of human rights.  That was the essential message of resolution 1556.  Any Government, including the Government of the Sudan, had the obligation to do its utmost to protect its citizens.  It was incumbent on the Government to ensure that no attacks on civilians occurred, whether the perpetrators were under its influence or not.  He urged the Government, if it was unable to fully protect its citizens by itself, to seek, request and accept assistance from the international community.

Such assistance could take different forms, he continued.  A minimum package would be to drastically increase the capacity to monitor security and maximize its effectiveness.  That meant the following:  broadening the monitoring mandate in order to cover the implementation of all agreements, not only those between the Government and the rebels, but also those between the Government and the United Nations and its partners; interpreting the concept of monitoring activity more deeply, meaning that monitoring must be more than investigating incidents that had happened, but to be on the spot wherever such incidents might occur, including in the camps; and evolving many more monitors –- eyes, hands, feet, wheels, planes and brains to monitor the situation on the ground.

As indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, an expanded African Union mission in Darfur offered a way towards that goal, he said.  That expanded mission would need to be independent from the parties, widespread, neutral, efficient, and reliably backed with logistics and resources supplied by the international community.

There could be no end to the suffering in Darfur without a political settlement leading towards sustainable peace, he said.  The search for a political solution was now under way in Abuja, Nigeria.  The root causes of the conflict should be addressed.  He welcomed the fact that the parties had been able to agree on an agenda that included both emergency and long-term concerns, namely:  humanitarian issues; security; political issues; socio-economic questions, such as equal access to land, water and natural resources; eradication of poverty and the fostering of sustainable development in secure livelihoods.

He urged the parties to stay at the negotiating table, even when they felt frustrated or provoked.  He also urged them to continue and redouble their efforts and to seek assistance from the African Union and the United Nations facilitators and mediators.  The political settlement should enable the return of refugees and displaced persons.  It was in their interest that security issues should also have a prominent place on the agenda.  While the talks were ongoing, both parties had to exercise maximum restraint on the ground and fully respect the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement.  That applied equally to the Government, as well as to the rebel movements.  International pressure should be applied across a level playing field.

The crisis could not be seen in isolation from the search for a comprehensive solution in the Sudan, he said.  That required peace between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).  That also meant that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks in Naivasha should be quickly resumed and brought to a successful conclusion.  A sustainable conclusion of the talks in Darfur required a settlement between Khartoum and Rumbek, and not the other way around.  At least they should take place concurrently.  The Sudan had a history of talks forestalled and promises not kept.  Conclusion of the Naivasha talks would prove that it made sense to negotiate and that peace negotiations could indeed produce results.

Moreover, he continued, the outcome of those talks could serve as a model for the talks on Darfur.  He meant decentralization, a fair degree of autonomy for the regions, power sharing, equality and co-existence of different tribes and populations within one nation.  The constitutional changes resulting from Naivasha could instil confidence among the rebels in the process and provide a feasible political framework for the Government as well.  Last but not least, peace between the north and south would, according to the protocols so far agreed, result in a governmental system in Khartoum comprising also representatives from the south.  That would also enhance mutual trust among the parties at the negotiating table for Darfur.

So, he said, any effort to make the conclusion of the IGAD process conditional on an end to the crisis in Darfur would be counterproductive.  The consequences could further destabilize the country and the region and, ultimately, prolong the crisis in Darfur itself.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation in Darfur was still bleak.  There were major gaps in the provision of food, water and sanitation, with many displaced people still beyond reach.  There were no outbreaks of epidemics, but malnutrition and mortality was still high, too high.  Some improvement was discernable, due to the tireless efforts of many young people from many different countries.  Humanitarian agencies and the non-governmental organizations had done a tremendous job, but much more assistance, resources and many more people were needed.

The financial commitments made so far had not met the urgent needs for 2004, he said.  Until the end of the year, at least an additional $250 million was needed.  The original estimates had never been matched by adequate financial assistance and, moreover, those estimates had been too modest; there were more refugees and displaced persons than had been expected, and additional financial resources required to build a more robust monitoring capacity.

For the past two months or so, humanitarian agencies had had free access to Darfur, he said.  Apart from logistical bottlenecks, nothing stood in the way of an adequate relief operation.  That opportunity should be grasped, and resources must be redoubled at least.  The misery was great in Darfur, and the pressure should be kept up.  As one visiting minister had said, “put your money where your mouth is”.  The situation required a lot of attention, a lot of talking, a lot of pressure and a lot of resources, he concluded.

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For information media. Not an official record.