SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD DARFUR SITUATION DETERIORATING, TENSION AT HIGHEST LEVEL, FIGHTING MORE WIDESPREAD
SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD DARFUR SITUATION DETERIORATING, TENSION AT HIGHEST LEVEL, FIGHTING MORE WIDESPREAD
5071st Meeting (AM)
Security Council is told Darfur situation deteriorating,
tension at highest level, fighting more widespread
In Monthly Briefing on Sudan, Secretary-General’s Special
Representative Suggests Three-Pronged Approach to Reverse Current Trend
With the Sudanese Government unable to fully control its own forces, the “spirit was out of the bottle and could not be pushed back”, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Sudan, Jan Pronk, told the Security Council today, warning that the worsening situation in Darfur might easily enter a state of anarchy -- a total collapse of law and order.
In his monthly briefing to the Council on the situation, Mr. Pronk said that conflict was changing in character. The Government had co-opted para-military forces, and now it could not count on their obedience. The borderlines between the military, the para-military and the police were being blurred. Within the rebel movements, there was a leadership crisis, and the world might soon find that Darfur was ruled by warlords.
As October turned into November, he said, the situation had deteriorated and tension had risen to a level unprecedented since early August. Fighting was breaking out in more and more places. Parties were provoking one another. Militias were ganging up. Governmental authorities were not able to exert a moderating influence, or they responded with untimely and even counter-productive measures. Not reversing that negative trend was a recipe for disaster.
He advocated a three-pronged approach to reverse that situation, starting with deployment of a third-party force, the African Union, to effectively deter violations, followed by an acceleration of all negotiations, and the holding accountable of all political leaders, both official and self-selected, for ongoing violations of agreements and further human misery.
The humanitarian catastrophe of 2003 and the first six months of 2004 had been allowed to happen because the international community had not yet decided to act, he said. That had changed with the adoption by the Security Council of two resolutions on Darfur. If the sorrow there continued, it was despite those texts.
Insisting that protection of the people, however, was the obligation of the Sudanese Government and of movements that considered themselves would-be governments, he said it was also the duty of the international community to consider further action if action taken so far had proved to be insufficient. To ensure effective implementation of the terms it had set in earlier texts, the Council might wish to consider creative and prompt action, for which its mid-November meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, provided a major opportunity.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan attended the Council briefing this morning.
The meeting began at 10:18 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:40 a.m.
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Sudan, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/2004/881), pursuant to Council resolutions 1564 (2004) of 18 September and 1556 (2004) of
30 July, in which the Secretary-General proclaims that violence in Darfur is on the rise. New movements are threatening the peace in Kordofan, in the east and in Khartoum. There is reluctance at the negotiation table in Abuja, distrust, internal division, lack of capacity to negotiate and no sense of urgency. The Secretary-General calls on all parties and Member States with influence over the parties to reverse this worrisome trend.
As he had said last month, the Secretary-General says in his current report that September could come to be seen as a period of transition, but that would depend on events in October. The talks ongoing now in Karen, Kenya, are proceeding well. Looked at in combination with the deployment of the expanded African Union force, one could say this expectation has, to a large extent and thanks to support from partners, been met. He notes that in his previous report, he had said the expanded African Union force needed to be “sizeable, speedily deployed” and have a mandate that goes well beyond overseeing the N’djamena ceasefire agreement. The mandate of the African Union mission in Darfur corresponds closely with the tasks listed in his previous report, and more troops are arriving on the ground at this moment. Knowing the difficulties of these tasks, he thanks the African Union for taking the lead in this crucial and ambitious operation.
In spite of progress in these two areas, however, there has been regression in others, with more breaches of the ceasefire, the report goes on to say. Overall, violence seems to be increasing and impacting civilians, indirectly as well as directly, through threats against humanitarian workers, as well as through continued attacks and intimidation. Attacks and killings continue to occur in Darfur on a scale that is unacceptable.
The report says that progress on improving security in Darfur is also blocked by the failure of the Government to act convincingly to end impunity. Without an end to impunity, no group will agree to disarm, so the fighting goes on. Without an end to impunity, no displaced person or refugee dares to return home, so the dreadful situation in the camps continues. Without an end to impunity, banditry goes from strength to strength, menacing the population and obstructing the delivery of aid to desperate people in isolated areas. The Government cannot use the actions of the rebels or the work of the International Commission of Inquiry to excuse its lack of action on ending impunity. It must build on the very limited action it has taken so far and present a comprehensive and concrete programme for holding accountable those responsible for widespread and systematic violations over the past year or more.
The increases in the numbers of internally displaced persons reflect the severity of the protection and security situation in Darfur, the report states further. The parties to the conflict must take this as a clear message to pursue urgently a peace agreement. When the conditions to prevent further suffering are created, internally displaced persons may be in the position to return home voluntarily and with dignity, in large numbers. In the meantime, the humanitarian agencies continue to make progress in meeting the basic needs of the conflict-affected population. This progress can only be sustained by a timely and generous response from the donor community across all crucial sectors.
The Secretary-General recalls that, in previous reports, he had listed reasons why the outcome of the North-South peace process could serve as a model for Darfur. It now seems that this round of talks has a good chance of being completed by the end of the year. The international community should ensure that the momentum is sustained, and that it gives the right message to the parties with a single, strong voice. There is now, more than ever, an urgent need for firm pressure on all parties to finalize the agreements and move into the implementation phase. As in past cases, the final stage can be the most difficult, with new challenges emerging up until the last moment. This final stage has to be completed ultimately around the end of this calendar year. Negotiators owe this not only to the people affected by the North-South conflict, but also to the population elsewhere in the Sudan, particularly in Darfur. Negotiators at the North-South talks, therefore, should commit themselves to working together to resolve the Darfur conflict immediately after the signature of the comprehensive agreement, for instance, by strengthening and underpinning the political process already under way in Abuja.
The report concludes by recalling that the Council has adopted a number of resolutions on the Sudan this year, primarily because of increasing concern regarding the fate of the civilian population. Political leaders, on any side, who deny the facts on the ground, “neglect the sorrow of poor and vulnerable people” living in areas under their control and use delaying tactics in negotiations and implementation procedures, are acting irresponsibly. The Security Council may wish to consider creative and prompt action to ensure effective implementation of the demands set out in its earlier resolutions. The meeting of the Council foreseen in Nairobi, in mid-November, provides a major opportunity in this respect.
Briefing by Special Representative
JAN PRONK, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan, told the Council the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation presented a “hybrid” picture. There was progress on the political front, but regression on the ground. The progress was slow and the regression was alarming. Also, the divergence between the two trends was getting wider. Political agreements reached at the negotiating table might come too late to stop the rising violence and human suffering around the towns, villages and settlements in the field. He was afraid that the situation in Darfur might become unmanageable unless more efforts were made, both at the negotiation table and on the ground.
He said that the Council’s meeting in mid-November in Nairobi provided an excellent opportunity to get such robust efforts started. Since the first Council resolution on Darfur three months ago, there had undoubtedly been progress on the political front, but that was not yet paying off because in Darfur itself the situation had deteriorated.
The report before the Council identified several trends during October, he went on. Both the Government and the rebel movements violated the ceasefire, and it seemed that the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) was responsible for the greater number of those violations in October. The SLM/A were seeking to claim a wider area of Darfur as being under their control and were strengthening their logistical and fighting capacity. The Government was also trying to extend the territory under its control by attacking with mixed forces made up of military, police and militia. The United Nations was awaiting verification from the African Union Ceasefire Commission on reports that aircraft flown in those attacks had discharged their weapons against ground targets.
In the beginning of the reporting period, he said, large-scale attacks on civilians by militia did not take place, but towards the end of the month, the threat of large-scale attacks had increased considerably. Cases of banditry and abduction were rising, hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid. Two new rebel groups had arisen and another new threat -– that of landmines -– had emerged to threaten humanitarian operations and civilians in Darfur. In general, agreements reached with the Government had been kept. For instance, there was agreement on full and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance. However, there was “backsliding” on the agreement that displaced persons would not be forced to return or to relocate. Recently, in South Darfur, families of displaced persons had been forced, in the middle of the night, to leave the place where they had sought refuge. That should stop immediately, and the forcibly uprooted displaced people should be helped to get back to their freely chosen place of refuge.
Overall, he said, instability had increased in October, with more insecurity and violence than in September. The situation had become very tense during the last couple of days, more tense than at any time since the adoption of the first Council resolution on Darfur in July 2004. An armed group, said to be members of the SLM/A, looted a large number of camels from Arab tribes and kidnapped 18 civilians from a passenger bus in the area around Zalingei, West Darfur. That gave rise to an ultimatum set by the militia, which threatened to attack not only SLA forces, but also the civilian population and displaced persons.
“Darfur may easily enter a state of anarchy; a total collapse of law and order”, Mr. Pronk said. The conflict was changing in character. The Government did not control its own forces fully. It co-opted para-military forces and now it could not count on their obedience. The spirit was “out of the bottle” and could not be pushed back. The borderlines between the military, the para-military and the police were being blurred. Within the rebel movements, there was a leadership crisis. There were splits. Some commanders provoked their adversaries by stealing, hijacking and killing, some seem to have begun acting for their own private gain. They now controlled so much territory that they either took responsibility for the needs of the people therein, and became political leaders, or they might turn to preying on the civilians in areas they controlled by force -– and the world might soon find Darfur was ruled by warlords.
He said that, as October turned into November, the situation had deteriorated and tension had risen to a level unprecedented since early August. Fighting was breaking out in more and more places. Parties were provoking one another. Militias were ganging up. Governmental authorities were not able to exert a moderating influence or they responded with untimely and even counter-productive measures. If that negative trend was not reversed, that would be a recipe for disaster. If the fighting continued, crops would fail. Then, the whole population of Darfur would become dependent on humanitarian assistance. Many livelihoods were at stake. That had begun two years ago, when some Arab tribes had driven other tribes out in order “to get more Lebensraum for themselves and their cattle – it was pure ethnic cleansing”.
Now, he said, they were getting something similar in return: theft of cattle, blocking of the necessary camel tracks to dry areas, resulting in illness of the animals and, thus, in a threat to their livelihoods. Rights of access to scarce common natural resources were being denied. Those resources were even scarcer due to pressure from increased human and animal populations and also to a decrease in the quality of those resources as a result of climate change. The result of all of that was a fight between economic lifestyles drawing on the same natural resources, leading to a “survival of the fittest and death for the weakest”.
Could all of that be reversed? he asked. Only by a three-pronged approach: first, deployment of a third-party force –- the African Union -– to effectively deter violations; second, there must be a speeding up of all negotiation processes; and third, political leaders –- the official ones, as well as the self-selected ones -– must be held accountable for ongoing violations of agreements and further human misery.
The deployment of the African Union expanded force was already taking place, but the present upsurge in violence, and the trends already described, required an even more speedy deployment, in order to enable the forces to be everywhere they were needed, namely, in any area where the insecure situation might get out of control and explode. He advised Council members to consider all possibilities for more financial and logistical support to the African Union, in order to ensure that its forces could be present wherever they were required.
Referring to the speeding up of all negotiation processes, he said, political talks between the Government and the various movements were proceeding. While there was light at the end of the tunnel, it seemed as if the tunnel was getting longer and longer. Political solutions were important in themselves; they were also urgently needed in order to get a grip on the security situation on the ground.
Three months ago, he added, there had not yet been any talks between the Government and the rebel movements in Darfur. They had now started. In the last round, they had been paralysed because the parties had focused on the wrong issues. There was still reluctance, distrust, internal division, lack of capacity to negotiate and no sense of urgency at the negotiation table in Abuja. The Government and the rebel movements had to comply with Council resolutions and with the N’djamena ceasefire agreement, rather than make their compliance mutually conditional. They should implement fully and immediately the agreement reached on humanitarian access, whether or not that agreement had been signed.
Political objectives, he said, should be put in the centre of their deliberations rather than focusing on essentially non-negotiable issues such as humanitarian access and security. The Council meeting in Nairobi could bring parties to realize that the international community expected the parties to negotiate in good faith and adopt, before the end of the year, a Declaration of Principles, as well as a time frame and a detailed agenda for further negotiations on political issues.
The Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had met again in October in Nairobi and some new agreements were close at hand, he said. In his previous report, he had listed reasons why the outcome of the North-South peace processes, namely, peace, a new construction, a federal structure for the State, national differentiation, and a broad-based government, could serve as a model for Darfur. It now seemed that the round of talks had a good chance of being completed. However, a very tough “final bone of contention”, namely, the financing of the Southern army, still had to be resolved. Parties seemed reluctant to move. Council members could offer their good offices to help resolve the last issue, so that Vice-President Taha and Dr. Garang could meet each other half way, whereby neither of the two would lose.
He said the international community should ensure that the momentum was sustained, and that it gave the right message to the parties with a single, strong voice, he said. There was now, more than ever, an urgent need for firm pressure on all parties to finalize the agreements and move into the implementation phase. The final stage could be the most difficult, with new challenges emerging up until the last moment. The final stage had to be completed ultimately around the end of the calendar year. Negotiators owed that not only to the people affected by the North-South conflict, but also to the population elsewhere in the Sudan, particularly in Darfur.
He added that negotiators at the North-South talks should commit themselves to working together to resolve the Darfur conflict immediately after the signature of the comprehensive agreement, for instance, by strengthening the political process already under way in Abuja. The Council might wish to make clear that it would not tolerate any further delay to the finalization of a comprehensive North-South peace agreement and to a political resolution to the Darfur crisis. The Council’s message to the parties should be: “Fulfil your commitments and you will have our support. If you do not, or if you do not do so in time, you lose it.”
He said the third prong of the political strategy was to ensure that political leaders -– the official ones, as well as the self-selected ones -- were held accountable for ongoing violations of agreements and further human misery. The Council had adopted a number of resolutions on the Sudan this year, primarily because of increasing concern regarding the fate of the civilian population. Political leaders, on any side, who denied the facts on the ground, neglected the sorrow of the poor and vulnerable living in areas under their control and used delaying tactics in negotiations and implementation procedures, were acting irresponsibly.
The message to the SLM/A, the Justice and Equality Movement and all other armed groups was that their rebel status did not exonerate them from a moral obligation towards their people. On the contrary, as political leaders, they were responsible for civilian protection as much as the Government of the Sudan. The Council might wish to consider creative and prompt action to ensure effective implementation of the terms it had set in earlier resolutions regarding protection of civilians, and to warn all parties that they would all, without exception, be held accountable for such violations. The Council’s mid-November meeting in Nairobi provided a major opportunity in that respect.
Concluding, he noted that action was required. The humanitarian catastrophe of 2003 and for the first six months of 2004 had been allowed to happen because the international community had not yet decided to act. That had changed with the adoption of two Council resolutions on Darfur. If the sorrow continued, it was despite those resolutions. If, for example, displaced persons protested and the police and military shot innocent civilians despite the United Nations presence, a drama would develop for which the United Nations would be blamed. If militias and para-military attacked unarmed civilians, a massacre would result despite the fact that the protection of civilians was essential objective of the Security Council. “That would be a catastrophe”, he said.
The protection of people was the obligation of the Government of the Sudan and of movements which considered themselves would-be governments and which were bound to the same principles of humanitarian law as formally recognized governments. It was also the international community’s duty to consider further action if action taken so far had proven insufficient.
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