SUDAN PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED 9 JANUARY HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

8 February 2005
SC/8306

SUDAN PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED 9 JANUARY HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

08/02/2005
Press ReleaseSC/8306

Security Council

5120th Meeting (AM)

Sudan peace agreement signed 9 January historic opportunity, Security Council told

Council Aware of Great Responsibility, Says President;

Now Drafting Text for Peace Support Operation to Help Implementation

The 9 January signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was a historic moment of great opportunity for the country and one which all its people should strive to seize in order to steer development in the path leading to a solid and long-lasting peace, the President of the Security Council, Joel Adechi (Benin), stated at today’s meeting on the situation in that country.

The Council was fully aware, he said, of the international community’s great responsibility to help the Sudanese people remain on the chosen path and was determined to take measures which could encourage and enable the international community to do its part in supporting and consolidating the peace process.  It had already called for reconstruction and development assistance, particularly by endorsing the initiative of the Government of Norway to convene a donors’ conference in Oslo to address the mobilization of resources to that end, on the understanding that the parties were fulfilling their commitments.

In the same spirit, he added, the Council members were starting to draft a resolution in order to address thoroughly all aspects of the situation in the Sudan.  Through that resolution, the Council would determine ways to establish a full-fledged United Nations peace-support operation to help implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

At the same time, the Council was appalled by the serious crimes under international law that had been committed in Darfur, as described in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry, and was determined to tackle impunity and to bring the perpetrators of those crimes to justice.  In the absence of progress on the political stage, the situation in Darfur could only further deteriorate.

With the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed and its implementation under way, the First Vice-President of the Sudan called on the international community to support efforts aimed at reconstruction and development, so that the people of the Sudan could enjoy the peace dividend.  Ali Othman Taha urged the Council to call on all countries to lift any economic and trade restrictions or sanctions and to initiate active partnerships with the Sudan.  He also urged the writing off completely of all foreign debt owed by the Sudan to international institutions and States, so that the country could channel resources for the provision of social services, the rebuilding of infrastructure and improving the capabilities of its population and institutions.

In addition, he called on countries to donate generously to the upcoming donors’ conference in Norway, so that growth could get under way.  The Sudan had suffered from the scourge of war for so long and was determined to bring about real change on the ground.  A prosperous Sudan, at peace with itself and its neighbours, was good for the region, the continent and the world at large.  He was confident that the Council and the international community would spare no effort in assisting the Sudan in the realization of those objectives.

John Garang de Mabior, Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), said that the Sudanese people had themselves voluntarily negotiated a unique peace agreement that, in effect, prescribed a one-country-two-systems model, whereby the people of southern Sudan would decide after six years whether to remain within the Sudan or to opt for independence.  The United Nations was used to dealing with States under a one-country-one-system model, but the Sudanese model reflected the will of the Sudanese people and the United Nations system should respect that, without prejudice to the unity and sovereignty of the Sudan.

Turning to Darfur, he said that the SPLM, having concluded its own accord with the Government of the Sudan, was confident that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement enhanced the chances for a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Darfur conflict.  However, the Janjaweed militia must be reined in and eventually brought to justice after the achievement of a solution -- otherwise the cart would be placed before the horse, in which case neither would move.  The SPLM stood ready to offer assistance.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan, Jan Pronk, pointed out that Commission of Inquiry had concluded that while the crimes committed in Darfur did not constitute genocide, they were no less serious than genocide.  He stressed the need to deploy a robust third party force to stop the continuing violence, saying that the mandate of the African Union was broad enough, but its force was not big enough and its deployment was too slow.  He appealed to all parties concerned to find a creative way to expand the current force into one which could stop all attacks.

Baba Gana Kingibe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in the Sudan, welcomed the proposed deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Sudan.  The Secretary-General’s report of 4 February shared the African Union’s concern over the continued violations of the N’Djamena Accord by all sides and over the continued deterioration of the security situation.  However, since the deployment of additional government troops, the situation had improved somewhat.

Every effort would be made to achieve the full African Union deployment by the middle of May 2005.  However, while those troops had contributed significantly to preventing the worsening of the situation, only the Sudanese people themselves could bring the crisis to an end, and it was not clear that the parties had demonstrated sufficient political will or commitment towards that end.

The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this morning on the Sudan, it had before it two reports of the Secretary-General.  In his report dated 31 January 2005 (document S/2005/57), the Secretary-General recommends that the Security Council authorize, under Chapter VI of the Charter, the deployment of a multidimensional United Nations peace support operation with adequate resources, including troop strength of 10,130, comprising 750 military observers, 160 staff officers, up to 5,070 enabling units, a force protection component of 4,150, and 755 civilian police.

As with all Chapter VI peacekeeping operations, the Secretary-General notes, the Secretariat has held consultations with the parties on the list of potential troop-contributing countries, but despite appeals to more than 100 Member States, only a very limited number of responses have been received.  While some crucial enabling units are still required, there are just enough commitments from troop-contributing countries to initiate a phased deployment of the operation in all sectors as planned.  Upon the Security Council’s approval of the recommendations contained in the present report, therefore, the United Nations would commence the deployment of the military and civilian personnel that have been made available.  He urges the parties to cooperate fully in accepting all aspects of mission planning, including full freedom of movement and the structure and composition of the military elements.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that substantial resources are required for relief and recovery, including the return, repatriation and resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as for the development activities envisaged by the joint assessment mission. A reconstruction conference, to be organized by Norway, would provide an opportunity for international resource mobilization, and individual donors are encouraged to signal their readiness to become lead donors in key areas, including the reintegration of former combatants, the restructuring of the armed forces and police capacity-building.  Member States are urged to fund fully the work plan for 2005 and to make their contributions early, so as to allow for substantial recovery programming that can quickly demonstrate to the Sudanese people the dividends of peace.

While international assistance is crucial, the Sudanese alone are responsible for the success or failure of their peace process, according to the report.  The parties rightly feel a strong sense of propriety towards the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the signing of which marks a turning point in their country’s history, providing the parties and people with a long-awaited opportunity to set a course for stability, growth and development.  The peaceful resolution of conflict has positive implications for the region and beyond.

Ultimately, the report says, peace in the Sudan is indivisible, as are international efforts to support it, including the deployment of a United Nations operation.  Support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is the most promising path to a resolution of other political crises facing the Sudan, most notably in Darfur.  Since the Agreement emphasizes federalism, the balance of powers, democratic representation for marginal groups and good governance, its implementation would fundamentally change the relationship between the central Government and the States.  Specifically, the Agreement provides for the devolution of power to the very areas where grievances have centred on exclusion from political access and economic benefit.

Commending the mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and their international partners, the Secretary-General notes that IGAD’s success in the North-South peace process, as well as the African Union’s enormous current efforts in relation to Darfur, marks a positive trend towards greater African leadership in resolving the region’s conflicts.  Urging continued international political and material support for the Union’s operational role in Darfur and its political role at the peace talks in Abuja, he says that the Troika (United States, United Kingdom, Norway) and the IGAD Partners Forum also deserve praise for taking a leading role in facilitating the signing of a series of framework protocols and agreements that were essential for the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

In his report of 4 February (document S/2005/68), the Secretary-General states that performance by the Government of the Sudan in complying with its commitments and obligations over the past six months has been uneven.  Humanitarian access in Darfur had improved dramatically owing to the gradual lifting of restrictions on humanitarian assistance delivery since last summer.  However, action on human rights, particularly measures to end impunity, had fallen far short of what the Government agreed to and what the Security Council has demanded.  The Government has shown a willingness to make progress in the political talks in Darfur.  However, fighting on the ground continues and those responsible for atrocious crimes on a massive scale go unpunished.  Militias continue to attack, claiming they are not part of any agreement.  The Government has not stopped them. 

While the deployment of the African Union mission has provided some protection to the people of Darfur, it has not stopped the parties or the militias from violating the ceasefire or attacking civilians.  These violations not only threaten the security and safety of the people of Darfur, but on more than one occasion they have also interrupted progress in the political talks.  This is why the Secretary-General has suggested that future talks in the Abuja process de-link security and humanitarian issues from political ones, allowing the parties to focus their attention on designing the implementing institutions that will follow an agreement.

The implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would create a number of tasks for the proposed United Nations peace support operation, which the Secretary-General recommends to the Council.  In addition to monitoring and verifying the north-south ceasefire, the proposed operation would, if mandated by the Council, assist in addressing the root causes of conflict in the whole of the Sudan and in facilitating the establishment of durable peace countrywide on behalf of the United Nations system.  Peace in the Sudan is indivisible and so should be the efforts to facilitate it.  The synergies and interactions between the implementation of the Agreement and situation in Darfur make effective coordination between the activities of the United Nations and the African Union in the Sudan more crucial than ever before.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, together with the African Union leadership, has set out to work out a joint United Nations-African Union strategy aimed at restoring peace and security in Darfur.

Also before the Council is a letter dated 31 January 2005 from the Secretary-General transmitting the English language version of the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (to be issued as document S/2005/60).  The Commission’s mandate was to fulfil four key tasks: to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties; to determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred; to identify the perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur; and to suggest means of ensuring that those responsible for such violations are held accountable.

Based on its investigations, the Commission established that the Government of the Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law.  In particular, government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur.  These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis and, therefore, may amount to crimes against humanity.

Government officials stated to the Commission that any attacks carried out by government armed forces in Darfur were for counter-insurgency purposes and were conducted on the basis of military imperatives.  However, it is clear from the Commission’s findings that most attacks were deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians.  While the Commission did not find a systematic or a widespread pattern to these violations, it found credible evidence that rebel forces, namely, members of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice for Equality Movement (JEM), also are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which may amount to war crimes.

The Commission concluded that the Sudanese Government has not pursued a policy of genocide.  The crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing, at least as far as the central government authorities are concerned.  Generally speaking, the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds.  Rather, it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.

Those identified as possibly responsible for the above-mentioned violations consist of individual perpetrators, including officials of the Government of the Sudan, members of militia forces, members of rebel groups, and certain foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity.  The Commission has decided to withhold the names of these persons from the public domain, and instead will list the names in a sealed file that will be placed in the custody of the Secretary-General.  The Commission recommends that this file be handed over to a competent Prosecutor, who will use that material as he or she deems fit for his or her investigations.

The Commission strongly recommends that the Security Council immediately refer the situation of Darfurto the International Criminal Court.  As repeatedly stated by the Council, the situation constitutes a threat to international peace and security.  Moreover, as the Commission has confirmed, serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by all parties are continuing.  The prosecution by the Court of persons allegedly responsible for the most serious crimes in Darfur would contribute to the restoration of peace in the region.

The Sudanese justice system is unable and unwilling to address the situation in Darfur.  This system has been significantly weakened during the last decade.  The measures taken so far by the Government to address the crisis have been both grossly inadequate and ineffective, which has contributed to the climate of almost total impunity for human rights violations in Darfur.

The Commission considers that the Security Council must act not only against the perpetrators, but also on behalf of the victims.  It, therefore, recommends the establishment of a Compensation Commission designed to grant reparation to the victims of the crimes, whether or not the perpetrators of such crimes have been identified.  It also recommends a number of serious measures to be taken by the Government of the Sudan, including ending the impunity for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur; strengthening the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and empowering courts to address human rights violations; and granting full and unimpeded access by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations human rights monitors to all those detained in relation to the situation in Darfur.

The Commission also recommends a number of measures to be taken by other bodies to help break the cycle of impunity.  These include the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other States, re-establishment by the Commission on Human Rights of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan, and public and periodic reports on the human rights situation in Darfur by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Appointed in October 2004, the Commission consists of Antonio Cassese (Chairperson), Mohamed Fayek, Hina Jilani, Dumisa Ntsebeza and Therese Striggner-Scott.  While the Commission considered all events relevant to the current conflict in Darfur, it focused in particular on incidents that occurred between February 2003 and mid-January 2005.

Statements

JOEL ADECHI (Benin), President of the Security Council, stressing the Council’s full commitment to Sudan’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, said that the 9 January signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was a historic moment of great opportunity for the country and one which all its people should strive to seize in order to steer development in the path leading to a solid and long-lasting peace.  The commitments of all parties to implement the Agreement in good faith was of utmost importance, and the Council stressed the need for all of them to favour a national ownership of the peace process.

He said that the Council also welcomed the sense of ownership the Sudanese parties demonstrated in the achievement of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and Council members expected that the Sudanese parties would express a sense of ownership in its implementation, as well.  The Council was fully aware of the international community’s great responsibility to help the Sudanese people remain on the chosen path and was determined to take measures which could encourage and enable the international community to do its part in supporting and consolidating the peace process.

The Council had already called for reconstruction and development assistance, he said, particularly by endorsing the initiative of the Government of Norway to convene a donors’ conference in Oslo to address the mobilization of resources to that end, on the understanding that the parties were fulfilling their commitments.  In the same spirit, the Council members were starting to draft a resolution in order to address thoroughly all aspects of the situation in the Sudan.  Through that resolution, the Council would determine ways to establish a full-fledged United Nations peace support operation to help implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

He said that the peacekeeping operation, to be established under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, was intended as an integrated and multidimensional mission with a wide range of components designed in a comprehensive approach to meet the needs of the Sudan at the present stage.  It would have a vital role ion assisting in the promotion of national reconciliation.  Besides, the Council remained deeply concerned with the situation in Darfur.  At the present stage, all robust efforts should be made to optimize the positive impact that the North-South peace agreement was expected to exert on the conflict in Darfur.  All parties were urged to work towards a sustainable and inclusive political settlement in Darfur, including the rapid agreement to a Declaration of Principles, in order to end the conflict as promptly as possible.

Expressing the Council’s concern with the ceasefire violations and the continuing violence in Darfur, especially in the last few weeks, he said the Council reinforced the commitments taken by the parties in the 8 April N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the 9 November Abuja Protocols.  The continuous violations of those binding agreements seriously called into question the parties’ commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.

The continued attacks on civilians, the targeting of humanitarian workers and the reported attacks on African Union observers were totally unacceptable, he emphasized.  It was of the utmost importance to end such attacks and to ensure that they did not recur.  The Council urged the Sudanese authorities at all levels and all the rebels to comply fully with the demands set forth in its resolutions 1556, 1564 and 1574.

He said that Security Council members were appalled by the serious crimes under international law that had been committed in Darfur as described in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry.  The Council called on all parties to bring an immediate end to the violence and attacks against civilians.  It condemned unreservedly the serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law perpetrated in Darfur.  The Security Council was determined to tackle impunity and to bring the perpetrators of those crimes to justice.

The Council underscored again the vital role that human rights monitors played in Darfur, he said.  Council members were strongly convinced that more must be done to rapidly increase the number of monitors and to implement effectively a system of documenting and addressing abuses.  Given the range of United Nations agencies involved in protection activity, the Council believed that area required strong leadership and coordination by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

He said the Council endorsed fully the constructive and crucial role that the African Union continued to play in the international community’s efforts to end the terrible conflict in Darfur.  The African Union mission’s military protection and observer role on the ground was operating under very difficult circumstances and its continued and devoted involvement was of utmost importance, as was its political role through its ongoing facilitation of Darfur talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

He said the Council supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations that the United Nations peacekeeping operation under consideration cooperate with and support African Union efforts.  The Council encouraged international donors to support the African Union endeavours as appropriate and stood ready to support arrangements that might allow the United Nations operation to provide the logistic and administrative support the African Union required.

In the absence of progress on the political stage, the situation in Darfur could only further deteriorate, he said.  Such a further deterioration was in no one’s interest, as it could jeopardize the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, putting at great risk the future of the whole country.  The Council urged all parties to resume the Abuja talks in good faith.

ALI OTHMAN TAHA, First Vice-President of the Sudan, said that during the Security Council’s meeting in Nairobi last year, he had declared his Government’s determination to complete negotiations and arrive at a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of the year.  That agreement was signed on 9 January of this year.  The actual implementation of the Agreement began in accordance with the agreed time line, opening a new chapter in Sudan’s history.  He welcomed the report of the Secretary-General, which was professional and objective, regarding the upcoming peace-support mission.  He assured the Council of Sudan’s continued cooperation with the United Nations and its readiness to discuss the details of the mission.

In its historic meeting on 18 and 19 November, the Council called on the international community to provide assistance for the implementation of the Agreement, soon after its signature and entry into force, and declared its commitment to provide assistance to the people of the Sudan.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed and implementation was under way, as well as efforts to assess the needs of the country.  He called on the international community to support efforts aimed at reconstruction and development so that the people of the Sudan could enjoy the peace dividend and ensure sustainable peace.  He urged the Council to call on all countries to lift any economic and trade restrictions or sanctions and to initiate active partnerships with the Sudan.  He also called for the writing off completely of all foreign debt owed by the Sudan to international institutions and States, so that the Sudan could channel resources for the provision of social services, the rebuilding of infrastructure and improving the capabilities of its population and institutions. 

In addition, he called on countries to donate generously to the upcoming donors’ conference, to be hosted by Norway, so that growth could get under way.  The Sudan had suffered from the scourge of war for so long and was determined to bring about real change on the ground.  A prosperous Sudan, at peace with itself and its neighbours, was good for the region, the continent and the world at large.  He was confident that the Council and the international community would spare no effort in assisting the Sudan in the realization of those objectives.

The Agreement signed on 9 January was comprehensive, he stated.  While addressing the causes of the conflict, it also addressed the fact that the Sudan was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural society, whose infrastructures were weak and damaged due to war.  It laid the groundwork for a political system that was committed to international instruments of human rights and diversity.  The Agreement established democratic rule dedicated to justice, the rule of law and good governance, with power-sharing arrangements in accordance with the country’s constitutional regime.  In addition, financial resources were fairly divided in a manner taking into account the differences in levels of development arising from the war among different States.  The Agreement and its provisions for power and wealth sharing had laid the necessary grounds for resolving the conflict in Darfur and for peace to prevail in all parts of the Sudan.

He had just returned from Darfur, where he had witnessed the situation firsthand, and was convinced of the need to arrive at a political solution to end the war and alleviate the suffering of the people there.  The Government was committed to pursuing a path of settlement and declared the year 2005 a year for peace for the Sudan.

He submitted his vision for speedy negotiations to put a quick end to the conflict in Darfur.  First, turning to the humanitarian sector, he said that the Government had showed its readiness to give its utmost attention to the humanitarian sector in Darfur.  It had made big strides in providing urgent relief measures for those adversely affected by the events of the past months and sought to remove any obstacles facing humanitarian work.  Those efforts had been strained at times, due to lack of international financing, weather conditions or weak infrastructures in Darfur.  However, no matter what the reasons for obstruction, he assured the Council and the international community of the Government’s readiness to discuss, negotiate and address any new measures to overcome those obstacles.

In the security sector, he said that, despite improvements in that sector, it could be improved further if the following conditions were available.  First, enhancing the authority and capacity of the African Union to complete its deployment and undertake the task of observing the ceasefire.  Second, undertaking disarmament programmes, which was a primary factor in re-establishing peace and security in Darfur.  As soon as the ceasefire was heeded, that could take place.  The Government would undertake specific projects in that regard.  An effective disarmament process would require financial and technical support by the international community.  Third, paving the way to opening the road fully for relief efforts and facilitating the movement of people in Darfur for normalizing life and pushing the peace process forward.

Fourth, he continued, investigating crimes and other human rights violations in Darfur and punishing the violators.  The Government had begun the implementations of the recommendations of the national commission to investigate the events in Darfur.  It had established a judiciary commission, chaired by a Supreme Court judge, to investigate the crimes and violations, as well as to punish the violators.  In that respect, he had read the report of the International Inquiry on Darfur and had distributed his comments on them, which he hoped delegations would consider.  He was confident that the contents of the national commission’s report would achieve the results included in the report of the International Inquiry.  The establishment of the national commission was a reflection of national will, as well as of the importance attached to accountability and an end to impunity.  The realization of the principle of accountability should not detract attention from the need to realize peace first and put an end to all hostilities, as well as to guarantee full commitment to the ceasefire and arrive at a desired peaceful settlement.

Turning to the social and economic sector, he said that the solution to Darfur could not be achieved without enhancing the basis for the peaceful coexistence of the people of Darfur.  The Government’s plan to re-establish stability was based, among other things, on repatriating refugees and rehabilitating social structures; addressing grievances and assessing damages; and preparing short- and medium-term rehabilitation projects.  The Government had established a commission to determine the losses and assess the required reparations.  He called on countries to support such efforts when the donors’ conference was convened.

None of the above could be successful absent a political settlement, he stated.  The Government had given an unprecedented seriousness to addressing constructively the question of the political settlement.  He stressed the basic principles consecrated by the Government previously and enshrined in the Agreement signed on 9 January.  They included adopting a formula of an advanced system of federalist government; the adoption of a constitution for each State, to be superseded only by the national constitution; States enjoying authority for expanded political and economic decision-making; establishment of an independent judiciary; and the establishment of an independent and active civil service. 

JOHN GARANG DE MABIOR, Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), said that the 9 January Agreement had ushered in a new era in the history of the Sudan, the region and Africa as a whole.  It was a truly Sudanese product facilitated through a regional effort by IGAD and the international community, particularly the Troika (United States, United Kingdom, Norway).

He said that, in preparing to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the SPLM/A had established committees to work out mechanisms for the transformation from organs for guerrilla warfare and armed opposition into organs of good governance.  Soon after the visit to the Security Council by the President of the Sudan, the SPLM would send missions to various centres within the country to establish ways to ease communications.  Both the SPLM and the Government of the Sudan were evaluating drafts prepared by various joint assessment missions, which would be presented to those preparing the Norway donors’ conference, hopefully by next month.

Clearly the Comprehensive Peace Agreement presented many challenges and opportunities for the Sudan, the region, Africa and the world at large, he said.  One problem was that refugees and internally displaced persons were already moving to their home areas in southern Sudan even before the necessary minimum conditions had been established, thus, putting additional strain on host communities.  The SPLM needed assistance in fulfilling its obligations and in order to continue to exercise its full ownership of the peace process.

The SPLM welcomed the United Nations peace support operation and hoped that it could leave a representative in New York to contribute ideas towards its deployment, he said.  There were many other issues requiring discussion and coordination, including the size and other aspects of the peacekeeping operation.  In its monitoring and verification endeavours, the United Nations would act in concert with other actors.  Those were among the details that the Movement would wish to discuss with the United Nations, if it were permitted to leave a delegation in New York.

Regarding the peace support mission, he pointed out that the Sudanese people had themselves voluntarily negotiated a unique peace agreement that, in effect, prescribed a one-country-two-systems model, whereby the people of southern Sudan would decide after six years whether to remain within the Sudan or to opt for independence.  The United Nations was used to dealing with States under a one-country-one-system model, but the Sudanese model reflected the will of the Sudanese people, and the United Nations system should respect that, without prejudice to the unity and sovereignty of the Sudan.

Turning to Darfur, he said the conflict there was an old one that had begun in the 1980s, rather than in 2003, as commonly reported.  It had existed even before the present Government of the Sudan had taken power.  With the intensification of the conflict at the end of 2002, the SPLM had wasted no time in declaring that the pursuit of a military solution would be futile and in encouraging the search for a peaceful settlement.  The SPLM, having concluded its own accord with the Government of the Sudan, was confident that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement enhanced the chances for a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Darfur conflict.  However, the Janjaweed militia must be reined in and eventually brought to justice after the achievement of a solution -- otherwise the cart would be placed before the horse, in which case neither would move.  The SPLM stood ready to offer assistance.

He said that before coming to New York he had consulted with the Presidents of Kenya and Eritrea, as well as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and all the Darfur groups.  As a result, he was confident that the processes resulting in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement could be applied as a basis for resoling the conflicts to the Darfur and eastern Sudan conflicts.  But first, the parties had to commit themselves to the underlying principles and parameters.  On the military and security side, the SPLM could contribute towards the security, stabilization and civilian protection in Darfur, if asked by the parties and the international community.  There was reason to believe that the 9 January Agreement had considerably improved the prospects for solutions to the conflicts in Darfur and eastern Sudan.  Furthermore, current linkages being made between the peace agreement and prospects for an end to the Darfur conflict -- to the effect that the former could harm the latter -- were flawed, counter-productive and morally inept, as they punished the peoples of both southern Sudan and Darfur.  In war, as in other activities, the best course was often to reinforce success.

JAN PRONK, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan, presented the report of the Secretary-General on Darfur, saying that, over the past six months, the performance by the Government had been uneven.  Humanitarian access had improved, due to the lifting of restrictions on humanitarian assistance delivery last summer.  However, action on human rights, particularly measures to end impunity, had fallen short of what the Council had demanded.  The Government had shown a willingness to make progress in the political talks on Darfur, but fighting on the ground had continued.  The ceasefire had not been kept.  Those responsible for crimes went unpunished.  Over the period under review, the rebel movement had become less cooperative in the talks.  They, too, had breached the ceasefire time and again.  The number of civilians affected by the conflict had continued to grow at a pace that outgrew the ability of humanitarian agencies to provide for their basic needs.  In addition, humanitarian workers continued to be subjected to threats by both sides.

While all of that painted a dismal picture, undoubtedly the situation was not as bad as it was in the first half of 2004, he said.  The Government had kept a few of its promises.  Pressure by the international community and the presence of the African Union had had some effect, but not enough.  The conflict in Darfur was very complicated, with various dimensions.  It was more than a civil war between the Government and rebel movements.  It encompassed an economic struggle, with environmental impacts.  While it had some characteristics of a class struggle, it was not a struggle between religions.  The Sudan was far from being a failed State.  The militias were strong and well organized.  There were forces in the Sudan -- not in the Government, but still powerful -- that were capable of spreading terror on the ground.

The Commission of Inquiry had concluded that it was not genocide, but that the crimes committed in Darfur were no less serious than genocide, he pointed out.  It would be difficult to declare that the wrongdoings were things of the past.  The mass killings had stopped, but the pattern, such as systematic violence, had not changed.  During his visit to Darfur 10 days ago, he saw the results of the violence committed during January.  The violence could only be stopped by a third party force.  Any lasting solution required a political settlement.  The good news was that the Government had shown a willingness to negotiate on the basis of the principle of sharing power and wealth.  The Government had confirmed its commitment to such talks and the objective of peace through negotiations.  The other good news was that some rebel leaders did care about the people under them.

In addition, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been signed and seemed to be holding, and the peace-support force of the African Union was doing a good job.  He stressed the need to deploy a robust force.  The mandate of the African Union was broad enough, but the force was not big enough and its deployment was too slow.  A robust third-party force was required to protect over one and a half million people.  He appealed to all parties concerned to find a creative way to expand the current force into one which could stop all attacks.

BABA GANA KINGIBE, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in the Sudan, said the regional organization welcomed the proposed deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Sudan.  Unity of purpose and effort was vital for cooperation between the United Nations and between their respective missions in the Sudan.

He said that with the continued understanding and cooperation of the international community, the ultimate success of the mission in Darfur was assured.  The Secretary-General’s report of 4 February shared the African Union’s concern over the continued violations of the N’Djamena Accord by all sides and over the continued deterioration of the security situation.  However, since the deployment of additional government troops, the situation had improved somewhat.  The African Union would cooperate fully with Vice-President Taha, who had taken over the Darfur file on behalf of his Government.

Detailing the African Union deployment on the ground, he said additional troops were expected from South Africa and Chad.  Every effort would be made to achieve the full African Union deployment by the middle of May 2005.  However, while those troops had contributed significantly to the worsening of the situation, only the Sudanese people themselves could bring the crisis to an end, and it was not clear that the parties had demonstrated sufficient political will or commitment towards that end.  In that regard, the African Union appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and others who were encouraging the parties to come to terms with that reality.

Recalling that the report of the International Commission of Inquiry had been submitted to the Secretary-General on 25 January, he said it appeared that the debate over how to label the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law could not help in bringing the perpetrators to book.  The violations were heinous and could not go unpunished.  The international community risked allowing the perpetrators to go free simply because there was no consensus on what venue for trying them.  The focus should be on achieving justice in the speediest and most cost-effective way.

Emphasizing that the coming weeks would be critical for the smooth take-off of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said there was a need for continuing international commitment to efforts led by the Government of Norway to mobilize resources for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of southern Sudan.  The manner in which the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would unfold would determine the future not only of Darfur and other areas in conflict within the Sudan, but also to the future of the country as a whole.

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For information media. Not an official record.