AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS HYBRID FORCE IN DARFUR SEVERELY UNDER-RESOURCED TO PROTECT CIVILIANS, PEACEKEEPING CHIEF WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL

8 February 2008
SC/9243

AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS HYBRID FORCE IN DARFUR SEVERELY UNDER-RESOURCED TO PROTECT CIVILIANS, PEACEKEEPING CHIEF WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL

8 February 2008
Security Council
SC/9243
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5832nd Meeting (AM)

AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS HYBRID FORCE IN DARFUR SEVERELY UNDER-RESOURCED

 

TO PROTECT CIVILIANS, PEACEKEEPING CHIEF WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL

African Union Head Says Joint Operation Cannot Be Allowed to Fail; Special Envoy

Says Peace Talks Face Worsening Security in Darfur, Resurgent Instability in Chad

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was “severely under-resourced” to fulfil its mandate to provide adequate protection, given the deteriorating security environment there, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council today.

Mr. Guéhenno, who had travelled to the region from 21 to 31 January in order to visit the new operation in the weeks following transfer of authority from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), briefed the Council on the situation in the violence-torn region of Darfur, along with Jan Eliasson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Darfur, and Lila Ratsifandrihamanana, Permanent Observer for the African Union to the United Nations.

“The number of troops, police, and their enabling capabilities currently in the mission area are simply not sufficient,” he said.  However, the Mission was doing its utmost to adopt a more proactive posture, especially in the camps for the internally displaced persons, but it was important to stress that the Mission would not be able to meet the high expectations of Darfur’s civilians, and that could deal a debilitating blow to the Organization’s efforts.

He said that the continued hostilities in Darfur served as a stark reminder that some parties to the conflict were still not prepared to lay down their weapons and commit to the path of dialogue.  The Council, therefore, must be prepared for the eventuality that UNAMID would be forced to operate in an environment of continued hostilities.

To bolster the force, a definitive decision from the Government of the Sudan on the inclusion of the Thai and Nepalese units was urgently required.  Progress had been made on the status-of-forces agreement, but a number of matters remained unresolved, including the full freedom of movement for UNAMID and visas for contractors.  In addition, UNAMID still lacked critical air and ground transportation assets.

Reviewing political progress since the first phase of peace talks that opened in Sirte, Libya, on 27 October 2007, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, said that he and Salim Ahmed Salim, his African Union counterpart, had been working intensively with the parties in preparation for substantive talks.  They had made some progress, but they had also faced a deteriorating security situation and resurgent instability in Chad.  Those problems had been compounded by UNAMID’s slow deployment, undermining chances to assure the people of Darfur of security.

Though the rebel movements had coalesced into five main groupings, he said only two were participating actively in preparatory talks, and the groupings were still fluid.  Fighting continued and humanitarian actors remained deeply concerned about the safety of their staff and their ability to provide assistance, at a time when malnutrition continued to rise and crop failures were rife or imminent.  All those developments impeded the Darfur political process.  While the people could not wait forever, it must be accepted that the steps towards an eventual peace agreement would be incremental and would take longer than initially hoped.

Meanwhile, the mediation team was intensifying its consultations with all parties, he said.  The priority at the moment was the negotiation of a strong ceasefire.  The deteriorating situation on the ground also warranted intensified efforts by the international community to reduce prevailing tensions, particularly between the Sudan and Chad.  Ultimately, however, progress would only be made when the parties demonstrated the necessary political will and commitment to peace.

Ms. Ratsifandrihamanana said she was appearing today to reaffirm the African Union’s strong commitment to discharging its responsibilities in tandem with the United Nations towards the Hybrid Operation’s successful deployment.  This unprecedented Operation could not be allowed to fail.  Now more than ever, solidarity and mutual confidence must be cemented, and serious work must be done to redress the lack of resources for UNAMID and stop the fighting.  She also stressed the importance of taking all necessary measures to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to alleviate the situation of people in the camps.

In the discussion that followed, Council members agreed that the political track was the only route to a viable peace and to a successful deployment of UNAMID.  Most speakers urged the Government, militias and rebel groups to participate fully in the process begun at Sirte, with many appealing to the stakeholders to encourage recalcitrant groups to join that process.  Deeply concerned over the recent rebel attack on Chad’s capital, many members urged the normalization of relations between the Sudan and Chad, without which peace in Darfur would remain elusive.

Regarding UNAMID’s deployment, members urged the Government of the Sudan to quickly conclude the status-of-forces agreement and allow the inclusion of needed non-African forces.  Many also deplored that “impunity was taking root” in the Sudan.  Evidence of that, the representative of Costa Rica asserted, were the non-arrests of individuals named by the International Criminal Court.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Guéhenno expressed appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for its offer of helicopters to UNAMID, which had also been noted by the United States’ representative.  Mr. Guéhenno said the offer was being examined for its appropriateness.  He also informed the Council of reports of a new attack by Government forces and militia on a village in Darfur, which affirmed that Darfur was currently in a state of war.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Burkina Faso, China, Indonesia, South Africa, France, Libya, Russian Federation, Croatia, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium, Viet Nam and Panama, in his national capacity.

The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

Background

When the Security Council met today to consider the situation in the Sudan, it had before it two reports of the Secretary-General.  The report dated 31 January 2008 (document S/2008/64) provides an assessment of the overall situation in the country since his previous report of 23 October 2007 (document S/2007/624; see press release SC/9160 of 31 October 2007 for summary), as well as an update on the activities of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).  An earlier report, dated 24 December 2007, concerns deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2007/759).

According to the latest report on the overall situation in the area of operations of UNMIS (document S/2008/64), security remained relatively calm.  However, disputes over migration routes and grazing rights in several locations in Southern Sudan triggered inter-ethnic clashes.  There were also increased security problems in the Abyei area, with roadblocks around oilfields, including the kidnapping of international employees of an oil company, intertribal incidents, and hostile activities by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  The presence of other armed groups with allegiances to both the Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and the proximity to Southern Darfur, make that area unstable.

The political stand-off between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP), whereby the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement suspended its participation in the Government of National Unity, ended on 11 December, with an agreement resolving a number of key outstanding issues, the report notes.  In Southern Sudan, the Government there and State leaders from both the National Congress Party and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement worked together to defuse several incidents that could have resulted in bloodshed.  Meanwhile, the National Congress Party has been engaging in an ongoing dialogue with some northern opposition parties, including the National Umma Party and the Communist Party of the Sudan, reportedly aimed at finding common ground on democratic transformation, elections and the Darfur issue.

Also according to the report, the redeployment of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army remains incomplete, and implementation of the security arrangements set out in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has yet to be fully realized on the ground.  On 1 November, the Ceasefire Political Commission agreed to direct the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to adhere to the present boundary between the north and the south, pending demarcation of the border of 1 January 1956.  Redeployment should be completed by 9 January, with Joint Integrated Units to be deployed by that date.  However, the Ceasefire Joint Military Commission challenged those decisions.

The report further notes that the resolution of the Abyei question remains elusive and that no significant progress was made in the preparations for the mandated 2009 elections.  Addressing the matter of wealth sharing, the report also notes that of the more than $530 million in oil revenue for October 2007, the share of the Government of Southern Sudan amounted to more than $208 million.  The report also gives a short overview of the implementation of other peace processes in the country, including the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement; the political process in Darfur, including cooperation between the United Nations Mission in the Sudan and African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur; and the stalled talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda.

The report goes on to describe the activities of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan regarding:  good offices and reconciliation; military deployment; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; police; human rights; electoral assistance; rule of law; public information; humanitarian assistance; economic recovery and reconstruction; mine action; conduct and discipline; gender; HIV/AIDS; as well as the Mission’s financial aspects.

Announcing that he would submit recommendations for the future structure of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan in his April report, the Secretary-General observes that an ongoing comprehensive and strategic assessment indicates the need for a review of the strength of the Mission’s military component; clarification of its mandate with regard to border demarcation, census and elections; greater integration of activities in the area of the rule of law and security institutions; and consideration of a possible new mandate in the area of security sector reform.  There is also a need to review the issues of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and returns, and of the functions related to humanitarian coordination.  A technical assessment mission this month will generate specific recommendations in areas where mandate change may be required.

In closing, the Secretary-General notes that peace in the Sudan is indivisible.  “We will work to forge close coordination between UNMIS, UNAMID and the work of the special envoys to ensure that the activities of the United Nations family are complementary and integrated in our efforts to support peace in the Sudan,” he writes.

The report on the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (document S/2007/759), dated 24 December 2007, preceded the transfer of authority from the African Union Mission in the Sudan to the joint Mission on 31 December 2007.

According to the document, four months into the implementation of resolution 1769 (2007), only modest progress has been made towards the achievement of the primary goal of having a mission that is able to effectively implement its mandate and make a positive impact on the lives of the people of Darfur.  At the transfer of authority, the Mission was to have at its disposal essentially the same assets which are currently on the ground for the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).  Consequently, in its early phase, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur will still have limited capacity to bring about the desired effect on the situation on the ground.

The Secretary-General reports that staff is now in place to support a three-sector structure, and the focus continues to be on preparing for the transfer of authority, while continuing current operations.  The rotation of the African Union Mission (AMIS) forces also continues on schedule, including the deployment of additional battalions from Nigeria and Rwanda.  The appointments of key senior staff, including the Joint Special Representative, his deputy, the Force Commander and his deputy, the Police Commissioner and one of his deputies, the Military Chief of Staff and all sector commanders and deputy sector commanders have been completed in consultation with the African Union.

The United Nations and African Union have received contributions from Member States towards most of the ground-troop capabilities required for the Mission, but their actual deployment requires the completion of pre-deployment preparations, logistical support and facilities, including the identification of land and a clear indication of the Government of the Sudan that these contributions to the implementation of resolution 1769 (2007) are welcome.  Subject to these factors, advance elements of the first three infantry battalions of the joint Mission were expected to be deployed in January.

At the same time, the process of generating aviation and transportation units has not been successful.  Three weeks before the transfer of authority, the Mission is still short of pledges for one heavy and one medium ground transport unit, three military utility aviation units (18 helicopters in total) and one light tactical helicopter unit (six helicopters).  These capabilities are indispensable, not only for the Mission’s timely deployment, but also for the implementation of its mandate.

According to the report, “the Government does not appear to have fully embraced the fact that a robust and effective UNAMID will contribute towards Darfur’s long-term stability”.  The uncertain circumstances under which the Mission will be starting its operations with limited capabilities are also underscored by continuing activity of rebel movements, including recent attacks on Government forces, oil installations and the African Union Mission Chief of Staff’s vehicle, as well as attacks on and hijacking of humanitarian vehicles.

Despite the challenges, every effort will be made to make maximum use of the resources and personnel on the ground, the Secretary-General states.  Patrolling, outreach to internally displaced persons, and support to the humanitarian community will all increase.  Nevertheless, this change in approach cannot replace the thousands of troops and police officers and vital equipment, which will not arrive until later in 2008.  This is a particularly worrying scenario, given ongoing insecurity in Darfur, and the very strong possibility that the Mission will be “tested by spoilers in the early stages”.

In this context, “and because time is against us”, the Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to Member States for support in accelerating the deployment of selected units and filling gaps in force composition.  In light of the high expectations of the people of Darfur, and given the complex mandate set out in resolution 1769 (2007), the international community cannot afford the risks associated with the deployment of a weak force to Darfur.

The Mission’s successful deployment and functioning will be also highly dependent on the ability of the United Nations and the African Union to work with the Government of the Sudan to rapidly resolve complex technical issues related to deployment, the report states.  Welcoming recent meetings in Lisbon and the follow-up in Khartoum as opportunities to create momentum for deployment, the Secretary-General expects this positive engagement with the Government to continue.

On the implementation of the light and heavy support packages, the Secretary-General states that the entirety of the light support package has been deployed to the African Union Mission.  Among the factors that have delayed the implementation of the heavy support package, he lists the security situation, administrative obstacles, logistical challenges and the readiness of troop contributors, among others.  In particular, gaps in the availability of water and land, and the capacity of military and contracted engineers to build camps continue to constrain the pace of deployment of heavy support units.  In addition, the killing of an Egyptian United Nations officer in El Fasher in May 2007 prompted many troop-contributing countries to restrict the forward deployment of their staff officers from Khartoum.  Hopefully, with the establishment of the UNAMID Interim Force and Police Headquarters, the moratorium will be lifted.

Once fully deployed, the joint Mission should help improve security conditions in Darfur and contribute to stability in the Sudan, the Secretary-General states.  The United Nations and African Union Special Envoys, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, have made every effort to engage all parties in the process of finding a political solution to the crisis.  While the merging of a number of rebel movements into two coalitions is a step forward, there is still an enormous amount of ground to cover.  The parties must move on from the ongoing focus on who will be at the table, and turn their energies, with the African Union-United Nations mediation, to the substance of the negotiations.

Briefings

JAN ELIASSON, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Darfur, said that, since the first phase of the current peace talks that opened in Sirte Libya on 27 October 2007, he and Salim Ahmed Salim, his African Union counterpart, had been working intensely with the parties in preparation for substantive talks.  They had made some progress, but had also faced a deteriorating security situation and other constraints beyond their control, most recently concerning events related to Chad.  Those problems had been compounded by the slow deployment of UNAMID, undermining chances to assure the people of Darfur of security.

He said that, for some time, there had been serious clashes between the Government of the Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/Khalil Ibrahim forces in West Darfur.  Earlier this week, Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA)-Unity rebels clashed with Government forces in North Darfur.  There had also been reports of continued aerial bombardments and, in recent months, several cross-border incursions between Chad and Darfur.  That situation was calmer now, but remained fluid and fragile.  Humanitarian actors remained deeply concerned about the safety of their staff and their ability to provide assistance, at a time when malnutrition continued to rise and crop failures were rife or imminent.  All those developments had detrimental consequences for the Darfur political process.

There were more encouraging developments, he said, concerning the coherence of the rebel groups.  The movements, as of now, had coalesced around five groupings:  SLA-Unity, the United Resistance Front (URF), SLA-Abdul Shafie, SLA-Abdul Wahid and JEM-Khalil Ibrahim.  The movements, however, were continuously re-positioning themselves, so prospects for common positions remained dim.  Of the five main groupings, only two groups -- the SLA-Unity and the URF -- had expressed willingness to participate in a preparatory meeting for substantive talks.  He and Mr. Salim had been in contact with the remaining groupings to work out their complex and varied objections.  Because of the still-fluid situation, however, and the tense situation between Chad and the Sudan, the convening of a preparatory meeting during the coming weeks would be premature.

Meanwhile, the mediation team was continuing and intensifying its consultations with all parties, he said.  In addition, together with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the Darfur Dialogue, they were incorporating the concerns of civil society, internally displaced persons and traditional leaders into the peace process.

From his experience of more than a year of engagement with the parties, he still had to conclude that there remained a need for a common strategy incorporating the governing parties, the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, on how to resolve the crisis in Darfur.  Much more needed to be done by all parties to improve safety and humanitarian conditions on the ground.  The experience of the last months demonstrated more than ever that resolution of the crisis required an environment conducive to peace.  While the people could not wait forever, it must be accepted that the steps towards an eventual peace agreement would be incremental and would take longer than initially hoped.

The priority for the moment remained security, he stressed.  As a demonstration of their commitment to the political process, the parties should now unilaterally declare and respect a cessation of hostilities, as well as cooperate in efforts to reform the existing ceasefire mechanisms.  The mediation team would continue its discussions with the joint Mission on how to best bring that issue forward.  At the same time, staffing needs for the mediation were being re-evaluated.  He believed it was necessary to have a full-time Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator in the Sudan, engaging with the parties on a continuous basis and leading the daily work of the Joint Mediation Support Team.

In conclusion, he reiterated that the progress made so far must be built upon, with a view to initiating substantive talks; however, the deteriorating situation on the ground now also warranted intensified efforts by the international community to reduce prevailing tensions.  Without a cooperative relationship between Chad and the Sudan, peace would be elusive for Darfur.  A sense of security and calm must finally take root in Darfur through a combination of the deployment of an effective peacekeeping force and credible commitments by all parties to a cessation of hostilities.  Towards that goal, he and Mr. Salim would work closely with the joint Mission and all concerned to ensure greater synergy between the political, peacekeeping and humanitarian sectors.

They would continue to need the support of the international community and, in particular, the Security Council.  Ultimately, however, progress would only be made when the parties demonstrated the necessary political will and commitment to peace.  It was now time for them to get on with the serious work of achieving peace and a life in dignity for the people of Darfur.

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said he had travelled to the region from 21 to 31 January in order to visit the joint Mission in the weeks following transfer of authority.  His visit had been “sobering, yet extremely informative”.

He said the recent hostilities between the Government of the Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/Khalil Ibrahim in West Darfur remained one of the principal security concerns in Darfur, as a result of which the majority of West Darfur remained inaccessible to humanitarian organizations.  The potentially destabilizing regional implications of the crisis had been highlighted by numerous media reports of Chadian rebel movements receiving support in the Sudan, and Sudanese rebel movements that had acted in support of the Chadian Government.  “Continuing accusations by both Governments of their support for rebel movements on each side of the border increase the climate of mistrust, fuel tensions between the two countries, and once again, demonstrate the potential for a conflict of international dimensions in the area,” he warned.

Other emerging and disturbing trends included the large-scale mobilization and shifting alliances of Arab militia in South Darfur, he continued.  The appointment of Musa Hilal to Adviser to the Ministry of Federal Government was seen as an extremely disappointing development.  The ongoing violence in Darfur and the border area posed a significant threat to civilians.  Continuing displacement, compounded by decreasing humanitarian access and impending crop failures, threatened to create a humanitarian situation that the international community simply did not have the capacity to address.

During his trip to the three Darfur states, it had become clear that the joint Mission was “severely under-resourced for the tasks which it was mandated to perform”, he said.  “The number of troops, police, and their enabling capabilities currently in the mission area are simply not sufficient to provide protection for Darfur’s civilians in the current hostile environment.”  However, the Mission was doing its utmost to adopt a more proactive posture through increased presence, especially in camps for internally displaced persons.  Despite such efforts, the Mission would not be able to meet the high expectations of Darfur’s civilians; experience in United Nations peacekeeping had shown that the loss of the local population’s confidence could deal a debilitating blow to the Organization’s efforts.

He said he had also travelled to Addis Ababa on 27 January, where, together with the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, he had met with Mutrif Siddiq, Chairman of the Government’s technical committee for the implementation of the joint Mission.  Outstanding matters that had been discussed included deployment, Mission accoutrements, force composition and the finalization of the status-of-forces agreement.  Although the meeting had been constructive, no definitive conclusions could be reached because Mr. Siddiq had to consult with his Government.  The Secretary-General had met with President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir some days later, where they had discussed further several outstanding issues.  The Secretary-General had indicated that the United Nations would prioritize the rapid deployment of Ethiopian troops, on the understanding that the Thai and Nepalese units would be deployed simultaneously.

The issue of force composition was one of the lynchpins to the joint Mission’s success, Mr. Guéhenno continued.  A definitive decision from the Government on the inclusion of the Thai and Nepalese units was urgently required.  Council resolution 1769 (2007) had indicated that the force should be “predominantly African” in character.  A force with an exclusively African character was another matter.  To obtain the required capabilities would necessitate seeking troop and police contributors from non-African countries.

Progress made with the Government in consultations on the status-of-forces agreement had been very welcome, he said, stressing his hope to sign the agreement soon.  A number of matters were still outstanding, including the full freedom of movement for Mission personnel.  Peacekeeping was an “around the clock” job, and the force must have the ability to patrol both on the ground and in the air at all hours.  The Government’s cooperation was also required for extending contractors’ visas.  Meanwhile, troop and police contributors must do everything possible to expedite their pre-deployment preparations and arrive at the Mission with the required capabilities, as swiftly as possible.

He acknowledged that the Mission still lacked critical military aviation and ground transportation assets, but he expressed appreciation for the United Kingdom’s efforts.  “Should offers for these critical capabilities not be forthcoming, additional troops will not be a sufficient substitute”.

The continued hostilities in Darfur served as a stark reminder that some parties to the conflict were still not prepared to lay down their weapons and commit to the path of dialogue, he said.  The Council must be prepared, therefore, for the eventuality that the joint Mission would be forced to operate in an environment of continued hostilities, which could significantly complicate collective efforts to support implementation of resolution 1769 and a future peace agreement in Darfur.

African Union Statement

LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, Permanent Observer for the African Union to the United Nations, said she was appearing today to reaffirm the Union’s strong commitment to discharging its responsibilities in tandem with the United Nations towards the successful deployment of the joint Mission.  That unprecedented operation could not be allowed to fail, and now more than ever, solidarity and mutual confidence must be cemented.

She said that the transfer of authority from the African Union to the joint operation had been a milestone.  She hailed the work of the African Union mission, as well as all other troop contributors, donors and other stakeholders, in making that day possible.  She also called on all parties to cooperate with the peace process and with the African Union and the United Nations, to facilitate the joint Mission’s mandate.

Today, serious work must be done in redressing the lack of resources for the operation, she said, adding the need for the Security Council to seek to mitigate the tensions that affect peace in Darfur and the Mission’s successful deployment.   She also urged the Sudanese Government to continue in a cooperative spirit and resolve the outstanding issues of land and issuance of visas.

She stressed that the success of the hybrid operation depended largely on the early achievement of a comprehensive political agreement, for which the African Union pledged to work closely with the United Nations.  She recognized the challenges involved, but she was confident that the parties would continue to play constructive roles towards moving the process forward.  She also stressed the importance of taking all necessary measures to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance to alleviate the situation of people in the camps.

Statements

MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said there were some positive developments for the Mission’s deployment.  The Sudanese authorities had accepted expansion of the contingent with participation of some non-African countries.  There was also a commitment to sign the status-of-forces agreement.  The situation in Chad, while still precarious, showed the possibility for deployment of the EUFOR TCHAD/RCA (the European Union’s bridging military operation in Eastern Chad and North Eastern Central African Republic) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), thereby bolstering the Darfur Mission’s efforts.  Nevertheless, vigilance was necessary, since the humanitarian and security situations continued to worsen.

He said that the civilian population, the primary victims, were basing their hope on a rapid and effective UNAMID deployment.  His country was ready to take part in the operation with an 800-man contingent, or a whole battalion.  The situation as a whole remained ominous, as shown by recent attacks against Chad, the resurgent tension between that country and the Sudan and the atrocities committed by rebel groups, which compromised the effective deployment in the region of both UNAMID and MINURCAT.  He welcomed mediation efforts to unify the armed groups.  Forty days since UNAMID’s establishment, the programme lagged behind, however, and there was only one desire, namely that “things get going”.

WANG GUANGYA ( China) said that some progress had been achieved in deployment of the UNAMID operation and fruitful talks had been held on technical issues.  Facts proved that, so long as the parties could sit down to negotiate with patience and good faith, all issues could be solved.  The hybrid force did not have the sufficient number of troops on the ground.  The security situation was worsening and equipment had not been delivered.  The problems that had occurred should be addressed through consultations, with the tripartite mechanism as the main channel.  The international community must provide the necessary material and personnel, particularly the air and transportation assets.  The prompt deployment of the hybrid force was eagerly awaited by the Darfur people.

He said that the ultimate settlement of the Darfur question would depend on a successful political process.  In the absence of a political peace agreement, there would be no peace to keep.  The political process, however, lagged behind the peacekeeping operations, as some rebel groups still boycotted negotiations.  He called on those groups to put the interest of the people of Darfur above everything else and make the correct choice.

The root cause of the conflict was poverty and underdevelopment, including, as a major cause, contention over water resources, he said.  The international community should address both the symptoms and the root causes, while also providing humanitarian and development assistance.  He described China’s contributions, including troop contributions and $18 million in humanitarian aid.

MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said that the rebels had consolidated into five main factions, thereby offering the potential to come up with a common platform for negotiations.  It was absolutely essential that all sides support and contribute to the peace process, as well as cease hostilities.  The cessation of hostilities and adherence to the ceasefire was one phase of the Addis Ababa Conclusions of 2006 that had not yet been implemented.  The political process was the cornerstone of the international community’s efforts in the Darfur issue.  Deployment of UNAMID would only be as effective as the political process it was mandated to support.

He was encouraged by developments in the status-of-forces agreement issue and troop compositions, and continued to believe in the efficacy of the tripartite mechanisms between the Secretariat, the African Union and the Government of the Sudan.  UNAMID troop contributors, however, must speed up their deployment.  He called, once again, upon those who were in a position to contribute the critical aviation and ground transportation to do so.  The recent rebel incursions in Chad and the potential ramifications for the efforts in Darfur were a reminder of the risks of delays in the Darfur political process.  Sudan-Chad relations were essential for the stability of both countries.

It was deeply troubling that humanitarian workers had remained targets of violence and armed robberies, he said.  The Council should stand ready to look at further measures against those attacking humanitarian workers.  Progress on all fronts in Darfur -- including political, peacekeeping, ceasefire, and humanitarian -- were essential to achieve a comprehensive peace.

SAÚL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) said the situation in Darfur was of grave concern to his country.  The humanitarian crisis was the manifestation of a political crisis and could only be resolved through a process that involved all parties.  He urged all of them to resolve their differences through negotiation.

He affirmed that Member States of the United Nations had rights to their sovereignty, but they also had the obligation to protect their civilian populations.  He urged the Government of the Sudan to act in accordance with that obligation, and he condemned the continuing abuses against the population.  In addition, he said the delay in signing the status-of-forces agreement and the fulfilment of other conditions cast a dark shadow on the Council’s efforts to resolve the crisis.

He echoed the repeated appeals by the Secretary-General to the Sudan to complete all necessary agreements, including those with Member States to provide needed equipment.  In regard to crimes against humanity, he stressed that it was crucial for the Government to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in bringing to justice major perpetrators.  In all those areas, he stressed the need for the Council to apply constant and timely monitoring and pressure.

DUMISANI SHADRACK KUMALO ( South Africa) welcomed reported progress in November and December 2007 in the unification efforts of the movements, but remained concerned at the fragility of such coalitions.  While the earlier fragmentation of various rebel factions was being addressed, not much commitment had been shown, and some were still putting preconditions on their participation.  He called upon those leaders to join the political process by moving swiftly on common positions.  Clearly, the Security Council should be able to take firm action against those who wilfully delayed their participation, choosing instead to engage in violent actions against the innocent people of Darfur.  He also called on the international community to do everything possible to ensure that everybody joined the process, without conditions, because peace talks were a critical element in the solution of the Darfur conflict.

Expressing appreciation for the progress made so far with regard to the implementation of resolution 1769 (2007), he urged the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of the Sudan to accelerate that process, so as to ensure full deployment of UNAMID.  He commended the progress achieved in the finalization of the status-of-forces agreement.  With the success of UNAMID clearly depending on the cooperation of all the parties involved, he stressed the need for an ongoing dialogue between the United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese Government.

Concerned that the process of generating aviation and ground transportation units had not been successful, he said that those capabilities were not only indispensable for the Mission’s timely deployment, but also for the implementation of its mandate.  Another major issue of concern was the threat against the civilian population along the border with Chad, as well as recent attempts to destabilize that country by force.  All necessary steps should be taken to ensure security of the civilian population and displaced people in Darfur.  Conditions for humanitarian assistance to reach the sections of population in need should be created.  His delegation remained concerned that the deterioration of the security situation on the ground and renewed tensions between the Sudan and Chad were complicating the search for a political settlement in Darfur.

He added that the solution in Darfur lay in the political settlement.  There was a window of opportunity for peace through political dialogue and negotiations, and it was necessary to support that, through the deployment of a peacekeeping force that could make a difference.  Peace in the Sudan was indivisible, and his delegation was pleased that there was a close coordination between UNMIS, UNAMID and the Special Envoys.

JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said there was still a long path to go towards peace in Darfur and a situation where displaced populations could return.  The continued violence against civilians and humanitarian workers was a matter of concern, especially since the humanitarian situation was deteriorating.  France strenuously condemned all attacks against humanitarian personnel and appealed to all parties to cease hostilities and preserve humanitarian access.  The Organization and the African Union was doing all they could to assemble a robust force, in order to recreate the confidence of the population.  He called on the Sudanese authorities to support the deployment.  The proposals made by the Peacekeeping Department were realistic and deserved the support of the Council.

He called for the rapid deployment of the European Union force (EUFOR) in Chad and the Central African Republic.  UNAMID and MINURCAT were designed to meet the same crisis, which was not stopped by a border.  The recent crisis in Chad, owing to rebel incursions, had been condemned by the international community and had delayed the EUFOR’s deployment, which might have been the purpose of the attacks.  He welcomed the decision of the European Union to continue operations as soon as conditions allowed.

Darfur would not achieve sustainable stability without political progress, he said, calling on all parties to act in the interest of Darfur.  Those who continued to perpetuate the violence should lay down their weapons immediately and sit down at the negotiating table.  He reiterated support for bringing civil society into the discussion.  The political process must also involve representatives of the victims of the violence, in particular the voice of the hundreds of thousands displaced.  There must be an end to impunity, and the International Criminal Court must continue its activities.

GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya) welcomed efforts made over the past month to persuade all parties to sit down at the negotiating table and to unify the rebel movements, in order to relaunch the negotiations that had begun in Sirte, Libya, in October 2007.  Difficulties had been created by the non-incorporation of some factions in the peace process.  He welcomed the approach adopted by the Special Envoys regarding consultations with various groups, in order to unify their positions.  If the political process was to succeed, all hostilities must cease immediately, without conditions.  “Profoundly” concerned at the position of some groups that refused to participate in the political process, he said the Council should bring appropriate pressure to bear on such groups to join the negotiations.

Turning to UNAMID’s deployment, he commended the consensus attitude during the meeting between President Bashir and the Secretary-General recently in Addis Ababa, as well as progress achieved since then, and expressed the hope that the status-of-forces agreement would be signed tomorrow.  He was convinced that the Sudanese Government was doing what it could to facilitate UNAMID’s deployment and promote the political process, but he remained concerned at the international community’s inability to respond to the force’s need, particularly regarding air and land assets.  He emphasized that the force should have an African character, in keeping with resolution 1769 (2007).  Concerned at the violence in Chad, he said the two neighbouring countries had an impact on the security and humanitarian situation on both sides of the borders.  He appealed to the parties to implement the Tripoli Agreement of 2006 to guarantee security along the common border.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that peace in Darfur was dependent on a negotiated peace process, and the process begun at Sirte must be followed through.  The parties involved, supported by regional players, must cooperate.  The mediation team, for that purpose, should be strengthened by the addition of a full-time, single negotiator.  The Security Council must also send a strong message to the parties that were not cooperating.

In regard to strengthening UNAMID, his country was willing to work with the Council in helping to fulfil technical needs.  Constructive dialogue was also needed to conclude the status-of-forces agreement.  The normalization of relationships between Chad and the Sudan was also critical.

MIRJANA MLADINEO ( Croatia) said that the volatility of the situation on the ground threatened all progress in Darfur.  The work of the mediation team, therefore, was crucial.  She hoped that the low-key approach would result in a favourable outcome.  However, all parties must be encouraged to make progress on the political track and to improve the humanitarian situation.

She noted that there was little room to be overly optimistic concerning UNAMID’s deployment, and she called on the Sudanese Government to resolve all remaining issues.  She was deeply concerned over continued abuse of civilians, particularly sexual violence against women and girls, and appealed to the Government to reverse the culture of impunity that was taking hold in the country.

ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) supported a swift deployment of a robust force in Darfur, in order to protect the civilian population, and he hoped the status-of-forces agreement could be signed without further delay.  He welcomed progress on the issue of the participation of non-African countries, although he expressed regret that the Nordic countries would not be part of the Mission.  He supported a joint United Nations-African Union mediation to bring the various rebel groups together in a “critical mass”, and he appealed to all rebel movements to negotiate.  He was impressed by the attendance of civil society representatives in the Sirte talks and hoped their participation could continue.

Concerned at the lack of progress in the humanitarian situation, he said there was a need for renewed commitment on the part of all parties to allow unhindered humanitarian access.  The situation of women and children was especially sobering.  The importance of regional actors could not be underestimated.  It was vital that Chad and the Sudan resolved their differences through dialogue.  Turning to impunity, he called on the Government of the Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.  Recalling that the Council had underlined that it would take action against any party that impeded the peace process, and that there must be a price for the lack of cooperation, he wondered if there was anything the Council could do now.

JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said the Council had been closely engaged in Darfur throughout 2007, but it seemed that those efforts had not made the task in 2008 less formidable.  He had received worrying reports about recent attacks of Sudanese Government forces on villages in western Darfur, including aerial bombardments.  He called on all parties to end the fighting immediately and asked Mr. Guéhenno for further information.  The continued fighting underlined the need to make progress on all tracks.  As for the peacekeeping track, he said the transfer of authority to UNAMID had been a welcome step, but the Mission faced many challenges, including the lack of helicopters.  There was also inconsistent cooperation on the part of the Sudanese Government.  One critical issue concerned the ability to move at night; the protection of civilians could not cease when the sun set.

He said that the political process, in the long term, was the only reliable path to peace.  Although there were some signs of movement in the positions of various rebel organizations, it was clear that a longer-term perspective was needed.  Those outside the peace process should realize the cost to that.  It was worrisome that the humanitarian situation continued to worsen and that attacks on aid workers continued to rise.  He shared the concerns of others about the total lack of progress in holding to account those indicted by the International Criminal Court.  The appointment of Musa Hilal was also a matter of concern.  Addressing the situation in Chad, he urged all sides to stop fighting and all States -- Chad and the Sudan -- to end support to the groups that were fighting.

JOHAN VERBEKE ( Belgium) said that Darfur had no chance of returning to peace without normalizing relations between Chad and the Sudan.  Regarding UNAMID, he looked forward to the deployment of the needed non-African units, in order to complete that groundbreaking endeavour.  He appealed to all stakeholders to encourage the Sudanese Government to come through on all necessary agreements and speed the Mission’s deployment.  It was high time to allow UNAMID to do its work and allow a minimum of security, for both protection of civilians and political progress.

He said it was not acceptable for the parties to pursue a path that ran contrary to a negotiated peace.  He urged them to help arrange and maintain a ceasefire and to participate fully in peace negotiations.  Peace in Darfur was also linked to a comprehensive peace settlement in the Sudan.  The Government was also obligated to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and he deplored that individuals named by the Court had not only not been arrested, but had maintained or been given Government posts.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) said that the rapid deployment of an effective peacekeeping force and a lasting political settlement were both of critical importance.  In regard to UNAMID’s deployment, he urged the Sudanese Government to finalize an adequate status-of-forces agreement and to cooperate fully with timely deployments of units.  If the Government did not deliver on those steps in a timely manner, then the Council would need to consider appropriate action to ensure compliance.  The Council’s credibility was on the line.

He urged a re-doubling of efforts to fill the Mission’s resource gaps, including the critical air, logistical and transport assets.  He was encouraged that the Ethiopian Government had offered helicopters.  His country was committed to assisting UNAMID through the training and equipping of certain African units.  Turning to the peace process, he urged rebel factions to come together in order to reach a peaceful settlement.  To strengthen the mediation team, he urged the United Nations and the African Union to quickly appoint a single joint mediator.

Concerning Chad, he said that the necessary regional approach demanded MINURCAT’s speedy deployment.  He was disturbed by reports that the Sudan played a significant role in supporting the rebel attack on the legitimate Government of Chad.  He called on both countries and rebel groups to cease all cross-border incursions, attacks and interference in each other’s internal affairs.

HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said that, against the backdrop of recent disturbing violence in the subregion, recent positive developments, such as the agreement reached between the Government of the Sudan and the United Nations on the initial draft of the status-of-forces agreement and the announcement by the Government of its readiness to sign that agreement tomorrow, were welcome.  The talks’ fruitful outcome had underlined the importance of dialogue, consultation and cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, and the Sudanese Government.  At the same time, one could not ignore the fact that, given the current lack of troops and supporting equipment, UNAMID could hardly discharge of its mandate effectively.  He called on the international community and countries in a position to do so to make substantial contributions to the Mission as requested by the United Nations and African Union, and proposed by the Sudanese Government.

He hoped that all parties concerned would cooperate in resolving the outstanding technical bottlenecks preventing UNAMID’s full deployment.  He urged the rebel movements in Darfur to renounce violence, join the peace and political process and cooperate with the United Nations and African Union in facilitating the joint Mission’s deployment.  The parties concerned must build on the momentum created by the August 2007 Arusha peace talks and the Sirte process launched in October last year, and actively respond to the good efforts under way by the United Nations and African Union.  A full and effective deployment of UNAMID would help restore peace and stability, not only in Darfur and the Sudan, but also in other countries of the subregion, namely Chad and the Central African Republic.

Also stressing the importance of advancing the political process in Darfur and the Sudan, he said that the peace and political process in Darfur could not be divorced from the north-south process in the Sudan, especially implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Peace and stability would only be achieved if all parties concerned addressed the root causes of the conflict by taking a comprehensive approach to security, political and socio-economic development, without giving biased priority to one cause at the expense of the others.  He fully shared the Secretary-General’s observation that “the deployment of UNAMID will only be as effective as the political process it is mandated to support”.

With that in mind, he said he was encouraged by such positive developments as the return of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to the Government of National Unity last December, the signing by President Bashir of the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration strategic plan, and the return of more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced persons to South Sudan.  He also hailed ongoing efforts by Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim in helping to organize talks between the Sudanese Government and rebel groups.

Speaking in his national capacity, RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) supported the Secretary-General’s decision to extend the mandate of Special Envoy Jan Eliasson.  The Council’s historic 31 July decision to deploy UNAMID resulted from the political will of both organizations to share responsibility to achieve a common goal.  Panama shared that goal and was committed to the terms of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter concerning cooperation with regional organizations on conflict resolution.  UNAMID’s deployment and political negotiations were parallel processes.  The political process, which laid the foundation for peace, security and stability in Darfur, required a strong compromise to end all hostilities and could only be achieved in a secure environment and through dialogue.  UNAMID must ensure that environment.

He said that many difficulties had arisen since UNAMID’s authorization.  Still, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s reports of progress regarding the signing of the status-of-forces agreement and the fact that the Sudanese Government appeared to have withdrawn its reservations to the Nepalese and Thai contingents.  Many unresolved issues remained, however, particularly concerning the creation of aviation and other transport assets.  He thanked the United Kingdom for offering such assets.  The last trip of Special Envoys to the region had significantly advanced the political process.  At the same time, he shared the concerns of other delegations over the slowness of the process, but he also recognized that the decades-old conflict would take time to resolve.  Countries that could influence the leaders of Sudanese rebel groups should step up efforts to persuade them to join the political process.  The international community could not ignore the critical situation in Chad and its potential impact on Darfur refugees and internally displaced persons.  He called on Chad and the Sudan to normalize their relations.

Closing Remarks

Responding to comments and questions, Mr. ELIASSON thanked Council members for their support of the political process and the joint approach of the United Nations and the African Union to find peace in Darfur.  Responding to a question as to how Member States could assist those efforts, he said there was a clear interdependence between peacekeeping and the political track, and everything must be done to influence the regional stability.  The Chad-Sudan relations must be normalized.

He said that more than ever, there was a need to demand that the parties in Darfur cease hostilities.  He informed the Council that he had just received reports of attacks on villages by Sudanese Army and militia groups.  Although the reports were not yet confirmed, it appeared that hundreds of people had been killed.  Immediate cessation of hostilities must be demanded.

Member States should do everything they could to promote a quick deployment of troops because the people of Darfur must get a sense of security.  Member States could also help by sending messages to all groups involved that they must choose the political track.  Peace in Darfur was not possible without cooperation from the neighbours.  The borders drawn up in 1895 did not reflect tribal and ethnic realities, for which the people of Darfur and Chad now paid the price.  There was also an economic dimension, and Member States should start planning for post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.

Mr. GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, expressed gratitude to the Government of Ethiopia for its offer of helicopters.  Regarding the status-of-forces agreement, he looked forward to the conclusion of negotiations in the same cooperative spirit that they had been conducted so far.

Giving details of an attack on a village this morning by the Government of the Sudan and associated militias, he said that this disturbing new spike in violence, unfortunately, did not come as a surprise to those who had been following the situation closely.  This was a war, with offensives and counter-offensives, which would be an extremely precarious environment for the deployment of UNAMID, if it persisted.  He hoped it would not persist for the sake of the people of Darfur.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.