Under-Secretary-General, in Briefing to Security Council, Blames Lack of Political Will Failure to Address ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Crisis in Darfur
Under-Secretary-General, in Briefing to Security Council, Blames Lack of Political Will Failure to Address ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Crisis in Darfur
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6170th Meeting* (AM)
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN BRIEFING TO SECURITY COUNCIL, BLAMES LACK OF POLITICAL
WILL FAILURE TO ADDRESS ‘HEART-WRENCHING’ CRISIS IN DARFUR
Sudan ’s Delegate Calls for ‘Strong Message’ to Rebel Groups Boycotting Negotiations
Five years after the Security Council had placed the situation in Sudan’s war‑ravaged western Darfur region on its agenda, the top United Nations peacekeeping official today expressed his deep frustration that everyone -- the Government, the rebel movements and the international community –- had failed to muster the political will to address the crisis “in all its heart-wrenching complexity”.
Briefing the Security Council on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said: “While the situation on the ground may have changed, we are in many ways no closer to a solution now than when the issue was first taken up by this august body.”
The lack of forward movement since 2004 was deeply distressing because of the human suffering that had occurred in the intervening years, he said. It was also deeply frustrating because the elements for a solution to the conflict had in many ways always been clear. “The Government must make serious concessions and illustrate its commitment to Darfur through active investment in its people and infrastructure.”
On the other hand, rebel groups must make the interests of their people the sole priority, compromise among themselves and agree on a serious platform for discussions, he emphasized. “Abstaining from dialogue is not a policy, it is a posture,” he added, calling on supporters and patrons of both the Government and the rebel movements to refuse once and for all to support war. Arms and financial support must stop flowing, and safe havens must disappear. Without sustained progress in each of those areas, “we will not see a resolution to this crisis [but instead] we will continue to meet in this Chamber to discuss an apparently intractable situation”.
Above all, the will to peace and the sacrifices required to achieve it would come from the Sudanese themselves, who bore the ultimate responsibility for bringing stability to Darfur, he said, adding: “We need to continue to hold them to the highest standard in this regard.” At the same time, the international community, particularly countries in the region, should play a central role in creating the conditions that would help the Sudanese address those challenges, by providing concrete incentives to reach agreement and guarantees that new agreements would be implemented.
On the status of UNAMID, he said that nearly the entire authorized 26,000 troops and civilian police would be in Darfur by the end of the year, and that the level of violence has been significantly reduced in the 18 months since the Hybrid Operation had been authorized. UNAMID now functioned in an environment that was very different from the one it had originally been mandated to address. “Large-scale violence and associated civilian deaths and displacement are no longer hallmarks of the crisis,” he said. Yet, the evolution of the crisis did not in any way diminish the tragedy of Darfur, or lessen the suffering of the 2.7 million displaced people, he said. But it did require that actions taken correspond with realities on the ground. “The United Nations will have to adapt to be effective,” he said, noting that the changes would also affect mediation efforts.
Highlighting the direct links between the Darfur crisis and the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which had ended the civil war between the North and South, he recalled that, in an earlier briefing to the Council, he had shared serious concerns regarding implementation of the accord. Delays, misunderstandings and disagreements between the partners on key issues, including border demarcation and census results, continued to put the Agreement at risk. “Failure of the CPA would result in a deep crisis throughout Sudan and the region, and would cause further suffering to the already vulnerable populations,” he warned.
Taking the floor later in the meeting, the representative of Sudan reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to peace in Darfur through objective and target-driven dialogue. Khartoum expected the Council to demonstrate the necessary moral and political support for the efforts towards a political settlement by sending strong messages to those at the negotiating table. The Council must also send the necessary firm message to those boycotting the talks. The message must say that the “train for peace” would not wait for them, and that the Council would not tolerate a military solution as an option.
He went on to say that, as usual, some speakers had raised the issue of accountability, and added in reference to the “so-called International Criminal Court issue” that Sudan, which was not a party to the Rome Statute establishing that institution, had a well-known position that did not need to be repeated. It was final and irreversible. Moreover, the major organizations to which Sudan belonged -- including the African Union, Non-Aligned Movement and the League of Arab States -- had all issued decisions affirming that the Court’s “heinous” issuance of a warrant for the arrest of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir was simply a political decision that had nothing to do with establishing justice or spreading peace. Rather, it aimed to target the Government and Sudan’s independence as a State.
As for the situation with Chad, he said his delegation had sent several letters to the Council, providing updates on a series of cross-border attacks and violations which had culminated in air raids carried out by Chad on 16 July. “The Sudanese Government [is] doing its best to remain wise and exercise self-restraint against this intransigence against its neighbour Chad.” However, that patience had its limits, and it would remain Sudan’s legitimate right to respond in a manner that guaranteed the aggressions were not repeated and maintained the security and safety of Sudan’s citizens.
Among the Council members speaking today, the representative of the United Kingdom said four years had passed since the Council had referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, yet there had been little change in the Sudanese Government’s position. Calling on Khartoum to cooperate with the Court, in line with Council resolution 1593 (2005), he stressed that the 15-nation body would only consider the Rome Statute’s Article 16 exception for suspending investigations or prosecutions for up to 12 months when it saw concrete action for peace reflected in changes on the ground and genuine cooperation with the Court.
He said the United Kingdom had circulated a draft resolution calling for a one-year extension of UNAMID’s mandate. Among other things, it focused on the protection of civilians and humanitarian relief, and asked the Secretary-General to establish benchmarks and timelines to measure UNAMID’s ability to implement its mandate. It also called on all rebel groups to engage in the peace process, and for an improvement in the humanitarian situation. The delegation would continue consultations on the text with a view to putting it to a vote next week.
Also addressing the Council was Mikhail Margelov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the Sudan, who said that Sudan required ongoing international attention, calling for stepped-up dialogue between the parties to the conflict, and for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South. The important task was ensuring comprehensive progress towards a settlement and ensuring the country’s territorial integrity. The Russian Federation was concerned about ensuring that elections scheduled for next April, and the 2011 referendum –- a main element of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement -- were held.
Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, Austria, Burkina Faso, Viet Nam, Turkey, China, Croatia, Costa Rica, United States, Libya, France, Japan, Uganda and Sweden (on behalf of the European Union).
The meeting began at 11 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Sudan and the work of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the Council had now received the latest reports of the Secretary-General on UNAMID and related issues. The mission was entering a new phase of its operation, with five battalions and five infantry companies arriving in the next few months, and more expected by the end of the year. Also by the end of the year, UNAMID hoped to have 9 of the 11 proposed formed police units in place. Much progress had been made in deployment, and now more energy could be extended to implementing the mission’s operations mandate.
He said the Secretary-General’s latest report stressed that UNAMID was fundamentally a protection operation, so the arrival of the remaining police and military elements, as well as the shift from deployment to operations, must support that end. That new focus must also include stronger efforts to monitor refugee camps and work more closely with other protection actors, including non-governmental organizations, civil society and other United Nations agencies. He said he had learned, in discussions with Sudanese officials, that expectations were high for the mission’s performance for the rest of the year, and every effort would be made to meet them.
On the current security situation, he said UNAMID was now functioning in a very different environment from the one existing during its initial establishment. Large-scale violence and displacement were no longer the hallmarks of the crisis. Attacks were now more localized and generally carried out against Government forces or installations, or of an inter-ethnic character. The deterioration in relations between Sudan and Chad was another key factor in the changed environment, he said, noting that “hot pursuit” bombings on Sudanese territory by Chadian aircraft on 16 July had not done much to help the situation.
Yet, the evolution of the crisis did not in any way diminish the tragedy of Darfur, or lesson the suffering of the 2.7 million displaced people, but it did require that analysis and actions taken correspond with realities on the ground. “The United Nations will have to adapt to be effective,” he said, noting that the changes would also affect mediation efforts. The Secretary-General’s latest report also noted how Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé had worked to recalibrate his approach to the fluidity of the situation on the ground.
Highlighting the direct links between the Darfur crisis and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), he said that, in his 17 July briefing to the Council, he had shared serious concerns regarding implementation of the accord. Delays, misunderstandings and disagreements between the partners on key issues, including border demarcation and the census results, continued to put the Agreement at risk. “Failure of the CPA would result in a deep crisis throughout Sudan and the region and would cause further suffering to the already vulnerable populations,” he added. At the same time, it was important to commend the parties for their composure following the decision taken on Abyei by the Permanent Court of Arbitration two days ago. They must build on their approach to that decision to tackle other key issues and improve the level and quality of their collaboration.
“Despite the good news surrounding Abyei, there is still a sense of drift surrounding CPA implementation, with direct implications for resolving the crisis in Darfur,” he continued, noting that the uncertainty about upcoming elections were but one example. The contested census, large-scale displacement and volatility, especially in the area bordering Chad, created enormous risks that the people of Darfur would not be able to participate in the electoral process, thus disenfranchising millions already disempowered by conflict. The result of any election would also have an enormous impact on the political dispensation in Darfur. Elected officials would constitute a newly minted set of stakeholders, and would have to be engaged in discussions on peacemaking in Darfur.
He said there was also a real risk that rebel movements might elect to reduce their engagement in the mediation, preferring to monitor and perhaps seek advantages from the difficulties that the Unity Government was facing in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Those scenarios clearly illustrated the links between that Agreement and the Darfur conflict. “It is now more important than ever that we understand both issues to be linked to the marginalization of large portions of the population,” he said, taking the opportunity to assure the Council that the Secretariat and the African Union Commission were working together to support the Sudanese people in their efforts to resolve the many serious challenges they faced.
Pointing out hat it had been more that five years since the Council had first addressed the crisis in Darfur, he said that, while the situation on the ground had changed, “we are in many ways no closer to a solution now than when the issue was first taken up by this august body”. That was deeply distressing because of the human suffering that had occurred in the intervening years. It was also deeply frustrating, because the elements for a solution had in many ways always been clear. “The Government must make serious concessions and illustrate its commitment to Darfur through active investment in its people and infrastructure,” he said.
For their part, the rebels must make the interests of their people the sole priority, compromise among themselves and agree on a serious platform for discussions, he emphasized. “Abstaining from dialogue is not a policy, it is a posture,” he said, adding that supporters and patrons of both the Government and the rebel movements must refuse once and for all to support war. Dialogue must become the only serious option. The arms and financial support must stop flowing and the safe havens must disappear. “Until there is sustained progress in each of these areas, we will not see a resolution to this crisis. Instead, we will continue to meet in this Chamber to discuss an apparently intractable situation.”
The alternative was to muster the political will and unity of purpose required to address the crisis in all its heart-wrenching complexity, he said. Ultimate responsibility for bringing peace and stability to Darfur lay with the Sudanese, which was their right and obligation. The will to peace and the sacrifices required to achieve it would come from them. “We need to continue to hold them to the highest standard in this regard,” he said.
At the same time, he said, the international community, and particularly countries in the region, had a central role to play in creating the conditions that would help the Sudanese address those challenges, by providing concrete incentives for reaching agreement and guarantees that new agreements would be implemented. The Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council would continue to be called upon to mobilize the will and capacity of the parties to reach a negotiated political agreement which would effectively end the marginalization of Darfur.
MIKHAIL MARGELOV, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the Sudan and Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee, Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly, said today’s task was to ensure peace in Sudan. The country’s history had been marked by alternating periods of dependency and independence, and almost unceasing civil war. Today, it was in a state of deep civil strife. Military activities of varying intensity were broken only by fragmented, brief ceasefires, made worse by the devastating humanitarian situation. Sudan was either not in a position to feed itself or having great difficulty doing so. Meeting the food needs in southern Sudan alone required 75,000 tons of food.
Emphasizing that the country required ongoing international attention, he said efforts must be made to step up dialogue between the parties to the conflict and to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South. There was no other way to bring peace into view. There were many factors behind the conflict, and its underlying causes were sometimes difficult to identify in an unambiguous manner.
He said there were environmental causes, such as lack of water in Darfur, and also the view that the Janjaweed militia were forcing non-Muslims off their land, so there was “sort of a religious side”. Others believed it was ethnic-based, while still others felt it was about natural resources and economics. Humanitarian organizations held that the Government, with the assistance of the Janjaweed, wanted to force Africans out of Darfur for the sake of the oil fields. All those components were present, making a settlement difficult.
There was no alternative to comprehensive political agreements, relating primarily to security, he said, noting that mediation had become complicated. In February, a goodwill agreement had been reached on prisoner exchanges and humanitarian activities in Darfur, but that had been followed by the issuance of an arrest warrant for President Omer Hassan A. Al-Bashir and new armed conflicts. Recently, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had said that Khartoum did not have any strategy, and today, negotiations were at an impasse. The international community must actively focus all the sides on resuming a genuinely comprehensive political dialogue, without preconditions. Pressure should be brought to bear on those rebel leaders who refused to participate in a settlement. Several Security Council decisions were still relevant in that regard.
In Darfur, agreement had been reached to normalize relations with Chad, but it was not being observed, he said, calling on both sides to show the political will to establish neighbourly relations. A peaceful settlement in Darfur was not being helped by the arrest warrant for President Bashir. The African Union was in favour of security guarantees for him and felt that progress in negotiations took precedence over judicial procedures. The regional body believed that the International Criminal Court was ignoring Arab and African efforts to resolve the conflict. The Russian Federation, guided by African-Arab interests in making progress while ensuring fairness and adherence to international legal norms, understood that approach to resolving that political and legal problem.
The important task was ensuring comprehensive progress towards a settlement and ensuring the country’s territorial integrity, he said. The Russian Federation was concerned about ensuring that next April’s elections, and the 2011 referendum –- a main element of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement -- were held. Russia welcomed the settlement of the Abyei settlement and commended UNAMID’s effective work in the field. The mission was an integral component of the settlement progress. Thanks to the peacekeepers, it had been possible to avoid numerous casualties during armed clashes and to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians.
JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said Sudan remained at the top of the Council’s agenda, and while the focus was on Darfur today, the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement remained vitally important and to that end, the recent decision on Abyei would help move the process forward. On the work of UNAMID, he said cooperation with the Government had improved, but the slowness of visa issuance and of the movement of mission staff throughout the country remained a matter of concern. The United Kingdom was also concerned that many of the benchmarks set for the mission had not been met. Going forward, it would be important to monitor progress and adjust actions accordingly.
Political progress remained painfully slow and, he said, stressing that however strong UNAMID ultimately became, it could not solve the crisis in Darfur on its own. All parties, including the rebels, should engage actively with the Joint Mediator. On the humanitarian track, there was concern about the high number of displaced persons, as well as ongoing incidents of banditry and sexual violence. Moreover, it remained inexplicable why the Government sought to add to the misery of the people by expelling humanitarian workers earlier in the year. The focus going forward must be on closing the gap between needs and the delivery of assistance.
Four years had passed since the Council had referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, and there had been little change, he said, calling on the Government to cooperate with the Court. The Council would consider an Article 16 exception only when it saw concrete action for peace reflected in changes on the ground and genuine cooperation with the Court. The United Kingdom had circulated a draft resolution that would call for a one-year extension of UNAMID’s mandate. Among other elements, it focused on protection of civilians and humanitarian relief, and asked the Secretary-General to establish benchmarks and timelines to measure UNAMID’s ability to implement its mandate. It also called on all rebel groups to engage in the peace process, and for an improvement in the humanitarian situation. The United Kingdom would continue consultations on the text with a view to putting it to a vote next week.
GUILLERMO PUENTE ORDORICA ( Mexico) said his delegation supported the actions taken by the United Nations in Darfur and wider Sudan, adding that the world body’s two missions were making a serious effort to improve the lives of the people countrywide. Mexico noted the problems hindering implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and called on all parties to implement the decision on Abyei. It had been four years since the Security Council had decided to refer the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, but unfortunately the situation had not changed much. Mexico reiterated its call on Khartoum to cooperate with the Court, in line with Security Council resolutions, and to end violence and impunity in Darfur.
He went on to voice his country’s concern about the tension along the Sudan-Chad border, and called on both countries restart negotiations. Mexico was also concerned about incidents of sexual violence, and urged all parties to ensure that such crimes did not go unpunished. He was likewise concerned by reports of extrajudicial punishment and arbitrary arrests carried out by Government forces. Mexico strongly supported a moratorium on executions and the abolition of the death penalty in Sudan. It also supported a one-year extension of UNAMID’s mandate and hoped that the efforts of all actors in the country would have an impact on peace and stability for the Sudanese people.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) expressed his country’s full support for the Joint Mediation and called on the signatories to the Doha Agreement to engage in substantive negotiations without preconditions. An inclusive approach that included all stakeholders and civil society in the political process was essential. The need for a comprehensive framework for peace, justice and reconciliation was urgent, not only for the successful holding of national elections in Darfur in April 2010, but also for regional stability.
Expressing concern about the increased instability along the Sudan-Chad border, and the deteriorating relations between the two countries, he said improving those relations was fundamentally important to a resolution of the Darfur crisis. Austria’s position on cooperation with the International Criminal Court was well known. Meanwhile, it welcomed the African Union initiative to establish a high-level panel on Darfur and hoped that would help address the issue of accountability. The question of judicial reform and transitional justice mechanisms should be addressed in any settlement.
He called for conditions conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, noting that the security situation remained volatile, posing an ongoing threat to civilians as well as United Nations and humanitarian staff. Austria was concerned about the banditry and sexual violence which continued to plague civilians throughout Darfur. All parties must show restraint and abide by their obligations to protect civilians. Austria also expected the Government to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso), welcoming the Doha Agreement signed in February, emphasized that much work remained to make it more effective in light of ongoing disagreements. The parties should work in good faith towards a framework agreement for the complete cessation of hostilities. Burkina Faso also welcomed the efforts of the Joint Chief Mediator and encouraged the parties to support them. The political dialogue should be as inclusive as possible, he said, inviting the international community, particularly the Security Council, to use its influence to encourage the parties to undertake genuine political negotiations.
He said he was seriously concerned about the latest incidents on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border, and encouraged the two countries to prioritize consultations towards improved bilateral relations. Welcoming UNAMID’s ongoing deployment, he said it was essential that it received the logistical means to become fully operational. Burkina Faso also welcomed the Government’s commitment to cooperate fully in the effective implementation of the mission’s mandate.
Regarding the arrest warrant for President Bashir, he reiterated the call by the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement for the implementation of Article 16 of the Rome Statute in order to preserve the integrity of the political process in Darfur and throughout Sudan. Fighting impunity in Darfur could not exclude seeking peace. Burkina Faso also welcomed acceptance by the Governments in the North and South of the Abyei decision. Also welcome was the Government’s decision to authorize the return of some expelled non-governmental organizations. It should continue its efforts, together with the United Nations, to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached the vulnerable populations.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said that, in the face of enormous challenges, UNAMID had managed to reach 68 per cent of its authorized strength while playing an indispensable role in improving security and facilitating humanitarian assistance. The increasing effectiveness of its operations had largely been due to the tripartite cooperation mechanism involving Khartoum, the United Nations and the African Union. It was necessary to promote further cooperation and dialogue between the parties, not only in the field of peacekeeping, but also in humanitarian activities aimed at addressing the adverse fallout from the departure last March of 13 international non-governmental organizations.
UNAMID’s mandated operations continued to be hampered by resource constraints, as well as the recalcitrant attitude of many armed groups, he said, calling on all able donor and troop-contributing countries to extend necessary resources to the mission, especially in light of the urgent need for air mobility. Actions against rebel groups that sabotaged and obstructed the mission’s activities must be stepped up. There was no military solution to the Darfur conflict, and Viet Nam reaffirmed its full support for a comprehensive political solution.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey) said that alleviating the operational difficulties facing UNAMID, whether in the deployment and rotation of forces, the timely flow of equipment or local restrictions on its freedom of movement, were immediate priority areas. UNAMID was already an anchor of stability in Darfur and once fully operational, it could help turn the tide. At the same time, the mission could not replace a committed and dedicated political process. In the coming days and months, the Council would have to monitor the peace process and make adjustments, applying pressure when and where necessary. The Doha process must be open to all, and certain rebel groups must not be allowed to monopolize the process or dictate the pace -– or indeed the terms -– of the talks.
Expressing concern about the humanitarian situation, he said that, while there had been significant progress in filling the gaps arising from the post‑4 March environment, more must be done. Moving forward, it was vitally important to keep the humanitarian aspects of the situation apolitical. Developments on the Sudan-Chad border were also a source of growing concern. Cross-border aerial bombings by either side could not be condoned, and both countries needed to understand that their interests lay not in conflict, but in cooperation. Many agreements had been signed but remained unimplemented.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said he was pleased at the acceleration of UNAMID’s deployment and likely deployment to 92 per cent by the end of the year. The tripartite mechanisms had been effective and had played a key role in the deployment. They would remain important in guaranteeing the mission’s future smooth operation. As long as the parties continued to cooperate and maintain good momentum, all new problems arising in the peacekeeping process could be solved.
At the same time, however, the political process had met with major obstacles, he said, expressing doubts about the sincerity and seriousness of the political negotiations, and his belief that UNAMID would continue to face problems. It was not known whether there would be a peace for it to keep. Unfortunately, as a result of the exorbitant price sought by some rebel groups and their stubborn resistance to joining the negotiations, the success of the political process in Darfur was “very difficult to predict”.
He acknowledged the good offices of the Joint Chief Mediator and the unremitting efforts of the African Union, which were generally in conformity with the Security Council and should therefore continue to receive Council support. China demanded that all armed rebel groups show greater political will to participate in the Doha process, and called on all Council members with influence on the rebels to take action to ensure that they participated in the political process. Concerning the humanitarian crisis, he expressed hope that the parties would continue to strengthen cooperation and consultation on an equal footing so as to ensure smooth and effective humanitarian and relief work.
The International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant had unfavourable ramifications for the political process, the deployment of the peacekeeping operation and for humanitarian assistance, he said, adding that the African Union Summit had recently expressed clear opposition to the Court’s action. China hoped all parties could fully respect the regional body’s position and take action to safeguard the interests of peace in Sudan. UNAMID’s mandate was due to expire and China hoped the draft resolution extending it would not revisit controversial issues.
VICE SKRAČIĆ ( Croatia) said both JEM and the Government should understand that military action only prolonged conflict and put civilians at risk. The rebels should be encouraged to return to Doha with a unified position. Croatia looked forward to the findings of the Mbeki high-level panel in the near future. Concerned at the deteriorating Chad-Sudan relations, he called on both countries to refrain from acts that might further escalate tensions on the border.
He said the expulsion of humanitarian organizations had put innocent civilians at risk. The number of humanitarian workers had been reduced by almost 5,000, affecting more than 1 million beneficiaries. The rainy season was fast approaching, and the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned of an increased risk of water-borne diseases. UNAMID was also still facing considerable challenges to its freedom of movement and therefore its ability to implement its mandate and receive necessary equipment. He called on the Sudanese Government to work diligently with the mission to address those issues.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said it was essential to move ahead on several key fronts where there were obstacles to a political settlement, the protection of the civilian population and the deployment and operation of UNAMID. Among the obstacles was the tension between the Sudan and Chad, which could not continue. It was time to end overflights by both sides and cross-border incursions by rebel groups. It was also time for each country to stop hosting rebel groups from its neighbour. Costa Rica hoped JEM and Khartoum would press ahead with their negotiations to bring an end to the situation in Darfur. It also supported the move by the Joint Chief Mediator to ensure that process was as broad as possible and that it brought in more rebel groups.
Turning to other priorities, he said the deterioration in the humanitarian situation sparked by the Government’s action against non-governmental organizations in March must be given close consideration. While welcoming efforts by the Government and the United Nations to fill the gaps, it was nevertheless a source of concern that humanitarian activities could not be maintained and that ultimately, they might not be as effective as those carried out by a wider array of humanitarian actors. Moreover, those groups were not merely providing services, but also generating confidence among the civilian population. Now that they had been expelled, there was a feeling of insecurity in their previous areas of operation.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said that, while UNAMID faced serious challenges in implementing its mandate, it had been a stabilizing force in its area of operation. The United States was pleased to see general improvements in the mission’s deployment. At the same time, the slow pace at which visas were being issued to its staff was a matter of concern. The mission needed to have qualified staff on the ground in a timely manner, and the Government must stand by its commitments in the status-of-forces agreement.
She went on to say that the situation for civilians in Darfur remained troubling, especially the ongoing rape and violence against women. The United States encourage the United Nations to elaborate a comprehensive strategy to protect women and girls from sexual violence. In addition, no discussion of the humanitarian situation could fail to mention the fallout from the Government’s expulsion of 13 non-governmental organizations. The Council could not afford to be complacent, since disaster had only been averted by the implementation of emergency measures. The Security Council must monitor the situation and look to UNAMID to coordinate humanitarian assistance.
As long as there was tension and fighting between Sudan and Chad, there would be no peace in Darfur, she said. Each of the two countries certainly had the sovereign right to protect its territory, but continuing tension and rhetoric undermined the broader peace process, and both Governments must exercise restraint. Regarding elections, she said those would only succeed to the extent that Darfuris were able to participate meaningfully. The Council could not afford to neglect that issue, and the United States looked forward to the release of an upcoming report on electoral matters.
IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) said there had been a drop in the violence in Darfur, and he trusted that would continue, leading to a return of displaced persons to their homes. Despite attacks on UNAMID, a political solution was essential and sought by all parties. However, no benchmarks could be put in effect until the mission was fully deployed and operational, a ceasefire implemented and hostilities ended. The priority was a political framework agreement in which the rebels must be involved. Regarding relations between Sudan and Chad, Libya was continuing its efforts to ease tensions, while ensuring a resumption of dialogue and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
Turning to the International Criminal Court, he invited the Council to consider the concerns voiced by regional organizations, particularly the African Union, which was the Sudanese Government’s principal partner. As for the warrant issued for the arrest of President Bashir, the Council should seek to remove obstacles to the peace process. The African Union had taken a decision at its recent Summit, expressing concern that the Council had not agreed to apply Article 16 of the Rome Statute. It should consider that request by the African Union, which knew better than anyone what was involved in the search for a settlement in Darfur. In seeking to resolve the matter of impunity, the African Union had set up a working group to investigate human rights violations. It would be chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. In fact, it had already visited the region three times.
He said that the International Criminal Court question had hampered the political atmosphere in Sudan as well as efforts to achieve consensus. The African Union was not seeking to impede justice or to undermine the International Criminal Court, but after years of crisis in Darfur, they realized that there had to be a comprehensive political settlement that enjoyed the support of the international community and the Security Council. A regional approach was the only way to achieve national reconciliation in Sudan and to end the abject poverty. That could not be achieved by issuing warrants against the country’s President. State institutions should be strengthened so that the State could administer its entire territory. Libya trusted that the Council would make its contribution towards that goal.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) said the political process should remain the priority, stressing that the Government and JEM must comply with the February Doha Agreement. France supported Libya’s efforts with respect to other rebel movements, as well as the Mbeki high-level panel, and would study the latter’s conclusions closely in August. The humanitarian situation remained worrying, especially the Government’s decision to expel non-governmental organizations in March, with tragic consequences. According to the Secretary-General’s report, the expulsions had damaged the quality of aid and the health situation could deteriorate rapidly and during the upcoming rainy season. France called on the authorities to restore the appropriate aid environment.
Emphasizing that security risks to the civilians should not be downplayed, he said the conflict had decreased in intensity, but violence remained widespread. The Chad-Sudan situation was alarming, and both sides were urged to exercise restraint. UNAMID would be 92 per cent deployed by the end of the year, but the authorities still presented significant obstacles. For example, Khartoum was slow in issuing visas, and the population in Darfur needed a credible force that could contribute to its security. France called on Chad as well as troop-contributing countries to help along those lines. The extension of UNAMID’s mandate should not be held hostage to other issues, such as combating impunity and the International Criminal Court. Differing views on that issue should not prevent the Council from acting collectively on the draft resolution and other aspects of resolving the crisis in Darfur. Hopefully UNAMID would carry out its mandate, that of protecting civilians, as a priority.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, while it was true that large-scale fighting in Darfur had been contained, the security situation remained fragile and demanded the Council’s utmost vigilance. Indeed, incidents of violence were continuing, and UNAMID staff, humanitarian workers and civilians were frequent victims. “We should make every effort to improve the security situation in Darfur,” he stressed, adding that improved relations between Sudan and Chad would be important in that regard. The aerial bombing on the border between the two countries was troubling, and all parties should halt such “hostile and belligerent activities”.
On the humanitarian situation, he said his country was relieved that the joint collaborative efforts by the Government, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations had worked reasonably well to meet the gaps in the delivery of humanitarian assistance following the expulsion of international relief groups. However, major humanitarian challenges remained in many parts of Darfur, where local populations lacked sufficient access to assistance. The Government should make further efforts to provide the necessary aid, and the international community must strengthen its support for such efforts.
He went on to say that UNAMID was expected to play an indispensable role in stabilizing and improving the fragile security and humanitarian situations in Darfur. While the operation had made civilian protection and humanitarian assistance a top priority, Japan supported a greater focus on civilian protection, especially since there were significant numbers of locals, as well as internally displaced persons, throughout the country in serious need of a helping hand from UNAMID. Yet, 18 months after its inception, the mission’s current deployment fell short of its authorized strength, making the implementation of its mandate difficult. Japan reiterated the need for further improvement on the part of the Government in smoothing the deployment.
Council President, RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda), speaking in his national capacity, condemned attacks against UNAMID and relief workers, saying his country wished to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Darfur. Uganda was concerned about the continuing insecurity and lack of progress in the peace process, as well as the negative effect they were having on the humanitarian situation. While commending the Joint Chief Mediator and the Government of Qatar for their efforts, which had let to the resumption of the talks between the Sudanese Government and JEM, he called on Khartoum and opposition groups to engage in negotiations by the end of July 2009.
He said the increasing tension along the border between Sudan and Chad was a great cause for concern, and called on the two countries to improve relations and implement the various bilateral arrangements they had reached, including the most recent one in Doha. The normalization of relations between Sudan and Chad was critical for a comprehensive and lasting peace in Darfur.
HASSAN HAMID HASSAN ( Sudan) said the Secretary-General’s report coincided with an important step forward in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement: the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Abyei. That was an indication of how the parties could overcome their differences by themselves, with the international community’s help. The Government was committed to peace in Darfur through an objective and target-driven dialogue.
He said the Government of Sudan expected the Security Council to demonstrate the necessary moral and political support for the efforts under way towards achieving a political settlement by sending strong and encouraging messages to those at the negotiating table. The Council must also send the necessary firm message to those boycotting the talks, and that message must say that the “train for peace” would not wait for them, and the Council would not tolerate a military solution as an option. Boycotting the talks was also not an option.
Calling on the Council to throw its full weight behind peacekeeping -- before peacemaking -- he stressed that peace would not emerge from a vacuum. National and regional efforts had been dedicated to the peace process, and now Council support was needed. Yet, a permanent member of the Council continued to offer safe haven in its capital to one of the rebel leaders who had continually and repeatedly challenged the international will by declaring his boycott for the political process and adopting a military solution.
As for the humanitarian situation, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs had affirmed in a past briefing that implementation of the humanitarian protocol was going smoothly, and the adoption of a fast-track approach had helped ensure access after the Government had extended that protocol last November. A ministerial-level committee was working specifically on facilitating access to humanitarian operations. As for challenges to humanitarian work, such as attacks against convoys, armed groups had started targeting humanitarian caravans in order to loot their goods. In addition, clashes between armed groups and confrontations between cattle herders and nomads over scarce water had affected the security situation. Sudanese police units, in close cooperation with UNAMID, were playing a key role in establishing safe corridors for humanitarian and relief workers.
As usual, some speakers had raised the issue of accountability, he said, adding that Sudan, which was not a party to the Rome Statute, had a well-known position that did not need to be repeated. It was final and irreversible. The major regional organizations to which Sudan belonged –- the African Union, Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States –- had all issued decisions affirming that the heinous decision of the International Criminal Court was simply a political decision that had nothing to do with establishing justice or spreading peace. Rather, it was aimed at targeting the Government of Sudan and its independence as a State. The Government had its own judicial and national system capable of achieving justice and accountability.
Regarding relations with Chad, he said his delegation had sent several letters to the Council providing updates on a series of cross-border attacks and other violations, culminating in air raids on 16 July, he said. “The Government has had enough and is running out of patience,” he said, adding that it was doing its best to exercise self-restraint against the intransigence of Chad. However, patience had its limits and it would remain Sudan’s legitimate right to respond to aggression in a manner that would guarantee they were not repeated, while maintaining the security and safety of Sudan’s citizens.
ANDERS LIDÉN ( Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the suffering in Darfur had been allowed to go on too long and a political settlement was desperately needed. UNAMID –- which was at the heart of the efforts to alleviate the suffering –- could neither substitute for a political process nor impose peace. It was time for the parties to take concrete steps towards a political solution. But since UNAMID fulfilled a central role in providing protection and security, while facilitating humanitarian access in Darfur, it must be adequately equipped.
Noting the improved cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan, he said obstacles still hampered the mission’s effectiveness in such areas as freedom of movement, customs clearance for critical equipment and visas for UNAMID staff. Almost 100 nationals of the European Union were still awaiting visas to work for UNAMID. The Government of Sudan had a responsibility to remove those obstacles.
He said the critical humanitarian situation might deteriorate further during the rainy season, adding that the Government and other parties to the conflict must adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure safe and unhindered access to people in need of assistance. The Government’s expulsion of non-governmental organizations had hampered that ability. A small number of internally displaced persons had started to return to their villages, and it was important to ensure that such returns took place safely.
Expressing strong support for the joint mediation efforts, he called on JEM and the Government to honour their commitments under the Doha Agreement. However, there could be no sustainable peace without justice, and the European Union fully supported the International Criminal Court’s key role in promoting international justice. It urged the Government and all other parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the Court, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005). Meanwhile, regional dynamics remained marked by instability. Recurrent cross-border attacks seemed to make the mutual commitments between Sudan and Chad meaningless. Both countries must show a clear political will to solve their outstanding issues.
Mr. LE ROY, taking the floor to comment on the debate and provide clarifications, said it was clear that Council members were satisfied to see progress on two main issues: deployment and civilian protection. Several members had expressed concern about the humanitarian situation, he said, adding that in his discussions with humanitarian actors on the ground, several had raised the issue of kidnapping. Furthermore, access to the most isolated regions was still difficult. Obviously, as UNAMID’s troop strength increased, that situation was likely to improve.
While the various political initiatives were coming together, it was important to note the importance of action by those who had influence with rebel groups in ensuring that all parties joined the negotiations. On deployment capacity he reiterated that five battalions were due to arrive and the rest were expected in the coming weeks and months. However, there were challenges over and above troop numbers, among them the lack of proper equipment. On that point, he noted that a shipment of desperately needed armoured personnel carriers was stuck in Sudanese customs. The Government had offered to lift customs restrictions on the vehicles, but had yet to take action.
On the question of visas, he said 120 had been issued two days ago and the current backlog was 327. UNAMID had been assured that the process would be accelerated, which was important in ensuring there was no differentiation between nationalities and that deployment could proceed as smoothly as possible. On another issue, Mr. Le Roy said that, for the moment, comprehensive border monitoring was not part of UNAMID’s mandate, and at any rate, the border between Sudan and Chad was so long that neither the mission nor the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) had the capacity to monitor it. Moreover, monitoring did not appear to be the desire of either Government. Still, both missions were increasing border patrols in specific areas.
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