My dear friends,
Few crises have demanded the attention and energy of the United Nations more than the one that continues to unfold in Darfur. While progress has been made in efforts to alleviate the suffering and resolve the political situation, far more remains to be done if this brutal and tragic conflict is to be brought to an end.
Indeed, even as you meet, fighting continues between the Government of Sudan and the parties that have not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. There has also been violence between rebel groups, including those that have committed themselves to peace. Armed militias continue to attack civilian populations. And there has been no let-up in rape and other gender-based violence.
Over the past six months, approximately 220,000 more people have been driven from their homes. Although that is fewer than in the previous six months, it is still wholly unacceptable, especially after the signing of the peace accord.
Moreover, violence and insecurity have significantly reduced humanitarian access to the displaced and to others in need. Approximately one-third of the vulnerable populations in Darfur are now “out of bounds” for the humanitarian relief community. Not since the early days of the crisis has access been so severely limited.
The high-level meeting two weeks ago in Addis Ababa gave AU member states -- including, of course, Sudan -- as well as the Permanent Members of the Security Council, the League of Arab States and the European Union, an opportunity to engage in frank and detailed discussions on the way forward.
Let me stress in particular the great importance I attach to the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations. Our organizations cooperate very constructively on a wide range of common concerns, and are working very closely to address this crisis. AU troops in Darfur have performed very well given the demanding conditions, the limitations of their mandate, weak logistical support and funding difficulties. AU representatives have also provided crucial help in mediating peace talks. We must all do our utmost build on these significant contributions.
As you know, a number of important agreements were reached in Addis.
First, the meeting agreed that the political process must be re-energized, and the peace agreement made more inclusive. The participants also stressed that the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation is an important complementary component of the peace process.
Second, the meeting stressed that the ceasefire mechanisms must be made to function effectively, and that all parties must be held accountable for their actions. The reign of impunity in Darfur must end.
Third, it agreed that the peacekeeping presence must have the troops, capacity and financing needed to help restore security, protect civilians and implement the security aspects of the peace accord.
It was also agreed to resolve the peacekeeping impasse through a three-phased approach.
Currently, in the first phase, the United Nations is providing AMIS with a “light support package” consisting of a modest number of military staff officers and police advisers, as well as material and equipment. This package is being implemented transparently, in full cooperation with the Government of Sudan. Let me once again express my gratitude to President Bashir for supporting the package and the tripartite mechanism, involving the Government, the AU and the UN, that is facilitating its implementation.
The second phase will consist of a “heavy support package” aimed at strengthening AMIS's capacity.
The third and final phase is to consist of an AU-UN hybrid operation. The operation will have a predominantly African character, with troops coming from African countries to the extent possible. The United Nations could provide funding, day-to-day support and guidance from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and an ability to identify and deploy capabilities and troops which may not be available among AU member states.
In principle, the hybrid operation would reflect the recommendations that evolved from the joint AU-UN technical assessment mission carried out this past June. This mission, which met with the Government of Sudan, concluded that approximately 17,000 troops and 3,000 civilian police would be required to help implement the tasks emanating from the DPA in full and on time.
The UN Security Council is now looking to this Summit in Abuja for decisions that will facilitate the Addis agreement's rapid implementation.
The Government of Sudan, for its part, endorsed the phased approach, but noted that it would require further consultations on two elements of the hybrid operation: the size of the military contingent, and the joint appointment of the special representative and force commander.
President Bashir has informed me that he will be providing a written response on these issues, which we look forward to receiving. In the meantime, it is important to reiterate what was understood by participants at the Addis Ababa meeting: that the phased approach is a package, which makes sense when taken in its totality, including the hybrid phase, in which the United Nations would provide command and control structures, where the force would reach the levels I have just mentioned and where key senior officials would be double-hatted.
If the first two phases do not lead us to this result, and if there is not clarity that this is the agreed way forward, then it is highly unlikely that the Security Council will authorize United Nations funding for peacekeeping in Darfur. The Council will not agree to commit what could amount to a billion and a half dollars a year without the minimal compromise conditions arrived at in Addis Ababa. This was made clear by Permanent Members during our discussions in Addis Ababa and reiterated subsequently in New York, when the Secretary-General briefed the full Council on the issue.
It is vital that we ensure the continuation of a peacekeeping presence in Darfur, and that we make it as effective as possible. We cannot afford to compromise on that. The magnitude of the crisis requires a force with a robust mandate and a sound concept of operations. At the same time, a strong civilian component is needed to assist the parties in implementing the DPA and in supporting the many institutions envisaged by the Agreement.
While we will continue to make every effort to expedite delivery of the light and heavy support packages, such assistance is no substitute for the financial support which AMIS will continue to require while the possibility of UN funding is being pursued. AMIS partners must be prepared to continue to help in the interim -- a point I have stressed to the Security Council.
We are all familiar with the funding difficulties faced by AMIS and the concerns of both the AU Commission and its partners that financing for the AU force has been inconsistent, unpredictable and open ended. In this respect, AMIS partners have made clear that critical additional funding will also hinge on achieving the clarity on the way forward, which I spoke about a moment ago.
And as we plan for the future, we must stay focused on events on the ground. I was very disappointed to learn that, even during the high-level meeting in Addis Ababa, there was no pause in the violence. Let me stress again that all parties must cease hostilities immediately and unconditionally. If violence persists, all our efforts to renew the political process, to strengthen the ceasefire mechanisms, and to put in place a sustainable peacekeeping presence will be in vain.
Let us also remember that, while peacekeeping can bolster and build confidence in a political process, it is no substitute for the will of the parties involved to reject violence and pursue a negotiated resolution of their differences. This requires a transparent and sustainable process, which rewards those who commit to dialogue. Expediency and short-term alliances of convenience will not bring lasting results.
This is why it was agreed in Addis that there is a need to broaden the base for peace in Darfur. The United Nations and African Union were asked to lead an all-inclusive process –with DPA signatories and non-signatories –in an effort to resolve outstanding issues by the end of the year. Your support will be essential for the success of this endeavour. We must concentrate our energies on a common goal, within a common framework, in a coordinated and cooperative manner.
The Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation must be an integral part of the renewed political process. The Darfurians themselves must be the ultimate custodians of peace, and the DDDC is the forum for ensuring that peace takes root. I look forward to seeing it convened as soon as possible.
There is also a strong regional dimension to the Darfur crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Darfurians have taken refuge in Chad and the Central African Republic. A UN assessment mission is exploring options for ensuring their safety and improving overall regional stability.
Relations between Chad and Sudan have been particularly tense in recent months, with each accusing the other of supporting its opposition groups. I welcomed the signing of the Tripoli agreement in July, which sought to de-escalate the tension, as well as recent follow-up meetings focused on fostering a safer, more stable regional environment. The United Nations stands ready to assist in these efforts.
Your deliberations today are critically important for putting us firmly on the road to resolving the crisis in Darfur. Together, we must continue to work towards one crucial goal: bringing an end to the violence, and restoring to its people the right to live a normal life free of fear, with hope for a better future.