22 March 2006
Continuing Killings, Rapes, Human Rights Abuse in Darfur Threaten Peace in Whole of Sudan, Special Representative Tells Security Council
Calls for Power, Wealth Sharing Agreement; All-Inclusive Dialogue on Darfur; New Ceasefire Agreement; Robust Peace Force with Broad Mandate
NEW YORK, 21 March (UN Headquarters) -- The people of Darfur continued to yearn for peace, and the killings, rapes and abuse of human rights, in direct violation of agreements and Security Council resolutions, constituted a threat to peace in the Sudan as a whole, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Jan Pronk, told the Council this morning.
Noting that the situation in Darfur had not changed in the two months since his last briefing, he said militia in South Darfur continued to cleanse village after village. The Government had not disarmed them. On the contrary, African Union commanders on the ground openly spoke about continued support to militia by forces allied to the Government.
Demands laid down in Council resolutions were brushed aside, he continued. The Djamena ceasefire agreement was violated day after day. "The ceasefire does not function; the Joint Committee does not meet. The sanctions foreseen with the establishment of the Security Council Panel of Experts exist only in theory." He believed the strategy of the United Nations should focus on two objectives: peace and protection -- peace between the warring parties and protection of unarmed civilians, particularly against movements that did not bother sitting at the table to talk peace.
To that end, he called for the swift conclusion of an agreement in Abuja on power and wealth sharing, followed by an all-inclusive dialogue on Darfur between all stakeholders, including civil society, to make it sustainable. He also called for a new ceasefire agreement that could hold, saying a so called humanitarian ceasefire, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and relief workers' access to victims, was not sufficient. A comprehensive ceasefire should guarantee that the victims themselves were protected and that no new victims were made.
The third necessary step was a robust peace force, large enough to be everywhere needed, strong enough to deter any attack, with a mandate broad enough to meet all possible threats and with staying power. "We must mend our own shortcomings and provide a future UN operation in Darfur with a robust mandate and a strong force, not just to preserve lives, but to ensure that all Darfurians can choose to live wherever they want to and their children can look forward to a future that their parents were denied", he stated.
Among the few positive developments since his last briefing, he announced the successful conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Government, and the extension of the moratorium on measures curtailing humanitarian assistance, negotiated for the first time in July 2004 between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Bashir.
The meeting began at 10:52 a.m. and ended at 11:22 p.m.
The Security Council had before it the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan (document S/2006/160), dated 14 March 2006 and covering the period since his 21 December 2005 report (document S/2005/821). Also before the Council was the Secretary-General's monthly report on Darfur, dated 9 March (document S/2005/148).
In the first report, the Secretary-General notes that, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005, the parties have taken a number of important steps in the implementation process, which, however, is falling short of expectations on a number of fronts. Of particular concern, is that the parties have not yet begun to use effectively the CPA institutions designed to offer a political forum for resolving differences over implementation.
The Secretary-General says that, since the National Petroleum Commission is not yet fully functional, there is a lack of transparency in the sharing of oil revenues with the Government of Southern Sudan. This in turn is seriously complicating relations between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP), and eroding confidence in the CPA among many southern Sudanese.
Similarly, the report states, the National Constitutional Review Commission, which was circumvented during the creation of several bodies, was recently re-established by a presidential decree, but its mandate, as stipulated in the CPA, was not included in the decree. It is of the utmost importance that commissions be established and allowed to function with the necessary independence and efficiency. The CPA will be greatly undermined if it is divorced from the rule of law and if the requirements of due process, independence of the judiciary and separation of powers are not respected, the Secretary-General warns.
The report says that, owing to the prolonged delay in making the Ceasefire Political Commission operational, a number of issues requiring political decisions have built up at the level of the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee, a situation that is jeopardizing its effectiveness. Now that the Ceasefire Political Committee had held its first meeting (23 February), it should start addressing the important issues submitted to it by the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee.
Other security arrangements, such as the formation of the Other Armed Groups Collaborative Committee and the Joint Integrated Units, are still proceeding too slowly, the report says. Any further delay in forming the Joint Integrated Units may seriously weaken the capacity of the parties to prevent or address, in a timely manner, potential conflicts on the ground, some of which are arising from the lack of control over other armed groups.
Another important and sensitive issue is the controversy surrounding the future status of Abyei, the report states. This uncertainty has created tension on the ground, making it difficult to carry out reconstruction and development projects in the area. Lack of action on Abyei is also undermining confidence for the peaceful resolution of other contentious issues, such as the status of Khartoum as either national capital or northern state. The decision of the Abyei Boundaries Commission must be implemented responsibly, with full respect for the rights of the peoples involved, the Secretary-General stresses.
Making unity attractive to the people of southern Sudan will remain one of the greatest challenges of the interim period, according to the report. To move forward, the Government of National Unity partners must engage each other, confront difficulties and differences together through the CPA institutions, negotiate in good faith and make the necessary compromises in the interest of the shared principles enshrined in the CPA and the Interim National Constitution.
In eastern Sudan, a problem that seemed manageable only a few months ago has become complicated, because the concerned parties did not make negotiations a priority, the report states. The imminent redeployment of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) from Hameshkoreib makes it imperative that direct talks between the Government of National Unity and the Eastern Front be initiated as soon as possible and that an agreement be concluded rapidly to ensure peace and stability and allow for humanitarian and development activities in the area.
According to the report, the crisis in Darfur is having a direct and negative effect on the timely implementation of the CPA, and efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict are putting considerable pressure on the relationship between the partners in the Government of National Unity.
The report stresses that it is essential that all parties in Darfur engage seriously in finding a swift and durable political solution to the conflict, in order to avoid the prolonged suffering of civilian populations and to ensure that the region does not slip further into chaos. It will also be critical for the Governments of Sudan and Chad to address, in good faith, the tensions that have risen between them and to prevent further violence in border areas between the two countries.
Areas covered in the report are implementation of the major elements of the CPA, including liaison with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and implementation of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) mandate, which includes political support and reconciliation, military deployment, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, mine action, as well as economic recovery and development.
In his monthly report on Darfur, the Secretary-General observes that it would be erroneous to characterize any transition to the United Nations as a substitution of an "African" force by and "international" force, pointing out that the current AMIS is already an international force, operating under an African Union mandate, with the endorsement of the Security Council, and the participation of troops and personnel from more than 29 countries. Similarly, a United Nations-led operation would depend greatly on African contributions and support, as well as those of other contributors. In any event, United Nations efforts are, and would remain, part of a cooperative international approach. At the same time, a possible successor operation would have to be qualitatively different from the current African Union operation, particularly with regard to force mobility.
The Secretary-General says that, as planning moves forward in consultation with the parties, it will have to take into consideration the ongoing violence and consistent human rights violations in the region, the displacement of more than 3 million people and increasing instability near the border with Chad. The main objective of international efforts should be to contribute to the protection of civilians at risk, with a view to creating an environment conducive to national reconciliation and where refugees and internally displaced persons can return home in safety and dignity. Contingency planning for a possible transition to a United Nations operation will be guided by those objectives and should be achieved through a multidimensional presence, including political, military, police, humanitarian and human rights elements.
Briefing by Special Representative
JAN PRONK, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan, said that, while the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) remained on track, its success or failure would be judged by the performance of its commissions. Both the National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement had respected the letter of the Agreement, but on the ground there was an increasing climate of mistrust between the two parties. Mutual trust could be restored through visionary leadership.
He said that President Bashir, speaking to a southern audience in Juba, had shown enlightened leadership when he stated that the southerners would be free to vote secession in the referendum, and that he would prefer secession to another war. Vice-President Kiir had put to rest the political dispute over oil by declaring, during the first meeting of the Sudan Consortium in Paris, that there was no longer any substantial disagreement between North and South over the sharing of oil. The Consortium meeting on 9 and 10 March had been very successful. The commitments by both sides to ensure transparency and accountability and good financial and economic governance augured well for a development policy that would not benefit only the leaders and the middle class, but also help fight poverty. The Government of the Sudan had gone further than just making promises in Paris. Last year's accounts had been made transparent and this year's budget had been disclosed. That was essential to translate peace into a tangible peace dividend through poverty reduction and sustainable economic development.
Southern Sudan suffered from severe poverty, he said, noting that its population lacked basic necessities. Since the signing of the Peace Agreement, no tangible reconstruction had taken place. People were returning, but they lacked the means to reintegrate. There were mines everywhere, and their clearance had not yet started. Disarmament of combatants was yet to begin. The city of Juba, already short of water and power, was receiving more and more people. Sanitation was deplorable, while diarrhoea and cholera were on the rise. Many southern villages could hardly sustain the increasing number of inhabitants, owing to insufficient food production. The reconstruction and development deficit in the South was the greatest challenge to peace and, if not addressed, people would ask what difference peace had made for them. Frustration would mount and violence would increase.
The security situation in the South already showed signs of deterioration, he said. Disarmament of ex-combatants had not yet started and the incorporation of Other Armed Groups was not taking place smoothly. The situation required an increase in financial resources for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. In Abyei, a convoy of unarmed passengers had been ambushed, with more than 20 people killed and over 30 injured. The Joint Integrated Units, the security mechanism envisioned by the CPA to counter such situations, was still not functional, a matter of great concern. Moreover, the Government had severely curtailed freedom of movement for UNMIS in the Abyei area. It also hampered the Mission's ability to monitor troop movements in one of the most contentious areas.
Turning to the situation in the East, he said that, last May, UNMIS had been able to facilitate a gentleman's agreement between the Government and the Eastern Front not to attack each other. Both had expressed their willingness to start talks about talks. Since then, other international facilitators and mediators had entered the scene, which had resulted in an indefinite postponement of even the beginning of talks. In December 2005, the Security Council had been asked to extend UNMIS mandate beyond the SPLA deployment, in order to help avoid an armed confrontation between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Eastern Front. The Council had not yet taken a decision, and that was limiting the capacity of UNMIS to monitor and mediate.
A third concern was the continuing presence of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Southern Sudan, he said. That had forced UNMIS to maintain a high security alert that restricted many operations. The LRA continued to loot and kill the local population. Since the International Criminal Court indictments last year, LRA attacks had increased, and humanitarian workers had been killed. While, on one hand, there was a need to create space for a political solution, on the other, it was necessary to strengthen the Mission's capacity to protect and defend, as well as to confront the LRA support mechanism within and outside Sudan.
Continuing, he said he was pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Government. Implementation of the Agreement, for example freedom of movement and broadcast of United Nations Radio, would indicate its success or failure. There was much harassment of United Nations staff on the ground. That was mainly due to local authorities. The Government had shown the will to cooperate.
In the wake of the publishing of the infamous cartoons, there were demonstrations across Northern Sudan, he said. But the Sudanese reaction to that issue was much more moderate compared to protests in other Muslim countries. Demonstrations were peaceful and controlled, and the authorities were successful in preventing attacks on individuals on the basis of their nationality.
He was also pleased with the extension of the moratorium on measures curtailing humanitarian assistance, negotiated for the first time in July 2004 between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Bashir. It had now been extended until January 2007, throughout Sudan. He hoped that that would have a concrete effect on the ground, and that neither the recent law on non-governmental organizations, nor practices of the Sudanese National Security, would shadow that positive development.
Another positive development, he said, concerned persons in and around Khartoum, whose plight had been tragic. Many of them were extremely poor, deprived of assistance, without an income enabling them to buy the minimum necessary. Last week, the Wali of Khartoum announced that there would be no more forced relocation of internally displaced persons. That decision, resulting from the cooperation between the international community and the local authorities, implied that they could stay where they were, rather than be threatened that their dwellings would be destroyed and that they would have to start all over again somewhere in the desert.
The people of Darfur, he said, continued to yearn for peace. Killings, rapes and abuse of human rights, in direct violation of the agreements and Security Council resolutions, constituted a threat to peace in Sudan as a whole, for peace was indivisible. In January, he had proposed the need to change strategies. There was no peace agreement and the killings continued. Two months later, the situation remained the same. In the Jabal Marra, fighting between the Government and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) continued and intensified. Along the border with Chad the tensions had heightened; it was a no-go area for humanitarians. In South Darfur, militia continued to cleanse village after village. The Government had not disarmed them. On the contrary, African Union commanders on the ground openly spoke about continued support to militia by forces allied to the Government. Rebel movements were more and more fragmented, fought each other, formed new alliances and broke them, and alienated themselves from their representatives in Abuja.
Demands laid down in Council resolutions were brushed aside, he continued. The Djamena ceasefire agreement was violated day after day. "The ceasefire does not function; the Joint Committee does not meet. The sanctions foreseen with the establishment of the Security Council Panel of Experts exist only in theory." The strategy of the United Nations should focus on two objectives: peace and protection. Peace between the warring parties, and protection of unarmed civilians, particularly against movements that did not bother sitting at the table to talk peace. In that regard, three steps were necessary.
The first, he said, was the swift conclusion of an agreement in Abuja on power and wealth sharing, followed by an all-inclusive dialogue on Darfur between all stakeholders, including civil society, to make it sustainable. The second was a new ceasefire agreement that could hold. That required unequivocal language, firm implementation of provisions and procedures, clear sanctions on violations, and a chair representing a strong peacekeeping force, to ensure that all violations were addressed fully, timely and impartially. A so called humanitarian ceasefire, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and relief workers' access to victims was not sufficient. A comprehensive ceasefire should guarantee that the victims themselves were protected and that no new victims were made.
The third necessary step was a robust peace force, large enough to be everywhere needed, strong enough to deter any attack, with a mandate broad enough to meet all possible threats, and with staying power, long enough to instil confidence amongst all people in Darfur, including potential returnees. The performance of the African Union peace force, with limited forces, had been more than commendable. Now that the African Union Peace and Security Council had decided, in principle, to support a transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur, the international community must provide all necessary resources to preserve the lives and aspirations of the people in Darfur. "Whoever is on the ground, and whenever the transition will take place, a substantial strengthening of the present peacekeeping forces in Darfur is required, as soon as possible."
"We must mend our own shortcomings and provide a future UN operation in Darfur with a robust mandate and a strong force, not just to preserve lives, but to ensure that all Darfurians can choose to live wherever they want to, and their children can look forward to a future that their parents were denied," he stated.
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