Statement on Sudan and Darfur to the UN Security Council, September 2006
New York, September 18 2006
I last briefed the Council half a year ago. I had then said that the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan was on track. It still is. However, it is a bumpy ride and the train can easily derail. The peace is fragile and the confidence gap between North and South is widening.
I am glad to report that UNMIS has completed almost 100% of its deployment in Southern Sudan. We have fulfilled our mandate in Eastern Sudan and have withdrawn the troops from the area. The authorities have given assurances that UN humanitarian and developmental efforts will continue unhindered. The withdrawal has sent a strong signal to the people of Sudan that the UN came to Eastern Sudan upon invitation of the Government, accomplished its task and left. There was no hidden agenda to occupy or colonize as is the ongoing rhetoric about the UN vis a vis other parts of the country.
We continue to monitor the Eritrean mediated talks between the Sudanese Government and the Eastern Front, which, at last, began in Asmara three months ago. They take place without the UN and others as international observers. This is different from the North-South talks in Naivasha and the Darfur talks in Abuja. But the parties have the right and deserve the opportunity to try to reach an agreement all by themselves. They have informed us that they expect to sign an agreement before the commencement of Ramadan.
Concerns remains: the asymmetry of the talks between a strong Government of Sudan and a weak Eastern Front, and a possible disconnect between the leaders of the Eastern Front and their constituencies on the ground. Moreover, the talks should not take the shape of negotiations between the Governments of Sudan and Eritrea about, but without, the people of the East. Their true participation is essential in order to restore security and to tackle the root causes of the conflict.
CPA implementation in Southern Sudan, though slow, remains on course. The Government of Southern Sudan, which with limited resources, has been working hard to transform Southern Sudan from a war torn region into a region with a functioning administration. The Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly meets regularly and is a forum for healthy debate and accountability. President Kiir has reshuffled his cabinet and administration in order to enhance good governance and abate corruption. His recent 200 days action plan is a courageous effort to engender a culture in public service which is action oriented and puts the needs of the people at the forefront. The political environment has encouraged a relatively free media. With the cooperation of the Government of Southern Sudan UN Radio Myria (meaning Mirror) started broadcasting end June 2006 and is being well appreciated across Southern Sudan.
The CJMC, the Ceasefire Joint Military Commission, remains the corner stone of the peace agreement. Chaired by the UN, it is the best functioning institution of the CPA. The redeployment of the forces in on track. On 9 July 2007 all Sudanese Armed Forces will have to be withdrawn from the South. I have no reason to expect that this will not happen. However, the presence of the so called ‘other armed groups’ (OAGs) poses a threat. The Other Armed Group Collaborative Committee (OAGCC), envisioned in the CPA, has started meeting but the actual alignment status, composition and location of these groups remains vague. In a number of areas of the South, commanders of the former alternative movement SSDF have refused to abide by the joint Juba declaration, earlier this year, which provides for their integration into the SPLA. Many people in the South suspect that the North is still supporting these commanders in order to destabilize the South, to control disputed areas and oil fields, and to create uncertainty about the border.
Six months ago I had highlighted the factors behind the ongoing violence in the South. Since then the violence has not decreased. On the contrary, we had to deal with it throughout Southern Sudan: tribal conflicts, land and water disputes, cattle looting, abundance of arms, fights between settlers and nomads, youth unemployment and crime, lack of discipline amongst unpaid soldiers, in addition to the presence of the other armed groups and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). However, our presence in Southern Sudan has helped. In cooperation with the Government of Southern Sudan, our military together with the humanitarian and the civilian elements of the mission has been able to prevent escalations. Any cannibalization of forces to another part of Sudan, therefore, will have consequences for the peace in Southern Sudan. UNMIS, the night-watchman, should not be asked to pack up and go somewhere else in the afternoon.
At the same time there is a need for international assistance in the Security Sector Reform. Formation and training of the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) is way behind schedule. There has been a rise in cases of indiscipline amongst the SPLA. International help is urgently required to train the SPLA into a professional and democratic army.
Southern Sudan remains in urgent need of reconstruction and developmental assistance. The absence of basic facilities like water, sanitation, healthcare and education has now forced the people to question what difference peace has made in their lives and those of their children. Some progress has been made. Between January and June, over 300km of roads have been cleared of mines and repaired. The UNICEF “Go to School” campaign has provided school supplies to 1.6 million Southern Sudanese school children. However, coverage stands at only half of funding compared to this year’s requirements that we presented in our Work Plan. This also affects our capacity to provide services for returning refugees and displaced people. An estimated 160,000 people have returned between January and July 2006. With the end of the rainy season approaching, large numbers of returnees will be in urgent need of basic services. In the coming year we need more funds, for both relief and return as well as for reconstruction and development. The people in Southern Sudan are still heartbreakingly poor.
The performance of the NCP within the Government of National Unity is not encouraging. The NCP has accepted the CPA in letter but seems to ignore the spirit of it. It continues to stall the functioning of almost all critical institutions of the CPA and has not accepted, to this day, the SPLM as an equal partner. The isolation of the SPLM ministers who are part of the Government of National Unity has created an asymmetry in the Government that has relegated ‘making unity attractive’ to a distant dream. This asymmetry has also manifested itself into putting all important issues on the backburner.
We had high expectations from the long awaited Ceasefire Political Commission (CPC) which to our disappointment has turned out to be a forum that is yet to resolve a single issue forwarded by the CJMC. Instead of acting as a political body to solve political questions, the CPC has become a legalistic club preserving the status quo. It has acted merely as a secretariat that pushes every contentious issue towards the Presidency where the outcome has been no different.
No progress has been made on the issue of Abyei. As a result Abyei remains void of any governance structure leaving the people without any formal policing, public sanitation or health services. Abyei is the test case for the CPA implementation.
In the key area of oil the parties continue to disagree on the status of the National Petroleum Commission. Oil revenue calculation and its subsequent distribution lack the transparency needed to ensure fairness and accuracy.
The demarcation of the North-South border remains unresolved. The Border Committee is yet to undertake any substantive work. This task is urgent because the absence of a clearly defined border has consequences for redeployment of forces, the division of oil revenues, JIU formation, the elections and eventually the referendum.
Progress in the peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a reason for hope. The LRA has agreed to bring together its forces – which turned out to be larger than we had expected – in assembly areas in Southern Sudan. If the present cessation of hostilities lasts, peace can be brought to North Uganda, which will have a significant spill over in the region, including Sudan.
The state security structure in Northern Sudan continues to harass and intimidate any opposition to the Government. There has been a crackdown on political freedoms in the country with heavy handed tactics used against peaceful demonstrations by the opposition and by civilians protesting against government policies. Human rights violations, in particular, by the state security forces, have not decreased. No progress has been made in bringing National Security Laws in line with the new constitution.
During my last brief I had commended the decision of the Governor of Khartoum to cease all forced relocations from the IDP camps around Khartoum. I am pleased to announce that he has stood by his decision. However, last month, the authorities in the neighboring Gazeera State began demolishing the houses of a large community in Dar El Salam Camp using overwhelming force. Thousands of families have been forcibly relocated to places void of basic services. This inhumane treatment is a violation of international humanitarian law. It is also far below what was expected after the adoption of the new Constitution.
I am alarmed at the recent kidnapping and beheading, in Khartoum, of Mr. Mohammad Taha, chief editor of the Sudanese newspaper Al Wifaq. This brutal murder has been claimed by Al Qaida. True or not, the style of execution is alien to the Sudanese environment and is indicative of foreign presence. More journalists have received similar threats. This is an attack on the freedom of expression. This heinous crime can roll back any progress made in liberalizing the media through forced self censorship. That would be a setback. Since the adoption of the Constitution, mid last year, the Sudanese press has become politically more diversified and agile, using its rights and freedoms as it should be in a country striving for democracy.
During my last brief I had commended the Government for concluding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). However, I had cautioned that the implementation of the agreement will indicate its success or failure. I am not so positive anymore. The authorities continue to arrest and detain UNMIS national staff members. Recently two international staff members were also manhandled and arrested. The Government has refused to allow any broadcasts by UN radio in Northern Sudan. It has restricted our access in Abyei. Intentional delays, often more than eight months, in clearing critical equipment from customs are severely impacting our operations. Our monitors have not been given full access to detention facilities, in particular those run by National Security. All in all, this hinders the work mandated to us by the CPA and is a violation of the SOFA.
The Darfur Peace Agreement is only four months old, but it is nearly dead. It is in a coma. It ought to be under intensive care, but it isn’t.
It is a good agreement. The peace talks resulted in a balanced text, somewhere in the middle of the extreme positions taken by the Government and the rebel movements. Had they continued negotiating another year, the outcome would have been more or less the same. In hind sight, maybe we should have taken more time. Not to get a better agreement but in order to bring on board all parties. Only the Government and the Mini Minawi faction of the SLM have signed. Abdul Wahid’s faction did not sign. They should have. They were wrong. But they took a political decision to stay aside. That does not make them terrorists. Abdul Wahid’s people, most of them Furs, the largest African tribe of Darfur, stayed aside, but they have not reverted to fighting either. They have kept earlier agreements. So, we have to bring them on board. That is the first condition to bring the DPA out of the coma.
After the signing of the DPA, parties which did not sign were excluded from the institutions, in particular from the Ceasefire Commission (CFC). That too was wrong. They were told: first sign, then talk. This further split the rebel movements. There are now five to seven different groups including the National Redemption Front (NRF) that launched an attack in West Kordofan. We have condemned this attack. Sadly, it provided the Government with an excuse for continuous attacks and air raids, under the pretext that the civilian population had to be protected. However, it is an outright violation of the DPA. We need a truce. That is the second condition to bring the DPA out of its coma. Maybe Mini Minawi can play a role in mediating between his present and former allies in order to finally get peace on the ground.
Since its signing, the DPA has been violated day after day, week after week. There has been a rise in violence after the signing of the DPA. The use of rape as a tool of terror is frequent and again on the rise. The attackers show little mercy towards women and children. Villages are being attacked and bombed in the middle of the night; white helicopters are being used to support offensive operations of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Freedom of movement of humanitarian and other UN workers has been severely curtailed. Violence against them stepped up. 12 of them were killed just in the last two months. The situation in and around the camps remains precarious and violence, by militia, against IDPs including women, is brutal and degrading. The tragedy is that none of the violations have been addressed in the CFC. It simply does not function. It has been hijacked by the signatories, it is not well chaired, non-signatories have been excluded and the UN has been silenced. In Southern Sudan, the CJMC is one of the most important pillars of the CPA. If it is taken out, the CPA would be paralyzed. That is exactly the present state of the DPA. So, the third condition is to start addressing the violations of the DPA through a renewed, fully representative, but authoritative CFC.
Since the DPA does not function, violations remain unsanctioned. Most people in Darfur have lost faith in the DPA. Many didn’t have it from the beginning. We should be realistic. The DPA in its present form, even though it is theoretically a good agreement, will not get adequate support beyond those who have already signed. So, we have to start new consultations. But we must avoid labeling these consultations as reopening of the peace negotiations. Talk, add, improve and give an opportunity to those who feel excluded and form at least one third of the population of Darfur. We must get their interests guaranteed, on paper as well as in reality. This is the fourth condition to bring the DPA out of its coma.
There is a fifth condition. The Security Council, by adopting resolution 1706, has made it crystal clear that the international community wants a transition from the present AU peacekeeping force to a UN force. The Council has also invited the consent of the Government for this deployment. From its side, since February, the Government has also been crystal clear. It is against the transition. That is unwise. UNMIS has proven to be a fair and effective peacekeeper in Southern Sudan. We can and will do the same in Darfur.
The UN does not deserve the insinuations from Sudanese political leadership in power. We do not intend to recolonize, nor are we laying a carpet for others to do so. We do not have a hidden agenda. Our only aim is to protect the people, while respecting the sovereignty of the Sudanese nation. Secretary General Kofi Anan has clearly said ‘without the consent of the Sudanese Government the transition will not be possible’. However, getting consent of the Government requires consultations. A transition to a UN force has to be made attractive for the Sudanese leadership in order to get their support. That also requires trust, confidence building and time. It requires that those in favor of a transition and those against it should refrain from the present collision course. It also requires that the present AU force should stay until the consent is acquired. The AU is less effective than it was a year ago, but its presence is essential. Departure of the AU leaves the people in the camps unprotected and vulnerable to anyone who would wish to harm them and resume the cleansing of 2003 and 2004.
These are five essential conditions to revive the DPA. Together they would form a plan for the short term, say until the end of the year. If we do this we can work out a plan for the period thereafter. Based on our experience on the ground, we will be more than happy to share our views on the contours of such a plan for the longer term.
So five points: get everybody on board; establish a truce; reform the CFC; resume talks to improve the DPA; get off the collision course both within Sudan as well as internationally. In short, de-link what should be done today to save the DPA from tomorrow’s actions to get a renewed and fully robust peace force on the ground.