Statement on Sudan to the UN Security Council, July 2005
New York, July 22 2005
About a year ago, in June 2004, the Security Council decided to task a UN mission to prepare for the monitoring foreseen in the Naivasha Agreement and to support the implementation of a peace agreement, once signed, between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. One month later the Council adopted its first resolution concerning Darfur, in order to put an end to the mass killings and crimes against humanity since early 2003. In the twelve months which have passed since then, the Council has intensified its involvement and added pressure in order to conclude the Naivasha negotiations and to solve the conflict in Darfur. It also gave a comprehensive mandate to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to help implement the peace agreement and to help address the root causes of the conflicts in Sudan.
We are one year later, mid 2005. Things have changed. 2005 could become the year of decisive change. It started with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South in Nairobi, on the 9th of January. In April, a SPLM delegation came to Khartoum and was welcomed wholeheartedly. For many of them, it was their first visit in over twenty years. A new constitution was drafted and approved in Khartoum as well as in Rumbek. In July, John Garang came himself to Khartoum. His coming was a triumph, witnessed by a million. Never before more people have gathered together in the centre of Khartoum in order to show their political belief: peace and unity are within reach. One day later the Government of National Unity was constituted, with a new Presidency: Bashir, Garang and Taha. The statements they made were future-oriented: peace, democracy, and citizenship. Their body language was a clear expression of joy and confidence, visible to spectators throughout Sudan and outside: peace is here to stay.
Of course, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is not really comprehensive. It deals with one conflict only, albeit the longest civil war in Africa with the highest number of casualties. Quite a few parties were excluded from the talks, in Khartoum as well as in the rest of the North, and also in the South. But the agreement was meant to be the beginning of a comprehensive peace to be won throughout Sudan, and also a commitment to make that happen. Quite a few things are happening. In Cairo, an agreement was reached between the Government and a number of opposition parties, which had joined forces in the National Democratic Alliance. Their leader, al- Mirghani, previously in exile is now a political partner. The leader of the Umma Party, al-Mahdi, ousted by the military coup which had formed the basis of the present government, returned as well. Al- Turabi, the leader of the Popular Congress Party, and the intellectual force behind this coup, but later jailed by the present regime, was released from jail. He started directly to use his newly won freedom by criticising the regime. The state of emergency was lifted, with the exception of Darfur and the East. Censorship was lifted as well. For the first time newspapers did not have to get clearance in advance from the military intelligence for every article they intended to publish.
The 5th round of Abuja talks made progress unlike previous rounds when they got hijacked by violent incidents on the ground in Darfur. The talks proceeded without being disturbed. Parties, that is the Government and SLM and JEM, did negotiate seriously and flexibly, discussing political issues rather than procedures and minor issues. International partners were united in their pressure and were able to avoid sending contradictory messages. The leadership of the African Union, in particular the efforts by the mediator Salim Ahmed Salim, was solid and effective. It led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles which will form the basis for future talks. The talks could be finalized before the end of this year. There also seems to be more confidence in the peace process amongst SLA commanders on the ground. Further confidence-building is necessary, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Talks to address the conflict in the East have yet to start. Since the beginning of this year, violence in the East increased. However, contacts with both the Government and the Eastern Front indicate that there is a willingness to address this conflict through negotiations. Both parties have made some steps towards better conflict management and confidence building. Here too reaching an agreement before the end of the year may become a reality.
Last year we said that the road to peace in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan runs through Naivasha. This indeed seems to be the case. The spirit of Naivasha is affecting parties throughout Sudan. The CPA has a snowball effect: in Cairo, in Abuja and in the East texts were drafted which reflects the spirit of peace, diversity, democratisation and power-sharing, the core of the CPA. However, that means that both the Government and SPLM and all other parties, including the international community, should do their utmost to implement the CPA in full, unaffected by events on the ground or aside, not allowing powers in the dark or grumbling spoilers to harm the letter and the spirit of the agreement.
That is a tall order for both parties. They can do so by establishing without delay the mechanisms that have been agreed in the CPA. The Ceasefire Joint Military Committee has been established already and is functioning well. However, the Ceasefire Political Committee and the Assessment and Evaluation Commission still have to be set up.
The proper and smooth functioning of these institutions is crucial. Peace will be challenged on the ground: by the presence of the Lord Resistance Army; by other armed groups that have not yet decided to lay down their arms and integrate themselves into the new structures; and by tribes that resist what has been agreed. A first major challenge to the parties in the agreement is the findings of the Abyei Boundary Commission. Its arbitration is definitive and binding, as stipulated in the CPA. But, like always, this arbitration created winners and losers. The Presidency has published the report of the Commission and is presently studying the findings. Leaders of the Misseriya tribe, while protesting against the outcome of the arbitration, have declared that it is their intention to refrain from attacks on the Dinkas and on returning refugees. I call on all to respect the arbitration and to enter into a peaceful dialogue on how to implement the decisions. All parties should be aware that this is the first test-case for the sustainability of the CPA. Much will depend on the way this is going to be handled, not only in Abyei, but also in South Sudan as a whole, in the Nuba Mountains, in the Blue Nile, in Darfur, as well as in the East.
UNMIS also faces tremendous tasks ahead. We are deploying our peace monitoring military capacity steadily. Though, we are meeting a number of difficulties. Some troop contributing countries have delayed their contribution, necessitating others, who depend on them, to do likewise. The total lack of infrastructure in South Sudan, together with heavy rains, creates difficult problems. However, we believe that full deployment is possible towards the end of October. In the meantime, we are doing our utmost with our good offices, to help steer the process towards prudent conflict management. We have decided to give the highest priority to facilitating voluntary returns of displaced persons and refugees in the upcoming dry season. In that period, we expect about 600,000 of them to return. We will establish way stations and provide a minimum package of assistance. We need resources, many more. Our revised Work Plan for 2005 amounts to nearly two billion dollars. So far, only 40% of this figure has been committed. Our programmes are under-funded. I call on all donors to adhere to their pledges, and to increase them. The humanitarian situation in South Sudan is very fragile. Not addressing this wholeheartedly would betray the expectations of millions and would jeopardize the chance to make peace sustainable, until at least six years from now, when people have to choose, by referendum either for unity or separation.
Creating a perspective for the people on the ground, millions of them, who have suffered for decades is a joint responsibility of political leaders in Sudan and of the international community. Can we create a similar perspective for the people in Darfur? The ceasefire seems to be kept by the parties. The AU force has helped to establish more stability. They have done an admirable job, highly professional, with much dedication. Militia attacks on villages have decreased. The humanitarian situation in the camps has improved. The monthly number of death due to violence is still high, much too high – 100 to 300 –, but substantially lower than in the period before the adoption of the first Security Council resolution on Darfur, in July last year, when mass attacks had led to mass killings. According to a preliminary WHO study, the crude mortality rate now is 0.8 deaths per 10,000 people per day in the whole of Darfur as against over 1.5 deaths more than a year ago. The halving of this rate has brought it below the emergency threshold.
However, the situation is still delicate. Banditry has increased and has become ferocious. Attacks can flare up. Militia have not been disarmed. Arbitrary arrests and inhuman treatment of prisoners still take place. Rape also continues. A new Government policy to help the victims of rape and to investigate the crimes of rape has been adopted, after long and intensive discussion with the UN, but its implementation is still deficient throughout Darfur. The Government has commenced a process of reconciliation between tribes. This is laudable and some results have become manifest. However, it cannot be a substitute neither for a political agreement nor for official legal action. The Government has finally established a court to deal with crimes against humanity, but so far only a few cases have been brought to court. Here too a call on the Government is in place: go forward, speedily, and go higher up: do not only arrest foot solders who killed and raped, but also their commanders, and their leaders who instructed them to do so. Only then can impunity be stopped. Only then the present reconciliation efforts will result not merely in clearing a dark past but also in opening a new era in which crimes cannot be repeated.
All in all, there is room for optimism, but we must be realistic. The situation is fragile, utterly fragile. The wounds afflicted to millions of people during a lengthy period of neglect, exclusion, injustice and bad governance cannot be healed overnight. Democratisation and guaranteeing human rights require more than an agreement between leaders and fighters. Poverty is deep, very deep, more than in nearly all other countries of Africa. The battle against poverty, following the fight for peace, will require decades of sustained efforts by the Sudanese and by the international community. On going reconciliation, as well as management of conflicts between nomads and farmers will require much political attention and resources for compensation and development.
The international community started to address the Sudanese problem with a comprehensive strategy a year ago. At last. That strategy consisted of humanitarian, political and military chapters. Some successes have become manifest. A change in the strategy is not required. However, intensification of this strategy, persistence and commitment to add an economic chapter is crucial. Moreover, we have to look forward to what has to be done after the possible signing of the Darfur peace agreement. People will have to return to their areas of origin. They will only do so when they feel secure. That requires a further expansion of the AU force. Planning of such an expansion should commence soon.
On the day of the inauguration of the Government of National Unity, beautiful words were spoken. President Bashir spoke about a new era. He sketched its contours with language that inspired many people: “We give you good tidings of more freedom, democracy and consultation,” the President declared. He added: “Our commitment to the people of Darfur is to set right all grievances and hostilities that befell on any citizen from whatever party on the basis of justice and the rule of law”. That is more than a promise. It is an assurance. Everybody heard him. Everybody in Sudan, in Khartoum, in El Fasher, and in Juba can watch, see and assess whether this commitment will be turned into reality. And those, in Addis, in Nairobi, in Abuja and in New York, who have helped the process result in such commitments and agreements can see to it that this reality will not fade away.
The new second Vice President Al Osaman Taha, who had made place for John Garang as the first Vice President of Sudan, referred in his speech to the overwhelming welcome by the people of Khartoum to the homecoming of Garang. It is worth quoting him too: “The people of Sudan who took to the streets congratulating, blessing, hailing and calling for more of such processions that covered the towns of Sudan was the strongest signal culminating in a historic gathering that brought forth no word but, I am sure, was the strongest speech given in these celebrations. And when the people speak during such occasions, then the leaders have to keep silent and proceed to discharge their duties and accomplish their mission – and here, by the grace of God, do we endeavour to do so.” That is quite a commitment. And when listening to this speech, many in the audience will have thought: the people in Darfur have spoken too. We have heard them, in Khartoum, in Addis, in Abuja, in Nairobi and in New York. Let us proceed to discharge our duties and accomplish the mission which we endeavoured a year ago.