Jan Pronk

Statement on Sudan and Darfur to the UN Security Council, March 2006

New York, March 21 2006

Mr. President,
It has been over two months since I last briefed the Council on 13 January 2006. The implementation of the CPA is still on track. More commissions have been formed. However, forming commissions is just the first step. The success or failure will be judged by their performance. Both the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement have respected the letter of the agreement, but on the ground there is an increasing climate of mistrust between the two parties. Mutual trust can be restored through visionary leadership. President Bashir, speaking to a southern audience in Juba, did show enlightened leadership when he stated that the people in the South would be free to vote for secession in the referendum, five years from now and that he would prefer secession to another war. From his side Vice President Kiir put to rest the political dispute on oil by declaring, during the first meeting of the Sudan Consortium in Paris, that there is no substantial disagreement anymore in the sharing of oil between the North and the South.

The Consortium meeting in itself, on 9 and 10 March, was very successful. The two parties, led by Salva Kiir, united to participate as the Government of National Unity (GNU). This was an encouraging sign. The commitments made by both the North and the South to ensure transparency and accountability and good financial and economic governance auger well for a development policy which will not only benefit the leaders and the middle class, but will also help fight poverty. In Paris the Government of Sudan did go further than just making promises. Last year’s accounts were made transparent and this year’s budget was disclosed. This is essential to translate peace into a tangible peace dividend through poverty reduction and sustainable economic development. Southern Sudan suffers from severe poverty. Its population lacks basic necessities. Since the signing of the peace agreement, no tangible reconstruction has taken place. People are returning, but they lack the means to reintegrate. There are mines everywhere. Their clearance to enable people to live safely has not started. Disarmament of combatants is yet to begin. The city of Juba, already short of water and power, is receiving more and more people. Sanitation is deplorable. Diarrhoea and cholera are on the rise. Many villages can hardly sustain their increasing number of inhabitants, because food production is insufficient. The reconstruction and development deficit in the South is the greatest challenge to peace. If not addressed, people will ask what difference peace has made for them. Frustration will mount. Violence will increase. After the war there are plenty of weapons for those who want to grab the scant resources to survive.

The security situation in the South already shows signs of deterioration. Disarmament of ex-combatants has not yet started. Incorporation of the so-called Other Armed Groups is not taking place smoothly. The situation requires a substantial and secured increase in financial resources for demobilization, disarmament and reintegration. Following the decision of Paulino Matip, the leader of the former SSDF, to integrate his forces into the SPLA – a decision based on a provision in the CPA - we have begun to witness violent clashes between rival factions. In Abyei area a convoy of unarmed passengers was ambushed and more than twenty people were killed and more than thirty injured. Former SSDF commanders, persuaded to stay within the Sudanese Armed Forces, rather than joining SPLA – persuaded with money and weapons – are rumoured to have planned this attack. New convoys of former SSDF soldiers and their families have left Khartoum and passed through the highly contentious area of Abyei on their way to the South. UNMIS has been able to mediate and monitor a safe passage. However, the situation is still tense. No action has so far been taken against the perpetrators who continue to roam the area.

The security mechanism envisioned by the CPA to counter such issues constitutes the Joint Integrated Units, which upto this day are still not functional. This is a matter of concern. Moreover, the Government has severely curtailed our freedom of movement in the Abyei area and has informed us that UNMIS should only operate to the South of a line drawn by the Government. In our view this is a violation of both the SOFA and the CPA. Moreover, it hampers our ability to monitor troop movements in one of the most contentious areas. We hope that at the forthcoming meeting of the Ceasefire Political Committee (CPC) this issue is resolved. After a prolonged delay the CPC met, for the first time, on 20 Feb 2006. It decided to meet once a month. In addition to Abyei other pending issues will have to be put on its agenda: the situation in the East, the disclosure of all SAF and SPLA dispositions, the formation of the JIUs, the Lord Resistance Army, the status of the border between North and South, in particular the so called Three Areas, Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. These issues cannot be solved by holding separate bilateral talks with SPLA and SAF. They have to be dealt within the official CPA institutions.

One of those institutions is the CJMC, the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee, chaired by the UNMIS Force Commander and meeting each fortnight in Juba. So far twenty meetings have taken place. The CJMC has been the most active and successful CPA institution. Since mid 2005 we have witnessed an increasing number of violent incidents in the South, sometimes tribal, sometimes related to OAGs, sometimes resulting from clashes between nomad and farmers or between returning IDPs and the local populations, sometimes due to attacks by dissatisfied unpaid soldiers who went looting, sometimes as a result of local disputes that turn into a tribal or political confrontations. So far UNMIS, with the help of the tripartite CPA structure – the CJMC, the AJMCs and the JMTs – has been able to contain such violence. We applied a unified approach which brings together the military, the police and the civilian components (humanitarians, human rights, protection, Demining, DDR and local experts). Our prompt and unified response has enabled us to prevent escalations.

However, the tension is mounting. It is not clear to which extent the redeployment of SAF and SPLA has taken place in practice. On paper the CPA intermediate targets have been met. However, there are indications of troop movements not notified in advance and not accounted for. We have started an overall audit of all locations and all movement but we depend upon the cooperation of the parties. The fact that according to UN rules Sudanese monitors who accompany UNMIS monitors cannot be paid a fee is affecting their cooperation and diminishing our monitoring capacity.

A second concern is the East. In May last year UNMIS was able to facilitate a Gentleman’s agreement between the Government and the Eastern Front not to attack each other anymore. Both expressed their willingness to start talks about talks. Since then other international facilitators and mediators entered the scene. This resulted in indefinite postponement of even the beginning of talks. These should have produced a certain result before the withdrawal of SPLA from the East, which should have taken place before 9 January. In December 2005 the Security Council was asked to extend the UNMIS mandate beyond the SPLA redeployment in order to help avoid an armed confrontation between SAF and the Eastern Front. The Council has not taken a decision. This is limiting our capacity to monitor and mediate. Since January we have monitors in the contested area of Hamesh Koerieb, following an incursion of paramilitary combatants in the area. SPLA has been granted an extension of stay for a couple of months. UNMIS has been able to maintain the status quo. However, if the Council further postpones a decision, violence may flare up soon.

A third concern is the continuing presence of LRA in Southern Sudan. This has forced UNMIS to maintain a high security alert phase that restricts many operations. LRA continues to loot and kill the local population. Since the ICC indictments end last year LRA attacks have increased. Humanitarian workers have been killed. Three attacks on compounds in Yambio, Yei and this weekend Yambio again took place. While on one hand there is a need to create space for a political solution, on the other, we must strengthen our capacity to protect and defend and confront LRA support mechanisms within and outside Sudan.

Mr. President,
I am pleased to announce that we have reached 80% of our envisaged deployment in the South. In light of the above mentioned precarious security situation we need full capacity soon. Cannibalization of any forces from Southern Sudan would be tantamount to sending the night watchman home in the afternoon.

Mr. President,
I am pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Government. Implementation of the agreement, for example freedom of movement and broadcast of UN Radio, will indicate its success or failure. There is much harassment of UN staff on the ground. This is mainly due to local authorities. The Government has shown the will to cooperate.

In the wake of the publishing of the infamous cartoons, there were demonstrations across Northern Sudan also. But the Sudanese reaction to this issue was much more moderate compared to protests in other countries. Demonstrations were peaceful and controlled and the authorities were successful in preventing attacks on individuals on the basis of their nationality.

I am also pleased with the extension of the moratorium on measures curtailing humanitarian assistance. This was negotiated for the first time July 2004 between the Secretary General Kofi Anan and President Bashir. It has now been extended till January 2007 throughout Sudan. This enables us to plan and implement assistance better. We hope that this will have concrete effect on the ground and that neither the recent law on NGOs nor practices of the Sudanese National Security will shadow this positive development.

Another positive development concerns displaced persons in and around Khartoum. The plight of these people has been tragic. Many of them are extremely poor, deprived of assistance, without an income enabling them to buy the minimum necessary. Last week the Wali of Khartoum announced that there will be no more forced relocation of IDPs. This decision, resulting from the cooperation between the international community and the local authorities, implies that they can stay where they are rather than being threatened that their dwellings will be destroyed and that they would have to start all over again somewhere in the desert.

Mr. President,
The Darfurians continue to yearn for peace. Killings, rape and abuse of human rights, in direct violation of the agreements and Security Council Resolutions, constitute a threat to peace in Sudan as a whole, for peace is indivisible. Since my last brief I feel no joy in adding the towns of Sharia and Graida to Aro Sharow, Tama, Abu Sorouj, Tawila, Labado, Hamada and Khora Abache which all stand witness to cruel atrocities, terror, killings and rapes. This is a list of shame.

In January I proposed that we would need to change our strategy because it had failed. There was no peace agreement and the killings continued. Two months later, the situation remains the same. In the Jabal Marra, fighting between the Government and the SLA continued and intensified. Along the border with Chad the tensions heightened. It is a no go area for humanitarians. In South Darfur militia continue to cleanse village after village. The government has not disarmed them. On the contrary: AU commanders on the ground openly speak about continued support to militia by forces allied to the government. Rebel movements are more and more fragmented, fight each other, form new alliances and break them, and alienate themselves from their representatives in Abuja. Demands laid down in Security Council Resolutions are brushed aside. The Djamena ceasefire agreement is violated day after day. Both parties know that these violations will be noted down but neither discussed nor addressed, let alone sanctioned. 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.

Our strategy should focus on two objectives: Peace and Protection. Peace between the warring parties. Protection of unarmed civilians in particular against movements that do not bother sitting at the table and talk peace. Three steps are necessary:

First, the swift conclusion of an agreement in Abuja on power and wealth sharing followed by an all inclusive Darfur- Darfur dialogue between all stake holders, including civil society, to make it sustainable.
Second, a new ceasefire agreement that can hold. This requires unequivocal language, firm implementation provisions and procedures, clear sanctions on violations, and a chair representing a strong peacekeeping force to ensure that all violations are addressed fully, timely and impartially. A so called humanitarian ceasefire, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and relief workers’ access to victims is not sufficient. A comprehensive ceasefire should guarantee that the victims themselves are protected and that no new victims are made.

Third, a robust peace force, large enough to be everywhere where 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 resources, has been more than commendable. Now that the AU Peace and Security Council has decided, in principle, to support a transition to UN operation in Darfur, the international community must provide all necessary resources to preserve the lives and aspirations of the people in Darfur. We must take steps to augment the AU force concurrent with planning for the transition. Whoever is on the ground and whenever the transition will take place, a substantial strengthening of the present peace keeping forces in Darfur is required, as soon as possible.

Public reaction to the transition in Sudan, at present, may not be very positive. Several demonstrations, sermons in the mosques and media sound bites indicate a carefully orchestrated campaign against UN operations in Darfur. During my visits to Darfur I found a genuine desire for peace amongst all spectrums of the population. I also found the audiences misinformed. Many Sudanese people were confused about the UN, its Charter, its principles and its objectives. People expressed genuine fear of the Iraq scenario being repeated in Sudan. In order to address all this consultations with the Government of Sudan are essential. In doing so we can allay fears, correct perceptions and, based on the UN Charter, make clear that the extension of the UN presence in Sudan is not an infringement on the sovereignty of Sudan. The Government of Sudan’s consent in transition to UN operations, hopefully following a peace agreement in Abuja, will greatly further the cause of peace in Sudan.

Mr. President,
Two months ago, in this same hall, I had said that hope, though a noble concept, has its limits. 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 that their children can look forward to a future that their parents were denied.

Jan Pronk