Press Releases

    19 November 2004

    Sudan Grave Challenge Not only to Africa, “But to All Humanity”, Says Secretary-General to Nairobi Security Council Meeting

    NEW YORK, 18 November (UN Headquarters) -- The following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council meeting on the Sudan, in Nairobi, Kenya, on 18 November:

    I first would like to thank our distinguished President, Ambassador John Danforth.  It is because of his initiative that we are here.

    It is fitting that the Council should have taken the rare and highly symbolic step of meeting here in Africa.  You have come to Nairobi primarily to discuss the situation in Africa's largest country, Sudan, which unhappily is also one of the countries most affected by conflict.

    Sudan is a country with very deep-rooted and complex divisions. In large parts of Sudan, particularly in the south, the people have lived for decades in fear, hunger and misery, both natural and man-made.

    Now, at last, the Naivasha peace process, so skilfully and patiently led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, offers real hope of an escape from that long nightmare, and a chance to transform Sudan's political landscape and system of governance.

    Sudan's people have waited far too long for such a transformation.  It is high time to conclude the negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army and start implementing what has been agreed.

    The effects of delay are felt not only in the south, but elsewhere too, as conflict spreads to more parts of the country.  The devastating conflict in Darfur is glaring evidence of this.

    That is why the time for decision is now.  There is no time to waste.  The speedy conclusion of the North-South talks would not only help curb the further spread of conflict to other parts of the country. It would also serve as a basis and a catalyst for the resolution of existing conflicts.

    Indeed, as I have indicated to the Council on earlier occasions, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A have already agreed to use the relevant principles of the Machakos Protocol as a basis for resolving conflicts in other regions, including Darfur. And those principles were the basis for settling the conflicts in the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei.

    Another reason to conclude the Naivasha process speedily is that this would lead to the formation of a new coalition government in Khartoum with a new army, one that would include representatives of the SPLM.  I cannot help feeling that the formation of a North/South government in Sudan would add weight and impetus to the search for a settlement in Darfur and elsewhere, and that it would have an important confidence-building effect.

    That is why, today, I re-emphasize to you, the members of the Council, the importance of an early conclusion of the Naivasha process. I am confident that you will, in your collective and your private discussions with Vice-President Ali Othman Taha and Dr. John Garang, and in the resolution that you will be adopting on Sudan, encourage the parties to sign a comprehensive peace agreement before the end of the year. And I particularly welcome the Council's promise of full support for the implementation of such an agreement, and its offer of incentives to encourage the parties to do what is right for their people and country.

    Both the Government and the SPLM should be urged to work together to resolve the other conflicts besetting Sudan immediately after signing their agreement, as indeed they should as members of the new Government of Sudan.

    This kind of approach is needed because there is a general issue of governance in Sudan.  It is not just a problem of North/South, or Darfur, or Beja. Such conflicts cannot be dealt with in a piecemeal way.  A comprehensive approach is required. Naivasha offers a good basis on which to build.  Sudanese from around the country and across the spectrum, including political parties, civil society and exiles, are going to have to come together to discuss the future of Sudan and how the country should be governed.

    While it is proper that the Council should place its primary focus, in this particular meeting, on the conclusion of the North-South talks, the conflict in Darfur also demands your attention. The terrible situation in Darfur has been brought about mainly by deliberate acts of violence against civilians, including widespread killing and rape.  Because of the magnitude and intensity of the human suffering in that region, the conflict remains a burning concern. Your draft resolution rightly reflects that concern.

    It is encouraging that, in Abuja, the parties to the Darfur conflict have signed Protocols on the humanitarian situation and on security. They must be urged to abide strictly by these agreements.  The parties should also be pressed to maintain the momentum towards reaching agreement on political and other outstanding issues. The Council should send an urgent message to this effect to both the Government and rebel parties, and to all States that have particular influence on them.

    Meanwhile, I regret to report that the security situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, despite the ceasefire agreements signed earlier in N'Djamena and now reinforced in Abuja. Both the Government and its militias, as well as the rebel groups, have breached these agreements. This has made humanitarian work by the United Nations and our partners precarious and difficult, if not impossible.  Many innocent civilians continue to suffer as a result.  This cannot be allowed to continue.  The strongest warning to all the parties that are causing this suffering is essential.  We cannot allow impunity.

    When crimes on such a scale are being committed, and a sovereign State appears unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens, a grave responsibility falls on the international community, and specifically on this Council.

    So far, you have chosen to exercise that responsibility by demanding compliance with your mandatory resolutions, while giving your full support to the efforts of the African Union mediation and monitoring mission.

    The African Union mission has begun to deploy, and has already achieved some successes.  It now needs to move rapidly into the areas of Darfur where people are most in danger; and for that it urgently requires means of transport, as well as financial and logistical support.  All Member states with the capacity to do so must give the maximum possible support, so that the AU force, including the essential police contingent, can deploy swiftly and mount an effective operation on the ground.

    I have spoken of the need for a comprehensive approach. Only a comprehensive political solution for the Sudan as a whole offers any longer-term hope of stability in the country.  It is therefore time to convince the Government and its future partner, the SPLM, to conclude the Naivasha process, and quickly involve all Sudanese stakeholders -- the Government and armed and non-armed opposition groups -- in a national conference to discuss the future governance of the country.  We -- the United Nations, the African Union, and the whole international community -- should join our efforts to help plan and support that process.  The UN, through my Special Representative and other technical staff, in partnership with members of the IPF and Troika, will continue to do everything we can to assist the IGAD mediation and the parties to bring about a quick and successful completion of the Naivasha negotiations.

    For far too long war has inflicted misery and untold human suffering on Sudan, distorting the allocation of scarce resources, discouraging foreign aid, and scaring away both Sudanese and foreign investors.

    Peace can turn this situation around.  Already we in the United Nations are preparing a major, multidimensional operation to help build a lasting peace, and many donor countries have indicated their readiness to help the Sudanese realize a tangible peace dividend.  But first, agreements must be finalized, and signed.  Your engagement must impart a new sense of urgency to all the Sudanese parties.

    By meeting here in the region, you have made an important gesture of solidarity and support for the peoples and institutions of the new Africa.  It is good that you choose to work through African institutions, provided you do not forget that this Council in itself retains primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as laid down in the Charter.  What is happening in Sudan -- and in other African countries on your agenda, such as Côte d'Ivoire -- is a grave challenge not only to Africa but to all humanity.  The United Nations must be fully engaged in helping meet it.

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