16 June 2006
Security Council Told Recent Mission to Sudan Successful, although Agreement Not Reached on Transfer of Peacekeeping to UN
NEW YORK, 15 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council's mission last week to the Sudan had been a successful visit by a united Council and, although agreement by the Sudanese Government to transfer the peacekeeping force in the still violent Darfur region from the African Union to the United Nations had not been reached and might still be tortuous, the mission had edged further towards the probability that the Government would accept such a deployment, the Security Council was told today.
Briefing the Council this morning, United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and head of the mission, Emyr Jones Parry, added that such agreement, while the mission was there, had been unlikely. The United Nations and the African Union were in Khartoum now on a technical assessment mission. It sought to secure agreement from the Government to strengthen the African Union mission (AMIS), to better implement the 5 May peace agreement and to protect civilians until a United Nations force was deployed, and to identify with the Government the transition arrangements for a gradual replacement by a United Nations force. That should be very quickly agreed, and the necessary planning should be completed urgently.
If it was agreed that the AMIS' mandate must be strengthened and the United Nations should then take over that mandate, then it would be up to the Security Council to draft and agree the necessary resolution to provide the mandate for the United Nations force. Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir had made it clear that external troops should not be mandated to attack Sudanese. He, therefore, had accepted that control of the Janjaweed, long sought by the Council and a precondition for security in Darfur, was the responsibility of his Government. Hopefully, that responsibility would now be fulfilled.
In Khartoum, he said, Council members had found many hostile perceptions of a United Nations deployment, fuelled in part by concern over the adoption of Security Council resolution 1679 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. In fact, that was a "major irritant" for the Government. Council members had explained that Chapter VII was a technical, and not a political, issue, and that a Chapter VII mandate was likely to be required for any United Nations force in Darfur to enable it to give the necessary protection to civilians, and to itself. Chapter VII would only mean that the United Nations mission in Darfur had the same mandate as nearly all of the Organization's peacekeeping operations in Africa.
At the last stop in Chad, the mission had noted that the scale of the camps was huge. Within the camps, he had been alarmed to learn recruitment and intimidation were carried out regularly by rebel groups. Nor had he appreciated in advance the threats that the camps posed to local resources, particularly declining water supplies and firewood. Although Chad was the seventh poorest country in the world, the local community there embraced the internally displaced persons and refugees as guests. Providing adequate security for the camps was another immense challenge. It would not be acceptable to deliver a United Nations force giving better security in Darfur if that merely transferred the attacks and insecurity into eastern Chad through a porous or non-existent border.
France's Permanent Representative, Jean-Marc de La Sablière, who had jointly led the Chad portion of the mission, said that Chad's refugee camps -- which were filled with Chadians displaced by raids into their own country, as well as those fleeing Janjaweed attacks in Darfur camps -- had revealed the vital need for the Council to address Darfur and wider Sudan in parallel with the Chadian situation. The refugees and internally displaced in Chad needed increased and unremitting security, owing to the frequency of the militia raids, rampant forced recruitment, and attacks on humanitarian workers. He urged the Secretary-General to devise a plan to provide international assistance to the camps, as a serious deterioration of the situation would follow if the issues were not quickly addressed.
Dealing with the situation in the Sudan generally, and in Darfur in particular, asserted the Permanent Representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, Augustine P. Mahiga, would be especially challenging because of Khartoum's uneasy relationship with the Council, in the wake of the Security Council's increasingly tougher resolutions and statements, which had ultimately been aimed at helping to defuse tensions and find solutions to the myriad challenges in that country. There was open scepticism about the Council's involvement in Darfur and about the United Nations activities in wider Sudan, particularly as talks had intensified around the eventual transformation of the African Union mission in the Sudan to a United Nations peacekeeping operation that might come under a Chapter VII mandate.
Towards that goal, he said, the Council must continue to stress that expanding assistance in Darfur was "not an optional choice but an obligation" and that the use of Chapter VII was critical to ensure the protection of civilians, safe humanitarian access, and to pave the way for the disarmament of the Janjaweed. The atmosphere of suspicion required that talks at the diplomatic level continue, particularly with the assessment mission under way. The United Nations must also make the case for a successful partnership between the African Union and the Council, in order to create confidence in the United Nations, as it ramped up operations in Darfur and wider Sudan.
Called to order at 10:11 a.m., that meeting adjourned at 11:04 a.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings on the recent Security Council mission from 5 to 13 June to the Sudan and Chad, and the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Summary of Briefing on Mission to Sudan and Chad
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said it had been almost three years since the Security Council first began to debate whether the Sudan was an appropriate subject for its agenda. Grave problems had emerged in Darfur, and relations between Khartoum and the periphery were increasingly difficult. Much had happened since then. By today, the Council had adopted seven resolutions on Sudan and two presidential statements. Those who had visited the region could be in no doubt about the appropriateness of the Council's attention to the Sudan and the wider region. For him, the argument was not whether the Council should be involved in the Sudan and Darfur, but whether it had been able to do as much as it should. That view had been reinforced by the visit to Chad.
He said that the Sudan, the biggest country in Africa, was very complex. Darfur had rightly seized world attention, but the situation there was very complicated. During its visit, the mission found that the conflict in Darfur was not fully understood by the international community. It found, for example, that the terms "government", "rebel", "Arab" and "African" were often over-simplifications of a more complex situation on the ground, where alliances between tribes and groups often shifted. The porous, or non-existent, border with Chad exacerbated that. Several interlocutors described the situation in Darfur as a traditional conflict between herdsmen and farmers over limited national resources. They outlined the challenging nature of governing a region with its peculiar tribal complexities and lack of public services. A lasting solution to the problem in Darfur could only be found through the traditions and customs of the peoples of the region.
Indeed, he went on, the Sudanese Government's support for an African Union, rather than a United Nations, force in Darfur was particularly motivated by its belief that African States possessed a similar heritage to the people of Darfur. The Council would need to continue to ensure, and stress, to the Government that any United Nations force would have a strong African participation and character.
In the North-South context, the comprehensive peace agreement had marked the cessation of hostilities, but the Government of National Unity was still young, he said. It was important that the mission start its work in Khartoum and emphasize its respect for the Sudan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The mission had stressed that the Council wished to work in partnership with the Government and the other main actors in the Sudan to help tackle the range of problems facing the country. That assistance today was expressed in the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) by the work of Special Representative Jan Pronk, and by the huge involvement of the United Nation agencies delivering support to the people of the Sudan. But, if it was the Council's role to promote international peace and security, correspondingly it was the Government's obligation to protect its citizens and to respond positively to offers of help from the Council and the wider international community.
He said that the situation in Darfur had deteriorated this year. Humanitarian access had not been consistent and had diminished. Attacks on individuals, particularly women, had increased. The Wali of North Darfur told the mission that there were 129,000 internally displaced persons outside the camps. There were a further 622,000 people who had been affected by war, bringing the overall total impacted by the conflict to 1.31 million. Positively, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) had been on the ground for 12 months, and its peace troops had been delivering improved security to the people of Darfur in exceptionally difficult circumstance. Thanks to the Union, with the support of others, the Darfur peace accord had been signed in Abuja on 5 May. Support for the agreement was not homogeneous among the different groups in Darfur, nor was opposition consistent among those parties who had declined to sign it.
He said that two truths were clear to the mission: the agreement needed to be "sold" urgently to those living in the region and those displaced elsewhere; and its implementation was key to peace in Darfur, in the Sudan, and in the wider region. He had heard many interlocutors describe what was wrong with the accord. It was not perfect, but it was the only agreement there was, and in the mission's view it should be implemented robustly. He encouraged those who had not joined the agreement to do so as soon as possible. In support of the accord, the United Nations family, particularly the World Food Programme (WFP), now had the largest food support operation in the world. Hundreds of tonnes of food were delivered daily by convoys coming all the way from Port Sudan and from the South, much of the time on unmade roads, with the line of white trucks visibly delivering lifesaving relief.
In Addis Ababa, the mission had found itself in full agreement with the African Union that, at the earliest opportunity, the United Nations should take over the peacekeeping role in Darfur. President Konare and Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit had emphasized that that was the Union's wish. The Union had done a very good job starting from scratch under difficult circumstances. The mission had emphasized that in its meeting with the Commander of AMIS in Darfur. Sustaining such a force, however, and rotating its troops, providing the necessary capacities, including command control and communications, delivering financing, implementing the more robust post-Abuja mandate, were all difficult challenges. Hence, it was time for the wider international community to share the burden and provide a United Nations force in Darfur.
He said that a primary purpose of the visit and of the mission's discussions had been to persuade the Sudanese Government that that was the best option for Darfur and for the country. In Khartoum, members had found many hostile perceptions of a United Nations deployment, fuelled in part by concern over the adoption of Security Council resolution 1679 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. That Chapter was a "major irritant" for the Government, the President, and parliamentarians in Khartoum. The Council members had explained that Chapter VII was a technical, and not a political, issue. A Chapter VII mandate was likely to be required for any United Nations force in Darfur to enable the force to give the necessary protection to civilians and to itself. So, Chapter VII would help the United Nations to implement the peace accord, which was what the Government wanted. Chapter VII would only mean that the United Nations mission in Darfur had the same mandate as nearly all of the Organization's peacekeeping operations in Africa, including, presently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Liberia.
It was always unlikely that the Sudanese Government would agree to a United Nations mission during the Council's visit, he said. But, the mission had an important role in explaining why it thought that that was in the interests of the Sudan, and it encouraged it to take on that view. The process to get agreement from the Government might be tortuous. By the end of the Council's visit, the mission had felt it had "edged further towards the probability of the Government of Sudan accepting such a deployment". Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno and his colleagues from the African Union were now in Khartoum and the region as a technical assessment mission. It had two objectives: to secure agreement from the Sudanese Government to strengthen AMIS so that it was better able to implement the peace agreement, and to protect civilians until a United Nations force was deployed; and to identify with the Government the transition arrangements, if AMIS was to be gradually replaced by a United Nations force. That was the intention, and, in his view, it was crucial that agreement be reached quickly and the necessary planning be completed urgently.
He said that security in Darfur must be quickly improved, in order to cope with the present array of attacks. Civilians must be afforded protection, their rights assured, and impunity for abusers ended. That was why it was crucial to implement the peace accord and quickly strengthen the role of AMIS. To secure the Government's agreement for the transfer, he assumed that the AMIS mandate must first be strengthened to reflect the need to implement the peace accord, and the United Nations should then take over that same mandate. If that was agreed, then it would be up to the Council to draft and agree on the necessary resolution to provide the mandate for the United Nations force. President Bashir had made it clear that he did not think external troops should be mandated to attack Sudanese. He, therefore, had accepted that control of the Janjaweed, long sought by the Council and a precondition for security in Darfur, was the responsibility of his Government. Hopefully, that responsibility would now be fulfilled.
While the international community's attention was rightly focused on the problems of Darfur, the mission left with a clear sense that it should not lose sight of the wider problems in the Sudan, particularly in the south, he said. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which had marked the cessation of hostilities, was being taken forward. But, the mission had found that implementation was slow. International donations to the South were also drying up. In one of the more sobering comments made, a member of the southern Sudan parliament had reminded the mission that if southern Sudan was a country, it would be the poorest in the world. Yet, Darfur's future was inexorably linked to that of the south; and the south's to that of Darfur. A holistic solution was required, which addressed all the countries' problems. Security was of paramount importance. But, it could not be viewed in isolation from the humanitarian or social initiatives.
He said that the Council, in November 2004, had travelled to Nairobi, and its work there had contributed to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement concluded in January 2005. The mission was united in pressing for the implementation of that agreement. It had visited UNMIS and was impressed by the work it carried out on the ground. Its members had discussed implementation of the accord with President Kiir of southern Sudan, as well as with Vice-President of the Sudan, and his ministerial colleagues. It was clear that the agreement remained fragile, and that there was a continuing risk to civilians outside the main towns. President Kiir had also stated clearly that implementation of the agreement was essential. Without it, there would be no agreement, and with no agreement, war would be probable. That was a stark warning of the crucial importance of moving forward on full implementation of the accord.
In the south, Council members had also discussed the problems caused in the region by the attacks launched by the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, he said. That scourge was present in southern Sudan, and also in the Garamba Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That was also affecting northern Uganda. Its activities over 19 years had led to more than 1.7 million internally displaced persons and to many deaths. The need to overcome that small group of people who were causing such havoc throughout the region was obvious. The Government in the south was making overtures to the LRA, hoping to persuade them to negotiate peace with the Ugandan Government. Clearly, there was a need for a political process to entice the bulk of the LRA members away from the leadership, and to try to reintegrate them into their societies. But, there must be real doubt about the extent to which Mr. Kony and the other indictees were in any way prepared to work for peace and put aside their appalling record.
In his view, he said they needed to face justice in The Hague. He had separately asked the Secretary-General to provide the Council with a written report on the regional dimension of the LRA. A comprehensive response by the international community should be put in place, given the obvious threat to regional peace and security, which the LRA still posed.
In Addis, the mission had had a full exchange, not just on Darfur, AMIS and a United Nations peacekeeping operation, but on wider issues, he said. President Konare had set out his deep concern about the situation in Somalia and described the African Union approach to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d'Ivoire. In both cases, that was very similar to that of the Security Council. The mission had also noted the importance of the wider relations between the United Nations and the African Union. With foresight, Chapter VIII of the Charter addressed the role of regional organizations. The United Nations' cooperation with the African Union was a positive and timely development, which had many possibilities. Peacekeeping, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform were obvious candidates for cooperation.
He said that the United Nations had a particular responsibility to seek to help develop the Union's capacities and its regional manifestations, but that responsibility went wider. Hopefully, other regional groupings would increase the support they were already giving, and bilateral donors would also help develop essential capacity. It was crucial that the Council help African initiatives tackle African problems. More widely, the United Nations family should develop closer relationships with the Union and its different components.
The Council mission had also met with representatives of non-governmental organizations working in the Sudan and Chad, he said, paying tribute to their immense contributions. They, the United Nations agencies and the peacekeepers were carrying the burden today in Africa. They were tackling humanitarian concerns, providing water and sanitation, delivering medical assistance and educational support, and proving to be an essential basis for longer-term development. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the work being done with women. He admired the courage of women confronting the immense burdens of life in Darfur and in the camps in Chad. With quiet dignity, they had to carry water; search for firewood; face attack and violation, not just from the Janjaweed; and, at the same time, bring up families, often without male support.
Security Council resolution 1325 was much quoted, he said. That was a landmark resolution that addressed women's role as the particular victims of conflict, suffering disproportionately from attacks, from HIV and AIDS, often wrongly disowned by their families, and with little access to medical assistance and counselling. At the same time, they lacked the empowerment to play the role in political life that was not only their right, but that would introduce a degree of sanity into much of the activity in the region. The need for full implementation of 1325 was obvious. That required a comprehensive strategy to secure women's rights, provide them with relief and assistance, and empower them to play their just role in society. Sudanese women had already identified a series of actions to help achieve those goals. Among them: urgent political, economic and legislative reform; access to and ownership of property and land; protection from gender-based violence; and the prosecution of the perpetrators.
He said that the last stop was Chad, noting that the scale of the camps there was huge. President Déby had said that 700,000 Chadians had been displaced due to the raids being undertaken daily from Darfur, although the United Nations estimate was much lower. There were another 300,000 external refugees in Chad, including 200,000 from Darfur and 40,000 from the Central African Republic.
The mission had been immensely moved by the dedication of United Nations workers and non-governmental organizations as they tackled the massive task of bringing relief and assistance to so many people, he said. Worryingly, despite being in camps, individuals, particularly women, were at risk of attack. Within the camps, he had been alarmed to learn that recruitment and intimidation was carried out regularly by rebel groups. Nor had he appreciated in advance the threats that the camps posed to local resources, particularly declining water supplies and firewood. Yet, the local community embraced the internally displaced persons and refugees as guests. It was also a stark reminder of the poverty in the region to discover that local people visited the camps in order to receive medical attention, particularly to give birth and be guaranteed food. The provision of food by the WFP and others met close to 100 per cent of the requirements, but sustaining that level was an immense challenge.
Another immense challenge was the need to provide adequate security for the camps, he said, adding that it would not be acceptable to deliver a United Nations force giving better security in Darfur if that merely transferred the attacks and insecurity into eastern Chad through a porous or non-existent border.
He said that the visit had demonstrated the importance of Council action on the ground in the Sudan, and in the region. But, that had also reminded everyone of the wider United Nations interests in Africa. Last year had been a good year for development assistance; substantial additional resources had been pledged. The Sudan and Chad underlined why those were so desperately needed, why the Millennium Development Goals were crucial, and how their implementation was so far behind schedule. The need to move from the humanitarian to longer-term assistance was apparent. But, Chad was the seventh poorest country in the world. Delivering the Goals, ensuring a partnership with the international community, and an accountable relationship between donor and recipient, was basic to the development contract. With that went governance, rule of law, and essential rights for the people of the region -- rights that included the protection of women and the right to development.
It had been a successful visit by a united Council, he concluded. Messages of support and partnership had been delivered, and the Council had not shirked from the tougher arguments where those were necessary. The Sudan demanded an integrated approach to secure implementation of the two peace accords, and then to move on to tackle other issues, like eastern Sudan. But, the Sudan could not be considered alone; it should be seen in a regional context. Its relations with Chad and the situation there should be of particular concern to the Council. Of course, the Governments concerned had the overall responsibility for the security and protection of their people, but it was apparent that the United Nations would have to strengthen its assistance, not just for security, and be prepared to do that for some time if fragile agreements were to be implemented. Peace in Darfur was closely related to peace in the Sudan, and, in turn, was vital for regional peace and security. The United Nations must be prepared to provide essential support until sustainable peace and development were achieved, he said.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), who had also participated in the mission and had jointly led the portion that had included the visit to Chad, said that by spending time in Chad's refugee camps -- which were filled with Chadians displaced by raids into their own country, as well as those fleeing Janjaweed attacks on camps inside Darfur -- had revealed how important it would be for the Council to address Darfur and the wider Sudan in parallel with the situation in Chad, particularly in light of the troubling humanitarian ramifications. Chadian President Idriss Déby had reiterated his support for the Darfur peace agreement, acknowledging that its implementation was important for peace in both Chad and the Sudan.
At the same time, however, the President stressed that relations between the two countries had deteriorated somewhat, to which the Council members encouraged the emerging belief that the leaders of both countries should work to implement confidence-building measures. Regarding the camps inside Chad, he warned that the number of persons requiring assistance was huge and growing, and that the international community must step up its efforts to ensure that those people received the help they needed.
It was also important to recognize that the refugees and internally displaced persons in Chad needed increased and unremitting security in those camps, particularly because of the frequency of the militia raids, rampant forced recruitment, and attacks on humanitarian workers. He urged the Secretary-General to consider devising a plan to provide international assistance to the camps, a particularly timely suggestion with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Guéhenno already in the region as part of the technical assessment mission. A serious deterioration of the situation would follow if that issue were not addressed as soon as possible.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, overall, the mission had forwarded the Council's objectives -- to help advance the peace process in the Sudan while backing the crucial role being played by the African Union. The challenge now was to sustain the momentum within increasingly tighter timelines for action, particularly towards the implementation of both the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the recently agreed Darfur peace accord.
He said that dealing with the situation in the Sudan generally, and in Darfur in particular, would be especially challenging because of Khartoum's uneasy relationship with the Council in the wake of the 15-nation body's increasingly tougher resolutions and statements, which had ultimately been aimed at helping to diffuse tensions and find solutions to the myriad challenges in that country. There was open scepticism of the Council's involvement in Darfur, and of the United Nations activities in the wider Sudan, particularly as talks had intensified around the eventual transformation of the African Union Mission in Sudan to a United Nations peacekeeping operation that might come under a Chapter VII mandate.
To that end, he said that the Council must continue to stress that expanding assistance in Darfur was "not an optional choice but an obligation" and that the use of Chapter VII was critical to ensure the protection of civilians, safe humanitarian access, and to pave the way for the disarmament of the Janjaweed. He added that the atmosphere of suspicion required that talks at the diplomatic level continue, particularly with the assessment mission under way. The United Nations must also make the case for a successful partnership with the Council, as well as between the Organization and the African Union, to create confidence in the United Nations as it ramped up operations in Darfur and the wider Sudan.
In the coming days, the Council should also work to ensure the continued implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He stressed that that process was very much behind schedule, due largely to the strained relationship between Khartoum and southern rebels. There was a need to press for the speedy demarcation of the southern borders, as well as regions where access to oil resources was being disputed. There was also a need to address the status of the armed forces, particularly since there was an indication that Khartoum wanted to maintain three armies. There was also a need to seriously consider the various tribal factions, rebel groups and armed militias, and, of course, it was critical to address the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army.
Turning to the mission's stop in Addis Ababa, where the African Union was headquartered, he stressed that the envoys had held the first ever meeting between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. Consultations and discussions between the two bodies should continue, he added. The Council mission had been encouraged by the African Union's acknowledgement of the possible role of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission on the African continent in the future.
He echoed the concerns about the situation in Somalia, where fighting had been raging in Mogadishu even as the Council and the African Union were holding meetings in Addis. He had also been moved by the dire conditions of the refugee and internally displaced person camps in Chad, particularly because the President of Chad himself had acknowledged that the Government could not provide the necessary protection for the camps' inhabitants or humanitarian workers. The Council would also have to address the strained relationship between Chad and the Sudan as soon as possible.
On the Council's visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the presence of a 17,000-strong United Nations force and of a European Force would be powerful factors to ensure peace during the opening round of the upcoming elections and in the intersessional period. He said, however, that there were still concerns about the capacity and professionalism of Congolese troops that were being slowly integrated into the wider armed forces, but the Government had evinced the genuine desire to create and maintain a solid, capable and competent national army.
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