12 September 2006
Secretary-General Tells Security Council "It Is Time to Act" in Darfur, as Council Meets in Wake of Renewed Fighting
Says Tragedy Seen as Crucial Test of Council's Authority, Effectiveness; Sudan Says Council Approach to Issue of Darfur Not Balanced, Confrontational
NEW YORK, 11 September (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasized today that it was time to act on Darfur, as the tragedy there had reached a perilous moment and was seen by people around the world as a crucial test of the Security Council's authority and effectiveness, its solidarity with people in need and its seriousness in the quest for peace.
Addressing the Security Council as it met to discuss the deteriorating situation in the war-ravaged Sudanese region, the Secretary-General strongly urged the Council to rise to the occasion, adding it was not the time for the middle ground or for half measures. The latest fighting showed utter disregard for the Darfur Peace Agreement, which had created hopes that were now being shattered. Amid deeply dismaying reports of renewed fighting, particularly in northern Darfur, thousands of Sudanese armed forces had been deployed in clear violation of the accord and, even worse, the area had been subjected to renewed aerial bombing.
He strongly condemned the escalation, saying the Government should stop the offensive immediately. The latest clashes had brought even more misery to a population that had already endured far too much. Once again, people had been displaced, their number now standing at 1.9 million. With nearly 3 million people dependent on international aid for food, shelter and medical treatment, the fighting had made it much harder for humanitarian workers to reach them. Never since July 2004 had access been so severely limited.
Humanitarian workers continued to be targets of brutal violence and physical harassment, he continued. Many vehicles had been stolen and 12 aid workers had died in the last couple of months -- more than in the previous two years. The international community must not accept the acts that had led to that. As humanitarian access got harder, the gains of the past two years were being rolled back and, unless security improved, there could be a drastic curtailment of acutely needed humanitarian operations. Could the international community, who had wondered whether it had done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch as the tragedy in Darfur deepened? And, having finally agreed just a year ago that there was a responsibility to protect, could it contemplate failing yet another test?
The current developments also defied several Security Council resolutions as well as commitments made, including the non-deployment of additional Sudanese armed forces, he noted, describing such action as legally and morally unacceptable. In the coming days, the United Nations Secretariat would meet with senior officials from the Commission of the African Union to finalize a support package for the regional organization's mission in Darfur. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations would also convene a meeting of potential troop and police contributors to discuss expansion to the region.
Sudan's representative told the Council that his Government was committed to dialogue, noting that his country was already hosting one of the largest United Nations peace operations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, the Security Council had taken a path characterized by imbalance and a lack of credible criteria with regard to the Darfur situation. Nobody was questioning the seriousness of those who had boycotted the Darfur Peace Agreement, while the Government had remained at the table and made concessions without which no agreement could have been reached. The Council had made absolutely no mention of those concessions and had not even mentioned the other party's failure to sign the accord. Instead, the Council had threatened sanctions against the Government.
He said the Sudan Liberation Army had resumed attacks to ensure the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement. Sudan had raised a complaint against the authors of that attack and sent it to the Council, but, even now, after two months, it had not taken a stand. The Government had proposed a plan that included clear and well-established guidelines covering all political, military, security and social aspects, but the Council had not even called a meeting to examine it. The Council had chosen the path of confrontation, whereas the Government of the Sudan was always open to dialogue.
But, the representative of the United States said that the Sudanese statement left out any mention of the Government's stated commitment to address the humanitarian situation in Darfur by consenting to the United Nations force. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs had described that situation as a man-made catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, which would only get worse, an assessment that had been echoed by the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Secretary-General himself. How much worse could the situation get before the Government got the message? Rather than assuming responsibility, it had taken a step backward by threatening to force the African Union mission out by the end of the month.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the United Kingdom equally condemned attacks by Government forces, as well as those by bandits and criminals. The Government had not deployed forces on the ground that would enjoy the confidence of the people of Darfur and the Council had, therefore, adopted resolution 1706, so that the African Union could be reinforced and United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) could be deployed. The pretext that such a deployment threatened Sudan's sovereignty, when UNMIS had been in the South, rang very hollow. The involvement of the United Nations was recognized by the African Union and most Members States as being the logical step forward.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that recent events had shown that the Sudanese leadership had adopted policies independent of United Nations involvement, an approach with which he did not agree. The decisions of both the Security Council and the African Union on the ground must be implemented. But while the question of using force to stabilize the situation in Darfur was at an impasse, any Council decision relating to peacekeeping must take the host Government's view into account. Achieving lasting peace in Darfur must be done with the Sudanese leadership, in cooperation with the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Conference.
Other speakers today included the representatives of Congo, China, United Republic of Tanzania, Slovakia, Argentina, France, Japan, Ghana, Qatar, Peru, Denmark and Greece.
Representatives of the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.
Earlier, the Council members observed a moment of silence in memory of victims of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and several delegates expressed their sympathy to the Government and people of the United States.
The meeting began at 11:00 a.m. and ended at 1:10 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Sudan's impoverished and strife-torn Darfur region.
Council members had before them the Secretary-General's report on Darfur (document S/2006/591), in which he says that as many as 18,600 troops may be needed to ensure that all sides there comply with the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in Abuja on 5 May.
An addendum to the report (document S/2006/591 and Add.1) says that the financial implications of the short- and longer-term support the Organization could offer to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) would amount to some $21.2 million and $53.7 million, respectively, for a four-month period. The financial implications of the expansion of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) into Darfur, based on the three options set out in the Secretary-General's report, are estimated at some $1.6 billion, $1.7 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
For a detailed summary of the report, see Press Release SC/8821 of 31 August.
Statement by Secretary-General
KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said that the situation in Darfur had reached a critical moment. It was vital that everyone speak candidly about what was happening, and what it would take to bring an end to the suffering of so many millions of people. Everyone had heard the latest deeply dismaying reports of renewed fighting, particularly in northern Darfur. Thousands of Sudanese armed forces had been deployed to the area in clear violation of the Peace Agreement. Even worse, the area had been subjected to renewed aerial bombing. He strongly condemned the escalation. The Government should stop that offensive immediately and refrain from any such action.
He said that the latest clashes had brought even more misery to a population that had already endured far too much. Once again, people had been displaced. That figure now stood at 1.9 million. Nearly 3 million people in Darfur depended on international aid for food, shelter and medical treatment. The fighting had made it much, much harder for humanitarian workers to reach those people. In July, the World Food Programme (WFP) had been prevented from delivering food to people in desperate need. It had then reached southern Darfur, but 355,000 people in the north had remained cut off from food aid for the third consecutive month. Never since July 2004 had access been so severely limited.
Humanitarian workers continued to be targets of brutal violence and physical harassment, he continued. Many vehicles had been stolen, and 12 aid workers had died in the last couple of months alone, more than in the previous two years. The international community could not, and must not, accept the acts that had led to that. Relief personnel must be allowed to work unhindered and in safety. As access got harder, the humanitarian gains of the past two years were being rolled back. Unless security improved, there was a prospect of drastic curtailment of acutely needed humanitarian operations. Could the international community in conscience leave the people of Darfur to such a fate? Could the international community, who had wondered whether it had done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch, as the tragedy in Darfur deepened? he asked. And, having finally agreed just one year ago that there was a responsibility to protect, could the international community contemplate failing yet another test?
Lessons either learned or not, principles either upheld or scorned -- now was no time for the middle ground or half measures, he stressed. The latest fighting showed utter disregard for the Darfur Peace Agreement, which had created hopes -- now being shattered. The current developments also defied several Security Council resolutions, as well as commitments made, including the non-deployment of additional Sudanese armed forces. Such action was legally and morally unacceptable. Evidently, those who had ordered it still believed there could be a military solution to the crisis in Darfur, but, surely, all the parties should have understood by now that only a political agreement in which all stakeholders were fully engaged could bring real peace to the region.
He said that, as the Council had made clear in resolution 1706 (2006), the Peace Agreement was a chance to achieve peace. In the coming days, the United Nations Secretariat would meet with senior officials from the Commission of the African Union to finalize a support package for AMIS to Darfur. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations would also convene a meeting of potential troop and police contributors to discuss expansion to Darfur. The African Union had been clear about the transition from AMIS to UNMIS and equally clear about the need for AMIS to continue until then and to resist any attempt to subvert decisions aimed at achieving those vital objectives. The League of Arab States had also offered its vital backing for that transition and agreed that AMIS should stay until the end of the year.
Indeed, he said, there could be no walking away from AMIS, whose troops had paid valiantly under very difficult conditions. Still, it lacked the necessary resources. He called again on AMIS partners to ensure that those troops could continue to work during the crucial transition. But, everyone knew that the Sudanese Government still refused to accept the transition. The Security Council had recognized that, without the Government concerned, the transition would not be possible.
Once again he urged the Sudanese Government to embrace resolution 1706 (2006) and give its consent to the transition. The consequences of the Government's attitude would be yet more dead and suffering, perhaps on a catastrophic scale. That would be felt, first and foremost, by the people of Darfur. The Government itself would also suffer if it failed its sacred responsibility to protect its people; it would be disgraced in the eyes of all of Africa and the whole international community. Moreover, there would be accountability.
But, he continued, his voice alone would not convince the Government. It was time now for additional voices to make themselves heard in influencing the Government of the Sudan, and to bring that pressure to bear without delay, he said. There must also be a clear, strong and uniform message from the Security Council. It was a perilous moment for the people of Darfur, and a decisive moment for the Security Council itself. For more than two years, the Council had worked to stem the fighting and improve the situation in Darfur; yet, once again, the situation was on the brink of a new calamity.
He said that the current situation could not be sustained. It was time to act, not only for Darfur, but for the people around the world, as this was seen as a crucial test of the Security Council's authority and effectiveness, its solidarity with people in need, and the seriousness in the quest for peace. He urged the Council, in the strongest possible terms, to rise to the occasion.
YASSIN ABDELSALAM (Sudan), asserting his Government's concern and commitment to dialogue, said Sudan was already hosting one of the largest United Nations peace operations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, with regard to the Darfur situation, the Council had taken a path characterized by imbalance and a lack of credible criteria. First, there were obstacles that had made the Peace Agreement difficult to implement. Nobody was questioning the seriousness of those who had boycotted it, while the Government of the Sudan had remained at the table and made concessions, without which no agreement could have been reached. However, the Council's first presidential statement had made absolutely no mention of those concessions, and had not even mentioned the other party's failure to sign the agreements. Instead, the Council had threatened sanctions against the Government of Sudan.
The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) had resumed its attacks after the deadline to ensure the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement, he said. Sudan had produced a documented complaint against the authors of that attack and sent it to the Council, but, even now, after two months, it had not taken a stand. During the African Union Summit in Banjul, a plan had been agreed to establish an accord, and the Government had subsequently proposed a plan that included clear and well-established guidelines covering all political, military, security and social aspects. It had sent the plan to the Council, hoping it would be seen as a national effort to deal in a wise and considered way with the Darfur situation, but the Council had not even called a meeting to examine it. The Government of the Sudan had been invited to a meeting on 8 August, but its request for a postponement to facilitate high-level representation had been refused and the Council had not even listened to its complaints.
During a public meeting on 28 August, which had been held in Sudan's absence, the Council had heard certain comments based on erroneous conclusions, and had then subsequently adopted a resolution. It was untrue that Sudan had refused to attend that meeting. The Government had been holding high-level meetings, including with the Secretary-General, who had promised to put to the Council President its request for a postponement, in order to facilitate its active participation, but the request had not been accepted. The criminal acts by the non-signatories to the accord had not been condemned, yet there had been talk of a military escalation. That had encouraged the non-signatories to continue their attacks. The Council had chosen the path of confrontation, whereas the Government of the Sudan was always open to dialogue. A lasting peace in Darfur would always be a strategic objective for the Government, and it would continue its present efforts to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement.
YAHA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, had welcomed the conclusion of the Abuja Peace Agreement and had appealed to all those parties that had not signed the Agreement to do so. The League had also welcomed the positive steps adopted by the Sudanese Government and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) to begin its implementation, as well as all other positive developments at all levels. The League coordinated and cooperated with the African Union in that respect.
He called on the armed forces that had not yet signed the Darfur Agreement to stop the military escalation, and on the international community to make efforts to prevent any undermining of the Peace Agreement by military means. He also called for more cooperation and assistance to stem the deterioration of humanitarian assistance. Cooperation and dialogue was the only way to find a solution to the question of Darfur. Resolution 1706 (2006) had stressed the need for securing a prior consensus of the Sudanese Government before dispatching any forces to Darfur, so that those would not be rejected. The Council had also called for cooperation and consultation between the Government, the United Nations, the League and the Council to arrive at an understanding about implementing the Abuja accord. Its text had also called on the international community to fulfil its commitments to implement the accord.
ABDUL WAHAB, Permanent Observer of the Organization of Islamic Conference to the United Nations, on behalf of the Conference's Secretary General, maintained that any deployment of a United Nations Mission on the territory of Sudan should be subjected to the Government of Sudan. The Secretary General of the Conference had been in contact with the Government. Last week, he had held a useful discussion with the European Union's Special Representative for Sudan, Pekka Havisto, and next week, he would be holding detailed consultations on the issue with the heads of the African Union and the League of Arab States in New York.
He said that the Conference would continue to play the active and constructive role on the issue of Darfur, at both the political and humanitarian levels, with the cooperation of the Sudanese Government and in conformity with international legitimacy.
WILLIAM J. BRENCICK (United States) said the Sudanese representative's statement that his Government was always open to dialogue opened the question of were his delegation had been during the Council meeting of 28 August. His statement had also left out the Government's stated commitment to address the humanitarian situation in Darfur, by consenting to the United Nations force. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs had described that situation as a man-made catastrophe of unprecedented proportions that would only get worse, an assessment that had been echoed by the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Secretary-General himself.
Humanitarian agencies had said there could be no access without the presence of United Nations forces, he said. How much worse could the situation get before the Government got the message? Rather than assuming responsibility, it had taken a step backward by threatening to force the African Union Mission out by the end of the month, which would leave a vacuum that it proposed to fill with its own troops. There was a need for the robust implementation of resolution 1706, and the United States would circulate a draft presidential statement this afternoon to provide an opportunity for the Council to express that in one voice.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) equally condemned attacks by Government forces, as well as those by bandits and criminals, noting that Darfur faced a humanitarian catastrophe. The primary responsibility of Governments was to protect their own citizens, and that of the Sudan, thus, rested with the Government of National Unity. The Security Council's interest was in averting a humanitarian catastrophe, and working with the Government to ensure that its sovereignty and territorial integrity were maintained and that the crisis did not threaten the country's unity. The Government had consistently failed to recognize that interest.
By asserting that Sudan was being ignored, it was turning history on its head, he said. The Government had not deployed forces on the ground that would enjoy the confidence of the people of Darfur and the Council had, therefore, adopted resolution 1706, so that the African Union could be reinforced and UNMIS could be deployed into Darfur to provide the envisaged peace. The pretext that such a deployment threatened Sudan's sovereignty, when UNMIS had been in the South, rang very hollow. The involvement of the United Nations was recognized by the African Union and most Members States as being the logical step forward. It was as simple as that. As for lack of consultations, how many of those must be had? What had been consistent was the unwillingness on the part of Sudan's President to allow the deployment. The crisis was because of the Government's intransigence.
The most conciliatory resolution possible had been put forward, and the Council should now do everything possible to implement it, he stressed. The first thing to do was to strengthen and extend the African Union Mission. A vacuum could not be allowed in Darfur that would leave the Government and the Janjaweed militia to fight it out, which would have particularly grim consequences for the people. It was not enough to make pious declarations, but it was time for words that led to delivery, which meant strengthening the African Union Mission. The Council should bring all possible influence to bear in persuading President Bashir that implementing resolution 1706 was not only good for the Sudan, but also for the region and, ultimately, for tackling the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Was the Government prepared to fulfil its obligations to its own people?
PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo) noted that adoption of resolution 1706 (2006) had not been about the use of force, but about arousing hope that the sponsors and protagonists in Darfur could be rallied to the cause. It was hoped that the Government of the Sudan would rally in meeting the expectations of the African Union and put an end to the daily suffering of the population there. In little more than two weeks, the deadline for the handover to a United Nations operation would be reached. The Council's resolution had confirmed the world body's commitment and called on the Sudanese Government to lend its support to facilitate the transition, according to the modalities outlined by the Secretary-General in his report. The dialogue and cooperation called for by Congo had sought to encourage the parties to live up to their requirements under the 5 May Peace Agreement.
Noting that the 7,000 African Union troops had been waiting stoically for a practical solution amid a sorely tested civilian population, he said that the Union's Peace and Security Council on 5 September had reiterated its wish to reinforce AMIS and continue its cooperation with the United Nations. It had reaffirmed its prior decisions and its support for AMIS, and it called on the parties in the Sudan to scrupulously abide by the terms of the peace accord and refrain from any action that would undermine it. He called on the Sudanese Government to exercise its influence and authority, commensurate with its authority, to promote peace and the development of Darfur's resources. The plan it had submitted a few weeks ago, however, remained insufficient. Even the activities of humanitarian workers had apparently been deliberately obstructed.
Every passing day was a lost opportunity for the civilian population, which was being forced ever deeper into precariousness, he said. The situation in Darfur had correctly elicited a strong response from the international community. It was regrettable that, notwithstanding the contacts by the Security Council, the African Union and the United Nations, in Khartoum, that the decisive agreement expected of the Government had not been forthcoming. Khartoum had recently demonstrated an attitude of "conspicuous rejection" of a Security Council-authorized operation. He, therefore, urged the Council to further refine its approach to Darfur and not to fail to make further rapprochements with regional organizations and Governments. The debate planned for 20 September was of great importance in giving the Council an opportunity to explore the possibilities with a range of such organizations and Government leaders.
LIU ZHEMIN (China) said the meeting provided a useful platform for a further exchange of views and he expressed support for the constructive proposal to hold a high-level meeting on the Sudan. Darfur was the focus of the Security Council, and the international community had been working unremittingly in its review of that question. The humanitarian staff of United Nations and other agencies had delivered relief materials in a timely manner, and the relevant regional organizations and countries had contributed useful ideas.
He said that, following the adoption of resolution 1706, his country had been following developments closely, and noted that, although the parties had different views on how to address the situation, they agreed on two points: a United Nations operation should take over from the African Union Mission, as recommended by the Secretary-General, which was a pragmatic decision; and there was a need to seek the consent of the Government of the Sudan. Although the latter had not given that consent, the door should remain open to dialogue.
The parties should continue to strengthen cooperation and to dispel suspicions on the part of the Sudanese Government about the deployment, but they should also take steps to alleviate the humanitarian situation and adopt measures to strengthen the African Union Mission. China had pointed out many times to the Sudan that the aim of the United Nations was to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement and hoped that it would proceed by adopting a flexible approach. The Council should also respect the attitude and approach of the Government and not impose solutions. It should also pay attention to the role of the relevant regional organization.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the situation in Darfur was at a crossroads and urgent decisive initiatives were needed to advance implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. The humanitarian situation on the ground was further deteriorating, access was restricted and the security of humanitarian workers was getting riskier by the day. The political situation was at a stalemate, as there was no progress in persuading the non-parties to sign up to the Agreement. Instead, they had become more fractured and belligerent. Tension was building between the Government and the armed groups, as the Government was deploying a massive military force poised to strike at the rebels at any time.
He said that a military solution to the current situation could only add misery and suffering to the people and complicate the already fragile political and security situation. It had been the failure of a military approach to the Darfur crisis that had necessitated the N'Djamena ceasefire agreement and, subsequently, the need for the peace process in Abuja. Sudan should know better the futility of military approaches to political problems after the longest civil war by Africa in Southern Sudan. Sudan had actually taught and demonstrated the value and virtue of negotiated peaceful solutions to protracted political crises.
The deadline for the African peacekeeping mission was drawing close, he said. Resources to keep the force there were drying up. The Sudanese Government had signalled that the armies could leave when its mandate expired later this month. That was "a most frightening scenario". "Never before had the international community abandoned a humanitarian political crisis on the scale of what exists in Darfur," he said, adding: "We cannon leave the people of Darfur alone. The situation demands international action with the full participation of Sudan."
He said that Security Council resolution 1706 (2006) had been rejected by the Sudan because of perceived mistrust of a United Nations force presence in Darfur to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. He was intrigued by that argument, because the United Nations presence in Darfur was not going to be any different from that in the South Sudan, except in size and composition. There was an urgent need at this hour for the African Union and the United Nations to re-engage the Government of the Sudan to explore mutually reassuring approaches to implement the Council resolution.
His Government had its full trust in the ability and resourcefulness of the Secretary-General to find ways to break the impasse, he said. It would be helpful to initiate urgent consultations with the Sudanese Government and the African Union, together with the other stakeholders and facilitators who had been involved in the negotiations leading up to the Abuja Peace Agreement, on finding creative and successful ways of implementing the Agreement.
Meanwhile, he stressed, an urgent initiative should be taken to extend the mandate of the African Union and to mobilize needed resources to cover the cost of AMIS from the end of September to the end of the year. Depending on the outcome of the political consultations, the United Nations should continue to put in place the basic logistical requirements for what would be an acceptable multinational force to go to Darfur on terms agreeable to the Sudan, but under United Nations auspices.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that recent events had shown that the Sudanese leadership had adopted policies independent of United Nations involvement. He did not agree with that approach. The decisions of both the Security Council and the African Union on the ground must be implemented. The question of using force to stabilize the situation in Darfur was at an impasse. Any decision by the Council relating to peacekeeping must take into account the view of the host Government. Unfortunately, the hastily adopted resolution 1706 (2006) -- in which he had abstained -- without continuing consultations with the Sudanese Government, had led to a "ratcheting up of emotions".
He said he adhered to the principle of making use of resources in Darfur, aimed at achieving lasting peace there. That must be done on a lasting basis with the Sudanese leadership, in cooperation with the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Conference. And cooperation must be based on a gradual approach of involvement of the United Nations in the affairs of Darfur. Today's meeting had been an opportunity to receive a first-hand assessment of the situation. He welcomed the overall positive attitude of the African Union leadership, and he hoped the Sudanese Government would establish full-scale cooperation with AMIS in Darfur. Despite the well-known problems, the African Union was playing an important stabilization role there and had been one guarantor preventing a resumption of large-scale bloodshed. It was thus desirable to extend the AMIS mandate to the end of the year.
PETER BURIAN (Slovakia) said the Security Council visit to internally displaced persons and refugee camps in Darfur and eastern Chad had revealed their inhuman conditions and the horrific nature of their suffering. Resolution 1706 provided a good basis for international action to protect civilians on the ground and to facilitate the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. The African Union Mission must be urgently strengthened and it was necessary to immediately start preparing for its transfer to a United Nations-led operation with a robust mandate. However, Slovakia was very concerned about the reaction of the Sudanese Government concerning resolution 1706 and its statements threatening to eject the African Union peacekeepers. If there were no African Union or United Nations presence and the number of people suffering or being killed continued to grow, the Sudanese authorities would be placing themselves in a situation where the leadership might be held collectively and individually responsible for what happened to the population of the Sudan.
He said the Government must understand that a United Nations-led operation in support of the effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement was the only viable option for reaching a lasting and sustainable peace. It should also understand, based on previous experience in dealing with crisis situations in the South, that the United Nations was not an invading or occupying force, but an impartial broker that would be there to help the Sudanese people resolve the conflict and assist the Government in exercising its responsibility to protect all its citizens. While the United Nations had always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its members, it had, however, a responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The international community must not allow another Rwanda or Srebrenica, whereby it had watched helplessly as innocent civilians were slaughtered.
Slovakia was very disturbed by the recent steps by the Government of the Sudan to pursue a military solution, which was not only a violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, but also of Security Council resolutions, he said. The Agreement was the best tool for advancing the peace process and addressing the root causes of the conflict. However, it should not become a pretext for military action against those who had reservations about it, or those who refused to sign it. The years of protracted conflict in Darfur had proved that there was no military solution to the Darfur crisis, and Slovakia, therefore, urged the Government of the Sudan to stop its military campaign and engage in a political dialogue with the non-signatories. The Government should avoid a further escalation of the conflict and destabilization of the whole region. It was regrettable that the representative of Sudan had missed yet another opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with the Council today on ways to resolve the crisis.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said that, only a few hours after the adoption of resolution 1706(2006), which Argentina had co-sponsored, the Sudanese Government had again expressed its refusal concerning the United Nations operation in Darfur, and continued putting in effect its plan of action, with particular emphasis on the military and security chapter. News coming from Darfur was very alarming, with new waves of attacks against civilians, humanitarian workers and even AMIS members. Together with the renewed violence and suffering, there were indications that called into question the presence of AMIS after the expiration of its mandate on 30 September.
He said that, by getting involved in the situation in Darfur, the objective of the Council and of the United Nations as a whole was clear: to work together with the Sudanese Government; to join efforts to assist implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement; and to protect the population of the region. He urged the Government and all Sudanese to understand that that was the aim. Argentina wanted the Government in Khartoum to understand that, together with the responsibility of each individual State to protect its population, there was the responsibility of the international community to encourage and help States to exercise that responsibility and take action to help protect their populations.
In the context of the Darfur crisis, the only way to protect its civilian population was with the presence of peacekeeping troops in the region -- neutral and impartial troops that would neither constitute an occupation force nor limit the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Sudan, he stressed. In other words, the United Nations was seeking to protect the life and security of the millions of innocent civilians whom the Government of Sudan could not protect. There was no such thing as a military solution to that conflict. As the Council had already stated, the solution must be found in the framework of the Darfur Peace Agreement. Only in total respect for the Council's resolutions and the decisions of the African Union could those objectives be achieved. He, therefore, fully supported the immediate reinforcement of AMIS and, at a later state -- not later than 31 December -- the takeover of AMIS by a United Nations force.
"We cannot and must not remain paralyzed in front of a situation that calls for immediate action," he urged. Each day that passed meant more lives lost and greater suffering for a population who had already suffered too much. A commitment to a solution to the crisis should be renewed, lest the world continue to be a witness to the constant and persistent violation of human rights on a scale that the international community could not tolerate. He urged all actors to collaborate in a constructive spirit, in order to put an end to the crisis.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), stressing his country's commitment to the Abuja ceasefire agreement, said it remained the common reference point and the direction in which all efforts should be guided in restoring peace and stability. All Darfurians should be brought in to discuss their problems together. France was particularly concerned by the activities of some rebel movements that had not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement and by the relaunching of military operations by the Government. Those actions could only prolong the suffering that had now dragged on for three years.
Pointing out that resolution 1706 was a continuation of all previous Council efforts to support the Abuja ceasefire agreement, he said it had been adopted because of the deterioration in the humanitarian situation, which compromised the accord. Thousands of civilians were threatened by the intensified fighting, which could destabilize neighbouring countries. In addition, the African Union had asked the Council for the resolution, and all parties had a duty to respond positively to that request, if necessary with the assistance of the international community. Sudan owed it to the African Union and the United Nations, whose only aim was to restore peace and effectively protect the civilian population. It was essential for all Council members to speak in one voice and France would continue to send the message of responsibility and cooperation, which the Sudan must understand. The Government of the Sudan should also consider the situation in the region, the stability of which was threatened by the crisis, as shown by the presence of refugee and internally displaced persons camps in Chad.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said it was disturbing that achievement of the common goals, namely improvement of the situation on the ground and implementation of the peace accord, was becoming more problematic by all accounts. Once again, the Secretary-General had made that abundantly clear. The position of the Sudanese Government was important in addressing those problems, but the voices of other key actors must be heard. The worsening security situation on the ground in Darfur, together with the well-documented continuing atrocities and large-scale humanitarian disaster affecting millions of people, continued to create conditions fraught with serious consequences, which threatened peace and security in the entire subregion. Thus, he emphasized, once again, the need to implement the peace accord and bring all the parties on board.
He said that it was precisely to find a way out of the crisis that the Council had adopted resolution 1706 (2006), following considerable exchanges involving all of the parties, including the African Union and the Sudanese Government. The transition from AMIS to an expanded United Nations mission was the only solution; he saw no other realistic option, and certainly not a military solution. In order to achieve the envisaged transition, it was critical to secure the consent and cooperation of the Government, but the Government did not yet appear to have acknowledged that. He urged it to reconsider its position, taking into account resolution 1706 (2006). At the same time, the international community must respond, as called for in that resolution, with prompt support for maintaining AMIS on the ground, as well as to the huge humanitarian needs. It was also necessary to ensure that there was no security vacuum during the transition.
Regarding the plan presented by the Sudanese Government, he said he had listened carefully and deemed that some proposals were in line with the Darfur Peace Agreement, including on ending violence against women and children and launching an information campaign about the peace accord. However, other issues clearly were incompatible with the accord. The proposed unilateral deployment of Sudanese troops to Darfur was worrying and would be in breach with past resolutions and contravene the letter and spirit of the Darfur Peace Agreement. He urged the Government to exercise prudence in dealing with the matter and to reconsider its position, bearing in mind the Council's position, as spelled out in 1706. The Council should continue with the necessary dialogue and consultations with the Government towards that goal.
L. K. CHRISTIAN (Ghana) stressed the goodwill and spirit of international partnership underlying resolution 1706, and called for its timely and full implementation, in order to alleviate the suffering of the people of Darfur. In view of the volatile situation on the ground, only the expansion of UNMIS into Darfur could best guarantee the safety of the millions of displaced Sudanese and preserve the sovereignty, unity and stability of the country for the benefit of all its citizens.
He expressed full confidence and trust in the assurances that had repeatedly been given to the Sudanese Government that the proposed deployment of UNMIS in Darfur was a humanitarian mission and a call to partnership, not confrontation. Ghana, therefore, urged the Government to open the door of Darfur to UNMIS, in order to halt the chaos and death and create real opportunities for a better life for all the Sudanese people.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER (Qatar) said the period covered by the Secretary-General's report had seen significant positive developments, including the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Sudan and Chad, agreement on the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity, as well as on the sharing of power and wealth. However, some parties had refused to sign the peace accord and there had been a resurgence of violence, especially on the border with Chad, which threatened the Agreement, as well as peace and security in Darfur and the wider region. It was clear that the true obstacle to a lasting peace came from the activities of those factions that rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement.
Reiterating his country's continued support for the African Union Mission, he said it had done excellent work. It was essential to increase support for the that Mission, a request that had not found a favourable echo until the issuance of the Secretary-General's report, which stated that it must not be allowed to fail for lack of financial support. If the Council truly wished to ensure peace for Darfur and the region, the Government of the Sudan had presented a plan that had been totally ignored while adopting resolution 1706. Qatar called upon Council members to examine that plan and hoped that any initiative would succeed in opening diplomatic channels for dialogue rather than sanctions, which would complicate matters. The situation required sincere efforts and the will to establish a climate leading to successful negotiations and true peace in Darfur.
ROMY TINCOPA (Peru) said that she regretted that the Sudanese Government had not understood that the United Nations peace operation would work with Government authorities to implement the peace accord and protect the population, which presently had no protection. Developments in the field had showed that protection was urgent, as millions of people were at serious risk and on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe. In view of that situation, the United Nations could not abdicate its ethical responsibility to protect and defend human rights when Governments could not or would not protect their own populations. The Security Council should ensure implementation of resolution 1706, specifically in support of implementation of the peace accord and civilian protection.
On that basis, she said that the Council should take the following measures: seek an early deployment of UNMIS in Darfur by continuing dialogue with the Government; immediately reinforce AMIS, as that force should continue to play an important role in the area; and achieve a lasting and viable ceasefire agreement in compliance with the commitments of the Darfur Peace Agreement and all peace agreements. For its part, the international community should find ways to raise the necessary financial support to protect the civilian population. Darfur was an enormous challenge, which the Council had so far been unable to solve. She hoped that, with the support of the Sudanese Government, regional organizations and the international community, that peace and stability in Darfur would be achieved through dialogue and a political approach.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), stressing that no effort should be spared to avoid another genocide in Africa, said the extended crisis in Darfur challenged the Council's moral resolve. Denmark, through bilateral contacts with key partners in Africa and together with its European Union partners, had stepped up efforts to convince the Sudanese Government that there was no viable alternative to a United Nations mission. All obstacles must be removed and the objectives of a robust peace support operation must be achieved. All channels of dialogue with Khartoum -- both direct and indirect -- must be kept open and used to their fullest. If agreement was not achieved within the next few weeks, everyone, including the Government of the Sudan, would be left with only a few barely attractive options.
She disagreed with the position voiced by friends of the Sudanese Government that the people of Darfur were best served by a continuation of the African Union Mission alongside the Government's own plan of "stability and protection", noting that facts on the ground spoke their own language. True friends would assist the Government in fulfilling its most important purpose: to protect its own citizens from starvation, violence and death, regardless of ethnicity, cultural differences and religion. There was no military solution to the crisis, only a political one. The non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement and their supporters on the ground could not be wiped out through military action. One important lesson learned from 20 years of conflict between the North and the South was that the Government must engage with its adversaries. The non-signatories were still a part of the N'Djamena ceasefire agreements and should be included in the ceasefire monitoring mechanisms.
As an avid supporter of international justice and the rule of law, Denmark firmly believed that all those responsible must and would be held accountable, she said. The instrument of sanctions was still on the table, and if the Sudanese Government pressed on with its current plans in Darfur, broader political and economic sanctions should not be ruled out. While sanctions were intended to encourage and push for wise political decisions that would respect and implement Council decisions, it should never be forgotten that accountability was ultimately also an aspect of that crisis. By referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, the Council had already shown that it would not accept impunity for serious crimes against humanity. The Council must show that it had learned the lessons from Rwanda, and that those responsible for the continuation of that crisis would eventually have to face the consequences of their actions.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that the world was witnessing a serious deterioration of both the humanitarian and security situation. One the one hand, the Government of the Sudan was building up its military forces for a possible wider offensive. Any attempt to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement by force would inevitably aggravate the situation. On the other hand, the non-signatories of the peace accord appeared determined to seek a military showdown with the Government. It was no surprise, therefore, that the political process had stalled and that no serious political dialogue was taking place between the two sides.
He said that the situation, compounded by the already dire humanitarian one, had brought Darfur to the "brink of total collapse, touching what some have called the Rwanda threshold". Indicatively, during the past few weeks, the number of gross violations of human rights, including rapes, had risen to emergency levels. The number of internally displaced persons had risen by 50,000, while humanitarian access had been severely restricted, owing to the fact that humanitarian workers were being targeted -- in July alone, nine of them had been killed.
Council members were united in their belief that the situation was unacceptable and that it must be urgently addressed, he said. The Council's response, and that of the international community as a whole, should involve persuading Khartoum to accept a United Nations deployment, reviving AMIS and applying pressure on the non-signatories to participate in the Peace Agreement. Ten days ago, the Council had adopted resolution 1706 (2006), which provided for the expansion of UNMIS into Darfur. Regrettably, the Sudanese Government had not accepted the resolution and continued to publicly oppose it. Ongoing diplomatic efforts should intensify to convince the Government to reverse its decision. In that respect, consultations with other stakeholders, such as the African Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conference, were also particularly important.
Recalling that the main objective of resolution 1706 was to protect civilians in Darfur and assist the people of the Sudan in implementing the peace accord, he said that any fears as to the real objectives of that text were "unfounded" and should be dispelled. In addition, the presence and reinforcement of AMIS was of the utmost importance, both to address the present crisis and prepare for a United Nations deployment in January 2007. In that context, he looked forward to the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council on 18 September in New York. In the coming weeks, efforts should be made to persuade the non-signatories to get on board and sign the peace accord. Despite its shortcomings, it was the only agreement on the table and it included the vital components for a long-term solution. It, therefore, must be implemented in its entirety.
He called on the Council to intensify its efforts to resolve the present crisis and use all the tools at its disposal, including the mechanism provided for in resolution 1591 (2005). At the same time, all members with influence should spare no efforts in bringing about a solution directed primarily towards saving lives and assuring the necessary humanitarian access to those in need.
* *** *