19 July 2006

Darfur Peace Agreement Will Be Jeopardized, without more Resources for African Union Mission, Says Secretary-General to Brussels Pledging Conference

NEW YORK, 18 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's address to the pledging conference for the African Union Mission in the Sudan, in Brussels on 18 July:

This is a very important meeting, which has been too long delayed.  We are here to ensure that the African Union has the resources it needs to carry out its critical work in Darfur.  The lives of many thousands of children, women and men may depend on the outcome of our efforts.

Over a year ago, we met in Addis Ababa to express our support for the efforts of the African Union Mission in Sudan, or AMIS, and to pledge contributions to it, both in cash and in kind.

Since then, we have found some reasons to hope that the conflict in Darfur can be resolved, and the terrible suffering brought to an end.

At least now we have the Darfur Peace Agreement, which gives us an indispensable framework for ending the violence.  It is a road map for moving from the destruction of the last three years to stability and, in the long run, a better life for all Darfur's inhabitants.

Also, in the last year, an unprecedented humanitarian operation -- the largest in the world -- has, against all odds, sustained millions of lives in Darfur, even providing education and health services at levels not available before the conflict.

These are major achievements -- the fruit of tireless work by the Sudanese people, the African Union and the international community.

Yes, we do have reason to hope.  But, we will be cruelly disappointed if we do not also appraise honestly the challenges that still face us in Darfur, and commit ourselves to confront those challenges head on.

In particular, we have to face the fact that some parties have not accepted the Peace Agreement, and -- let me be very frank -- that many of Darfur's people are very anxious about some of its key provisions.

These misgivings must be addressed, though they must not become an excuse to reopen the negotiations.  The dialogue on peace in Darfur must continue, and must be broadened to bring in key stakeholders who are not yet taking part.

What must not happen, but, at present, is happening much too much, is a reversion to violence.  Some of it is perpetrated by parties that refused to sign the Agreement, but some also by parties that did sign it.

This must stop, immediately.  Those who plan and perpetrate attacks, and those who condone or connive at them, are undoing the hard-won achievements of Abuja.  They are actively undermining Darfur's best hope for peace.

No party must be allowed to make the Peace Agreement a pretext for more violence.  That would gravely undermine its chances of becoming an effective vehicle for the peace and reconciliation, which millions of people in Darfur have been waiting for, for more than three years now.

We do now have a precious window of opportunity to end this cruel conflict.  But, unless we leap through that window now, it will very soon close.

Our task today is to make sure that does not happen.  The step we can take here is critical.

AMIS has performed valiantly, in very difficult conditions.  But, it must now be better resourced and empowered to perform its critical work.  Unless it is, the Peace Agreement will be jeopardised, and no one in Darfur will be secure.

This is why our pledges today are so vital -- and why they must be translated, without delay, into cash and in kind contributions.

Meanwhile, I will propose to the Security Council that the United Nations be authorized to provide a new level of support to AMIS, as agreed during our joint assessment mission.  But, this support will complement -- not substitute for -- what is being asked of you today.  We cannot afford to lose another day before we start giving AMIS the extra resources that it needs.

AMIS must be able to concentrate on the many complex tasks that the Peace Agreement requires it to undertake; on protecting civilians, and on responding to ceasefire violations.

We will also, of course, be expecting much from the Government of Sudan.  The success of the DPA will depend to a large extent on its actions, and on those of the other signatories.

President Bashir and I discussed this at the African Union Summit in Banjul.  He assured me of his Government's intention to implement the Peace Agreement.  And I reiterated the UN's commitment to do everything in its power to help bring an end to violence in Darfur, and allow peace to take root.  The Government of Sudan has worked closely with the international community to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the south. I hope we can build on that cooperation in implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement as well.

I told President Bashir, very candidly, that, the strengthening of AMIS in the short term, and a transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur in the medium term, are two fundamental tools available to the Sudanese people, to their Government and to the international community.

No hidden agenda drives us; only the urgent need of Darfur's people.  United Nations peacekeeping forces -- which will come primarily from Africa and Asia, with some additional, and much needed, support from developed countries -- will come to Darfur not as occupiers, but as helpers.

Those who evoke the spectre of violence against these "Blue Helmets" are not just misguided; they are denying to their own fellow citizens the help that they so desperately need.

A strengthened AMIS and a transition to a United Nations operation are means by which the Government of Sudan can work to ensure that its people in Darfur are protected, and can give them hope of living a better life, in peace, freedom and prosperity.

We will continue active discussions with the Government of Sudan on this basis; and together we will find a solution that is acceptable to it and the Sudanese people, and the international community.  The United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan share the same goal: lasting peace in Darfur.  So let us ensure that we realize it.

The Sudanese people have, at last, set out on the road to peace in Darfur.  The African Union has been with them every step of the way.  Let us now make the final destination inevitable, so that millions of displaced people can return to their homes, and this terrible conflict can finally be brought to an end.

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