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Sudan: United Nations Update
Jan 23, 2005 (050123)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Can the spirit of the peace agreement signed in Nairobi early this
month for southern Sudan give momentum to peace in Darfur as well?
Or will it be used as a cover for continued and even escalated
conflict there? Even the optimists in the international community,
eager to use carrots rather than sticks to pressure the Sudanese
government, admit that either outcome is possible. Pessimists say
that only sanctions or the credible threat of sanctions will force
Khartoum to keep its word on the south and act on Darfur as well.
Sanctions are unlikely to be a live option on the Security Council
agenda early next month, when it considers Sudan. Instead, it will
likely be discussing the complexities of mobilizing up to 10,000
peacekeepers to help implement the peace accord in Sudan's south.
In Darfur, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported in early January,
the African Union (AU) force, still at little more than a fourth of
its projected strength of 4,000, "has done more than any other
outside agent to improve the security situation on the ground." He
said the AU, which is also responsible for convening peace talks on
Darfur, "will remain, for the foreseeable future, the best
mechanism for promoting peace in Darfur." [S/2005/10, full report
available on http://www.un.org]
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the latest report to the
Security Council from Jan Pronk, the Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Sudan. Despite the generally optimistic tone,
Mr. Pronk also stresses the urgency of action in 2005 on Darfur.
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, visit
For news on Sudan from AllAfrica.com and IRIN, visit
For extensive news and commentary on Sudan, visit
For a detailed briefing on the prospects and obstacles to peace,
Thanks to those subscribers who have already sent in a voluntary
subscription payment this year to support AfricaFocus Bulletin. And
a reminder to all that this free resource depends on voluntary
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++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Statement to the Security Council by Jan Pronk, Special
Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan
11 January, 2005
I flew straight to New York from Nairobi, where I participated in
the signing ceremony of the comprehensive peace agreement between
the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
That was a milestone. It heralds the definitive end of nearly four
decades of brutal conflict. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of
people have been killed, four million uprooted and displaced, over
half a million had to take refuge in neighboring countries. The
people of Sudan can be congratulated. This peace agreement is the
result of political talks at the negotiation table. A war can be
ended in a different way than by winning it and defeating the
enemy. A war, also a civil war, can be ended by talking your way
out of it, by negotiating with former enemies and accommodating
mutual concerns, by closing the book. Do not focus anymore on past
divisions and splits, but on future diversity in unity and unity in
diversity. That is what happened in Navaisha and two days ago was
confirmed in Nairobi.
Of course, this agreement is not the end of all. An agreement at
the negotiation table marks the beginning of a long and arduous
process of peace building within society itself. There will be many
stumbling blocks on the road ahead: former combatants will have to
be disarmed and demobilized; displaced people and refugees will
need to return and participate in the economy and in the society,
claiming a share in the resources, including land; former
battlefields will have to be de-mined, so that there are no no-go
areas in a time of peace; other Southern militant groups, that did
not participate in the peace talks, will have to be incorporated in
new structures that were created without them; people's
expectations concerning welfare, education and other
social-economic needs have to be met. All these tasks are as much
a risk as that they are a challenge. Failure may endanger stability
and feed new conflicts. But, anyway, the first step has been set.
Its importance can not be overestimated. There is no room for
cynicism: an end has come to last century's longest war in Africa,
with the largest number of victims. Peace has been proclaimed and
now we are going to make it work: the Sudanese themselves, together
with their partners in the international community.
Can such a scenario also apply to Darfur? Yes, it can. It must. We
can make it work. As a matter of fact, the question is two-fold.
How would further fighting in Darfur impact the implementation of
the North-South peace agreement? And, second question, how can the
achievement of peace between North and South Sudan be used to
improve the climate for talks to end civil war in Darfur?
The first question has already been answered by many members of the
Security Council in their statements at the historic meeting of the
Council in Nairobi, in November last year. It is hard to imagine
that the peace dividend promised by the Nairobi agreement will be
reaped without an end to the suffering in Darfur. International aid
will not flow and, more important, in Sudan itself the achievement
will turn out to be vulnerable. As long as there is war in some
part of the country, resources will be spent on weapons, not
welfare. Investors will be reluctant, entrepreneurs will hesitate,
young people with brains and initiative will want to leave the
country, displaced people will wander around. Peace is indivisible,
also in Sudan, however large and diversified the country may be.
So, after the conclusion and signing of the comprehensive peace
agreement between North and South there can be no question what
should be the priority task for 2005. The fighting in Darfur must
be stopped, the conflict must be resolved and the people affected
must be able to return to their homes.
At the beginning of this new year the security situation in Darfur
is still bad. The humanitarian situation is poor. Regarding
humanitarian access, the picture is mixed. And politically Darfur
finds itself in a stalemate. Let me elaborate each of these
dimensions of the crisis.
On security, new problems have come into focus in December.
Violence, hitherto a source of fear on the fringes of IDP centers
and in conflict areas, is seeping into the camps themselves and
directly affecting humanitarian workers. Some national staff
members of NGOs have been abducted and are still missing, others
are harrassed. The IDPs continue suffering. Refugees are not
returning in sufficient numbers to allow the planting of crops to
sustain their families for the coming year. Restriction on freedom
of movement is causing livestock to be lost on a huge scale.
The armed groups are re-arming and the conflict is spreading
outside Darfur. Large quantities of arms have been carried into
Darfur in defiance of the Security Council decision taken in July.
December saw a build up of arms, attacks on positions, including
air attacks, raids on small towns and villages, increased banditry,
more looting. New rebel movements are emerging and launching
attacks in the area of oil facilities in Western Kordofan. We may
move into a period of intense violence unless swift action is taken
and new approaches are considered.
This is all the more necessary in the light of the poor
humanitarian situation. The volume of assistance and access has
expanded over the last six months, but the number of conflict
affected people increased as well, leaving many still beyond the
reach of assistance, and consequently short of food, water,
sanitation and shelter. The objective is to meet the international
standards for humanitarian assistance per capita. for instance
around 2000 calories per capita per day. In mid 2004 we were far
below these standards. Towards the end of the year we were close to
meeting them for food, nutrition and health services, though not
for water, sanitation and shelter. At the same time the total
number of persons to be helped is still increasing, due to recent
displacements following the fighting in November and December. As
a result of the fighting it is even more difficult to reach them
than before. The fighting now affects humanitarian work more
frequently and more directly than bureaucratic restrictions ever
did, with fatal and tragic consequences. The road-clearing
operation launched by the government in December, in order to make
the road safe for traffic, including commercial traffic and
transport of fuel and food for the market as well as for
humanitarian purposes, did not result in more safety, but in less.
The looting and pillaging continued, banditry is on the increase,
trucks were stolen at gunpoint, some drivers killed.
Talks between the parties on Darfur have not yielded concrete
results or much narrowing of the gap on the issues concerned.
Despite regular statements to the contrary, the parties have yet to
commit in practice to the implementation of the humanitarian
ceasefire. The delay in reaching the agreement between Khartoum and
the SPLM has also produced a stalemate in the talks on Darfur. This
applied both to the implementation of the N'Djamena cease fire
agreement and to the Abuja talks on the political dimension of the
conflict. This stalemate at the negotiation table led to a
worsening of the security situation on the ground. That, in turn,
did not contribute to the willingness of the parties to engage
themselves in a dialogue on the root cases of the conflict and on
political objectives and reform. Standstill is regress and regress
produces a vicious circle: meagre results at the negotiation table,
no implementation, more insecurity, less willingness to talk, no
results and so on.
From now on that can change. It ought to change. Now that in
Nairobi the bridge is crossed, the road towards security and
agreement in Darfur lies open. It is high time to walk on that road
Will that be done? In the long term, the signature of the
North-South Peace Agreement offers opportunity for Darfur and will
improve capacity to solve the conflict. However, I do not exclude
the possibility that the signature of the agreement will be
followed in the short term by an intensification of violence in and
Among those on the ground in Darfur responsible for recent
aggression, there are some who perceive the conclusion of
North-South peace as providing cover for their actions, offering a
brief window where they will be immune from international criticism
on their behavior in Darfur. Government forces may be tempted to
think that after the signature of the North-South agreement, for
which they have received much praise, the international community
would not dare to put the implementation of that agreement at risk.
That could lead to the suggestion that now is the time to deliver
a decisive blow to the enemy.
In turn, the rebel movements may perceive the North-South agreement
as an indication that they have been marginalized further, or as a
proof that an intensification of military activities would be the
only option for them to be taken seriously as a party in political
Both perceptions would be false, both reactions dangerous. Both
have to be countered by pressure, reason and the offering of an
The Comprehensive Agreement will remove some of the stumbling
blocks and pave the way for an approach that can help the parties
break through the vicious circle. The parties must be persuaded, by
a combination of pressure and assurances from influential member
states, that it is truly in their interests to respect the
ceasefire and pursue a settlement through peaceful means.
Let me offer some suggestions for such an approach:
- De-link the talks on the political future of Darfur from those on
security and humanitarian access. Concentrate the Abuja talks on
the future political configuration of Darfur, including questions
of sharing of power and wealth. Pursue these talks whether the
cease fire is kept or not. Concentrate the latter in the AU Cease
Fire Commission and in the Joint Commission.
- Empower the Darfur ceasefire institutions in the same way as the
North-South ceasefire institutions. That means: make the assessment
whether or not the ceasefire has been breached independent from the
parties, and enable these institutions to make binding
recommendations, that should be implemented unconditionally.
- Both the Government and the rebel movements should from now on
exercise full restraint: no attacks, no retaliations. The
Government should not only refrain from bombing, which it had
already declared to do, but also from military flights above rebel
held positions. The Government should also refrain from further
so-called road clearing operations. The rebel movements, in turn,
should refrain from attacks on the police as well as on towns and
infrastructure. The AU could assist by patrolling on roads and by
clearing flights, before they take off in the direction of rebel
hold areas. This would result in both more protection and less
- In order to show their goodwill the Government and the rebel
movements should all withdraw behind reasonable and well-defined
lines, such as those prevailing on 8 December, before the
commencement of the road clearing operation by the Government. Each
should give up the positions taken, declare that they will not
occupy the positions given up by the other party. Thereafter the AU
could move in and protect the areas concerned. This would be the
beginning of a demilitarization of parts of Darfur. Parties should
also communicate full details of their troop locations to the AU
Cease Fire Commission and declare their willingness to agree on a
plan of separation of forces, drawn up by that commission.
- The parties must identify practical means to ensure that their
forces' basic survival needs are met, including supplies of food to
the combatants, without violating the ceasefire. That would
stabilize the situation, diminish the urge to steal, loot and kill.
It would also make the rendering of relief assistance to people
without weapons less dangerous than it has become during the last
- The Government should make a new start with the disarmament of
the Popular Defense Forces, as announced in August last year. It
should present names and numbers of the disarmed to the AU and
store weapons in safe locations with AU oversight.
- The rebel movements should commit themselves not to block or
disrupt peaceful seasonal movement of nomadic tribes and their
cattle. Such actions deprive the tribes from their usual source of
livelihood and provoke tribal militia to attack the civilian
population. The Government, in turn, should control and restrain
these militia, either with force or through tribal reconciliation.
In addition, joint action, involving both the Government, SLA and
the African Union should be planned in order to stop banditry and
- The Government should make haste with the arrest of those who
have been responsible for major violations of human rights and
crimes against international humanitarian law. It should do so
whether these perpetrators are Janjaweed or not. The Government has
often declared that this could not be done easily overnight. That
is to be granted. However, it is not credible to wait half a year
after the commitment to the Secretary General of the United Nations
in the Joint Communique of early July. The Government would be wise
not to wait for the publication of the report of the Commission of
Inquiry and show that not only the international community, but
also the government itself wants to seriously address the crimes,
maintain human rights and make an end to impunity.
Many of these steps require active adequate third party
involvement: patrolling roads, clearing flights, protecting
demilitarized areas. That third party is the African Union.
The strengthening of the AU force on the ground has proved to be
effective not only in performing monitoring tasks, but also, and
that is even more important, in protecting the civilian population
by a combination of deterrence, mediation and good offices. The AU
force, presently itself under threat of attack, has done more than
any other outside agent to improve the security situation on the
ground, by its presence and its actions to mediate and forestall
violent actions. The AU has not been able to put in as many forces
as originally hoped, and they need help from the international
community to make it happen. We need to do whatever is required to
accelerate the rate of deployment and ensure that we have more AU
troops on the ground, in order to ensure parties? commitment to
agreements and to dissuade attacks. These third party troops have
to be everywhere were violence may erupt, in the locations that I
mentioned earlier - demilitarized areas and unsafe roads - but also
in and around all displaced people's camps, in all towns and
villages under threat, in all areas where refugees and displaced
people would want to return, in order to protect both people and
their land. It is an enormous task, but the recent history of
Darfur shows that, without such an independent and neutral
protection force, women and children, elder people, returnees,
unarmed persons belonging to an adversary tribe, would not be safe.
In the longer run security, safety, peace and stability should be
home grown. They should be sustained without outside help. But it
is clear that it will take quite some time before that will be a
reality. And it will require serious political talks between the
Government and the rebel movements, more serious than thus far.
They will have to agree on a Declaration of Principles that
addresses the core issues of power and wealth sharing. Moreover, it
is time to prepare a national conference including all political
opponents, in order to reach a consensus about the modalities of a
peaceful future of the country, thereby integrating the Darfur
peace talks into the wider process of peace making in the Sudan and
make peace in Darfur sustainable.
However, the Darfur talks themselves should not wait until such a
national conference would be feasible. On the contrary, while the
current negotiation process between the Government and the SLM/JEM
should proceed, it would be useful to start thinking of including
tribal leaders in finding political solutions, even before
reconciliation has taken place. That may include tribes that so far
were beyond the control by the Government or by the rebel movements
and were fighting to protect their own interests. Peace in Darfur
requires a broad and strong support from all. Parallel to these
broadened talks reconciliation efforts will have to be continued,
broadened and intensified. The international community would do
wise in supporting these efforts, also with material assistance on
an experimental basis, in order to make clear that home grown
reconciliation is valued, even if it takes place differently than
elsewhere in the world. But it is also clear that such a
reconciliation will have to include those who refused to take up
arms and, last but not least, the victims of war and violence.
Can all this be done? The time is ripe to renew and redouble our
efforts. The climate is improving. There is the North-South
comprehensive peace agreement. We witness positive reactions both
in Rumbek and in Khartoum. We also see positive reactions amongst
the people in both the North and the South, albeit sometimes mixed
with hesitation based on skepticism and earlier experience. We see
that parties exercise a certain restraint. Contrary to many
people's expectations SLA has not launched an attack on the day of
the signing of the peace agreement. From Christmas to that
particular day it has been relatively calm in Darfur, on all
fronts. Last week, despite earlier breaches of the ceasefire, all
parties declared to respect days of tranquility to vaccinate all
children below five against polio. This weekend the Government
declared to be willing to reconsider some of its previous hard-line
positions, thereby reaching out to the rebel movements. Yesterday
the Government followed this up by declaring before the meeting of
the AU Peace and Security Council in Libreville, that it is willing
to withdraw its force to their pre 8 December positions.
All this is positive. It is not yet much or definitive, it can
easily fade away, but it is a sign that it is justified to hope and
expect that the spirit of Nairobi will affect Darfur. The political
momentum is there. It is fragile and can easily be spoiled.
Grasping that momentum requires innovative action, consensus
between all international actors, steady cooperation, perseverance
and a well-defined common strategy.
The second stage of the war between North and South Sudan lasted
two decades. Why should we allow the war in Darfur to last more
than two years?
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