Initial Steps Taken in Implementing Doha Document for Peace in Darfur Provide ‘Reason for Optimism’, Top Peacekeeping Official Tells Security Council
6700th Meeting (AM)
Initial Steps Taken in Implementing Doha Document for Peace in Darfur Provide
‘Reason for Optimism’, Top Peacekeeping Official Tells Security Council
Hervé Ladsous Urges Strong Support for Parties, Particularly with
Implementing Provisions Aimed at ‘Tangible Improvements to the Lives of Darfuris’
Initial steps taken by parties to the most recent peace accord for Sudan’s Darfur region — the so-called Doha Document — provided “reason for optimism” and should be supported by the Security Council, the top peacekeeping official told the 15-member body this morning.
“The parties should be supported in this regard by the Council and by the international community more broadly, particularly with the implementation of provisions that bring about tangible improvements to the lives of Darfuris”, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said in his briefing, following which the representative of South Sudan, David Buom Choat, and the representative of Sudan, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, made statements.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (see Background), Mr. Ladsous noted that progress concerning the Darfur Document, described in the report, included the appointment of a Chairperson of the Darfur Regional Authority, the body responsible for its implementation. Nominations for other members, accepted by the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), the rebel signatory to the Document, included Government officials and those of factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).
Mr. Ladsous also reported yesterday’s appointments of new governors for the Darfur states, along with the change of configuration of the states according to ethnic groupings and new appointments of local officials known as Walis, one of whom was Vice-President of LJM. Also yesterday, a Public Prosecutor was appointed for the Special Court for Darfur, in accordance with the Doha Document. In addition, LJM also submitted its list of personnel for cease-fire force verification.
In regard to the inclusivity of the peace process, he said that, unfortunately, the three-month window offered by the Government for non-signatory rebel movements to sign on expired in October without progress in that regard. The joint United Nations/African Union interim mediator was pressing the Government and the movements — namely the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)-Minni Minawi and the SLA-Abdul Wahid — to restart negotiations. The consequences of the recent death of the head of JEM on those efforts were not yet clear. As described in the report, the road map being developed by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the African Union, would address the inclusiveness of the process, as well as support for dialogue and implementation of other provisions of the Doha Document.
Reiterating the Secretary-General’s continued concern over incidents of crime and gender-based violence, despite the relatively calm security situation, he said that the situation in Zam Zam camp had deteriorated further, with many incidents reported by UNAMID and others to Government authorities, but little reaction from them observed. Following a determined follow-up by UNAMID on 18 December, the Central Reserve Police Commander was replaced and tension had since eased considerably. UNAMID continued to monitor the situation closely.
In addition, he said that there had been a marked increase in military manoeuvres and clashes between the Government and movements in recent weeks, along with a sharp increase in restrictions of movement imposed on UNAMID by Government authorities, which, he stressed, had severely impeded the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate. Protests to that effect had not yet yielded results. On the other hand, all Mission containers awaiting customs clearance since May had been cleared on 9 January, also following repeated appeals to Government officials. The Mission was continuing to meet with Ministry officials to reduce the number of outstanding visa requests, which now stood at 935.
As noted in the report, he said that the continued voluntary return of displaced persons to their homes was encouraging over the past year, although 4 million persons still required the assistance of the World Food Programme in 2011. In addition, he noted that while most parts of Darfur were accessible to humanitarian workers with UNAMID escort needed outside of main town centres, access to West Jebel Marra was repeatedly denied and intermittently restricted in other areas, as well as Zam Zam camp.
He finally reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for the Government to cooperate fully in holding responsible perpetrators of violence against UNAMID and humanitarian personnel, and pledged UNAMID’s continued work to support the peace process, provide protection to civilians, facilitate the delivery of aid and assist voluntary returns.
Taking the floor next, Mr. Choat of South Sudan expressed concern over the security situation in Darfur, agreeing that the crisis needed to be resolved through negotiation in a spirit of goodwill and compromise. Noting that the situation had the potential to affect his country, he invited the Council to take into account the inter-relationship between the ongoing situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States and the dynamics of Darfur. Affirming that his country remained fully committed to resolving all outstanding issues between it and Sudan in a full and comprehensive manner, he expressed hope that progress made in negotiations between the two countries might positively affect prospects for Darfur, so that the region could enjoy the lasting peace it deserved.
Mr. Osman of Sudan commented that Mr. Ladsous’ report was generally positive, affirming that today’s deliberations took place amid a backdrop of stability, security, and humanitarian and development progress in Darfur. Also evident was that the Doha peace document had entered the implementation stage. Indeed, LJM leadership was being integrated into the Government. “The people of Darfur who carried arms yesterday are now in control of Darfur, with the exception of a few,” he said. There were voluntary returns in the tens of thousands, now that Darfuris had been reassured of stability and security, and that their daily needs would be met in the villages.
He said the Sudanese Government, for its part, had allocated $600 million as “a foreign component” and 134 million Sudanese pounds in “a local component” for resettlement and development in the province. It had commended South Sudan’s efforts to rehabilitate the returnees and to provide electricity to 100 villages in western Darfur; social clubs, health centres and schools had been established — powered by solar energy. Citizens had also been provided with modern means of community. A “qualitative leap” had been taken towards development in western Darfur; that effort would continue in all remaining areas. Drawing attention to a high-level international conference planned for 16 January in el Fasha, northern Darfur’s capital, he said the meeting indicated the “long strides towards peace in Darfur”.
The report before the Council had also indicated progress in securing the ceasefire, in accordance with the Doha document, he said. The forces of the freedom and justice movement — a group of 11 rebel factions — had joined the peace movement and would be integrated into the Sudanese armed forces and civilian life. Sudan had vast disarmament and reintegration experience and could provide that expertise to all who needed it. “Peace is taking very strong steps in Darfur”, he said. At the same time, some movements had rejected the “peace option”, having become “desperate after their military defeat”. They now had turned to pillaging and armed robbery, kidnapping and terrorizing civilians even in the internally displaced persons’ camps. The Security Council should ensure that the Government of South Sudan did not assist that force.
He said that those forces, armed by the former Qadhafi regime, could reignite conflict in South Sudan. He was wary that those arms could be transferred to the tribes and that those “enemies” would use the weapons to “settle their accounts”. Sudan was “aching to settle all outstanding questions with the South”, and it pledged to implement the Darfur document in all its aspects. “It will not close the door to peace.” He hoped the Council’s deliberations would lead to a more positive approach that would help complete the process of peace and stability, which had now taken hold.
At the opening of the meeting, pointing out that this was the first public meeting of the Council in 2012, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa, which holds the rotating Council Presidency for the month of January, warmly welcomed the new temporary members of the body: Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:06 a.m., after which Council members were invited to consultations on Sudan, as previously agreed.
The Security Council had before it the Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2011/814), which describes the situation in Darfur in the past 90 days, as well as an update on the peace process there — including the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur — and conditions for a Darfur-based political process, as well as an overall assessment of progress made against benchmarks developed for the Mission.
In the report, the Secretary-General says that during the reporting period, there has been some progress in the overall peace process and the incidence of fighting had remained relatively static. However, he remains concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation. He calls on the Government of Sudan to take concrete steps to ensure the protection of the people of Darfur in that regard. In that context, he pledges that UNAMID will continue to focus on protection of civilians and the United Nations humanitarian community will continue to support returns and early recovery where feasible, while stressing that the Government must take the lead in ensuring security, protection and access to all areas for civilians and humanitarian workers.
He says that the signatory parties to the Doha Document — the Government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) — made some progress in its implementation during the reporting period related to appointments and the ceasefire committee. The Chairperson of the Darfur Regional Authority, the body responsible for implementation, had been sworn in; however, the inauguration of that body had not occurred. He called on the parties to accelerate implementation. In regard to security conditions conducive to holding political consultations with all stakeholders in Darfur, he notes that the Mission was still considering it in conjunction with other partners on the ground, but noted that “enabling conditions should not be so rigid they prevent dialogue for peace”.
Calling on the non-signatory movements and the Government to recommit themselves to discussing all issues at the negotiating table without preconditions in order to reach a peaceful settlement without delay, he says that a road map for peace would be put forward under a separate cover following the finalization of consultations between the United Nations and the African Union.
Meanwhile, he expresses particular concern over the security of UNAMID and humanitarian personnel in Darfur, recounting the incidents of attacks and kidnapping of the past months. He calls on the Government to work closely with UNAMID in investigating such violent acts and to bring those responsible to justice. He also calls on the Government to process all outstanding visa requests without delay, clear containers of equipment being held in Port Sudan and allow the Mission to operate unimpeded in accordance with the status of force agreement.
As of 13 December, he reports, the deployment of UNAMID troops stood at 91.5 per cent of the authorized strength of 19,555, and police deployment was at 73 per cent, with 2,755 of the authorized 3,772 on the ground. In regard to Mission benchmarks, the Secretary-General finds progress towards the ones related to the peace process and incidents of violence, but said that there was deterioration under the benchmark related to the enhancement of the rule of law, governance and the protection of human rights, citing arbitrary detentions and other violations.
In regard to humanitarian benchmarks, he says that progress was shown by the trend of displaced persons returning to their homes at the rate of approximately 7,000 per month, with a relatively low rate of new displacement. Humanitarian access to the vast majority of people in need was possible with security escorts. At the same time, erratic rains threatened food security, Zam Zam and Kalma camps remained volatile and access for UNAMID and humanitarian actors had not improved, he says.
* *** *