I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to President Mbeki and to thank him for the important work he is doing in Sudan. I would also like to thank him, SRSG Menkerios, Joint Special Representative Gambari and Joint Chief Mediator Bassloe for their briefings to the Council this morning.
Mr President, this is a defining moment for Sudan and for this Council. With over 30,000 peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur, Abyei, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Southern Sudan, the Council has more invested in Sudan than in any other agenda item. There is no greater challenge facing the Security Council over the next 12 months than supporting the parties in securing peace and prosperity for the people of Sudan.
I would like to focus on three specific themes: the lead-up to the Referendum on self-determination for South Sudan under the CPA; efforts to support longer term constructive relations between North and South Sudan; and the continuing imperative of working to end the conflict in Darfur.
With now less than seven months before the Referendum, we should focus on how we can best support the Sudanese parties to ensure full and peaceful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
We should not pre-judge the results of the Referendum. But we should be clear that it must take place on time. There must be a credible result, beyond dispute. Either outcome - unity or secession - can lead to peaceful and friendly relations between North and South. It is our collective responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure such a peaceful outcome.
Mr President, much remains to be done. We must continue to urge both parties to engage in serious and sustained dialogue to reach agreement on the outstanding CPA milestones. These include urgent establishment of the Referenda Commissions for South Sudan and Abyei as we have heard from Mr Menkerios this morning, and a clear focus on the Popular Consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. We need to see a much greater sense of urgency in preparing for the referenda.
But we must also look beyond the Referendum. North and South Sudan will remain neighbours and essential partners, regardless of the outcome of the Referendum. We must encourage the parties to approach the issues with a view to their longer term shared interests: this is not a zero-sum game. They will need to cooperate if they are to have a peaceful, prosperous future, whatever is decided next January.
Our immediate focus should be to encourage dialogue between the parties on the issues and arrangements relating to the post-referendum period and to support this process. In particular, we must encourage the parties, as a matter of urgency, to agree demarcation of the North-South border, citizenship rights and arrangements for wealth-sharing, particularly regarding oil.
We must also consider what capacity building support we can provide to South Sudan to help it meet its longer term development and security challenges and address the severe humanitarian situation. And we should support UNMIS in its planning for what assistance the UN might provide after the end of the Interim Period.
Mr President, we must not forget that the challenges Sudan faces are closely linked. It is only by addressing them together that we can ensure a truly stable future for Sudan’s people. So we must continue to focus on Darfur where more than two and a half million people remain displaced from their homes by ongoing conflict. And we must also not forget Eastern Sudan, where the humanitarian indicators are some of the worst in the world.
In Darfur, as Mr Bassole has said, an inclusive, comprehensive negotiated agreement, which focuses on the causes and consequences of the conflict, is the only route to lasting peace. As we have heard again today from Mr Gambari about the increase in hostilities across Darfur, we must urge all sides to show their commitment to peace and security by ceasing hostilities and engaging in Doha process.
We must all step up our engagement to meet the challenges ahead. First and foremost the Sudanese parties. It is ultimately only the parties themselves who can ensure a peaceful outcome. They must show the political leadership and the vision necessary for this task. This means engaging in serious and sustained dialogue to reach agreement on the issues I have mentioned.
Mr President the Security Council has a central role to play. The Council’s leadership on the challenges ahead will be critical, as we approach the Referendum. The Council needs to take a truly strategic approach, looking forward and anticipating the difficult decisions ahead, without anticipating any particular referendum outcome.
The work of the UN missions in Sudan, both UNMIS and UNAMID will remain vital in supporting the implementation of the CPA, particularly the referendum, and in providing security and protection for civilians in South Sudan and Darfur.
As we have heard this morning, the strong engagement of the African Union and particularly Sudan’s neighbours will also be critical in securing long-term peace in Sudan. We commend, in particular, the leadership of Mr Mbeki and the work of his panel. And we look forward to close collaboration between the UN and African Union on the challenges ahead.
Finally Mr President, I hope that the Presidency will be able to reflect our discussions in some agreed remarks to the press, a draft of which has been circulated to Council members.
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