Speech

UK intends to make Sudan the top priority for our Presidency of the Security Council

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Henry Bellingham MP gave a speech at the UN High Level Event on the situation in Sudan

I would like to thank His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, for all the work he has done in the peace process.

We meet today a little more than one hundred days before the historic referenda through which the people of South Sudan and Abyei will determine their future. I thank the Secretary-General for bringing the international community together to show its support for the Sudanese people at this critical time and for the continued, strong efforts of the UN towards peace and security in Sudan. I also want to thank President Obama for the lead he has given on this issue.

As we have heard from the Sudanese parties today, there is an opportunity now for them to move beyond the conflicts of the last fifty years. And we, the international community, will support them in this. The UK is ready to give its full support to all efforts to implement the CPA and to bring enduring peace to Sudan: there is no greater challenge facing us over the next 12 months. To this end, the UK intends to make Sudan the top priority for our Presidency of the Security Council in November.

Sudan’s future lies in the hands of its leaders. We welcome the commitments both parties have reiterated today to full implementation of the CPA. As mentioned by President Obama, there are major concerns about the delays in preparations for the referenda. We therefore encourage the leaders of both Northern and Southern Sudan to work in a sustained and serious manner to accelerate progress, taking advantage of the opportunity the US has presented.

The only way forward is through peaceful, credible referenda on self-determination for Southern Sudan and on the status of Abyei that take place on time and whose outcomes are respected by all.

But this will not be the end of the journey. Whatever the outcome of the referenda, the peoples of North and South Sudan will have to live together if they are to prosper. Both parties should seek agreement urgently on the key elements of this relationship, particularly regarding oil revenues, citizenship rights and border demarcation.

As the parties approach completion of the CPA, we must not take our eye off the situation in Darfur. The UK is very concerned about the impact of continuing insecurity on the people of Darfur. All parties should implement immediate ceasefires and support full access for UN peacekeepers throughout the region.

Only a comprehensive, inclusive political agreement, together with real action to address issues of justice and accountability, will bring genuine and lasting peace in Darfur. We welcome the announcement this week of progress in the Doha peace process and underline our support for the principles guiding the negotiations. All parties need to engage fully with the AU/UN Joint Chief Mediator without delay.

I also agree with President Obama and the Netherlands Prime Minister on what they said about the ICC, so we also reiterate the UK’s call for the Government of Sudan to engage urgently with the ICC and to work with His Excellency President Mbeki on the justice issues raised in the report of the AU Panel on Darfur.

Finally, we must also focus on addressing the challenges faced by Eastern Sudan where humanitarian indicators are of great concern.

So can I say to the Secretary-General, there will be no bigger challenge for the UN over the next 12 months than Sudan. His leadership, and indeed the leadership of all his colleagues, will be essential. He will have our full support.

Thank you.