U.S. envoy cautions that crisis not resolved by simple memo-signing regarding Sudan
Sudan-USA, Politics, 11/23/2004
The U.N. Security Council meeting in Africa was "a significant step forward" for the future of Sudan, but the country's problems continue to evolve and will remain a focus of the world's attention for some time to come, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said November 22.
In a rare move, the Security Council held two days of formal sessions on Sudan in Nairobi, Kenya, November 18 and 19 to focus attention on the country's problems and put pressure on the North-South peace talks -- often referred to as the Naivasha process -- that were being held near the Kenyan capital. Danforth, the chief U.S. representative to the United Nations and president of the Security Council for the month of November, presided over the session.
At the end of the two days, the 15-member council witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government of Sudan and southern rebels represented by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) pledging to end two decades of war by December 31.
"It was quite an event to see the two sides signing the MOU, saying they will reach a comprehensive peace agreement by the end of this year," Danforth told journalists at U.N. headquarters in New York following the Nairobi trip, "with the Security Council members signing as witnesses to the documents."
"Please understand this was not a field trip, it was not a mission. It was a formal meeting of the Security Council and that's why it was so important," the ambassador said. "It's extremely rare for the Security Council to meet outside New York -- this is only the fourth time it's happened since 1952. It was a rarity that gave it so much weight."
But he cautioned that "Sudan is an ongoing saga, not something resolved by signing a single piece of paper or resolved in a single moment of time.
"This means that there must be a peace agreement in place by December 31. Implementation must begin on January 1 [, 2005]. ... The process of turning Sudan into a prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbors must move forward immediately. Sudan must become a nation that respects human rights, and that replaces violence with political dialogue. This process must proceed with dispatch -- without posturing, without grandstanding, without empty words."
Even though the MOU and subsequent peace agreement do not deal with the massive humanitarian crisis and fighting -- which some have called genocide -- in the Darfur region, all involved, including the Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, believe that a North-South peace agreement will have a very positive effect on Darfur.
In Nairobi, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that not only welcomes the MOU and encourages the government and rebels to finalize a peace agreement but also gives equal emphasis to the "serious concern at the growing insecurity and violence in Darfur, the dire humanitarian situation, continued violations of human rights and repeated breaches of the cease-fire."
The resolution emphasizes that "a Comprehensive Peace Agreement will contribute towards sustainable peace and stability throughout Sudan and to the efforts to address the crisis in Darfur, and underlines the need for a national and inclusive approach" to the crisis in that region.
It also demands that the government, rebel forces and all other armed groups immediately cease all violence and attacks and urges nations to provide equipment and logistical, financial and other needed resources to the African Union as it increases its Darfur mission to 3,320 personnel.
In the resolution, the Security Council declares "its commitment, upon conclusion of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to assist the people of Sudan in their efforts to establish a peaceful, united and prosperous nation" and urges donors to "continue their efforts to prepare for the rapid delivery of an assistance package for the reconstruction and economic development of Sudan, including official development assistance, possible debt relief and trade access" once a peace agreement is implemented.
The resolution welcomes the initiative by Norway to convene an international donors' conference after the peace agreement is signed.
At the end of the historic meeting in Nairobi, Danforth urged participants look forward: "Imagine Sudan starting the first day of 2005 and evolving through the eight-year interim period covered by the agreement," he said. "Picture a government of national unity and reconciliation with renewed political and economic ties to other nations and a stable Darfur. At that point donor nations would provide the economic horsepower to drive development. And there would be a nationwide infrastructure of security, stability and justice."
Danforth told the government and rebel representatives: "Do not let this opportunity slip away. Follow through with your promises; prove that you are people of your word; and allow yourselves the tremendous satisfaction of knowing that you have taken the first steps to reversing the abuses and ending the suffering that has plagued your country for so long."
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