Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Sudan - UNITAMS
Statement09 March 2021
Thank you very much indeed Madam President,
I want to thank both the SRSG Perthes and USG Khare and to Ms. Khair also for your really insightful briefing this morning - thank you. SRSG, as this is your first meeting since assuming your role, I want to congratulate you and to welcome you amongst us. Of course I also want to wish you luck – you have a challenging and ambitious mandate to implement. The timing is critical of course- you come in at a really important moment as the UN continues to grapple with the implications, of what I think by any standards, is a complex transition. We believe on the other hand that the scale of your challenge is matched only by the opportunity for the people of Sudan.
Madam President, as we have heard already from many speakers, Sudan is clearly making strong efforts to progress the transition and implement the Juba Peace Agreement Nonetheless, we know of course that peace processes are at their most fragile in their infancy.
A comprehensive, civilian-led approach, with the full inclusion of civil society, will be needed to bring all parties into closer political agreement. At the same time the challenge is, of course, to move beyond existing power-sharing arrangements to actually implementing the agreement’s substantive components and to do that swiftly as possible.
The next steps must include the formation of the Transitional Legislative Council and the Commissions envisaged under the Juba Peace Agreement. The people of Sudan have demanded a transparent civilian-led democratic governance in Sudan. And This is the least they deserve and. We believe their call must be heeded.
Seeing the benefits of the agreement materialise on the ground will actually be the most effective way of maintaining support, and attracting those forces outside of the agreement to join. We welcome the launch last month of the Samarat Family Support Programme, to which Ireland was one of the first contributors.
Women, such as the 22 year old student, Alaa Salah, were clearly instrumental in bringing about the transition in Sudan. They must not be shut out of the political process. Barriers to their full, equal and meaningful participation simply must be addressed. Women in Sudan also urgently require better protection against sexual and gender-based violence. In this regard, the Personal Status Law needs to be reviewed. And we also believe the new draft law to combat violence against women is welcome but it will need to be implemented.
We heard, the security situation in Darfur remains very concerning. There is ongoing fighting and recruitment of fighters in Darfur—including, tragically, the recruitment of children—by signatory and non-signatory parties to the Peace Agreement. In January alone, attacks in Darfur forced more people to flee their homes in three days than in the whole of 2020 in Sudan as a whole. As UNAMID’s protection of civilian mandate ends, the Sudanese government must step up to its responsibility. The government’s strong response to recent violence in North Darfur has been encouraging and be sustained. Perpetrators of this violence must be also held accountable: this is critical to breaking the cycle of impunity, which is fuelling repeated attacks on civilians in the same locations.
There is now an urgent need for the swift implementation of the National Plan for the Protection of Civilians and the implementation of the security pillar of the Juba Peace Agreement. We believe that the civilian protection force needs the scale and capacity to do its job effectively. This Council, UNITAMS and Sudan’s international partners can offer technical support and capacity building, including on post-conflict and community police training. I call on Government of Sudan to set out concretely what is needed and how Sudan’s partners can help.
The recent looting of the former UNAMID site Saraf Umrah in Darfur is shameful. This former UNAMID site was due to be used as a vocational training centre for the benefit of the Sudanese people. Such looting, which is unfortunately part of a historical pattern in Darfur, robs the community locally of a long-term asset. We welcome the steps taken by the Government to address the challenges associated with the drawing down UNAMID, including the creation of a new department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support both UN missions in a more integrated manner. However, as we have heard, it is of vital importance that the Sudanese authorities immediately finalise the Status of Mission Agreement with the United Nations.
We don’t underestimate it - the challenges facing the transitional Government and Sudanese people are immense. Not least in terms of humanitarian challenges. In 2021, an estimated 13.4 million people will need humanitarian assistance. The food security situation is worrying and is being exacerbated by Sudan’s economic difficulties. In this context, I want to commend the solidarity shown by the Sudanese people to more than 60,000 refugees who have arrived into Eastern Sudan from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. This needs to be recognised.
Finally Madam President, tensions around the border in the al-Fashaga region are worrying. This weekend’s developments have highlighted how continued tensions can have a detrimental impact on an already fragile region - we must do our utmost to avoid this. This dispute must be settled through diplomacy. And the engagement of regional organisations, particularly the African Union, including its leadership on mediation efforts, is vital.
Thank you very much Madam President.